“We’re not hot,” Brody Dalle tells the crowd, clearly the coolest person at any swelterfest, “it’s been a long time, Reading…” Around 15 years, by our count and, throughout what rock historians are calling The Mumfordian Age, The Distillers have been dearly missed. They tear back into R&L like no time has passed since their last set here in 2004; ignoring their new tracks ‘Man Vs Magnet’ and ‘Blood In The Gutters’ altogether, they pile into their celebrated noughties albums ‘Sing Sing Death House’ and ‘Coral Fang’, setting the pace firmly at ‘breakneck’.
The Distillers were always one of those rare tune-aware garage punk bands capable of making the deeply grimy sound almost anthemic, and so it goes with ‘Sick Of It All’, grunge punk monsters like ‘Dismantle Me’ and the eminently chantable ‘Hall Of Mirrors’. Both grindhouse and IMAX at the same time, ‘Seneca Falls’ is about as euphoric as gutter punk gets, and just when you think things are starting to feel a little one-paced come ‘I Am A Revenant’ – probably the catchiest zombie apocalypse rock tune ever – they up it to ‘supersonic’ for ‘Die On A Rope’.
Their melodic edge gradually sharpens as ‘Beat Your Heart Out’ adopts a Blondie chug and ‘City Of Angels’ hints at a pure punk ballroom bop, culminating in their roaring roadhouse classic ‘Drain The Blood’. Melodic and monolithic; Reading 2019’s missing ingredient.