The V Festival @ Weston Park, Stafford, Staffordshire (Sunday, 22/08/04)
The Divine Comedy
Rodrigo Y Gabriela
The Divine Comedy
We'd just arrived and sat down when on came the Divine Comedy. I thought ok this could be cool. Unfortunately, I struggled to enjoy it. The singer just always seems a little too pleased with himself. Maybe I'm missing some irony or something but the songs are pitched somewhere in the no-man's land between serious and heart felt and amusing stories. They're neither. Just helpless and stranded. I urged our party to move on after enduring a few songs. I could've coped with that National Express one but it wasn't played before we lost interest. We wandered over to the JJB Arena tent where Claire was keen to see "Deepest Blue"
Rodrigo Y Gabriela
When we arrived in the tent there I was blinded by the darkness. It was really pitch black. There were about 6 entrances to the tent. But the tent was barely lit and large numbers of bodies seemed to soak up any light the small doorways were allowing in. However, there they were, this incredible spanish-guitar weilding couple. They were playing some classical stuff and then some more modern-sounding jazzy stuff with the occasional bit of contemporary rock thrown in for good measure (Metallica's "One", The White Stripes' "Seven Nation Army" and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers' "Don't Stop"). It was great. Plus, they were using their mic-ed guitars to good effect creating rhythms by slapping and drumming on the bodies and strings. It felt a bit at times like we were being initiated into some clandestine cult. Why does someone always have to spoil it though. That's right, somebody must've decided it would be really cool to have loads of inflatable balls bouncing on the audience's heads. People were lunging for them and punching them. It was too dark for those kinds of acrobatics (despite it being an unwanted distraction from the act!) as proved by a guy in front of me who lunged for a declining ball, missed and inadvertantly threw his pint up in the air. Some landed on me. Great, it was only 1pm and my clothes were to smell of lager from then on. Wicked.
After they finished we trotted out and the fellowship disbanded with Claire and Mike going to see Deepest Blue and myself and Lisa hot-footing over to the Music Choice tent to check out Polly Paulusma. The annoying thing about festivals (apart from the general skegginess) is the fact that you cannot walk in a straight line or with any kind of velocity due to the volume of zombies. Nevermind.
We got to the Music Choice tent eventually. It was cooler and less packed than the JJB Arena tent thankfully. Unforunately, we'd taken too long to cross the site (it didn't help that we stopped off at the Wine Bar to get some cheeky beverages) and we only got to see 2 or 3 of Polly's songs. She finished with "Over the Hill" which is one of my favourites. She introduced it as being a song about beer. She also said she couldn't wait to go and see lots of other bands. She played piano on her own for one number and then invited a double-bass player and a drummer back on for the last song. She was wearing a floral dress which if I'm honest was a poor choice. It made her look much older than I suspect she really is. Maybe this was intentional. Who knows!
We caught most of Athlete's set on the main stage from some distance. It was pretty chilled out and I think they went down well. The were just a bit too happy and safe for me to get too excited about them though.
We ploughed forward into the large crowd before the main stage to get our places for Pink. We reconvened with Mike and Claire and braced ourselves. I'm not a huge Pink fan. I know quite a lot of her songs and I cannot deny that they're generally very catchy and sing-a-long-able. The band came on after 4 large inflatable spikey columns had been erected. The crowd roared as the band took up their positions and promptly launched into the first number (I think it was "Don't let me get me". Then PInk's voice came across but where was she? She wasn't on stage. It then emerged that she was behind the drum kit singing whilst kicking out a reasonably professional percussive accompaniment. After the intro, she jumped off the kit and onto the front of the stage and a regular drummer took her place and off they went. It was good set. She really whipped up the crowd. There were lots of flags being waved and ladies on gentlemen's shoulders.
Pink said we were better than Chelmsford were yesterday. This was very flattering. (Imagine my disappointment when I saw bands saying exactly the same thing about us to crowds in Chelmsford on the tv footage the next day!)
After queueing for what seemed like about an hour in a queue that just never ended to access a cash machine, we trundled over to get a decent view of Keane. Dashboard Confessional were on before them and they were, in my opinion, decidedly bland depsite having a song on the Spiderman 2 Soundtrack (apparently). It's amazing how fast they prepare stages for the next band at festivals these days. The whole drum kit just rolls on in one fell swoop. As we were waiting the crowds built up and there was a real air of expectation. Virtually everyone has bought (or acquired by other means) Keane's debut album and they seem to be the band of the moment. In retrospect, they should've been performing on the main stage (such was their popularity) and not the NME stage. Anyway by the time Keane graced the stage we must've been about 20-25 rows from the front and with a really decent view. The sea of an audience went on for miles behind us. I'd never seen them before and I liked their live sound. Despite claiming to proudly be a three-piece I thought they would surely employ a fourth member, a bass player in a live environment but no! They did it all with just three. The singer I realised was what might have happened to Aled Jones if he'd stuck two fingers up at the Snowman and his music teacher and said "I want to rock instead". We all bobbed up and down and sang along to Bedshaped, Somewhere only we know, Everybody's changing and so on. It was a good performance with lots of enthusiasm. They were visibly having a ball and everyone was very much up for them. The lowlight of the performance was the girl in front of me getting hit in the face by a soggy nectarine lobbed from no man's land.
This is my third time with Amy in under a year. I must be developing some kind of unjustifiable obsession! Once again, she was wearing an ill-fitting outfit. She was wearing a tight pink and black tigerskin patterned dress which was very short and kept wanting to ride itself up further. This, combined with the fact that the stage was higher up then us near the front and the fact that Amy does more than her fair share or seductive thigh rubbing stuff it was a wonder her pants were never revealed to the massses.
I was hoping that she would still be using Mr virtuoso guitarist to my glee, she was. She also had the same bass player and 3-piece brass section although I have a suspicion that she's changed her drummer (or at least used a different one for V!)
She played the Frank songs (I'm not sure she has any others?) and she's fleshed them and/or changed them out even more severely since last time. This is interesting but in true "Bob Dylan Live" style, her changes have put stop to any audience participation. I wonder whether this is no accident. Keane, certainly embraced the voices of thousands on their choruses. She's no Keane.
Stood quite far away from the main stage. Ok, so we admired her from about half a mile. She was just visible on the large video screens. She was reasonable but I won't pretend I'm her biggest fan. She waded through a set of songs about ex boyfriends and mistreament (introducing each in a regretful manner).
Muse came on and Matt said "Er, we're playing as a four piece tonight so bear with us". We certainly did! I can't think of a better band to end and headline such a festival. The extra fourth member was a bass player from the Streets (I think). Basically, Muse's regular bass player/backing singer, Chris, had bust his hand whilst on tour in the US recently. So, they draughted a replacment in. Chris was still there singing and playing a bit of keyboard. A guy stood not far behind us kept shouting "I love you Matth-yew!".
Matt was truly on form (is this guy ever off form??) and wasn't about to let a bass player's dodgy hand spoil their V appearance. Muse certainly deserve a rest from touring and besides, I'm looking forward to their next album and these things don't write themselves.
Unfortunately we left about half way through their set as we decided we wanted to stand a chance of getting out fo the car park.
We ended up sitting in the car for 3 hours waiting to exit a large field. Not the best end to a great day. I think they may need to rethink their exit strategies for festival goers next year.
according to Dad Man on Sunday, August 22, 2004