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Reading Festival 2013 | Review | Music

Reading Fest 2013After a decade of live music you think you’ve seen it all, but Reading Festival continues to deliver unique experiences year after year and nothing can compare to this festival’s atmosphere, excitement and passion.

This year saw the return of Green Day and Eminem to the headliner slot on the Main Stage, and a long-awaited rise of Biffy Clyro to close the show with a, frankly tremendous, bang.

Friday

Reading Fest 2013A ray of sunshine greeted While She Sleeps as they opened the festival on the Main Stage to a lukewarm reception.

The arena this year has had a re-jig, expanded to include a new stage and split the entrance into two – one heading to each side of the campsite – a tactic which largely works, though a bit of crowd education is necessary.

New Found Glory played Sticks and Stones in full (almost).
New Found Glory played Sticks and Stones in full (almost).

Highlights of the afternoon were New Found Glory, who began the retro trend with a complete rendition of breakthrough album Sticks and Stones.

“They forgot to check how long we needed and only gave us 40 minutes,” said frontman Jordan Pundik. “Our album is 42.”

As a result the band struggled to fit everything in, and in the end skipped the last track in favour of ‘All Downhill From Here’.

The show was well received by fans, despite many being only children when the album was originally released, and the bands energy was in full show.

As the evening drew in, Bastille drew the biggest crowd, packing out the NME/Radio 1 Stage with their calm melodies, and then, in contrast, the return of System of a Down to the Main Stage was met with a fantastically enthusiastic crowd.

The Living End do their party piece.
The Living End do their party piece.

At the same time, both The Living End and Alkaline Trio added weight to the line-up on the Lock-Up Stage, proving that these established bands can still deliver.

Green Day’s set on the Main Stage was hotly anticipated, and overall did not disappoint, with something for every fan, old and new, with a flurry of new songs at the beginning giving way to a complete rendition of Dookie, the band’s breakthrough release – which has it’s 20 year anniversary next year.

The band’s charisma was in evidence, particularly that of Billy Joe Armstrong – ever fond shouting ‘eh-oh’ to the crowd in true Freddie Mercury style.

But, in the band’s defence, the crowd responded, and caused Armstrong to proclaim that Reading is “the greatest festival in the world.” To which there was little argument.

Billy Joe continues to be a very popular showman.
Billy Joe continues to be a very popular showman.

Saturday

The rain fell strongly during Lower Than Atlantis' set.
The rain fell strongly during Lower Than Atlantis’ set.

The second day brought a change of feel and a change of crowd as headliner Eminem sets the tone, and changes the demographic of the crowd. Oddly there’s even racial diversity, something not often seen at this predominantly Caucasian festival.

Lower Than Atlantis earn their billing on the Main Stage with a fantastic set, for a band which played the Festival Republic Stage only last year. The band’s latest album shines particularly brightly and has the crowd entranced despite the inevitable rain.

The Blackout brought a strong dose of Wales to proceedings, who were well represented in the crowd throughout the weekend. The medley of hip hop classics was  particularly inspired segment.

White Lies closed with Ritual hit 'Bigger Than Us'.
White Lies closed with Ritual hit ‘Bigger Than Us’.

Strength of the bill through the afternoon holds up, with Twin Atlantic and even more so White Lies keeping the crowd entertained.

The latter pledged to give a set with more ‘girth’ in the programme and delivered, finishing with the timeless ‘Bigger Than Us’.

Imagine Dragons packed out the NME/Radio 1 Tent
Imagine Dragons packed out the NME/Radio 1 Tent

Imagine Dragons were the draw for everyone as the evening built up momentum. Playing most of their debut album, Night Visions, the band had their audience entranced and singing along with every single song.

‘Radioactive’ proved to be an epic closer, and the band made full use of the on stage percussion to give an epic, almost film soundtrack-like quality to the atmosphere.

Eminem’s set in the evening reflected the complete journey he has been on as an artist. There was banter from the crowd, singing along with hits such as ‘Real Slim Shady’ and ‘Without Me’.

There was an even a rare appearance of collaborator Dido as the rap star brought out his radio-friendly tune ‘Stan’. This prompted widespread arm swaying and singing along from the audience, which was massive and filled almost the entire arena on its own.

Following a teasing encore, there was a return to ‘Lose Yourself’, prompting yet more singing along. In all the show met everyone’s expectations.

