United Kingdom | 22 June 2007
As eclectic as ever, Friday's main stages open to huge expectations and muddy limitations. Alex Gadsby trudges through the rain, the drama and the lasers to bring you the best of the action...
Friday dawns miserable and damp, but young upstarts Reverend and the Makers give early revellers a taste of what’s to come with their Arctics-style musings and electro tinged anthems in the making. 'Heavyweight Champion Of The World' has enough swagger to kickstart a semi-singalong and prophesises the weekend ahead - it's ultimately what we all need to be.
Over on the Pyramid Stage, The Earlies are barely visible through the now torrential downpour, but their unique psychedelic country puts a smile on everyone’s faces, with enough sonic warbling to expect Rolf Harris to burst on stage at any moment armed with a wobble board under each arm. If there was ever a band to 'bring out the sun' it's this lot. They don't.
It makes the briefest of appearances, but sadly ebbs away, in time for a delicious Motown-inspired medley from Amy Winehouse. She might be as sozzled as we’ve come to expect, but ‘Rehab’ has everyone echoing the gin-soaked diva as she writhes around the stage like Cleopatra at a teenage barn dance.
The day's first real highlight comes in the form of Bright Eyes with a fully backed, orchestral 'First Day Of My Life' never sounding so good. With his band dressed head to toe in redeeming white, Conor Oberst makes a sheepish reference to his drunken slur against John Peel on the late DJ's stage two years ago and all can be forgiven as a beautiful and introspective set engulfs the Other Stage.
With the final croaks of Conor still echoing over the mud like frogs on holiday, Super Furry Animals deliver a well-timed set in some glorious June sunshine. The summery theme continues with The Coral and a welcome appearance from ‘I Remember When’. We are also treated to a set of sparkling new songs before they close with a thumping ‘Arabian Sands’.
Self-confessed overdressed Rufus Wainwright and his troupe of stripy supports add a touch of Broadway glamour to the grime. His poignant rendition of ‘Hallelujah’ with sister Martha in front of a stunning sunset is a truly beautiful moment. But it all goes a bit car crash as he returns for an encore dressed in drag before murdering Judy Garland's 'Be Happy'. To be fair it's more sound gremlins than anything, making his vocals sound like a seagull being dragged into a jet engine, but why bother starting it all over again? It sounds even worse second time!
The apocalyptic ‘Black Mirror’ opens a much-anticipated performance from funereal Canadians The Arcade Fire. The huge 'No Cars Go' is a surprise second song, its epic ending sadly too much though for the swirling weather. But it sets up the subtext for what's to come. The band are truly spoilt for choice with two faultless albums and they save the best for last for singalong special 'Wake Up'.
Brooding and emotionally charged, the multi-instrumental collective are the perfect precursor to the force of nature that is Björk. The combination of screaming glitch-electro created using a pack of cards, and ethereal soundscapes accompanied by a ten-piece choir/brass band, is a feast for the eyes and ears. The whole thing ends up in a mud squelching rave that leaves everyone breathless and utterly confused in the best possible way as Bjork showers the moon with lasers.
And finally, making an incredible debut appearance headlining the Pyramid, the Arctic Monkeys have a lot riding on this coveted slot. Dressed more appropriately for a night in with their mates, understatement is the order of the day for the humbled foursome who seem almost embarrassed to be performing alongside their heroes. Nevertheless, their generation greedily lap up the band's overnight successes, from the second Alex Turner belts out the opening lines from 'Sun Goes Down'. Everyone goes nuts to ‘I Bet You Look Good…’ and 'Mardy Bum', but it's the new songs that sound the most complete. 'If You Were There Beware' was simply made for stages like these, while 'Balaclava' and 'Fluorescent Adolescent' provide the anthems. Their low key ‘Diamonds are Forever’ is a surprising noir-tinged cover which proves the band have more to them than beer-swagger knees up, before the ethereal '505' provides the highlight of the set and closer 'A Certain Romance' the climax. Job done then.
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