JJB Arena - Top 10 acts
Christian Ewen - 23 August 2007
10 - Dizzee Rascal - Sunday, 5.15pm- 5.45pm
Turning the air bluer than a dock full of sailors, Mercury Music Prize pet favourite Dizzee Rascal goes at it like a pneumatic drill! Only slightly less harder than Chuck Norris (he’s been stabbed more times than I’ve had hot dinners), Dizzee keeps it real for the ‘V massive‘. He might not be everyone's cup of tea but let’s face it, you get more words for your money than any other act and with ‘Boy in Da Corner’, ‘Showtime’ and ‘Maths and English’ to draw upon, it’d be churlish not to include him in this Top 10. Plus he made me laugh… and that isn’t easy so he warrants his place on the list. ‘Fix Up, Look Sharp’ is the ultimate crowd-pleaser - giving us all an excuse to ham it up as wannabe rappers.
9 - Corinne Bailey Rae - Saturday, 7.10pm-7.50pm
Pass me the Sunday papers and pour me a poncey latté! ‘Grown-up’ listening for chino-wearing execs on a ‘down’ day, Corrine Bailey Rae is Amy Winehouse’s respectable musical cousin. She shows up, she gets the job done without any of the hi-jinks that keep the paparazzi in business. On the flipside, her act is as safe as houses and yet the music and delivery speaks for itself. Confident and assured, the soulful jazzy vocals rise sonorously throughout a respectably-attended set that battles time wise against Lily Allen and Kasabian. Like the slinky little black dress she shimmies in, Corrine Bailey Rae gets it effortlessly right.
8 - Rilo Kiley - Saturday, 4.20pm-4.50pm
Any hotter and Jenny Lewis is in danger of combusting in her bacofoi jumpsuit! When an LA woman does country, did you really expect a Stetson? The sound is pecan pie in a beat-up waffle house on the road to Nowheresville. Sprinkle on a Talking Heads-influenced overtone and eat up. This is only the third show in the past two years for the (workshy?) Californians, so forgive them if they can’t quite recall when their new record is out. Musically, the signposts all seem aligned in the right direction as they look set to capitalise on their TV-friendly sound. With enough variety in just a 25-minute set to prevent any accusations of being too ’samey’, Rilo Kiley layer on the subtleties to form a comforting woollen jumper against the rain.
7 - Sinead O’Connor - Sunday, 4.20pm-4.50pm
How can somebody as troubled and tormented as Miss O’Connor sing with such effortless grace? Her classic take on Prince’s ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ sends shivers down my spine and becomes one of the highlights of the weekend. I swear that if she had cried that tear again I would probably have ended up joining her - such was the beauty and overwhelming sense of longing she conveys in her performance. As she treats us to a glimpse of her latest album - entitled ‘Theology’ - I stand stock-still in awe along with the rest of the captivated congregation who have dropped in for Sunday Mass.
6 - Glenn Tilbrook & The Fluffers - Sunday, 1.50pm-2.15pm
As hundreds gather in the JJB Arena I’m wondering if most revellers are here seeking refuge from the torrential rain or showing their support for one of our nation’s greatest songwriters. I want to think it’s the latter but even Tilbrook admits that the weather has played a sizeable hand in amassing his audience. Squeeze fans are not disappointed however when ‘Up The Junction’, ‘Tempted’, ‘Slap & Tickle’ and ‘Take Me I’m Yours’ get a dusting down. The crowd assembled up front lap it up and an ecstatic-looking Tilbrook literally jumps for joy as he concludes a thoroughly enjoyable set.
5 - Ocean Colour Scene - Sunday, 6.10pm-6.45pm
Shit! I’ve gone back in time! I am 14 years old and ‘Moseley Shoals’ is one of the greatest albums of all time. I listen to it every day and dream of playing guitar like Steve Craddock. I am now 25 and although I no longer hold that album in as high regard, I must admit it’s a pleasure to hear ‘The Circle’, ‘The Riverboat Song’, ‘You’ve Got It Bad’ and anthemic set closer ‘The Day We Caught The Train’ once again… songs I tell myself I will revisit when I get home after I unwind myself from my favourite coat. Another highlight is protest song ‘Profit In Peace’ - and I especially like the ad-libbed ‘Rehab’ refrain. Amy would have been proud. During this gripping nostalgia-fest of a gig I realise that one of my teenage dreams remains unfulfilled when the sublime opening riff of ‘One Hundred Mile High City’ consumes the arena; I still want to play guitar like Steve Craddock.