Eminem's set was quite dramatic at times.
Eminem’s set was quite dramatic at times.

Best kept secret of the night was the films in the Radio 1 Extra Stage, which featured Star Trek Into Darkness, prompting a huge woop from the crowd as soon as Benedict Cumberbatch came on screen.

Sunday

The final day’s highlights were strewn throughout the day, but the Main Stage remained the place to be.

Hadouken! brought the disco groove to the Sunday.
Hadouken! brought the disco groove to the Sunday.

Hadouken! brought a real disco vibe which recalled the classic performances of acts like The Prodigy in the past, with an element of Pendulum. The crowd enjoyed the early afternoon boogie and it got the energy levels up early considering how late in the weekend it was.

Editors brought gravitas of a strong, well-established British band, with a number of hits – most of which you can’t quite remember the name of – and the crowd responded well. Songs from the new album did better live than on record.

The Lumineers went the extra mile, with front man Wesley Schultz fending out into the crowd to play a song, though the momentum was somewhat lost by Fall Out Boy delivering a set full of songs from all areas of their career but forgetting to put them in a discernible order, leading to a haphazard mix of styles clashing.

The light show for Nine Inch Nails was undeniably impressive.
The light show for Nine Inch Nails was undeniably impressive.

As darkness fell the might of Nine Inch Nails‘ light show was undeniable, with dozens of lights creating a hypnotic and dazzlingly elaborate display.

The set was slow to start, focusing on the band’s electronic sound, but by the end the rock was back in full force and slapping the audience in the face.

Finally it was the turn of Biffy Clyro to close the show. The new album Opposites was a fantastic platform to build the set around, packed with instant classics, and the hits from their back catalogue just kept on coming.

Biffy Clyro managed an astounding set which spanned their entire career.
Biffy Clyro managed an astounding set which spanned their entire career.

The show reflected the range in the band’s style well, even featuring ’57’ from the band’s first album, and the crowd responded with some of the loudest singing along of the entire weekend.

Closer ‘Mountains’ hit the sweet spot of the audiences knowledge, with old and new fans being drawn in.

The festival in all was a success, some questionable car parking organisation aside, and leads to thoughts of who might hit the line-up in 2014.

James Michael Parry

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Music | Live review: The Joy Formidable – Factory 7, London – 02-03-12 | This Is Entertainment

Acoustic sets are usually a gimmick or a cheap trick at gigs, something to fill out the time while seemingly doing as little as possible. This isn’t always true of course, and there’s nothing like an acoustic set for intimacy. The Joy Formidable set the scene sublimely with their ‘campfire’ moment and took the concept to a whole new level, playing out their finest moments as the crowd swayed along peacefully just inches away.

All of this was only a warm up though, and the best was yet to come. The Joy Formidable are somewhat out of step with their contemporaries in that they don’t sound quite like you think they should. Every time you think you have their sound pinned down, they throw in a bit of electro or a bit of folkiness or even heavier rock to confuse you.

Ending up somewhere between the upbeat rhythms of Blondie, and not just because of blonde-haired frontwoman Ritzy Bryan, and the melodic pop of Ellie Goulding. Luckily the mix translates well on stage, and the crowd are quickly stirred into an uproar as the band begin to fire out tracks like ‘I Don’t Want To See You Like This’ and ‘Austere’, building to the epic ‘Everchanging Spectrum of a Lie’.

Ritzy’s tortured expressions as her crisp, clean voice fill the room (or, in this case, shed), hint at the passion and enjoyment she takes from performing. Her fellow band members Rhydian Dafydd (bass) and Matt Thomas (drums) share her enthusiasm and all three throw themselves into the musical sections with their entire bodies and then become suddenly subdued as the anarchy calms down again.

Even with a captive crowd at the event, the audience were drawn into the band’s spectacle, joining in with their easily followed melodic moments and listening intently as the band teased with new material – reportedly all recorded but not yet mixed, suggesting a release may be due later in the year.

The combination of energy and simplicity through the set was relentless, leaving a sharp intake of breath from onlookers as the band teased with the traditional encore. The finale itself brought the evening’s energy to an absolutely nuclear climax, to the extent that the stage took some punishment in the fallout. Cymbals and drums were strewn across the stage as Thomas exploded with energy in the final moments.

