Day 2 starts for me with the glorious Two Door Cinema Club on the main stage. The Irish three-piece get everyone in a good mood as the heat of the sun hits the backs of the festival-goers for the first time. With songs like, ‘Do you Want It All?, This Is The Life, and ‘Something Good Can Work’ are summer anthems. Even in all this rain and mud, Two Door allow us all to cling on to the small hope of a drier weekend and forget for an hour that summer is coming to an end.
The next band on the agenda are the mighty glassjaw in the NME tent. After a mad dash to get there on time, i was marginally disappointed with their set. I’m a fan of their older stuff from, ‘Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Silence.’ The album that the Post-Hardcore New Yorkers despise due to the ongoing tension with Roadrunner Records. So nothing on that album gets a play, their new EP ‘Colouring Book’ gets all the glory, which is not what people were expecting. Though, I’m glad i was fortunate to see them, Darryl Palumbo’s vocal is strong and the band are as tight as ever, which the crowd seems to appreciate.
PULP. PULP. PULP. The chants simmer among the front of the main stage in preparation for the Britpop legends. Before everyone starts to get annoyed at the 15 minutes delayed arrival and the weird laser question generator to start their set. It read, ‘Are you ready’ and everyone cheered, ‘yeaahhh.’ This developed for about 10 minutes until the cheers and whoops got more frustrated and unenthusiastic. Alas, when they finally take to the stage everyone springs back to their happy, enthusiastic selves as they play fantastically and listen intently to Jarvis Cocker’s banter as he compares the London Riots to a game of Grand Theft Auto.
Another political band take to the stage this evening as well. The King Blues are famously open with their beliefs against the state and the media and they reiterate this in their set in the Lock-Up tent. Slating The Daily Mail is among the plan for the evening as well as playing their angst-ridden and remarkably genuine tracks that are more like poetry in some cases brought to life by confident frontman Johnny ‘Itch’ Fox. The crowd in the tent are loving every minute of it and shout the words back as if they are wanting to get something off their chests.
So it’s that time of the year again for the infamous Reading Festival to kick off. After a night in a leaking tent, I set off in search of some music to heal my damp soul. After battling through the mud, I come across Frankie and the Heartstrings in the NME tent, who give the crowd enough energy for the whole day as they chant back the ‘oh oh oh woahs’ of ‘Hunger.’ In the process, Frankie Francis describes his Sunderland squad as a ‘Camp Geordie Shaw.’ Errr i suppose, judging from their array of shirts and oh so indie haircuts?
Welsh mob The Blackout are rocking the main stage for their first time this year, which is nice to see. Everyone is enjoying themselves, a few scattered circle pits appear and a couple of handfuls of crowd surfers make their first attempts of the weekend.
Nashvillie rockers, Mona give a performance that I was very impressed by. As the husky vocals of frontman, Nick Brown erupt around the tent as they play ‘Listen To Your Love’ and ‘Teenager’, love inspired tracks that give the audience their Kings Of Leon fix.
The Festival Republic Stage is calling me, for a bit of Foster The People. The tent is packed, everyone has obviously heard about the brilliant live performance that this trio give. There’s a lot of dancing and arm waving to the synth-driven sounds of FTP as favourite ‘Pumped Up kicks’ is literally pumped around the room leaving everyone feeling revitalised.
I knew the next performance would be one of my highlights for the weekend, and boy did it live up to that. The Vaccines are who I’m talking about here. Easily the best band to come out of 2011. Singer Justin Young announces a good compromise between the band and the crowd, ‘I promise you if you give us everything you’ve got, we’ll give you everything we’ve got.’ The four-piece give their all in their all in their 45 minute set banging out their back catalogue with The Horrors’ Tom Furse joining them for several numbers. A dazzling performance all round, I mean come on, What did you expect from The Vaccines?
So, now I’ve gone from one of the best performances of the weekend to quite possibly the worst. 30 Seconds To Mars. Jared Leto and the other two. Don’t get me wrong on CD they have penned some powerful tunes. But live, it’s another kettle of fish. Leto’s microphone is seriously quiet, you can hear the distant fans sing louder than him. He tries to make up for it by inviting the more ‘unusually’ dressed members of the crowd to add a bit of colour to the performance with tigers and mohawk clad men arriving on stage. Apparently it’s they’re last UK show in a while, shame.
