6.01pm: Parachuting onsite, armed only with some Y2K-friendly sandwiches and a pocket-sized copy of [I]Nostradamus: All The Predictions And More![/I], [I]NME [/I]is alarmed to discover that the atmosphere is still at home adjusting its curlers. Still, at least the heinous whiff of corporate sponsorship is nowhere to be seen – an all too rare occurrence in these strange days of product-driven entertainment and Kentucky Fried Festivals. Instead, the scattered flocks of deely-boppered worshippers are able to revel without being constantly molested by evil millennium merchants. Hurrah!
screeches an observant Tommy Scott, peering into a nearly empty main arena like a huffy pageant queen. SPACE may well merit admiration for their dogged allegiance to Britpop’s crumbling kingdom, but tonight their endearingly maladroit silliness singularly fails to impress.
In fact, only ‘Begin Again’ manages to stoke pop’s celestial furnace, probably because it is Alex Harvey‘s sensational, moustache-twiddling nephew and it rocks like something very mountainous indeed. Meanwhile, the appearance of Cerys Matthews on the arena’s twin screens during ‘The Ballad Of Tom Jones’ attracts the evening’s first millennium-worthy japery – albeit in the rather alarming form of some bare-chested scallies beating themselves about the cranium with glo-sticks.
7.40pm:It starts to rain. Bugger.
8.04pm: THE LIGHTNING SEEDS‘ newly ‘street’ Ian Broudie appears to be wearing a black babygro. Still, this somewhat upsetting fact lends a welcome gust of intrigue to their normally staid, [I]Generation Game[/I]-style conveyor belt of hits. Tonight, Broudie and co seem feverishly determined to embrace Cream 2000‘s now-or-never spirit, and thus decorate each of their neatly-pressed pop parcels with a selection of ‘happening’ bleeps and ‘wicked’ hot-axe action. We get ‘Pure’ with extra Krautrockin’ wibbly bits. And a newly disco-fied ‘Lucky You’, its arse ablaze with extraneous-but-strangely-groovy guitar riffery. [I]NME [/I]- despite everything – is impressed.
8.50pm: The arrival of local DJ JOHN KELLY and his Bangin’ Bag O’ Top House Choons also heralds the auspicious appearance of Old Uncle Atmosphere, who finally emerges from the freezing ether with a crate of Hooch and a jester’s hat. About time too.
9.29pm: Helping to spread pre-Judgement Day cheer are those cheeky horsemen of the apocalypse, STEREOPHONICS, who lumber through each of their terrace-shaking chest-pounders like men who would rather be watching [I]Jools Holland’s Hootenanny Hell[/I] while tucked up in bed. Not that the Stereos’ congenital lack of charisma could ever quell this millennium-mad crowd’s ardour, mind. ‘Traffic’ is met with lighters-aloft zeal, while the piddle-poor Rod Stewart-isms of ‘A Thousand Trees’ and ‘Just Looking’ are greeted like homecoming football heroes. As comforting and reliable as a box of mansize tissues, Stereophonics – we conclude – are the Werther’s Originals of pop.
11.07pm: Two mysterious men in rabbit suits entertain stragglers by body-slamming in the mud. Cool.
11.31pm: Clearly aware of the impending destruction of the universe, ace headliners ORBITAL are taking no chances. Materialising in a flurry of dry ice and neo-psychedelic projections, the brothers Hartnoll look and sound like a mid-apocalyptic Pink Floyd – all galvanised beats and battened-down optics.
11.47pm: A giant clock appears on the main arena’s screens. The countdown is upon us. Every passing minute is greeted with huge cheers, while the hubbub of anticipation is now almost loud enough to drown out Orbital‘s bowel-rupturing assault on the [I]Doctor Who[/I] theme tune. Gulp. A trembling [I]NME [/I]decides to join the steady stream of revellers heading out of the main arena.
11.58pm: Just two minutes until doomsday. Gasp.
12.01am: Oh. Hang on a minute. We’re still here. Yippee!
12.02am: As florid clusters of fireworks illuminate Liverpool’s sable skyline, the world celebrates its triumphant victory against possible annihilation by drinking even more alcohol and, in the case of one lone groover in a Bacofoil suit, projectile vomiting on a stranger’s back.
12.37am: As the atmosphere morphs from that of slightly uncomfortable expectation to completely mashed relief, we wobblingly salute the entrance of PETE TONG – Grand Poo-Bah of all that is populist, predictable and tediously safe in the crazy world of dance.
2.15am: People begin to leave. Hey kids, don’t you know top disc-grinder JUSTIN ROBERTSON is rippin’ up the Bugged Out tent in a pounding techno stylee? What’s that? Oh, you do.
3.30am: [I]NME[/I], saggy of eyelid yet elated of spirit, wanders off into the first hours of the budding century – a thousand memories failing to upend the boundless promise of a brave new dawn. Happy New Millennium, and all that.