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Reading Festival 2013: The headliners | Feature | Music

Reading 2013After months of teasing, Festival Republic have now revealed all three headliners for Reading and Leeds 2013, along with a handful of other names. Green Day, Eminem and Biffy Clyro are confirmed as the three big-hitters for what is, for many, the festival highlight of the year.

The question is, will they be any good?

The struggling pop punk heroes

TréGreen Day have not had an easy time of it. The band were forced to pull out of a recent US tour after leading man Billy Joe Armstrong was taken into rehab for drug dependency. This forced a swift and apologetic release of Tré – the third album released by the trio in the past year, with the first in the trilogy being imaginatively titled Uno and Dos.

After the height of success in 2004 and 2005 with American Idiot, the last time they headlined the main stage (even before the multi-million selling album was released), the band have been fighting hard to remain relevant.

Young up-starts like All Time Low and heavier alternatives like The Blackout have got the attention of the pop crowd. On the hardcore punk side, the sort of bands who dominate well-known punk institutions such as The Warped Tour, bands like The Wonder Years, Such Gold and Man Overboard keep the momentum of the genre without the highly polished production.

What is undeniable though is that the band did make a massive impression at their secret performance at Reading last year, and Billy Joe’s reputation for strong showmanship is well-founded. It remains to be seen whether the band have any new ideas to bring to the table as a headliner.

The wildcard act

EminemRappers have not had a great time at Reading in past years. 50 Cent famously got bottled off after 20 minutes, and Jay-Z didn’t even arrive, cancelling shortly before the event began.

Marshall Mathers III, has been quiet in recent years, with only ‘Crack a Bottle’, ‘Beautiful’ and ‘We Made You’ reaching the UK singles chart (and that was in 2009, four years ago). The days of ‘The Real Slim Shady’ and ‘Stan’ are behind him, making this a comeback gig.

Eminem has a lot stacked against him to get a rock audience on side, perhaps we can expect a rapped up rock cover or two? To win this audience, which will have its collective eyebrow firmly raised, Mathers will need all the excitement and atmosphere a live show can bring.

Despite the seemingly bleak setting, it’s worth remembering that Eminem is reportedly the biggest selling artist of the 2000s, and it’s likely everyone at the festival weekend will have heard at least one of his songs, if not three or four.

The more restrained image Eminem gives off these days may make him appear a bit more grown up, but this isn’t necessarily good for Reading. Clearly a big star in the pop world, Eminem has little foothold in ‘rock’ as a genre, with the fun tracks released as his alter ego Slim Shady being the most rock-friendly of the lot.

The man is absolutely there to promote his new album, rumoured to be coming out after Memorial Day in the US (the final Monday of May), but is he there for much else? You can’t expect a love poem to Reading like nice-guy Dave Grohl gave with Foo Fighters‘ set last year. Although he has had one previous headline performance, in 2001.

The Scotch alternative rockers

Biffy ClyroThese are the guys you should be definitely excited about. Biffy have played Reading on and off for the past 12 years, debuting on the smallest stage you could come across and working their way to the top through seven performances.

Latest album Opposites has gone down well with critics, and the band’s tour this year sold out in minutes. Things have never looked stronger for the band which began with Blackened Sky back in 2002.

To be trending up is a good thing, and immediately makes the group worthy of the highly sought-after Sunday night slot, which historically runs for another 20 minutes longer than the other nights.

Hits like ‘Bubbles’ and ‘Mountain’ scream for a further festival outing, and new tracks like ‘Black Chandelier’ are ripe to be picked by an eager and hungry audience.

The stage presence from the band has slowly risen over the years, to a level which is fit to explode and potentially blow the roof off the festival. As great as last year was, you can’t help but think that it was all a bit predictable. Hopefully with this mix of styles between the three nights there should at least be a nice breadth and variety to proceedings.

And still many more yet to come

Another one to watch for the weekend, and one which really shows that this is a festival with its finger on the pulse, is Skrillex, but expect more on him and the rest of the line up once more bands have been announced. For now, plenty of time to acquaint (or re-acquaint) yourself with the titular trios’ back catalogues.