I can say, hand on heart that I’ve never been the biggest fan of My Chemical Romance. They’ve always just been morbid men with instruments in my eyes. But this all changed on Friday night, they are an astonishingly decent live band. After performing an array of their hits from their past records they bring the one and only Mr Brian May on stage with them for a rendition of ‘We Will Rock You’ as well as their famous, ‘The Black Parade.’ Genius idea to wrap up day one nicely.
Decent covers are few and far between these days. They’re either really good or really bad. It’s all comes down to striking a happy medium between the amount of influence from the original and the amount of influence from the cover artist. Too much weight either way and you’ve failed.
But I’ve found one here in Luke Leighfield and Jose Vanders’ cover of Bon Iver’s ‘Blindsided.’ Both singer/songwriters are talented in their own right, shown in their previous releases and the way their craft has been combined here is pure genius.
Jose’s angelic vocal delicately harmonises with Luke’s deeper tone. The voices integrate with the gentle piano, giving the song the soft backbone it needs and leaving you with a goosebump-worthy piece that will leave you in awe.
‘Blindsided’ will be up for free download on 5th September.
Luke and Jose’s split EP is released on 19th September on Got Got Need Records.
Ben Howard’s captivating voice oozes with wisdom and enchantment, sitting perfectly upon some fine acoustic noodling. The video captures the essence of the single, in the natural and vibrant surroundings. It paints an image of the chilled out track as Howard buzzes an honest mantra, ‘Keep your head up, keep your heart strong.’ Effortlessly beautiful.
‘Spector’ are one of those bands that sound cool, in their namesake and in the overall vibe of their single, ‘Never Fade Away.’ Singer Fred Macpherson bares a confident yet solemn tone to his voice, as he repeats ‘You know i’ll never fade away.’ The vocal rests over a slow initial beat and gradually developing in to a steady effort from all five members, which reminds me of ‘Pulp.’ With their simple lyrics, seen to be a trend this year with bands like ‘The Vaccines’, ‘Spector’ are on to a winner.
You can sense the energy in this track a mile off. The Oxford boys’ experimental direction allows ‘Crystals’ to vibrate in its upbeat charm and the use of panning creates illusions for your ears. Literally. Their brilliant single, ‘SWIMMHAUS JOHANNESBURG’ was released earlier this month, we’re just waiting on their much anticipated debut now.
Various bands have changed their name over the years to achieve a better selling and snappier identity. Take Oasis for example, they used to be called, ‘The Rain.’ Pretty boring, you see. ‘Oasis’ sounds sharp, they ain’t messing about. Now, take ‘Viva Brother’, who previously went under the brilliant name of ‘Brother.’ No unnecessary syllables to get in the way, no just ‘Brother.’ Along came a lawsuit regarding an Australian band with the same namesake and BAM, ‘Brother’ have lost their edge. Welcome, ‘Viva Brother.’
Their name change has been a detriment to the Slough four-piece and it’s a shame. The hype surrounding them this past year has been massive and now their debut, ‘Famous First Words’ has received more than it’s fair share of bad words. I can’t help but think that it’s down to that fatal name alteration along with their strong sound that resembles their Britpop influences maybe a little too much in some cases.
‘Viva Brother’ may sound like the resurrected product of Blur and Oasis combined, with a slight hint of freshness depending on the angle you look at it. But, they can write a song regardless of who they sound like, I’ll give them that. There are some notable high points on the record. Opener, ‘New Years Day’ introduces the record as it means to go on. A punchy beat and some Britpop-sounding riffs and some cool crafted refrains that encourage the listener to sing along, whether they’re a fan or not. Previous single, ‘Still Here’ and ‘David’ also boast these components, as does, ‘Darling Buds Of May’ with its refrain, ‘When you walk, I feel so much better now, because her birthdays in May.’ With the high-pitched vocal, it’s surprisingly catchy. ‘Time Machine’ provides a deep bass, some la la la’s and again some individual lyricism. ‘Love is a time machine, bringing you back to me.’ Deep stuff.
Even with all the hype and conflicting views about ‘Viva Brother’, its fair to say that they can pen a decent track and can get a crowd hyped up in no time. Though, Next time for everyone’s sake they should allow a fraction more of their individuality shine through to their music.