Category Archives: Festival Reviews


This is only going to be a short list, twenty of the best releases of 2011 – containing a very strong top five of the universally critically acclaimed mercury prize winning P J Harvey album; to the pretty much unknown fourth placers Cashier Number 9 with their belfast “baggy” music in the form of debut To The Death Of Fun; on to the infamous WU LYF’s Go Tell Fire To The Mountain; with The Horrors’ epic being very unlucky to have missed out on the top spot and been released in the same year as the flawless second electric record from Bombay Bicycle Club – A Different Kind Of Fix, an unquestionably clear record of the year.

For the best tracks of 2011:

The complete top ten follows:

1. Bombay Bicycle Club – A Different Kind Of Fix

File:Bombay bicycyle club a different kind of fix.jpg

The unrivaled stand out release of the year, shocking topping the brilliance of Bombay’s first album I Had The Blues. A pop record full of beats and nods to The Stone Roses brand of psychedelia. The infusions of guitar based indie and melodic folk makes it Bombay Bicycle Club’s offering clearly a record of its time. You cannot go without listening to this record.

Review Link:

Top Tracks: Take The Right One, How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep, What You Want and Your Eyes.

2. The Horrors – Skying

How have The Horrors reached this point with an unlistenable first album to their third, Skying – a masterpiece and force of nature which although not entirely ground-breaking stylistically is a beautifully created record. The themes of oceans and expanse resonate through an album without a faulty song on it.

Review Link:

Top Tracks: Still Life, You Said and Moving Further Away.

3. WU LYF – Go Tell Fire To The Mountain

Don’t think for a second that WU LYF are all about the mystery of their image because this album is euphoric undecipherable sound-scapes. They brought something very different to the tale with the success of the contrasting elements of screaming savage vocals and clean poppy instrumentals gives WU LYF a memorising signature sound.

Review Link:

Top Tracks: Heavy Pop, Such A Sad Puppy Dog, 14 Crowns For Me And All My Friends and L Y F.

4. Cashier Number 9 – To The Death Of Fun

Cashier Number 9 haven’y caught many people attention this year, with their top youtube video only reaching 40,000 hits – and god knows why not. They have a really accessible sound and make joyful jangling guitar music which sounds so perfect prticularly well done the three tracks mentioned below.

Please Note: Due to the opening of Codamusic being half way through the year, not all of these albums have been reviewd.

Top Tracks: Oh Pity, The Lighthouse Will Lead You Out and Make You Feel Better.

5. P J Harvey – Let England Shake

As mentioned earlier, the universally critically acclaimed mercury prize winning Let England Shake truly deserves such prefixes. It is an beautifully executed politically based  album about the war and ruin which which have caused. The love for a great nation, or what used to be a great nation – not that the album’s beauty can only be realized with this theme. Every song is brilliant so don’t just listen to the tracks below.

Top Tracks: Bitter Branches, The Last Living Rose and Written On The Forehead.

6. Arctic Monkeys – Suck It And See

A return to form from the Arctic Monkeys, with a mature album that is listenable and also lyrically brilliant. It’s not the Arctic Monkeys of old, but really no one in their right mind would want that after listening to this. And one belter of a closing track: (Number 1 on the Best Tracks Of 2011 list as it happens)

Review Link:

Top Tracks: That’s Where Your Wrong, The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala and Reckless Serenade.

7. I Break Horses – Hearts

The first overseas album, from Sweden’s I Break Horses whose electronic shoe-gaze pop is one of this years highlights. A trance-inducing cascade of electronic music, which really seems to have a soul. An under the radar album of other worldly majesty.

Top Tracks: Winter Beats, Pulse and Wired.

8. S.C.U.M. – Again Into Eyes

S.C.U.M., a post-punk outfit who say their music is the manifestation of repressed lust. Their debut album takes influence and mood from Joy Division – a must listen for any post-punk devotee. Although its of a particular taste, the darkness of the music really comes through as euphoria rather than depression.

Top Tracks: Whitechapel, Amber Hands, Cast Into Seasons and Faith Unfolds.

9. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds

Having assumed the worst after the Beady Eye’s flop, Noel pleasantly surprised with this collection of tracks. If you never liked Oasis these aren’t for you as they are nothing new but if you did, its blood good stuff. If only he had spent a few more minutes thinking of a better name, lets be honest it shouldn’t take long.

Top Tracks: Stop The Clocks, If I Had A Gun and (I Wanna Live In A Dream In My) Record Machine.

10. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Unknown Mortal Orchestra

The best of this years influx of brilliant American lo-fi psychedelic rock which includes Smith Westerns and Moon Duo. Trippy, drug distorted vocals and direct punchy guitar. UMO’s debut is also very accessible and relatively easy listening for what it is, making it one of the coolest albums of 2011.

Best Tracks: Ffunny Ffrends, How Can U Luv Me, Biocycle and Thought Ballune.

11. White Lies – Ritual

12. Metronomy – The English Riviera

13. The Crookes – Chasing After Ghosts

14. Yuck – Yuck

15. Glasvegas – Euphoric /// Heartbeat \\\

16. Smith Westerns – Dye It Blonde

17. Florence + The Machine – Ceremonials

18. The Vaccines – What Did You Expect From The Vaccines

19. Moon Duo – Mazes

20.The Joy Formidable – The Big Roar

Disagree? Missed any of yours? Pray Tell.

Please note that these are not the opinions of the whole codamusic team but of one man.

Oscar B. Wilson

1 Comment

Filed under Album Reviews, Festival Reviews, Festive Fifty's And Other Lists, Uncategorized

Reading Festival 2011 – Coda’s Best and Worst

Reading Festival 2011 was my first big music festival and it was awesome. The music is so good live, you can literally feel it in your body. The atmosphere of the camp is amazing. Me and my friends had a gimpy little joke where one of us would start going ‘bzzzzzzzzzzzzz’ then someone else would ask ‘hmmm what was that?’ (and look really perplexed), then the buzzer would reply ‘o it was just me BUZZIN’!!’ Goony, I know, but it’s really true of the whole camp and arena. There were so many highlights, the roars on Thursday night, befriending weird strangers (some whack Welsh men who had a gazebo, stereo and a fire, somewhat strategically befriended by us), the first bite of a ridiculously overpriced food after starving all day, sitting down on a muddy chair after struggling through treacle-thick mud for what seems like miles… And of course the amazing live music.

Declan: For me personally my highlight has to be Friday night music: Metronomy, Noah and the Whale and White Lies really did it for me. The cool bass player for Metronomy, Benga, had rhythm and funk in abundance – I remember his dancing at the beginning of The Bay and just thinking ‘he’s the epitome of cool’. Noah and the Whale’s sing along to Bohemian Rhapsody was brill and White Lies were sososo good all the way through! I didn’t really want to see any of the late acts so thought I’d end the night on a high and went back to camp and had an ace, and much appreciated, fire with the Welshies.

Lowlights are undoubtedly toilet related. Be it the almost unbearable need to take a dump or being hit in the face by a mist of noxious, vapourised piss as you walk into the Camp Site toilets (undeniably the scummiest toilets ever known to man). Or the experience of coming across of the biggest, most unnatural (in size, colour, texture and smell) poo you have ever seen in your life… toilet-ing was always dire.

Sarah: Well, Declan has already spoken about quite possibly the best 50 minutes of my weekend: Noah and the Whale’s performance. They are one of my favourite bands, and it was the first time I’d seen them live, and, despite my anxieties, they did not fail to impress. In fact, they were overwhelming. But another one of my main highlights has to be, dare I say it… Muse. Muse were the final act of the weekend, and honestly, they were the perfect way to end it. The sun had set, the crowd had gathered and, despite only knowing a few of their songs, I was absolutely blown away. Not just by the massive fireballs blowing up from the stage, or the set, lights and camerawork, but the band members themselves were just extraordinary. I’ve never really considered myself a Muse fan and, if I’m honest, usually scrutinised those who were. But the atmosphere of that last night was just incredible, and although Muse’s music isn’t going to be something blasting out of my speakers daily, I am incredibly happy I had the chance to see them live.

