Pinkpop 2009: Rated!
Megaland, Landgraaf, NL
18 June 2009
Overall - 7/10
A cracking start to the festival season! Pinkpop is a very friendly, easygoing festival with everyone from toddlers to grannies in attendance due to the line-up mix. Despite the disappointment of Depeche Mode cancelling, The Boss, Madness, the great weather (most of the time), established festival acts and some excellent new bands make this a worthy 40th anniversary for Pinkpop and a great way to start the summer.
Getting There and Back - 7/10
Travelling by car it is easy to get into the Landgraaf site with the expected queues no-where to be seen and plenty of space to park up. There is no running away from car park envy though as one of the campsites seems to be offering up all-to-luxurious private parking. Meanwhile, the shuttle buses are to-ing and fro-ing from the local train station as they ferry those public transportees.
The Site - 6/10
Three of the four available campsites are quite a distance from the main site and facilities are only average.
Atmosphere - 8/10
Very cheerful, relaxed and upbeat, it seems everyone is determined to make the most of the weekend and cheer on their festival favourites. The abundant flow of beer always helps too!
Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band
The Boss certainly lives up to his reputation as he runs through the hits. Love him or hate him, he definitely impresses with his natural showmanship and uber tight backing from the E Street Band. As the saying goes: he came, saw and conquered....
Due to Dave Gahan's recovery, Depeche Mode were forced to cancel their anticipated Pinkpop performance. To compensate, Placebo were promoted to see out the weekend as Sunday's headline act. The British trio anticipate the situation, and like Springsteen the night before, they run through a set chock full of their older songs and definite favourites. The crowd, sing along wholeheartedly, some getting into the party spirit, others simply shaking off their Depeche Mode disappointment. While the release of their latest opus, ‘Battle for the Sun’ is scheduled for the week succeeding Pinkpop, Placebo do play a couple of new tunes, showing a much matured Brian Molko.
With Snow Patrol, organisers book a perfect ending to a tiring but exciting last day. The band manage to create a warm atmosphere which nourishes a crowd that has been through three days of frenzied partying. Throwing in little unorthodox musical elements like the odd flamenco hand-clap, they add a new dimension to songs like 'Golden Floor' and indeed the rest of their latest album, which on record sounds like an extension of their old material.
Having just broken into the Dutch charts and onto the bigger festival stages, De Staat are already making their presence felt among the rock faithful. Although they themselves seem impressed to be here, they certainly impress the crowd as well. A band with talent, energy and an original sound, they show plenty of potential for things to come.
The Canadian outfit deliver an interesting combination of punk, rock and emo-pop, driven by the high-pitched voice of lead singer Benjamin Kowalewicz which cuts through the Pinkpop air. Whilst being highly appreciated in the UK and Germany, the band are yet to convince the Holland masses and they begin to do just that with a highly energetic performance. It is a shame then that Pinkpop seems to be their only date with the Dutch this summer.
This Danish foursome are a must see for metal lovers who appreciate a bit of country and rockabilly. Pumping out their own tracks and a few adaptations such as a deep voiced Johnny Cash number, Volbeat added extra heat to an already sweltering Sunday afternoon.
Despite being older and possible slightly balder there is no denying that Madness are still young at heart and know how to get party started. There new songs still ring out with the cheek of old and whilst their years of experience run right through into their performance frontman Suggs isn't too elderly to appreciate the flashing of one lady's boobs. Madness cruise on through the favourites too adding a completely new generation to their legion of fans along the way.
It was rumoured that Oasis and The Prodigy were the likely replacements to cover Depeche Mode's predicted absence. The disappointment is tangible then as Depeche Mode don't show up and both rumours are quashed with the appearance of Dutch pre-retirees Krezip. Being older, a lot of the punters have clearly bought their tickets to see the legends, and whilst Krezip are much appreciated in their home country they appeal to the younger generations, making their task a whole lot harder. They do put in a good performance to kick off what will be their farewell tour but, even though festival organisers had to contend with inevitable deadlines and pitfalls, it is a missed opportunity to take Pinkpop to another level.
Intrigued by their hit single 'Dance with Somebody' and excited by their budding reputation as a great live band, it is with expectation that the crowd waits for Mando Diao to hit the stage. When they do arrive either they are worn out though or they don't feel like living up to expectations. Although they have shown plenty of talent when it comes to punk the band seemed to be more at home playing it safe and sticking to mainstream indie. Their performance lacked balance and only with playing the hit single 'Dance With Somebody' they managed to recapture the enthusiasm of the crowd.
Although White Lies did initially think that they'd performed at Pinkpop last year – Pukkelpop in Belgium isn't that far away geographically speaking, and what’s in a name? - their debut on the stage was one that convinced the crowd that renewing the sound of the Editors and Interpol can lead to songs which will give anyone goose pimples, even if the temperature in the Pinkpop tent was desert-like.
After a huge amount of covers played by Amy Macdonald (and one by The Kooks a few hours later), the awakening of a refreshed Franz Ferdinand was received with a sigh of relief. After taking time off to regain energy and inspiration, the Scots performed like festival legends. New opus ‘Tonight’ saw its poppy disco drums replaced with a slower, groovier sound and a heavy bass line, whilst old and new classics were played with poise and energy. If the magnitude of the crowd is anything to go by, the new album is a definite floor filler. Franz Ferdinand are back!
Live, The Kooks sounded like they do on their albums: sunny, catchy, upbeat and fast with a rough edge. It was a good start of the evening as the sun was setting and that party feel kicks on in earnest. Since The Rolling Stones asked them to be their support act, they are no longer just a band for the teens, a fact supported by the enthusiastic crowd who bop and sing along to their catchy anthems. Europe is now appreciating what the UK has known for a while – The Kooks are not to be missed.
As Placebo come out for their festival-closing slot, it all seems too much for one punter who, clad in an traditional green three-piece suit, decides to sleep-off his hangover in the middle of the crowd. The Silent Disco is also a nice addition, with the odd bellowing of a chorus or rendition of a classic riff generating a few confused looks.