Here’s what we have to look forward to:

James Michael Parry

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Vans Warped Tour UK 2012 Review | Music | This Is Entertainment

Scream your heart out

The fact that America has the Warped Tour every summer might seem unfair (and it is), but what it does mean that on the odd occasion it does make it to the UK you know you are in for something special.

The 2012 Warped Tour saw a host of bands, and some extreme sports stars, take over the iconic Alexandra Palace in north London – and the building scarcely lived to tell the tale.

For hours before the doors were even opened, a motley crew of punk rockers, metal heads, trendies and outcasts flocked around the venue like strung out rock ‘n’ roll junkies – which obviously NONE were…- waiting for their fix.

After navigating a queue which would put any Apple store to shame, the crowd were greeted by an elaborate entrance hall quite out of tone with the ‘hardcore’ happenings within (and, unfortunately, a bit of a bottle-necked navigation nightmare).

Vans Warped Tour_001

Entering the West Hall is the first moment the event really begins to fit like a glove. A huge vert ramp for skateboarding and BMXing stands proudly next to the bright orange Jagermeister Stage, home to bands who weren’t necessarily smaller names, but took things a little less seriously.

Through the grand doors at the far end is the main hall. Filled with two stages, East and West, joined at the hip like Siamese twins, the set up proved to be a stunningly simple way to pack more music into an already tightly-packed afternoon.

The first band to catch this reviewers attention were It Boys, whose enthusiastic pop/punk stylings included an impromptu rendition of internet sensation Gangnam Style. The spirit of fun continued throughout the day and the likes of Family Force 5, Breathe Carolina and 3OH!3 all successfully getting the crowd into gear. 3OH!3 pushed the envelope the most, showing off the range in their musical repertoire without alienating fans of any one song.

Music policy for the day largely held together, with a few jarring juxtapositions between heavy bands like Architects and pop/punk legends New Found Glory, though this did give time to scope out the hustle and bustle of the merch market.

NFG themselves were well below form. The band tried hard but leading man Jordan seemed strained throughout the set, far from the stellar performances of even just a few years ago.

Thunderous acquiesce

Luckily the rest of the big names were unanimously true to form, with Funeral For a Friend swelling the Jager crowd to almost bone-crushing proportions before making way for the ska punk Warped Tour Veterans from Gainesville, Florida: Less Than Jake.

As the years have passed LTJ have lost none of their fun and enthusiasm, and the crowd were instantly behind them. From there the punk-tastic vibe was carried on by Bowling for Soup who stuck to the formula (some old, some new) but kept the crowd entertained throughout.

On the main stage the scale was a lot more stadium rock than intimate pub gig as Lostprophets kicked off the final act of the night with ‘The New Transmission’. Vocalist Ian Watkins seemed increasingly frustrated with the crowd (perhaps overly familiar with a ‘prophets only crowd after a UK tour?), calling them out to shout, scream and sing louder after almost every song, but still the hits kept coming.

In all this year’s Warped Tour, the first in the UK since 1999, was an undoubted success. A sold out crowd packed into a venue which, while it may not have been the number one choice in practicalities (people traffic at times was unbearable and rooms had to be closed off to avoid over-occupancy), it definitely had character – something which has always been the driving force of the tour itself.

Fingers crossed it will find its way back to Blighty next year.

If you bring a gun, we'll bring an arsenal

View all the best pictures from the show here.

James Michael Parry

Music | Live Review – Young Guns @ Bucks New University, High Wycombe, 02-02-12 | This Is Entertainment

Courtesy Alicia J BeddenWhen a band comes home for an intimate show where it all began, you can’t help but expect something special. The energy of the crowd was filled to the brim as Young Guns took to the stage, and it didn’t drop in the hour-and-a-quarter long set.

A momentary bit of day-confusion aside (hey, it’s rock ‘n’ roll), the band were confident and met the crowd’s enthusiasm head-on, with leading man Gustav Wood ending up among them for most songs.