A convincing performance which mixed a considered approach, commonly found in bands with far more experience, and anarchic energy of youth to create a captivating display, which undoubtedly left them wanting more.

Rating: 4/5

This review is courtesy Music-News.com, you can find the original post here.  Check out the This Is Entertainment Facebook page and you’ll find over 100 pictures from the gig for your delectation and even a video.

Gig hosted by Clarks Originals: http://www.clarksoriginals.com/

James Michael Parry

Music: In-depth Review – Reading Festival 2011

With hundreds of bands and artists playing five stages at the world-famous Reading Festival, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Clashes are your worst enemy, with difficult choices a daily horror.

We’ve already talked about the top ten random happenings from the weekend last week. Luckily for those who missed out on some of the big names (or just weren’t there – where WERE you guys?!), This Is Entertainment presents a run down of the best of the three days of top quality music.

Friday

The weather was not on-side for the first part of the festival, with showers and thunderstorms threatening for the Friday at least, but the artists would not be kept down despite the dreariness.

Architects opened the festival on the main stage, injecting an element of hardcore directly to the audiences throats. Unfortunately technical difficulties prevented the band from getting the best sound, but they still put in some of the enthusiasm which festival crowds expect, and also becoming the first band to request people to get up on each other’s shoulders.

Welsh rockers The Blackout hit the stage next, with a suitably angry banner, but despite some decent songs to their name, failed to really grab the audience’s attention – as can often be the stage during the day on the Main Stage, with the area not being backed until early evening.

Next up were pop/punk heavyweights New Found Glory (see above), now in their 14th year, who got the crowd moving with their usual blend of upbeat power-chord-based tunes. The band also played some songs from their latest album Not Without a Fight which received a mixed reaction from the crowd, though their cover of Kiss Me had everyone singing along happily.

Rise Against were the first band of the day to really make an impression, with the crowd fist-pumping along to their anti-establishment hardcore melodies (see main picture). The band opened with ‘Chamber The Cartridge’ and spewed hit after hit from their back catalogue – including fan favourite ‘Prayer of the Refugee’. The energy from the band, particularly high-kicking guitarist Zack Blair, was impressive and saw the first solid ‘mosh’ pit of the festival spring up.

With the screeching feedback of Deftonesringing in the crowd’s ears, punk/rock legends The Offspring took to the stage for what can only be described as a trip down memory lane. Aside from one misjudged acoustic number from their latest album Rise and Fall, Rage and Grace, the band assaulted the audience with energetic tunes which we know and love, and even the new song slotted into the set neatly. The highlights proved to be a reflection of the age of the audience in Self Esteem, which had many joining in with the drunken ‘las’, and a complete run through of Have You Ever and Staring at the Sun from the band’s breakthrough record Americana.

Supporters 30 Seconds to Mars got the crowd singing along to their anthemic tunes, partly due to frontman Jared Leto’s near-refusal to sing himself, and the atmosphere was energetic by the time the other Jared took the stage with My Chemical Romance.

A fiery red-haired Jared conducted the crowd through the band’s hits, though ballady ‘I Don’t Love You’ was conspicuous by its absence, and boasted pyrotechnics abound. The crowd filled the air as the band played ‘The Black Parade’ – now joined by Queen guitarist Brian May – and closed the evening in suitable headlining style.

Saturday

The sun came out for Saturday and the mood was instantly lifted. The Joy Formidable proved to be suitably lively and upbeat for the occasion, with the soft vocals of Ritzy Bryan washing over the audience – almost hypnotising them.

Indie group The Pigeon Detectives were up next to pick up the pace, with their hits ‘Take Her Back’ and ‘I’m Not Sorry’ as well as a selection from their new album, along with the customary plug. Luckily it was done just softly enough to not be irritating, and the mood suited the early afternoon slot well.

After Two Door Cinema Club had laid down some happy tunes it was the turn of household names Madness to offer up a slice of British old school ska. There was skanking across the field as, after a slow start, the band launched into classics such as ‘House of Fun’ and ‘Baggy Trousers’ before a more ‘cuddly’ ending with ‘It Must Be Love’. The group have aged well considering they formed back in 1976 – 35 years ago! Frontman Suggs can still carry a tune, as much as he ever could, though there is a slight tinge of dirty old man about him these days…but nontheless a terrific performance all round, and well received in the sunshine.

