Having spent the weekend in Victoria Park in East London with all the pollen and 'wacky backy’ smells it could throw at us, we are still marvelling at the quality of bands on hand over the Saturday and Sunday.
Saturday kicked off for us with The Districts. These guys really did put in a shift in the early afternoon on the North Stage. The festival had four stages with North and East being the main band stages with a five-minute ish, walk between the two.
First band on the East stage for us was Nottingham’s Amber Run. A rock band who it was difficult to place. They sound like many bands you have heard before yet, you can’t think which ones!
Public Service Broadcasting were on the North stage and went down a storm in the sunshine with a set drawn from just about every album they have made. The sight of the kids dancing around to songs from the sombre ‘Every Valley’ album about the South Wales mining industry and communities was quite bizarre, but hey, they are a great band.
We stayed around the East stage for the rest of the afternoon, it was a really good size and the crowd was very chilled. Broken Social Scene played a storming set packing in as many songs as they possibly could in their allotted time-slot.
Warpaint just have a vibe and aura around them, their sound is such that it seems to flow right though you. A superb set. Final band of the day on the North Stage was The War on Drugs who have found a niche with their sound and like Warpaint it is a signature vibe that has you dancing and jumping around after the first chorus. Lot’s of head-nodding as well!
Final band of the day (with no-one else playing on any other stages) was The National. The day’s headliners where playing the vast East Stage in front of 35,000 people. It does not seem that many years ago we were watching the band at the London ULU Students Union. The band have remained constant while the stage show has gown bigger and bigger and then, bigger still.
They can handle it though and whilst, the set list these days are just peppered with a few older songs, the show is a triumph. Last year the band played four nights at Hammersmith. Let’s hope that it is that size venue next time rather than the likes of the O2.
Sunday started off with 70’s time traveller Richard Strange and band and, yet again the first band of the day is really good. Lots of history to cover which you can read here. The band play Bush Hall in London on Saturday 9th June.
If the line up on Saturday was great, Sunday was aiming to surpass that, The Magic Gang from Brighton were great fun in the sun. Clearly influenced by Teenage Fanclub and maybe The Shins, this band should go far.
Shame from Leeds where really full of punk rock energy and giving their all to their performance in the afternoon heat on the main stage. A band that are really making a name for themselves this year.
Next it’s Nadine Shah. A lady with an incredible voice and a heart vey much in the right place speaking out for the down trodden and those really who deserve to be treated better in this world of ours today. This fire and passion translates into her songs and performance which is brilliant.
Courtney Barnett gives us all a lesson In garage rock on the main stage. No fuss, no backdrops, no fancy lighting just 4 piece rock n’ roll! Patti Smith is on our list at Cambridge Folk festival so, we wander back to the North Stage for St. Vincent.
Oh my, best decision of the weekend. Annie Clark is a musician and performer with a head full of ideas. The stage set is ‘out there’, the band walk on and there’s a gasp (see the show to find out why), the band take their position as Annie appears, incredibly stylish and with a costumed guitar tech passing her brightly coloured and cusom made Ernie Ball guitars all set long which, she in turn plays incredibly well on a superb list of songs. With so many great performances over the weekend, St. Vincent did actually land on top of the pile!
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds played arenas to great effect last year. This year’s festival headline set is equally as good. Shorter, being a festival, and in such a large crowd it was always going to be difficult to concentrate on such intense songs, which was a shame. Kylie’s appearance for ‘Where the Wild Roses Grow” was very special. It remains much like the feeling after the National show, indoors next time please.
A brilliant weekend, can they surpass this line-up in 2019?, let’s see.