The set opened with the anthemic ‘Bones’, which quickly had the crowd singing along, though unfortunately the acoustics of the venue meant that much of the guitar precision was lost to the muddy bass and rhythm sections, but fans were too caught up in the excitement to care.

Vocally the band stayed mostly quiet, aside from effective yet unimpressive gang vocals, and let Wood handle crowd interaction. He explained that the band had got up to some pretty big shows on their last tour, and so they had wanted to come back and play a more ‘intimate’ venue. He also threw down the gauntlet early on, saying: “It’s the first night so we’re allowed to fuck up, but you guys have got to get this tour going.”

The band produced a typical selection of tunes, many from new album Bones, but balanced them with more well-known tunes like ‘Weight of the World’ and ‘Winter Kiss’. The latter triggered a particularly noticeable reaction, with a pit opening up on the floor despite the size of the venue.

In all the band put on a good show. The energy and swagger of Wood, who effectively channelled Lostprophet’s Ian Watkins in both stage presence and vocal style – no bad thing –, was balanced by a driving rhythm section and filled-out with the guitars to create a typically British slice of rock.

While the crowd might have already been on their side before they stepped up to the mics, they’d certainly won over a whole lot more by the end of the night.

Rating: 3/5

James Michael Parry

Music: Reading Festival 2010 Review

Moody rock stars, muddier teenagers and a plethora of fantastic music and comedy performers made up this year’s Reading Festival weekend.

The rain began on Thursday 26 and continued on and off through the Friday to create one of the most water-logged festivals of recent years.

Classic rock fans refused to have their spirits dampened by the rain and earnestly awaited Guns ‘n’ Roses Main Stage headlining performance on Friday evening. Unfortunately they waited far longer than anyone expected and when frontman Axl Rose waltzed on stage at 10.30pm the band were already an hour late for their advertised slot.

The heavyweight rockers, famous for hits such as ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ and ‘November Rain’, had already kept fans waiting 10 years for their latest album Chinese Democracy, but once the music began the crowd’s discontent softened a little.

Despite festival management company Festival Republic allowing the band to play on for an extra half an hour, they were forced to switch of the sound system at 12.00pm to comply with Reading Borough Council’s licensing, leaving Axl mouthing along to muffled drum sounds.

Being a no-good rock and roller though Rose felt this was not the end and promptly picked up a nearby megaphone to sing along with the crowd in the most original rendition of ‘Paradise City’ in the band’s history.

Guns may have failed to capture the crowds’ imagination but across the (now sodden) grass in the Lock Up tent American pop-rockers Alkaline Trio were delivering a solid performance.

Elsewhere on the Friday Queens of the Stone Age and Lostprophets oozed energy on the Main Stage and both had the crowd singing along to their greatest hits.

Saturday brought a clash between the thumping drum and bass outfit Pendulum and the mellow radio-friendly sounds of Arcade Fire, whose latest album The Suburbs jumped to the top of the album charts last week. Both bands were well received, with the crowd chanting the haunting chorus of Arcade Fire’s ‘Wake Up’ for hours after the music had finished.

In the midst of the battle for supremacy, NOFX showed up as a secret act on the Lock Up stage to entertain the crowd with their usual jibes, even inviting Frank Turner on to join them during their 18 minute epic song ‘The Decline,’ which they performed in full. Soon after came the band that really shone through on Saturday night: Bad Religion. The group’s 30-year-old political punk sounds united old and new fans with a fantastically diverse set delivering hit after hit.

Earlier in the afternoon The Mystery Jets hypnotised the audience with songs from their latest album Serotonin and Dizzee Rascal united rock and pop fans with his bizarre range of styles, including a rendition of his own version of Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ as well as his own hits ‘Bonkers’ and ‘Jus a Rascal’.

Sunday saw a departure from the usual tradition of heavy metal bands to have pop-punk kings Blink 182 closing the festival amid fans of all ages. A particular visual highlight was drummer Travis Barker’s 360 degree drum kit, which spun in all directions, leaving him upside down while he thrashed out a blistering drum solo.

Guitarist Tom Delongue fared less well as he constantly forgot lyrics and at one point got distracted when he spotted Dominic Howard, the drummer for the British rock group Muse, watching them from the side of the stage.

