Liverpool's superclub festival heads out to the country once again
Like some ghetto-fabulous Disney hussy, the Harlem-bred diva shows her derriere to the crowd - squealing naughtily: “I just mooned Manchester!” - a monstrous geographical gaff being on Merseyside and only slightly less irritating than Mark Ronson (but we’ll come back to him later).
while her blind man-in-a-closet garb and grasp of English cities leave a lot to be desired, Kelis is on hot-mamma form, delivering a typically feisty, attitude-driven set which brings all
the boys (and girls) to her yard. Backed by some downright dirty bass, her gritty pull-no-punches lyrics are lightened by
a charismatic delivery which makes for compulsive viewing.
Stepping down from the Main Stage to park her booty on the stacks, Kelis fearlessly engages with the front row crowds - winning maximum Brownie points as a result, before dedicating ‘Milkshake’ to all her “Creamfields ladies”. Before we know it, we’re all pulling mega-slut moves to the dirtiest playground chant ever to soil music. She’s done enough to justify her billing, making Creamfields that bit more accessible for those of us who are an incey-bit scared of the all-out dance-fest.
Conversely, event opener Mark Ronson before her is shockingly out of place and does what all nice boys do as a result and tries to get ‘down with the kids’ by swearing like a good ‘un. “Creamfields! Make some fucking noise for yourselves,” he yells… Repeatedly. Between every track in fact. We can’t Mark. There’s only a busload of us. Give us a break! Ronson must be so confused. For a bloke who’s previously DJ’d at none other than Sean ’P. Diddy’ Coombs’ birthday bash, the sparsely populated fields of Daresbury must come as a bit of a blow. Especially as his No. 2 charting covers album ’Version’ has been reverberating around festival arenas all year.
Sporting a scarily white shirt that would surely pass the Daz Doorstep Challenge, Ronson opens up with his instrumental take on Coldplay’s ‘God Put A Smile On Your Face’ which leads neatly into Britney Spears’ ‘Toxic’. ‘Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before’… yes we have Mark and all summer at that. What was originally a well-conceived project has become slightly tiresome of late; the reworkings suffering with repeated listening.
And yet there is some gold-dust to be had. Daniel Merriweather’s vocalising of The Smiths’ classic is by far the album’s greatest achievement - even if Morrissey has probably taken to his bed as a result. For those of you living in a cave, the darkly judgemental overtones of Radiohead’s ‘Just’ are obliterated by an upbeat funky tempo, while The Zutons’ ‘Valerie’ is reborn in the form of a lost Motown classic - having retained all its anthemical glee. Dedicated to Amy Winehouse, the crowd applauds in a subdued fashion - causing Ronson to remonstrate: “You make it sound like she’s dead!”
The fields are gradually starting
to hum with nervous energy as the afternoon crunches awkwardly into gear. They arrive in waves - ladies hobbling awkwardly
in stilettos across the freshly-sliced corn stubble.
Mental note to self - ‘sensible’ gilet and walking boots do not a Creamfields-goer make. What was I thinking? This isn’t V. Like a misguided Norfolk farmer, I head for the Hed Kandi VIP area to sup my cider amidst a sea of hotpant-wearing WAGs. It’s hard to believe that the same motley crew who spectacularly cocked up the debut Knowsley Hall Music Festival are so successfully manning the pumps. It isn’t even raining for God’s sake! But while reclining in the sunshine seems to be de rigueur, the Main Stage waits for no man… and with the first of the big-name DJs due any minute, it’s time to hotfoot it.
Ooh la la! It’s none other than Parisian David Guetta, so in the words of Mark Ronson, we make some ‘fucking noise!’ Dipping shyly behind his console, it’s left to vocalist Chris Willis to act as the visual focal point - and boy has he buffed up for the occasion! His spray-on long-sleeved AngelDevil top may be as camp as Christmas but it keeps the laydeez in a lava for the entire feelgood set. And given that Guetta’s back catalogue includes gems such as ‘Just A Little More Love’, ‘Love Don’t Let Me Go’, ‘In Love With Myself’ and most recently ‘Love is Gone’ - it seems fair to assume that for David, there can never be too much love.
The edgier LCD Soundsystem pick up where Guetta leaves off just in time. Sporting the kind of pot belly you can rest your pint on, James Murphy scratches his thatch idly while the rest of his ‘North American Scum’ take up position to comic affect. The bespectacled guitarist’s axe is seemingly the victim of some horrendous acid assault while Nancy Whang peeks impishly over her keyboard. Like Pete Doherty at a W.I. meeting, they’re oddly out of place in the ultra-sleek world of Creamfields and yet weirdly everything clicks. Mic glued to his lips and eyes screwed furiously shut, Murphy unleashes his own brand of dance/punk/disco on the delirious masses. Old favourites from their self-titled 2005 debut, most notably ‘Daft Punk Is Playing At My House’, get a Saturday afternoon airing while the response to this year’s ‘Sound of Silver’ would suggest the record has already attained ‘club classic’ status. ‘All My Friends’ resurrects the spirit of Ian Curtis while the Primal Scream ‘Rocks’-flavoured ‘Yeah’ brings everything to a shuddering close.
A fiery marriage of shameless Pixies perversity and Joy Division’s unrelenting restlessness, LCD Soundsystem are a gleaming highlight of Creamfields, and even the mighty Groove Armada cannot better them. Lumbering through their cobalt-blue basked set like a fey rave dinosaur, the old numbers are cranked out to give everyone an excuse to brandish their glo-sticks in the cool evening air. Unfortunately our inner record needle bounces clumsily along, failing to lodge in the groove, the band sadly indelibly linked to Gorgonzola-stuffed burgers from Marks & Spencer and big-bootied Renault Meganés.
Still, the big guns have yet to blaze and by the time
Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons beam down from behind their planet-sized consoles, I’m itching for a Chemical Brothers
high! Like devilish puppet masters, they hoist our arms skyward and leave them there dangling for over an hour. Exhausting
stuff, but as workout soundtracks go you can’t get much better. ‘Hey Boy, Hey Girl’ makes a pulsating early
appearance, followed closely by ‘Galvanise‘, ’Out Of Control‘, ‘Chemical Beats’ and ’Star
Guitar’. That said, the ‘classics’ are thin on the ground as the set is geared more towards the clubbing
new wave than ‘old-skool’ fans. Casting their rods out into the restless sea of ravers, The Chemical Brothers hook us
on one beat after another… slowly reeling us in, wriggling and squealing for mercy. Euphoric and aching, we are at
last freed to head off in search of new heights amidst the sprawling mass of decibel-obliterated tents.