V Festival 2007 Roundup - Saturday from Weston Park, Staffs

The Manic Street Preachers and James curb the comeback trail

V Festival 2007 Roundup - Saturday from Weston Park, Staffs

Michelle Corbett on 20 August 2007

Don’t be scared - I’m not blogging my perverted fantasies, just teetering on the brink of heaven as Manic Street Preachers take V 2007 by the scruff of the neck and give it a Glasgow kiss between the eyes.

They R.O.C.K in a way that McFly before then can only one day dream of, but lets not be too unkind. The festival debutants radiate the kind of clueless exuberance of Andrex puppies, star-jumping manically and posturing their pants off, their Smash Hits, bubble-gum style pop about as catchy as the Bubonic Plague. There is something deeply disturbing about a shell-suited scally singing ‘All About You’ but McFly are all embracing and it would appear that the villainously simple choruses to the likes of ’Please, Please’ and ’Room on the 3rd Floor’ have hit home with just about everyone from delirious five-year-olds to their dads who should possibly know better.

I need to cleanse my tainted muso palette and hence stick around for Rilo Kiley as a country-style precursor to the heavyweights lining up for the main stage. Weston Park is teeming by now… a mass of Carling-supping, mud-spattered revellers intent on having the time of their lives. Sprawling as far as the eye can see, the grounds are trademark V. Safe, secure and facilitated to the max. A clean Portaloo with a bog roll, manageable beer queues and an array of eateries are never more than a short stroll away which makes for happy faces all round.

Unsurprisingly, this winning recipe makes V the preferred option for those who want to flirt with the idea of being a festival-goer without contracting cholera or dying of dehydration in a never-ending bar queue. At V, even the pikeys on the fair are willing to offer an oil-covered helping hand as I discover when I drop the contents of my purse under a dodgem. At T In The Park I couldn’t even get a spin on a waltzer! The rain comes in fits and starts but even that fails to dampen anyone’s spirits as we all tuck into a well-considered menu of tasty acts.

Leading the pack is the main stage, which thumps into action with The Fratellis. Picking up where McFly left off with their can-it-get-any-easier chorus singing skills, The Fratellis have everyone bopping within minutes, chasing the clouds away with chipper, up-for-it gems off last year’s smash Costello Music.

Excitement abounds as roly-poly comic Peter Kay pops up to introduce James - for many deemed unmissable. Depressingly, the sound is tinny and underpowered… a slight time delay in the screen makes for a head-numbing lip-synch situation which comes and goes. Nevertheless, James are welcomed back from their five-year hiatus like brethren. Consisting of the same six-piece line-up that featured on their top 10 albums Laid and Seven, James have a string of top 40 hits under their belt and hence plenty to choose from. The band crank up with ‘Born of Frustration’, ‘Tomorrow’ and ‘Sit Down’ - introduced proudly as the Arctic Monkey’s favourite song. With an upbeat tone now set, Booth shifts down a gear. Scratching his Musketeer whiskers, he extracts a lyric sheet from the seat of his pants and announces ‘I’m Alive’ - a new song, freshly penned and dedicated to Tony Wilson.

“Manchester won’t be the same without him,” he speaks for all of us after paying to tribute to Wilson who gave James their first break on Factory. Pouring scorn on health and safety regulations, Booth explains he had hopes of getting people up to dance on stage and had to sneak a handful of pre-plucked audience members on instead. The lucky blighters then get to bop from the best seat in the house as we go mental for ‘Laid’, ‘Sometimes’ and ‘Come Home’. 

‘Shoot The Runner’ opens up Kasabian's proceedings and if the Manic Street Preachers had not been about to land on the Channel Four stage, I would have hung around. As it is, I’m gone in 60 seconds and squash myself front of stage in a heartbeat. ‘Australia’ opens the doors on a 14-strong set list with ‘Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head’ providing a fitting extra. “We’re the weathermen of rock!” laughs Bradfield as it pisses down on the oblivious crowds. Rhythm guitarist Wayne Murray is the luckiest boy in the land, celebrating his 19th birthday on stage. Unbelievable!

“Nicky has broken his own record for the shortest skirt ever,” explains Bradfield as the man-giraffe seizes every opportunity to flash his package to the crowd. His floral mini is tastefully accessorised with a military jacket, blue eye shadow and home-dyed ginger locks. And it works. What a guy! By the time ‘A Design For Life’ rounds things up, the crowd have melted into one jam butty of joy - beered up blokes and boa-clad babes alike. I could technically pack up and go home 100 per cent assured I’ve had my V highlight but thank God I don’t.

Damien Rice wants to punch Brandon Flowers’ lights out. I’m sure of it. Having recorded modern masterpiece ‘O’ and done the difficult follow-up with aplomb, imagine having some Yankedoodle dandy ride into town and rob your headlining audience! Basement Jaxx are mixing it up big time, which leaves only the hardcore Rice fans and those who want to shelter from the rain to drift in and lie on the floor of the JJB Arena. Introducing his band - Joel, Shane, Vivien and Brendan - Rice keeps things stripped back, performing in front of a white sheet illuminated with nothing more fancy-pants than their alternating silhouettes. In the making friends with misery stakes, Rice could give even Morrissey a run for his money but while the Moz is satirical and biting, Rice is arrow-through-the heart emotive. Every break-up, loaded glance and personal affront he’s ever suffered has been fed into the mincing machine and come out as a bona fide classic of it’s kind. The stunningly simple, ‘Blower’s Daughter’ literally brings tears to my eyes.

I have to go and catch the tail end of The Killers if I have any hope of tapping back into the feel-good factor you need to get you through a night on a rain-lashed northern campsite. But I feel like a right rotter for abandoning this criminally small gathering. Ooh, Mr Flowers. Get you in your waistcoat and bow tie! Of course I’ve missed the big hitters but I see enough to understand why a battalion of fans stretch as far as the eye can see. The Killers are awesome - even if Flowers has adopted a bizarre electrified style of performance of late. Building on the critical and commercial success of ‘Hot Fuss’ with ‘Sam’s Town’, they show every sign of being in it for the long-haul. Is it any wonder that with the last note long dead in the air, the crowds are so elated that the arena throbs with activity for hours afterwards. Hylands Park are in for a real treat when the circus rolls in tomorrow…

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