Thursday, 28 August 2014

Reading Festival - Day Three

OF all the headliners at Reading, Blink-182 was the one I was least bothered with - but they turned out to be the best of the bunch.

Blink-182's Mark Hoppus...pic by Jen O'Neil
But before we get there, I have to moan. 

RealSoundsOK has a bit of a lay in Sunday morning before packing up the tent and gathering all the stuff together ready to take back to the car, which was parked a short boat ride away. This in itself is unusual. At festivals in the past - V Festival and Sonisphere for example - I have never been more than five minutes stroll from the motor. Having to take any sort of transport to get there is alien and impractical.

This is compounded when we get dodgy directions to the boat from a security guard, end up in no man's land between the landing point and car park and it takes us 45 minutes walking with all our stuff to get back to the car. There's a half hour wait for the boat back too.

And so this unhappy blogger missed The Story So Far and Tonight Alive on the Main stage. Grrrr.

Back to the music and it was going to take something special to get me back in a good mood. Young Guns didn't do it. They were alright - and Bones is still a great track - but there wasn't enough there to get me excited.

Papa Roach did perk things up though. The nu-metal survivors - although in frontman Jacoby Shaddix looks like he barely made it - kick things off with Infest and them ramp it up with Between Angels And Insects. They're having fun and even though Shaddix seems a little distracted by the female contingent in the crowd, they're on point. Favourites like Kick In The Teeth and Getting Away With Murder go down well and there was no way they could end with anything other than Last Resort.

And so RealSoundsOK is back on the up and we're taken even higher by our next on the Main stage, A Day To Remember. And if you want some praise, here goes. This may just be my favourite performance in 15 years of covering festivals.

Papa Roach's Jacoby Shaddix meets the crowd...pic by Jen O'Neil
If Papa Roach were having fun, these guys were in ecstasy. The crowd interaction - including singer Jeremy McKinnon climbing into a giant, inflatable ball and running across the crowd - was superb and they delivered their songs with aplomb. Great stufff. I can't wait to watch it back again.

And from the sublime we went to the, well, a bit shit frankly.

You Me At Six were one of my "must-see" bands ahead of the festival, but it just didn't seem to happen. There was something missing. A spark? Charisma? Sincerity? I don't quite put my finger on it. But it seemed others picked up on it too. Yes there were lots of people dancing, cheering and singing along near the front, but even frontman Josh Franceschi seemed overly desperate as he constantly appealed for Reading to "make some noise" and pleaded for crowd surfers.

Maybe the youthful crowd was too tired after two or three days of hardcore partying, but even the band's delivery of Bite My Tongue - a song I think is superb - seemed lacklustre. The whole thing was a real let down.

But the saving grace for Reading for me was Blink-182.

For the purposes of full disclosure, I have to admit I had left before they took to the stage. A three-hour drive home and a return to the day job the next morning meant I couldn't stay.

It really was A Day To Remember...pic by Jen O'Neil
However, I have watched the set on TV since and I'm gutted I wasn't there. Hampered by poor sound to begin with - a recurring problem on the Main stage all weekend - they quickly got into their groove with Feeling This, What's My Age Again? and Rock Show.

Their shtick is so simple. Three guys - guitar, bass, drums - with a puerile sense of humour bashing out three-minute songs. But their act is so polished, they know each other so well, and they are all musically talented beyond their mirth that it is a joy to watch them.

And their charm meant that even when they were sharing in-jokes, you didn't feel out the loop.

They may not be the greatest singers, but they make incredibly good pop-punk songs and deliver them with real fun, verve and vigour. A fitting way to end the festival.

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