Reading Festival 2004 Review – Part I

The mud and persistent drizzle had set the scene for 2004’s Reading Festival but the punters were not going to let that get in the way of them having a good time. The crowds gathered in ponchos, rain macs and black bags set off by army boots, wellies, even more black bags and big drunken grins. Here are my highlights in the best order that my groggy brain can muster…

Main Stage

Goldie Lookin’ Chain kicked off the festival proper on Friday morning with their comedy rapping extravaganza.

Musically they are like a ram raid on the archives of 80’s pop topped off with their outrageous rapping. They look no less retro in trainers and cringe worthy shell suits while they strut about the stage; just like the bored kids that hang around your local shops. It really shouldn’t work, but you just can’t help loving them.
Goldie Lookin’ Chain – They’re chaving a laugh!

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Friday night headliners The Darkness started big and just got larger. Their stage personalities and powerfully retro rock was barely contained by the stage.

The Darkness – Permission to Grandeur

Naturally, the material from ‘Permission To Land’ was better received than the new songs, but the atmosphere was never dampened. We were treated to what looked like tons of confetti showering the crowd as well as explosions, smoke, lights, flames, costume changes and not forgetting an almighty firework display to finish.

All this, as well as the charismatic Justin Hawkins working the crowd, surely cemented the reputation of The Darkness as true showmen.

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After a brief apology for having to miss the festival last year The White Stripes launch into a set list that contained no fat; it was like their music, free of frills leaving only the thrills. Jack was intense and emotional as he worked his guitars with vigour while Meg spanked her drums with equal passion. In stark contrast to Friday night the Stripes show was lit by surgical spotlights (not in the precise sense, in a medical surgery sense) and a backdrop of red and white ‘fairy lights’.

The White Stripes – less was more

As a result the show had a more intimate feel, a feat not easily pulled off on the main stage. The set list contained many, of not all of the classic tracks as well as fiery reworkings of ‘Jolene'(Dolly Parton) and ‘Maps’ (Yeah Yeah Yeah’s). The combination of all these factors made for an amazing experience that will not be forgotten.

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The much loved Libertines went down a storm with their sound of charming and righteous youth. The new songs introduced an air of melancholy and introspection that is less dynamic than the older songs. The punk rock defiance and emo sensitivity blended into a fine set.

Spirited young Texans Young Heart Attacks played their hearts out on Saturday morning. The vocal pairing of Jennifer Stephens and Chris Hodge led the band in their hard and bluesy party-time rock style. Saturday also saw the original punk rockers New York Dolls demonstrate that they can still hack it, even though a lot of their material seemed quite sedate against the hard rocking competition.

Sadly missed: I really wish I had made it to see the 5,6,7,8’s. I also failed to see Franz Ferdinand and Morrissey, who both provide an excellent live show.


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