My main lowlight, which seemed to take over both my weekend and my wallet, was the ridiculous overpricing of food and drink within the arena. Now, I know that many people managed to sneak things into the arena, but you don’t expect to have to pay £2-3 for a bottle of water. Which normally wasn’t even cold! Even if I had snuck in some water (which would have been a bit lame next to everyone else sneaking in alcohol, but hypothetically…), by about mid afternoon I would have drank all of it and still been forced to buy some more water to just keep hydrated. Ridiculous. Also, it was really annoying to have secured yourself a good place in the crowd that wasn’t near enough the front to be passed water by the stewards, but was far enough forward that it was pretty annoying to have to leave it to get water, knowing you probably wouldn’t get back there. Gutting.

Oscar: HIGHLIGHT – PULP were the best thing about Reading, and this years Glastonbury and most likely the whole festival season for that matter. They are the last remaining truly great British band, they have the festival anthems, Disco 2000 and Common People – massive sing-a-long songs. Opening with arguably their best song – Do You Remember The First Time got the crowd going – such a beautiful song. The entrance was incredible, the P U L P neon lettering flashing on built up the anticipation and the showmanship and pure brilliance of Jarvis Cocker (seen below) is unmatched in the twenty-first century. They are too me an unmatched live outfit, only The Flaming Lips have ever come close to topping them. They made Reading Festival brilliant – and it was probably one of their last gigs ever, if you haven’t seen them you must be filled with a deep regret that will no doubt linger for the rest of your life. THE HORRORS proved that their third album Skying  is the equal best album of the last four years along with I Had The Blues… by Bombay… Still Life, Moving Further Away and Sea Within A Sea proved to be highlights in the most compact crowd off the festival, it was mental. The Horrors have just got better and better over the years and put on a absolutely quality show. They are a must see live band.

LOW LIGHT – THE STROKES could never do anything close to the brilliance Jarvis and Pulp, yes they are a really good studio band – and probably good playing a small room. Although they could merely have seems terrible because of who they followed (that’s why Leeds may have been better for then as they played before Pulp). I do really feel sorry for them, they couldn’t ever have competed – they don’t have a front man with any charisma and is trying way too hard to seem cool and utterly failing; they don’t have any stage presence or wow factor that is needed to headline a large festival. In short they failed to show any glimpse of the band who started the rejuvenation of alternative music in a stagnant industry with 2001’s Is This It – which has to be in the top five albums of the last decade. They were so disappointing. BOMBAY BICYCLE CLUB just don’t see them ever again – listen to their new album and see, oh wait on second thought DO NOT waste your time and money. They are nothing more than hotel lift music now after such an amazing debut in 2009 with I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose (if you want to listen, get this, its pretty near a masterpiece). They have fallen so far.

Nadeen: I genuienly can’t choose one highlight, it was all pretty great. My highlight from Friday was The Naked and the Famous, who just sounded pretty fantastic and I definitely enjoyed being a part of that crowd. For saturday, it was probably Pulp and the Strokes. A fair few reviews have said that Pulp totally stole the show and the Strokes were just a bit disappointing. I think Pulp played better and got the audience going a lot more, but I really enjoyed the Strokes because of the atmosphere of the crowd around me. My highlight for Sunday was Elbow, Guy Garvey’s vocals sounded brilliant and the whole group just sounded pretty perfect- it was a perfect end to such a great weekend. I also enjoyed wandering around the empty arena at about 2 in the morning and the bollocks to poverty party, both of which were fun.

My lowlight of the weekend music-wise was probably Bombay Bicycle Club. They did sound very good, and the crowd were definitely loving it but I think my expectations were a lot higher than what they were which left me disappointed. Saying that, I’m still seeing them in October because they are a pretty great band. Oh, and the other obvious lowlight was the toilet situation which was pretty gross but I think Declan has covered that in sufficient detail..

