Carling Weekend : Reading, Radio 1 Evening Session Stage Friday

The Polyphonic Spree, Elbow, Interpol and more...

Elbow’s laudable, waif-and-stray pop majesty may remind us all what our hearts are for, but only The Polyphonic Spree can make them feel that much warmer. Now that the nation’s discerning pop fans have taken them to their bosom, Tim DeLaughter has blossomed into the Jesus Fucking Christ Superstar he already knew he was. Suffice to say, they are inspirational.

And it’s impossible to resist, even when your atheistic, cynical, pessimistic, existentialist self is trying its best to drag you down. ‘Seize the day/make the day your own’ DeLaughter croons, limbs shooting helplessly in all directions as the patently overstaffed band barely contain their own epiphanies. A near religious experience, and you don’t hear NME say that often.

Interpol, gracious and sombre, attract a better class of clientele. How could they not with such motorik moodiness and spotless attire. It’s always the bands who stand out like sore thumbs that seem to make the best racket after all.

And so it goes that Electric 6 pull off a double whammy by being this year’s tailor-made festival novelty as well as the proud purveyors of the day’s most life affirming riff. But if they’d played ‘Gay Bar’ first you suspect the tent would have emptied soon after.

Ladytron stroll onstage, detached and demure, to add a dash of electronically modified cool to proceedings. The Depeche modettes leave the day’s first last impressions.

It’s almost refreshing when Mull Historical Society coo and strum with all the quiet confidence you’d expect from a band who care not one jot what other pop parvenus are doing around them.

You’ve got to feel sorry for Alien Ant Farm’s lot in life. But, post-van crash, the also-ran nu metallers still seem to harbour under the impression that they matter. Maybe their near-fatal experiences are trying to tell them something.

Chicago rockers OK Go are, erm, OK. Despite ‘Get Over It”s niggling familiarity they are, to all intents, between stools and, one suspects, between jobs.

Saves The Day take the bare bones of punk rock and ground them into something you could take home to meet your mom. But it’s hard to knock them when they look so goddamn sincere.

That’s the spirit. Clichés ago-go before lunchtime. Indeed, Radio 1 stage openers Violent Delight think that kindergarten punk-by-numbers is all it takes to satiate the kids. By Christ, and tragically, they’re right.

Young Heart Attack: a band for whom the twin peaks of AC/DC and Joan Jett are, it seems, the only reason to make music. Angus Young should sue.

Darren Johns