Main Stage: top ten bands

United Kingdom United Kingdom | by Mat Hocking, Ruth Booth, Ali Ryland, Dannii Leivers | 02 September 2009

Bloc Party
What is this? Third year running? Really, Leeds, some fresh blood might taste better than the stale iron tang of indie-cum-dance rockers Bloc Party.

Yet, the southerners didn’t give up their respectable position as penultimate band easily, as they furtively banged out ‘Hunting For Witches’, dance-riffic ‘Flux’ and the UK live debut of new single ‘One Last Chance’. It appears that we’re stuck with them for a few more years after that performance. AR.

Enter Shikari
There is only one surety when watching an Enter Shikari set; Rou Reynolds will always be wearing his tatty Adidas shorts. A testament to German workmanship, the green clothing has weathered many a crowd surf and higher-than-average kick jumps, something being used in abundance today, as the show-offs again manage to live up to the heavy title, often bestowed upon them, of being a remarkable live band. Whether it was new single ‘No Sleep Tonight’ or the camp bleeps of oldie ‘Labyrinth’, the Shikari boys couldn’t help but impress; nor will they be ‘standing like statues’. AR.

Ian Brown
Swaggering onto the main stage to a hero’s welcome, not even the encroaching rain could deter his faithful throng from basking in his God-like glow. Fleshing out his songs with strings, trumpets and an impressively moustachioed chap on Percussion, these are songs made for soaring over a festival crowd. “Who remembers Bopping, eh?” ponders Brown as he slinks into a super smooth version of ‘Fools Gold’, the crowd needing no encouragement to pretend they’re shell-suited teens again and dance like it’s 1989. As the sun comes out briefly for ‘F.E.A.R.’ it’s a set that proves this is a man still on top of his game, questionable sunglasses or not. MH

New Found Glory
'Pop-punk’s not dead' - printed on frontman Jordan Pundik’s shirt, the statement rang true for the plucky boys-at-heart, New Found Glory. Doing it for the team (the team being the long but not lost nostalgia acts including Blink 182 and 90’s Green Day), the tear-stained diary thoughts in verse have never sounded so genuine, the boob jokes never so hilarious and the crowd’s selection of blow up dolls never so numerous.

Whether it was Pundik’s overwhelming reception when received into the crowd during ‘Hit And Miss’ or the chantable ‘My Friends Over You’, New Found Glory remain a top, and underrated, band. AR.

Ethereal. Frenetic. Despondent. You don’t have to go to public school like Radiohead to get the gist of these words as their headline set blew stoical fans away, while those waiting for ‘Creep’, waited in vain.

Though the crowd has certainly thinned out towards the end, Radiohead never once pandered to the onlookers satiated by commercial hits, but they did their own, depressingly weird thing. While ‘Just’ was thrown out, and the crowning achievement may have been ‘Idioteque;, Radiohead remained the band that never sold out. AR.

Eagles Of Death Metal
It would be easy to just dismiss Eagles Of Death Metal as some unfunny joke that went too far, but truth be told, even if you don’t like the fuzzy pop of ‘Cherry Cola’ or ‘I Want You So Hard (Boy’s Bad News)’, Eagles Of Death Metal could earn their slot on between song action alone. Whether it’s their love of the ladies – even the ones with moustaches – or Jesse Hughes’ ability to have the crowd so firmly in the palm of his hand that he need only gesture to start a cheer fight, Eagles are one of the most essential, must-see festival rock bands around. Can ya dig? RB.

Kids In Glass Houses
“Good fucking morning!” Kids In Glass Houses vocalist Aled Philips shouts by way of introduction. It’s midday on Saturday and the Welsh emo-rockers have the job of rousing an early-rising crowd. Their inoffensive but somewhat bland pop-punk is packed with melody (some of which is pretty unmemorable) is a tad similar to tonight’s NME stage headliners Lost Prophets, and there’s a million other bands out there just like them. But they get a sleepy crowd moving and as Philips hangs over the security barriers for set closer ‘Give Me What I Want’, hands and fists clawing him from every angle, it’s hard not to admire their vivaciousness. DL
The Prodigy

As the arena starts to swell with the excited and giddy it’s clear that The Prodigy have a reputation to uphold. With a green strobe flickering menacingly behind Liam Howlett, the crowd can hardly contain itself, so when their splintered guitar grooves and scattershot beats finally shoot off amidst an apocalyptic light storm it seems the entire festival, including a few burger van girls, goes absolutely apeshit. Keith ‘two belts’ Flint seems as bonkers as ever, twirling about the stage with a renewed vigour, but co-vocalist Maxim’s presence merely seems as pointless as ever. “If you aren’t here, you’re fucking nowhere”, being one of a few of Maxim’s choice nonsensical quotes that serve only to tarnish an otherwise flawless performance from a band who are clearly in a league of their own. MH

Funeral for a Friend
With retrospective ‘Your History Is Mine’ due out next month, it’s a time for reflection for Funeral For A Friend, and as a result their set largely played homage to the crowd-pleasing classics.

The hardcore bounce of first EP track ‘Art Of American Football’ and the thundering riff of the intro to ‘Streetcar’ hurry along the mini-pits at the front, frontman Matt Davies roared louder than his trucker’s mate frame should technically allow. Even new song ‘No Honour Among Thieves’ harks back to the band’s harder edged earlier material. They’ve gained a comfortable maturity since those early days, but this is proof they can still keep up with their roots. RB.

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