[sic] Magazine


There are too many ‘festivals’ these days, and festival aren’t about anything but a bunch of bands playing together in the sunshine or the pissing rain. Growing up in the not too distant past, I remember the only festivals Britain had were Glastonbury, Reading, and maybe Monsters of Rock. Now it’s T, and Wireless, Glastonbury. Global Gathering, Download, Reading, Leeds, V Stafford and Chelmsford, Guildford, Rockness, WHERE WILL IT END?

Fairground Attraction

No wonder dozens of festivals are being cancelled, or going bankrupt. The idea of paying £65 a day for live music in a field is simply too much for most of us to bare: and with a small talent pool of bands, every festival is starting to look roughly the same (look at the back of their t-shirts, if you don’t believe me). Even for the relatively well off, and those in the lucky position of actually having jobs, it isn’t a tempting prospect. In the end, the decision to go comes down to how much hassle it is to get there and how much it costs.

Luckily, we had a set of £5 weekend tickets – a significant improvement on £130 weekend tickets – in conjunction with some stupid promotion for a towel. And since we were in Manchester for Kraftwerk, we decided to not bother with the first night at all. Being 36, one needs ones bed and electricity and other decadent concepts such as sleep and good food.

They used to be Doves

Setting off in the afternoon, we found ourselves in the deserted Paddock Wood train station. With a shuttle bus running, you may have expected someone there to guide the late running and lazy in the direction of the Farm – we found no one. By a set of barely-visible sellotaped signs, we find ourselves with… no bus. Get a cab. Find a bunch of security guards at the site – none of whom know where the entrance is, and the staff have all bunked off.

Eventually, we find ourselves inside, in a big field, with 20,000 people, loads of kids, and a bunch of burger stalls. The Doves phone in a competent, tight set – but it’s clearly just another at the office for them. The music is a swirl, and aside from the somewhat unexpected dark humour between the songs (largely aimed at a certain multinational food manufacturer, somewhat oddly). The band play their intricate melodies in an atmosphere that is lost in the daylight: like Editors, Doves are a band that works best in a dark room. And ‘There Goes The Fear’ is a brilliant song – and if more Doves songs were that good, they’d be a lot more popular.


After a twenty minute gap, and last seen supporting R.E.M. At Twickenham, come Editors. Initial Joy Division comparisons are lazy and tame, but with a proliferation of new material, the comparisons are fast becoming irrelevant, largely because Editors have fallen in love with sequencers and computers, and at least a third of the new set is from the upcoming record – In This Light and On This Evening: and it is fabulous. Dark, tunnelling stuff shorn of guitars, brave, and reminiscent of some kind of cross between the more rhythmic, powerful, epic stuff from UNKLE and Depeche Mode; the hour when the sun comes up and when the sun rises, when the foxes scamper from the bins and when the daysleepers come back from work. It’s brilliant, unexpected, and totally throws a crowd expecting the maelstrom of sound and guitars. In some ways, it’s akin to New Order’s movement from the abyss of intense shredded guitars and angular drums of the latter days of Joy Division to their ‘Low Life’ album made of moody electronics. Editors do not confound, or try to be obtuse, but follow a muse that takes them somewhere new and it is a brave move to be applauded. Great bands never stop at a certain point, but keep going new places.

Following this, the field fills up with a particular type of person: you can spot a Weller fan a mile off – a certain type of shirt, a certain type of shaggy haircut, and often an age (though his music has a timeless quality that marks it of a vintage but also speaks to us now). His five-piece band, with a somewhat busy keyboardist, guitars, bass, and drums was radically reconfigured last year, but there’s no sense of any gap in ability or fluency. Opening with ‘Peacock Suit’ and ‘Out of The Sinking’, the set dips and falls between well known solo singles, a brilliant ‘Shout To The Top’ and furious – even if it is somewhat lacking compared to The Jam – ‘Eton Rifles’. Following this with a 9-minute dirge that sounds like a R.E.M. B-side sucks the atmosphere away and flings it callously to the moon. But Weller is not my personal jukebox, and I wouldn’t want him to be. He is brilliant – but on his terms, and his terms alone.


It seems odd now, on the cusp of a seemingly inevitable Conservative victory with an Eton-educated millionaire proclaiming to be a fan of The Jam and Morrissey poised to be the next Prime Minister, that these songs and their meanings seem to whoosh over the head of the selfish, the privileged, and for them to claim these songs as their own, when they were meant for the majority, the dispossessed, those of us who watched the rest of the world get what it wanted with a silver spoon whilst some of us were expected to clean toilets. It is important that now, as ever, some artists are off creating their own artistic world, following their own vision, and staying true, even if they may lose a follower or two on the way.

Oh, and Roger Daltrey turned up and sang ‘Magic Bus’ at the end. Not a bad day at all.