Nelly Furtado, The Charlatans, Muse and The Avalanches rock Chelmsford...
Give or take ‘Australian superstar’ Jimmy Barnes, success is the name of the game today. From the smooth, coffee-table hip-hop of Spooks to the lip-glossed sheen of Texas, only bands who come with a string of chart statistics and songs we all know the words to are welcome here.
At least Nelly Furtado delivers The Hits (and a whole lot more) with giddy enthusiasm. Like a ball of energy in a camouflage bandanna, she blows kisses and storms through a haphazard version of Missy Elliott‘s ‘Get Ur Freak On’. Those waiting to dismiss her as pretty pop fluff are sorely disappointed.
Embrace, too, have always known how to win a crowd over. Their tenderly melancholic new material is put on hold today in favour of the greatest hits (‘All You Good, Good People’ is still a classic). They give us a pointed, glorious reminder why we fell in love with them in the first place at a time when it’s fairly easy to forget.
And anyway, most people are just waiting to see Coldplay. These days they might have the self-assured, stadium-worthy new songs and the odd celebrity mate – comedian Simon Pegg of ‘Spaced’ plays harmonica on ‘Don’t Panic’ – but it’s the tireless grace and sincerity with which they appreciate all this that makes them endearing. It’s an equal thrill to welcome back The Charlatans. As vital and life-affirming as ever, they open in the only way possible in these circumstances with ‘The Only One I Know’. In sunglasses and denim, Tim Burgess looks untouched by the years and brilliant, jagged new single ‘Love Is The Key’ proves the band are every bit as relevant now as they ever were.
WEMBLEY TV STAGE
Wheatus are not so much a band as a piece of shit. They make us wait for ages and ages (in the fucking drizzle) for ‘Teenage Dirtbag’ by playing loads of stuff that wasn’t ‘Teenage Dirtbag’ but sounded awfully, awfully like it. The twats.
Ah – JJ72! We meet at last. Very noisy and dramatic and all that but why do they just [I]stand[/I] there? Like twats? Haven’t they ever seen a proper rock band? Well maybe they should have stayed around for Muse. Who are mental. And what a shockingly good guitarist that horror movie-faced screeching-weasel Bellamy lad is. A word of warning though, young man – as absofuckinglutely brilliant as you were, there were also moments of knuckle-sucking pretentiousness that put one in mind of nothing so much as that bit in ‘Spinal Tap’ where Nigel Tufnel attempts Mozart by scraping a bow across his Strat. Like a twat. But given that you gave such a brilliant performance of ‘Newborn’ (which contains enough chewns to last JJ72 an entire album), we’ll let you off this time. But think on.
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The Avalanches shouldn’t work. Their magpie approach to dance music has seen them rob from more sources than every other sampling act combined. Surprisingly though, theirs is a fine frenetic live show. The stage is swamped by lights and personnel and though the biggest cheers are reserved for singles ‘Since I Left You’ and ‘Frontier Psychiatrist’ there’s enough in the tank to suggest there are more gems to come.
But trendy new dance/crossover acts aside, today’s highlight was always going to be Kylie. Making no concessions to mud or beered-up Essex boys, Miss Minogue brings us theatre, high camp and relief from the rainy stadium rock we’ve had to put up with all day from the other stages. While the DJ plays ‘Boys Boys Boys’ and ‘D.I.S.C.O’, she makes her entrance from a raised platform on the back of the stage. Dressed in a slinky black dress and a jaunty hat cocked just so, she swirls around the stage while her dancers vogue frantically.
As lights flash and band members and dancers enter and exit – one minute in cropped American football uniforms, in beachwear the next – Kylie flits through it all effortlessly.
She yips and yelps, changes costumes (check the Eminem nod on that ‘Slim Lady’ sparkly vest), runs through a SAW medley from the glory days, causes frowns with new material that doesn’t quite float but still completely carries off a brilliantly entertaining show. There’s a nagging feeling that Madonna would make this look like a school play, but that is a churlish point. It’s candyfloss and a fine way to close.