Jimmy Eat World delivered their songs plain and simple, but with such strong material at their disposal, they had no need for forced hand clapping or stage diving to command the audience’s attention (see above). The mix of songs was perfectly crafted, with usual old-school tune ‘Blister’ the only real sacrifice to cram in some songs from their latest album, Invented. The crowd were built up steadily to a crescendo in the form of the timeless ‘woah’-driven tune ‘Sweetness’.

Punking things up a notch on the Lock Up Stage were Capdown, who command a punk crowd like few others. Their raw ska/punk sound getting everyone moving to the extend that you could see the sense of enjoyment on the band members’ faces.

Keeping the pedigree of Britsh music safe from the likes of the X Factor were Pulp, who returned to Reading Festival for the first time since 1994. The group reformed for live performances this year after being inactive for the best part of a decade. The band’s charismatic frontman – one Jarvis Cocker – successfully kept the crowd entertained as the band delivered hits such as ‘Common People’ and ‘Disco 2000’ with style.

Headliners The Strokes got off to a meagre start after meandering onto the stage over 20 minutes late, but delivered their melancholy hits effectively. Tunes from latest album Angles transferred well to the stage alongside the hits from Room on Fire such as ‘Reptillia’ and ‘Last Night’.

Sunday

Rocking into the last day of the weekend were Taking Back Sunday (see above) who played a mixture of songs from their five-album back catalogue. As the set went on you could see how they have changed between their first recordings and now, but also how they still fit together despite that. The band performed well, with frontman Adam Lazzara modestly proclaiming that they were “the best fucking band on the planet.”

In a break from the music, This Is Entertainment visited the Alternative Stage in the afternoon, with stand-up comedian Jared Christmas and comedy musician Tim Minchin captivating audiences. Minchin in particular caused the tiny tent to be filled to bursting, making the man himself obscured to all but those at the very front. One particular song, ‘Context’ (not ‘Cont’ as initially stated by Minchin), brought the crowd out in fits on laughter with its provocative lyrics, arranged specifically to sound outrageous, but were in fact reasonable when followed by the next words in the song. The song was played twice, the first time with words missing, leading Minchin to proclaim “I don’t like Jews…” with the crucial context of the statement missing, so the full line reads: “I don’t like Jews…who make and distribute kiddy porn.” Only at Reading Festival eh?

Returning to the music, hardcore rockers Enter Shikari gave the main stage their heaviest moments of the weekend so far. Lead vocalist Rou Reynolds also proved to be the most active, scaling the sides of the stage and leaping from amplifiers throughout the performance, as well as getting involved with the crowd.

Fellow St. Albans band Friendly Fires were quick to lift the mood with their disco-influenced electro-pop, but by now it was time for some more punk with a trip to the Lock Up Stage for Hot Water Music. The band practically had the tent shaking as the crowd went wild for the band’s catchy tunes. ‘Remedy’ and ‘Trusty Chords’ had everyone singing along and the band finished with a cover fellow Warped Tour vets The Bouncing Souls‘ song ‘True Believers’, which pushed the atmosphere to electric proportions.

Following a reliable performance from Elbow the main event of the weekend arrived. Devon-based rockers Muse would take to the stage to perform their breakthrough album Origin of Symmetry in full.

The crowd watched with bated breath as the band was obscured behind a sheet and a poetic voiceover from a Tom Waits album echoed across the scene with speratic drum beats cueing strobe lighting. The atmosphere was tense before silence fell and the iconic sound of ‘New Born’ came from behind the curtain.

The band played out their album with a fantastic visual display for every song, each having a corresponding video behind, to give an impression of what the song is about, and smoke, pyrotechnics and lasers completing the immersive experience. Why not take a look for yourself here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/i/b0147pmw/ (though you’ll have to be quick as the link will quickly expire)

Following the album the band ran through an expert choice of songs from their other albums including Stockholm Syndrome, Starlight and Plug In Baby. The set ended dramatically with the rock opera ‘Knights of Cydonia’, bringing to an end a mesmerising display of musical brilliance.

Roll on 2012!

Top Tracks of the weekend:

1) Muse – Knights of Cydonia

2) White Lies – Bigger than Us

3) Hot Water Music -True Believers

4) My Chemical Romance – The Black Parade

5) Jimmy Eat World – The Middle

6) Friendly Fires – Jump In The Pool

7) Pulp – Common People

8) Rise Against – Savior

9) The Offspring – Have You Ever

10) New Found Glory – My Friend’s Over You

It was a tad rainy this year...

