Over the bank holiday weekend, Radio One took their annual pop extravaganza to Norwich – home to Alan Partridge and Delia Smith and the kind of place it’s fair to say that Taylor Swift wouldn’t normally pop down to on a Sunday night.
The two days of performances featured everyone from Catfish & The Bottlemen to Snoop Dogg to David Guetta, but it was those hawking new wares that thrilled the most. Providing some of the first glimpses of new sets from Muse (headlining Download), Foo Fighters (headlining Glastonbury) and Florence (working around basically the whole European festival circuit), it gave a sneak peek into what some of the biggest moments of summer 2015 could look like.
Here are the five best performances from across the weekend:
Foo Fighters, ‘Congregation’
It’s doubtful that, come June 25, Foo Fighters will have much trouble getting Worthy Farm onside. Though they’re yet to pop their Pyramid Stage-headlining cherry, Dave Grohl and co are as seasoned a festival band as they come. Still, it’s good to see that they’ve got a hold on the visual side of things too. Keeping it unflashy but still striking, ‘Congregation’ saw the group perform against a stained glass style backdrop – Grohl leading his parish at rock’s most blistering church service.
Slaves feat Skepta, ‘Shutdown’
You’d be hard-pressed to find a better cover this year than Slaves’ take on this Skepta track – debuted on Radio One’s Live Lounge earlier this month. Word-perfectly recreating the 100mph rap while simultaneously keeping the drumbeat, it cements singing drummer Isaac Holman as one of the UK’s best new frontmen. What’s even better than Slaves doing Skepta, however? Slaves and Skepta teaming up, of course. Everything, from the timing, to the humour to the technical brilliance of this performance is totally on point.
Florence & The Machine, ‘Ship To Wreck’
Flo’s got a big summer ahead of her. Returning after two years away to top the bill across Europe and nip at the heels of the UK headliners at Glastonbury, you sense it’d take a dramatic cock up to stop her inevitable rise to Pyramid Stage headliner in the very near future. ‘How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful’ is the album that should do it for her and, even confined to a stool after a breaking her foot, its offerings sound huge.
Clad in uniform black with an army of spotlights flashing around them, Muse’s performance was, unsurprisingly, one of the weekend’s most theatrical. Take their dystopian visions away from the pop crowds of Radio One and into the thrashing throng of Download, however, and imagine how dark it will get. Muse are starting to look like they’ll fill their status as heavy rock headliners with ease.
The Vaccines, ‘Dream Lover’
Swapping fidgety urgency with expansive, growling riffs and ‘AM’-style swagger, ‘Dream Lover’ is perhaps the finest example on third LP ‘English Graffiti’ of how far The Vaccines have come. While two albums of rattling Ramones energy might have quickly shot them to the top of the UK’s indie pile, their new set is where they prove they’re here for the long haul.