4 - Iggy & The Stooges - Saturday, 8.20pm-9.05pm
Tearing up the stage with reckless abandon, Iggy Pop still cuts a lean n’ mean figure with his down n’ dirty Stooges in tow. Age might be causing his flesh and sinew to turn flaccid but that howl is as strong as ever. The conviction with which the man (or is he really a beast?) performs is utterly magnetic and the sheer primal power of ‘No Fun’, ’TV Eye’ and ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’ remain undiminished. Getting as close to the stage as possible, Iggy’s aural assault reverberates round my ribcage and rises up into my skull…making me feeling incredible and fearing for my life at the same time… but what a way it would be to go.
3 - Damien Rice - Saturday, 9.35pm-10.50pm
Not even the luck of Damien’s homeland could prevent what is a criminally woeful turnout for a headlining act. Still an undeterred Rice soldiers on and lets his heartbreaking voice intimately touch the souls of the devoted faithful. Anyone expecting some indecipherable bastard stood hunched over an acoustic guitar for an hour and half are sorely mistaken because Rice can rock! The cacophony becomes so great that I’m wondering how conversely he manages to perform songs of such beautiful fragility as ‘The Blower’s Daughter’, ‘Volcano’ and ‘Cannonball’ yet he does with enviable ease.
2 - Jarvis Cocker - Sunday 7.10pm-7.50pm
A consummate frontman, Jarvis delivers a set worthy of a headlining slot. This one’s got the lot - great tunes, surrealist humour and an electrifying cover of (you’ll never believe this) Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Purple Haze’! Summoning the legendary axe man’s spirit on the anniversary to the day he closed the Woodstock Festival, Jarvis throws shapes aplenty across the stage and startles everyone with his unexpected and impressive homage. It really does look like Jimi’s taken over! But there’s much more to Jarvis than good cover versions - as we know from his star-making career with Pulp. ‘One Man Show’, ‘Tonight’ and the hilariously sublime ‘Cunts Are Still Running The World’ (which he dedicates to Rupert Murdoch) show that he lost none of the irreverent wit that has become his trademark.
1 - Primal Scream (Sunday, 9.35pm-10.50pm)
Saving the best to last, headliners Primal Scream exterminate the competition with a trailblazing set which showcases the many facets of this brilliant band to devastating effect. From the bluesy rock of ‘Jailbird’ and ‘Rocks’ to the dark bile-ridden dance dirge that is ’Swastika Eyes’ and through to loved-up blissed-out acid house classics ‘Loaded’ and ‘Movin’ On Up’, the ‘Scream’s performance oozes style throughout but crucially backs it up with incredible substance. Mani’s bass grooves are simply heart-stopping and Martin Duffy’s ivory-tinkling show-stealing. The man’s a genius! Bobby G is on top form too with hip-shaking dance moves which are perfectly wedded to a band that’s tighter than a high street bank.
The ‘Stinker’ - McFly - Saturday, 3.25pm-3.55pm
I know this choice is going to upset literally thousands of you festival-goers out there,
but frankly my dears I don’t give a damn: McFly
are my choice of stinkers at this year’s JJB Arena. I am simply astonished that this shower can cram out the arena on
their ‘proper festival debut’ yet the ultra-talented Damien Rice (and Saturday’s headlining act I hasten to add) struggles to form an audience
10-deep! That’s sinful. Maybe it’s just me being a sad bastard or whatever but I just don’t ‘get’
McFly. I find their moronic mugging offensive while it seems most folk lap it up and want sloppy seconds. Ah well I must be
out of touch but give me my pipe, slippers and Leonard Cohen’s ’Greatest Hits’ album while the rest of you
‘lose yourself’ to a bunch of floppy-fringed teenagers singing about girls who dye their hair. Each to their own