August 26, 2003
Carling Weekend : Reading, Main Stage Saturday
Blur, BRMC, Beck and more...
Tonight will probably be remembered as one of the greatest Blur shows of all time. From Damon falling off the stage during 'Beetlebum' and putting a dent into the ground beneath him to Phil Daniels joining them for a tin-pot, acoustic version of 'Parklife', Blur make every spare moment a memorable one. Putting bad blood behind them, they draw attention to the gaping vocal hole in 'Tender' by asking the crowd to sing along to Graham's part, ("without wishing to be too sentimental"). As 'This Is A Low' brings the set to a close, Damon begins to well-up over what has surely been an important exercise in survival for him.
White Stripes stand-ins Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, do the unimaginable tonight - they get a sense of humour and play a cover of 'Elephant''s 'The Hardest Button To Button'. Admittedly they don't dress up in red and white as The Flaming Lips did whilst covering for the Detroit duo at T In The Park, but the rest of the show is uncharacteristically crowd-pleasing. Bashing out the hits from 'B.R.M.C' and the best of new album 'Take Them On, On Your Own', the band prove themselves worthy of replacements.
When Beck last played Reading in 2000 he gaffered-up the main stage in masking tape and - with the most exciting stage show of the century - blew the roof of every kebab vendor in the field. This year, he's got more weighty issues, namely the earnest acoustica of latest album, 'Sea Change'. There is still the odd moment of pure-pop fun (a medley of Justin, Beyonce and Nelly, for example) but for the most part this is straight, dullish dirge.
Competing with the camp metal of sailor boys, Turbonegro, over on the otherwise baggy-panted Concrete Jungle stage, Doves bring a touch of earthly, conservative reality to events. So it's all the more surprising how entertaining they actually are. With the odd electronic nod to their dance-pop past and a glorious rendition of 'There Goes The Fear', they politely kick those Euro-boys' roman candle-filled arses.
It's a world gone mad where not just The Strokes but also The Streets have new material up their sleeves. Unfortunately, unlike The Strokes, Mike Skinner's is pretty lacklustre. Where his wide-boy charisma was once a welcome relief from faux-ghetto bluster and art-school drop-out mumblings, a year and a half down the line he may have new songs but he's still without any new gags.
So, Pete Doherty doesn't make it and the credits go up on one of the most exciting, real and tragic rock operas of recent years. Carl, plus the remaining and recently acquired Libs, roll out an admirable performance that is both determined and strong but which inevitably lacks the shambolic electricity of past. Meanwhile, we're still holding out for the sequel, where Pete checks into rehab before emerging in a blaze of Robbie Williams style 'Fuck You all, Y'all' glory.
Senior's still large, bouncy and gay, while Junior's still little, cute and straight. And despite a garnishing of new numbers, 'Move Your Feet' is still Junior Senior's best song. Sometimes it's good to have the odd thing you can depend on in life.
"What's up muthafuckers?" queries Cave In mainman, Stephen Brodsky. Well let's see now, umm, you terrible cunts have just arrived for starters. Still, what they lack in passion, tunes, subtlety and humour, they more than make up for with a guitarist who can growl like a little piglet being tortured in hell.
Wandering on with grey-stained eyes and with strange muttering noises emanating from his self, Sleepy Jackson's Luke Steele looks like he had a heavy one last night. While someone should tell him that pulling out a knife and fork and attempting to breakfast on the strings of his guitars isn't going to help his hangover, those sweet lullaby coos and innocent psychedelic noodlings will - on the other hand - go down a treat.
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