The Alternative Tent retained its consistently high calibre of acts this year, with Adam Bloom, Robin Ince and Russell Kane, who had only just arrived at the festival after being awarded the Edinburgh Comedy Award the previous day, all having the tent in stitches from start to finish.

Despite some typically British weather, the festival delivered a fantastic weekend of entertainment. There was some slightly over-zealous fire fighting on the final night, but generally new safety measures managed to cut down the amount of crime and dangerous gas explosions, which have tarnished the event’s reputation for years. Roll on 2011.

James Michael Parry

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Music: Reading Festival 2010 Special – Headliners


August’s arrival can mean only one thing – the countdown to Reading Festival 2010 – this year’s alternative music extravaganza has well and truly begun.

Over 100 artists from various music genres and levels of commercial success will take to the six stages over three days at what Dave Grohl from the Foo Fighter’s described as “The best festival in the world”.

Unfortunately with so many countless bands to chose from it can be difficult to choose who to see to guarantee maximum musical enjoyment (and subsequently drunkenness). So, in order to avoid potential panic, This Is Entertainment presents the the first part of the essential Reading Festival ‘Must-see’ Guide.

The big names

The reason people go to festivals is to see the big headline acts right? Perhaps…but it’s not true for everyone.

The beauty of festivals is that so many acts are available all at once, meaning you might wander aimlessly into a tent at 2pm on the Saturday to discover a band you never would have listened to otherwise. The point of this guide as a whole is to give direction to your aimless wanderings, but before all that let’s start with the basics and look at the big names.

Guns ‘n’ Roses

A band out of touch and out of its time grace the Reading Festival stage for the first time – despite appearing at Leeds in 2002, which is surprising considering the bands worldwide fame. In their heyday at the end of the 80s they were one of the world’s most intimidating rock groups, even providing a tune for Terminator 2: Judgement Day in 1991.

Now though, they are a shadow of their former self, with frontman Axl Rose recovering from a decade-long ego trip trying to piece together his magnum opus Chinese Democracy and the fighting between Axl and former band members has dragged on for decades.

Still, there is a new line up – with only Axl remaining as founding member – and fan response to their latest album wasn’t terrible, but I still can’t see them being as fun as Alkaline Trio.

Tracks to catch: Sweet Child O’ Mine, Paradise City, Shackler’s Revenge
Verdict: Miss

Arcade Fire

The radio-friendly indie band of the festival takes control on the Saturday, a theme which echoes down through the rest of the main stage, though more will be overjoyed by the resurgence of drug-fuelled Pete Doherty and The Libertines.

For Arcade Fire though the appearance couldn’t have come at a better time, with their new album The Suburbs assaulting the charts at this very moment after jumping to the number one spot after its release last week.

If you’re wondering what songs the band sing then it’s quite difficult to nail down a song you may have heard of, the style is very much that of modern hippies, a swaying, laid back sort of pop/rock, though one or two tracks might be familiar from BBC television show adverts.

Tracks to catch: Rebellion (Lies), Wake Up, Keep The Car Running
Verdict: Maybe

Blink 182

Another reformation but this time a welcome one, the nasally voiced teenage heart-break-ridden trio have returned to give us a reason to smile as the last act of the weekend.

The pedigree of the band is sketchy at best – strangely people don’t take a band seriously if they run along a road naked in their videos… – but that’s the point of Blink, they entertain first and foremost.

During their last appearance in 2003 the band made even the most tight-faced Blink-haters soften a little with their mixture of boyish banter, catchy tunes and audience participation – at one point they had the audience hold up their phones instead of lighters because “it’s the 21st Century now kids.”

With a new album nearing completion (expected early 2011), fans will be hoping to hear some new songs, and praying they are as good as they remember. It’s been a long time since their last self-titled album in 2003 and the fans are all grown up now, their spirits dampened with years of recession, war and no new pop punk heavyweights around to liven things up.

Tracks to catch: Carousel, The Rock Show, All The Small Things
Verdict: Must See

Stay tuned to This Is Entertainment for more crucial band details…

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