Adrian Cooper has been unwell

Old reviews that are no longer available online, or from sites that no longer exist. The pen is dead, long live the camera.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Reading Festival, 1998

Life in Girls Against Boys doesn't appear to be particularly easy at the moment. Scott McCloud's sexmusik groovers are hampered by not only by being the first band of the day on the main stage when they would have been better off playing the Maker tent, but also by equipment failure. The problems are added to by their decisions to use only one bass instead of their former two, and employ a DJ to provide extra backing, so the resultant mediocre performance is probably best forgotten.

Following on from Saturday's grunge resurgence, the Sonic Youth legacy is revisited as Six By Seven ramraid 'Daydream Nation' for inspiration. Their mix of experimental dynamics and sledge-hammer harmonies blast through the tent like an American jet in a skiing resort, with an awe-inspiring display of sonic pyrotechnics creating a very beautiful shape indeed. Urusei Yatsura ambush the stage armed only with their battered guitars and an even more battered copy of the Youth's 'Goo'. Opening with a barrage of feedback, Urusei's set has been honed to a razor sharp edge, making it all the better for slaying both elves and doubters. As purveyors of the Scottish lo-fi sound, Graham and Fergus mistreat their guitars with a pleasure and malice not seen since Hannibal Lecter last prepared for a dinner party, working off each other like a pair of true superfi stormtroopers.

Due to Neil Hagerty's reluctance to travel by any means other than the QE2, a depleted Royal Trux make their final British appearance of the summer. Although Ariel M guitarist, and former Slint mainstay, Dave Pajo has been recruited for the performance, he doesn't take on any of Neil's vocal duties, and the added absence of backing singer Rian Murphy means that the vocals are provided solely by Jennifer Herrema's impression of Mariella Frostrup with bronchitis. The loose Stonesy, p-funk groove is also sacrificed in favour of a tight growling deliverance, and, despite upstaging many of the bands that played over the weekend, the Trux are merely a shadow of the brilliance they so aptly displayed earlier this year.

Back together once more, New Order return to Reading after headlining six years ago, and it's like they've never been away. Only stopping short of getting John Barnes on loan from Newcastle for the weekend, the greatest hits set even delves back into the Joy Division archives, and New Order prove that age needn't make everyone as obsolete and boring as Page and Plant.

In the finest festival tradition, Spiritualized close the weekend, and their blistering atmospherics act as an ethereal enema. The sheer volume coming off the stage is like being caught in a hurricane, with the pressure and noise building until your body is shaking and vibrating in time. The crescendo roaring through you is almost enough to make your eyes bleed, and your thoughts and senses begin to merge until all you can do is surrender to the emotion and energy being generated onstage. Once again, Spiritualized have created the sweetest soul music, and in true Spiritualized fashion, Jason Pierce is the only person left unmoved by the experience.