Wembley Stadium

A mid-set flourish of a frenetic [B]'Walk This Way'[/B], [B]'I Don't Want To Miss A Thing'[/B] and a lighter-assisted[B] 'Cryin''[/B] means that, by the time they come to do the inevitable encores,

The rural idyll isn’t everybody’s cup of tea. While an alternative nation of cool cats swelter in the sun at [a]Glastonbury[/a], the not-quite-so trendy have gathered at Wembley to worship at the heathen shrine of rock. More specifically, they’re here to see [a]Aerosmith[/a] and a bunch of other artists not booked on a stage at Glasto.

Hence, at 2pm, instead of dreaming of dry mud and reefer fumes, 3 Colours Redfind themselves engaging in the thankless task of warming up a bunch of distinctly cold-shouldered metalheads. Perched precariously at the edge of a stage over-laden with other bands’ equipment, Chris McCormack and his black-clad brethren strive vainly to bring their glamourpuss punk racket to the masses. They give it their best for a while, hammering through the Jane’s Addiction-ish ‘Paranoid People’, but the weekend rockers are having none of it. “We’re going to have to slow it down,” says McCormack eventually. “There isn’t enough room to move up here.” Not much of an excuse, but worth a try.

If 3 Colours Red are battling for recognition, then The Black Crowes have a much more serious war on their hands. Their keyboardist having been hospitalised overnight, they are compelled to play their first ‘keys free’ show for a decade. However, what should be an under-rehearsed shambles ends up being the show of the Crowes‘ life. Chris Robinson pirouettes around his mic stand, coquettishly licking his fingers and out-Jaggering any Jagger you’d care to mention while the band spit out ultra-sinuous renditions of ‘Hard To Handle’, the titanic ‘Kicking My Heart Around’ and even Fleetwood Mac‘s ‘Oh Well’. “I believe that’s what you call proper rock’n’roll,” drawls Robinson. An arrogant swine sure, but on this performance, at least he’s got the skills to back that front up.

Sadly the day doesn’t end there, and the distinctly barbed baton is passed on to the Stereophonics. Here is an opportunity to prove their credentials as the middle point between indie-rock and balls-out metal, and while they don’t completely blow it, they certainly learn what a tough task uniting those two disparate tribes is. Their set is a running battle, as the crowd vacillate between open-hearted enthusiasm for the ones with big shouty choruses (‘A Thousand Trees’, ‘Just Looking’) to lukewarm indifference for anything with a pretence at a soul (‘Traffic’, ‘Not Up To You’). While they hardly bomb, you can’t help thinking they’d be happier in a certain field about 300 miles away. “Who needs [a]Glastonbury[/a]?” sneers Kelly Jones. Sour grapes, anyone?

No? Well would a load of coiffeured, over-marketed toss masquerading as rock’n’roll suit you? Much to the annoyance of those sickened by the sound of ‘Are You Gonna Go My Way’ seeping out of car windows during rush hour, Lenny Kravitz is back and on terrifyingly efficient form. He ushers a rapt audience on a lengthy ersatz rock-gospel stroll, through a song about revolution which he follows, stupidly, with a song used to advertise cars. Yes, ‘Fly Away’ is quite possibly the most offensive record ever but sadly, thanks to the cretinous will of the public, it will not be the last we hear from him.

While Kravitz is busy clawing his way back to the second-top rung of stardom, [a]Aerosmith[/a] have long since set up camp on the top one. That they are ‘proper’ rock stars cannot be in any doubt, nor can their credentials for spotting a good pop tune, but for once their sense of showbiz timing has deserted them. Steven Tyler and guitarist Joe Perry hurtle forth with an opening flurry of soft-rock splendour – including ‘Toys In The Attic’ and ‘Love In An Elevator’.

Thereafter it takes them a good while, and a great deal of blues-rock chugging and scat-boogie chuntering, to get their collective breath back. And once they have recovered, a mid-set flourish of a frenetic ‘Walk This Way’, ‘I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing’ and a lighter-assisted ‘Cryin” means that, by the time they come to do the inevitable encores, they’ve effectively run out of recognisable songs – a fact which no amount of offstage fireworks can effectively disguise. In the long shadow of the Twin Towers, for once this was anything but a grandstand finish.