 

 James Michael Parry

Music: Reading Festival 2011 – 10 Things You Should Have Seen

With weather reports dominating the festival coverage this week, it’s easy to think it’s always the same old story. This Is Entertainment will be bringing you a proper breakdown of the weekend in the next few days (hopefully) but in the meantime for those of you who were there, and are now nursing hangovers or on your third shower of the day, see if you spotted these Top Ten “Did you see…?” Moments:

1) Back in time

Guest appearances at festivals might not be the oldest trick in the book but they are sure to get people talking. This year saw both Queen’s Brian May and Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones take to the main stage with My Chemical Romance and Seasick Steve respectively.

2) Exit to the city

Upon leaving the arena this year you may have noticed it had a more ‘people traffic’ vibe than usual, that’s thanks to some fancy LED screens which show which side of the entrance/exit is the side to head for. It meant the general crowd-crush factor was reduced this year.

3) I predict a riot

When something as significant as the riots happens, everyone is talking about it, and the rock ‘n’ roll kings of the age were keen to have their say too. Preachy speeches were rife all weekend, but Rise Against win the prize for tying it in best, following their talk with a cover of ‘White Riot’ by original punk-rockers The Clash.

4) Keep it like a secret

Speaking of Rise Against, the hardcore rock group sneaked onto the BBC introducing stage on Friday to spring a surprise set on the crowd. The weekend’s usual double play went to Frank Turner, who played the Main and Lock Up Stages on Sunday.

5) Speed of sound

With the weather working against vocal harmony all weekend, it’s no surprise the Main Stage suffered. Friday was worst affected, with vocals severely lacking for several bands throughout the say, and often guitars being somewhat muted as well, even when close to the front. Luckily, things were sorted out by the following day.

6) Animals

The sights and sounds of Reading Festival, the campsite in particular, are always a strange thing to behold, but this year there was an epidemic…of tigers. Wherever you looked there was people dressed up in all-in-one suits of various animals, but tigers proved the most popular. Unfortunately they weren’t as much fun as a group dressed as The Smurfs who started a technicolour Fight Club on Saturday night while waiting for Jarvis Cocker and co to take to the stage.

7) Caught in the mosh

The ‘celebrity’ sightings weren’t confined to the crowds though, at one point one individual dressed as Toy Story’s Buzz Lightyear, could be seen thrashing around in the mosh pit. Not content with wearing a Buzz Lightyear costume, he also had multicoloured long platted hair – talk about attention seeking! The crowd went wild though, leading to chants of “Buzz! Buzz! Buzz!” by the end of the set.

8 ) Devil on my shoulder

Crowd participation isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but many bands this year didn’t give onlookers much choice. Aside from Jared Lehto (of 30 Seconds to Mars) insisting people jump (JUMP!) every other song, there were calls by at least four bands – probably more – to see as many people on other people’s shoulders as possible. Perhaps rock-stardom gives you selective vision so you can’t pick out anyone from the masses unless they are slightly elevated to the height you are on stage…

9) Out of space

Visitors to the Radio 1 Stage this year were in for a surprise, not only has it gained an extra screen, bringing it up to the Main Stage’s total of three , but also almost doubled in size. In a move designed to baffle serial Reading-goers (or those out of it on various substances), the tent has had an extra portion sewn through the middle of it, opening out the rectangular structure of old into a fan shape.

10) Operation Ground pound

BBC Three visited the festival this year, and spent some time with Huw Stevens on the Main Stage. Though seemingly completely random, there was some a scientific basis for their visit. Apparently someone decided Reading Festival was significant enough to be classified on the earthquake Richter Scale. In order to complete the mission, the audience had to all jump simultaneously, and then boffins across the river a short distance away would read the earthquake produced. Despite everyone jumping, Reading Festival only measures 0.7 on the Richter Scale, hardly earth-shattering…but nonetheless you have to condone scientific use of rock and roll.

 

So there you have it, a full and in-depth review of everything about Reading Festival will be coming to This Is Entertainment in the next few days. For now have fun working out the bands behind all the song references used as titles in this article, each point from 1 to 10 has been released as a song name…enjoy

 

James Michael Parry