August 17, 2003 12:42

V FESTIVAL CHELMSFORD, MAIN STAGE, SATURDAY

The day belongs to Coldplay, [i]obviously[/i], but The Hives and Foo Fighters can both celebrate away victories too...

V FESTIVAL CHELMSFORD, MAIN STAGE, SATURDAY
Pity poor Feeder, busking away over on the NME Stage, because there's
no doubt about who today's big draw are. Headliners Coldplay have brought their own double-cool mixtape (Donovan, loads of swirly ethereal choral stuff) to prep us for their entrance and, when they do appear, the
screams from the girls down the front are almost as loud as the roars from the beerboys at the back. And my, how they've grown: even their watershed appearance at Glastonbury last year sounds puny next to this.


Fattened by constant American touring, they alternate between piano-driven melancholy and full-on U2-type arenarock in a masterly performance. Other than two untitled new songs there are no surprises and no gimmicks, but when they play 'The Scientist' even the
Hackett-clad Essex hardmen are wiping their eyes and blaming the tears on the salt on their hog roasts. V is theirs.


As soon as Super Furry Animals finish their yeti frolics over on the NME Stage, there's a mass scramble over towards the Foo Fighters' stadium-pop-metal masterclass. The last time Dave Grohl's mob played at V, in 2001, drummer Taylor Hawkins had one too many sherries afterwards and had to be put to bed early. Now it's time to redeem themselves, which they do. In style. Dave's as devilishly charming as ever, while the rest are, well, the rest. And hey - had you realised just how many great songs
they have? From 'This Is A Call', to an extended version of 'Monkeywrench' and a ferocious 'One By One', they represent the new (vaguely) rock spirit of V.


Ash still look like the cool kids in the year above you at school, but they've been working hard for the last ten years. Hard enough to have
three-and-a-bit album's worth of breezy indie disco anthems to draw on today. So even amongst the needlessly guitar-mangling dreck there are plenty of proper mosh-frenzy classics: from sappy opener 'Girl From Mars' to the baby [/a] ramalama of 'Kung Fu', they provoke massed drunken air guitar action.


At last! The first proper rock band of the day! Yes, [a] are back, pretty much the same as they were before. Which is no bad thing, as their gutterpunk R&B shtick will never get boring. They've spent the last few months recording their new album in Sweden, but sadly spurn giving much new material an outing in favour of a brisk, scissor-kick heavy run-through of their finest moments ('Hate To Say I Told You So', 'Main Offender', 'Die Alright!'). The two new songs that they do play fit right in with the old
stuff, mainly by virtue of sounding exactly the same. Which again, is no bad thing, especially as they act as an oil-soaked garage punk antidote to the singer-songwriter guff that's clogging up today's bill. All hail.


At least [/a] have made some sort of an effort, kitting the Main Stage out with chandeliers and a pristine white keyboard. But it still must be a drag churning out endless worthy dinner party indie-lite when all
anyone wants to hear is That One Off The Car Ad. Which they play, naturally.


Sadly the horrendous queues outside mean we miss unknowns Eisley and '83 overcoat rock time-travellers [a], but as the sun shines and the first beer of the day slips down all memory of CAR TRAVEL
HELL is instantly erased by Reel Big Fish's irrepressible ska-punk
honking. Yes, it's normally the kind of music you'd willingly stick knitting needles in your ears to avoid, but something about the combination of sun, booze and brass sections is a winner. How that little trombone player guy managed to dance in this heat in a three button suit and tie is still a mystery, mind.


Michael Lane

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