Denmark | |
30 June 2006
You can spend an entire week at Roskilde if you so wish, which probably accounts for the frenzied reaction when the bands
start. With superstars including G'N'R, Dylan, Kanye West and Arctic Monkeys who can blame them?
Roskilde Festival, Denmark, 26 June-2 July
A peculiar, paradoxical experience, Roskilde is undoubtedly a festival of confusing contradiction; the
campsites are scenes of devastation almost from day one, yet from the air the tents are arranged in neat square sections,
there is a carefree approach to spending a penny – or a Kroner – in that anywhere goes and the locals go
anywhere but the toilets remain clean throughout, while the sense of frantic hedonism, as is perfectly illustrated by the
amount of personal space people are afforded for dancing, never threatens to develop into disrespect for fellow festival-goers.
it to an English equivalent and the contrasts are even more marked. For starters the festival is located in a town but the
acts play long into the night without incurring the wrath of local curtain-twitchers, upset that for one week of the year
they can’t take their 4x4 to the park and walk their golden retriever. Unbelievably, the beer is more expensive too,
probably because it comes with an actual taste, but the crowd are much more drunk.
What stands out the most here though
is the enthusiasm of the punters for the acts. They love live music, really love it, in a fanatical, fierce and obsessive
way; in fact they would probably stalk it and post it obscene, naked drawings of themselves riding a giant cock-shaped guitar
if that were possible, such is their passion for literally every performer on show in Denmark this weekend.
are first to realise this given that, save for the likes of the hilariously stony-faced Norwegian thrashers Purified
in Blood who warm things up on Wednesday, they are kicking-off the festival-proper on the Odeon Stage. It’s
obvious that the opening of the gates four days ago only served to whip up the frenzied crowd, who are so desperate for some
action that they maniacally whoop and clap every time a roadie tweaks a string. Perhaps nobody has told them that it’s
not party anthems on the agenda, but brooding, Brummie-rock.
Nevertheless, Editors seem to thrive on the salivating
zeal of the drunken Danes who mouth the wrong words without a care. They’re energetic and aggressive, Tom Smith forcefully
pirouetting with his guitar wedged under his armpits at about Level 42, as they rip through 2005 debut ‘The Back Room’.
‘Blood’ sets the pulse racing, every beat backed by rhythmic claps, and when they wheel out ‘Bullets’
and the rest of the big guns, neck hairs quickly stand to attention. It’s a better than promising start to the weekend
and they even make a decent fist of a brave ‘Road to Nowhere’ cover.
Despite her name Jenny Wilson
is actually Swedish and whilst being poles apart in terms of style from Editors she attracts an equally excited tentful. Bounding
on stage dressed like a giant tulip, her outfit is disregarded Bucks Fizz-style early on to reveal a heavily pregnant
stomach. She gets shoulders and toes twitching with a bright, harmonic mix of 60’s girl-pop and electronic-edged summery
jangles fittingly commencing as the sun breaks the clouds for the first time.
You can say what you like about Axl
Rose, that, for example, he looks more like a cross between James Hetfield and Mick Hucknall than the bandana-toting
God of old, or that his new material has taken more than twice as long as the Second Coming to emerge. You can even suggest
that nobody knows who the fuck his band are nowadays but you certainly can’t argue that he isn’t still, wrinkles
and all, every inch a rock ‘n’ roll behemoth and when he takes to the stage – accompanied of course by his
gut-ripping chainsaw voice – it’s hardly surprising that pandemonium ensues.