Essential Festival – Rock Day : Bristol Ashton Court

Supergrass steal the show - though it isn't difficult...

Essential Festival Rock Day

Bristol Ashton Court

Day two of Essential suffers numerous cancellations due to the festival’s financial shortcomings (it’s goodbye Reef, The Coral, Asian Dub Foundation and several others), meaning rock jollies are thin on the ground. Witness the shirtless metal laceration of Onedice, Jello Biafra’s Bush-baiting polemic and the brilliant Cave In. The latter’s proggy post-hardcore is what Muse think they sound like and stark contrast to the near-offensively boring My Vitriol.

Tight-trousered sloganeering-noise from The Dirtboms, Alec Empire and this week’s Swedish garage thrillers The (International) Noise Conspiracy gives way to The Beta Band, who apologise for playing a truncated set. The biggest disappointment is that today they’re so uninspiring this comes as a blessed relief.

When headliners Supergrass strike up ‘Pumping On Your Stereo’, the sight of the hitherto bashful dashing forward from all sides is splendid. You can’t help but feel warm at the way Gaz Coombes repeatedly thanks the assembled for coming to watch – and they get a timelessly springloaded, if obvious, set in return. Two new songs jump out immediately: ‘Rushhour Soul’, a rousing Iggy-cum-Who anthem with a typical killer ‘Grass chorus, and ‘Grace’, whose almost saccharine overtone makes it a probable single. Inevitably, it’s good to have them back.

Noel Gardner