As the mud dried and the sun came out, Reading Festival Day 2 was the day Axl Rose should have been sitting in front of the main stage feverishly taking notes about how it should be done. There were lessons a-plenty for the Guns ‘n Roses front man:
1.How to cross-over. Taught by Mr Dizzee Rascal.
People. As far as the eye could see and then some.
Although he was two places removed from the headline slot, it seemed that no-one had told Dizzee, or the festival-goers. I’ve never seen anyone appeal so much to so many different demographics. Every one wanted a piece of the action and he easily attracted the biggest and bounciest crowd of the whole day. Bonkers was exactly that, an eagerly anticipated encore that whipped everyone into a state of frenzy. Other highlights included Dizzee’s rendition of Smells Like Teen Spirit, where he told us, “This is a fucking warning. If you’re soft, don’t stand at the front. This part of the show ain’t no joke.” It wasn’t, it was insane.
2.How to stage a comeback. Taught by The Libertines.
The Pete & Carl Show in full swing.
Reportedly paid over £1m to play, The Libertines came close to stealing the show on day 2. Indeed, I watched several die-hards come close to wetting themselves as the troubled quartet belted out a fan-pleasing set. The gig opened with images of the band projected onto screens to the tune of Vera Lynn’s We’ll Meet Again. Then, as The Libertines’ banner unfolded ceremoniously behind the stage, the preamble to the long-awaited gig saw many of the crowd verge on hysteria. You could be forgiven for thinking you were watching The Pete & Carl show as a gratuitous bromance unfolded live on stage. Pete hugged Carl, Carl hugged Pete, Carl kissed Pete, Pete kissed Carl, Pete tousled Carl’s hair – you get the picture. Pete looked relatively healthy and seemed compos mentis. The sound was pulled without explanation during Time For Heroes and the band left the stage to boos before returning. It could have been something to do with some exuberant fans getting crushed at the front; the only time any of the band said anything to the crowd, Pete advised: “Show each other love yeah? If one of you goes down, help each other out. Don’t be standing on each others’ heads.” Wise words. It was a good set from a band who may or may not have had their day. Time will tell. The band were certainly giving nothing away.
3) How to headline a festival. Taught by Arcade Fire.
Arcade Fire. Legends.
In the lead-up to the festival there had been some doubt as to whether Montreal’s indie royalty were worthy of the headline slot, with reported tensions between them and The Libertines over the issue. But, as soon as they took the stage, the band banished any hint of raised eye-brows from the very healthy turn-out (especially given that Pendulum were headlining another stage). Win Butler quipped: “At least we’re punctual, right?”, highlighting the gulf between the magnificent performance of his own band and the mockery that was the previous night’s headline set from Axl Rose and his band. Arcade Fire highlights included No Cars Go, Keep The Car Running, Intervention and a euphoric Wake Up. I’m still not convinced that the new album offerings are as potent as those of the first, but as Win said himself: “Look, we’ve never had a hit single so I don’t know what the fuck we’re doing here.” Bless.
Coco gets up close and personal with the crowd. They liked it.
So, lessons over with, there were plenty of other highlights from day 2, not least Band of Skulls, The Gaslight Anthem, The Maccabees and Frank Turner. Surprise of the day went to I Blame Coco. Don’t be put off by her dad, Coco delivered an amazing performance. Quirky and likeable, Sting’s daughter showed all the signs of a star in the making.
Day 3 awaits…