Jake: One word: MUSE. I had had the privilege of seeing Muse live 3 times (Reading 2006, Wembley 2007 and Glastonbury 2010) before I saw them again on the final day of Reading Festival. Every time they were spectacular, always living up to their “Best Live Band” status they are so often associated with. But their performance this year blew those other performances out of the water. Perhaps it was the back-to-back rendition of “Origin of Symmetry”, a masterpiece of an album, that did it – often unplayed live numbers such as “Bliss” and “Space Dementia” were incredible. Perhaps it was the electric atmosphere in the crowd that night. But something about them made for a truly magical experience, and the gig was utterly thrilling.

Also worth a mention are Pulp and The Strokes. Pulp were awesome and pumped out one crowd-pleaser after another (though the omission of “Razzmatazz” was dissapointing – it would have gone better with a little bit of Razzmatazz). The Strokes, criticised for their lack of stage presence still managed to impress me. So I wouldn’t have classed them as a headline act, but their large volume of great riffs made up for that. It was good to have a standard rock band playing for once.

Overall I thought the line-up was poor, and this is my biggest low-point of the festival. The lack of big names of the calibre seen in previous years was disappointing – but the experience as a whole and the few great bands I did see made it worth the money. This could just be down to my taste in music, though.

The only other disappointments for me were the weather and the extortionately overpriced programs. However, having camped in seemingly one of the least muddy and waterlogged camps (Red), the rain failed to ruin what was ultimately a fantastic weekend (not that it would have done anyway!).

Elena: I only went to Reading festival on the Saturday because I felt that was the best day for me music wise to enjoy.  My highlight of Reading was most of the Saturday headliners.  PULP was my favourite act of the day purely because I knew more of their songs and really got into it.  Jarvis was brilliant due to his ability to hold a crowd, whether its to let them dance to classics such as Do you remember the first time and Disco 2000 or entice people with his odder pieces.  Either way I loved PULP’s set and during my day at Reading they had the best atmosphere.  The Strokes were also really good, the only reason I didn’t rate them as highly as PULP was purely because due to needing the toilet I lost fairly good spaces near the front before their set.  Being in the crowd is definitely a big part of Reading so watching The Strokes from further away and with the distraction of food and toilets I personally didn’t enjoy them as much.  Madness was another enjoyable set because their songs allowed for dancing and singing along which I really like.  Overall, the music on Saturday was brilliant and my highlight.

However, my lowlight of Reading festival was a mix of unmusical factors such as, toilets (covered eloquently by Declan) and the cost of spending just a day there (as Sarah has also mentioned).  Another lowlight for me which was uncontrollable was the mud.  The mud getting hard meant it was a lot harder to walk around and by 2am which was the kind of time I was walking back to my house my legs felt like they were going to fall off! But oh well, all part of the festival experience! and that being said, it was certainly an experience and though it is not my first festival by far, it is certainly the biggest.  Live music festivals are the best regardless of any lowlights simply for the music.

To close, we think that the festival was amazing. The highlights easily outweigh the lowlights. And sometimes the lowlights ended up being pretty funny after all. We urge you buy a ticket for next year right now.


Leave a comment

Filed under Festival Reviews

Get Loaded in the Park 2011

Described as a festival in a city environment, Get Loaded (GLITP) brought more than 20 artists to Clapham Common for a day of music. The line up this year was definitely impressive for any indie/alternative fans out there and was well worth the £35 ticket. GLITP was on the 12th June 2011, and lasted from 12pm to 9pm. The headlining act was Razorlight, and there were many other big acts throughout the day such as The Cribs and Darwin Deez.

GLITP poster

Darwin Deez

Despite knowing very little of their music, Darwin and the gang produced an entertaining show to watch nonetheless. Although the rain could have dampened the mood, the quartet did a great job of warming up the crowd for a day of music. The bassists crazy dancing, Darwin’s stage presence and the well practiced mini intervals between every couple of songs including rapping and dancing, managed to get the whole crowd smiling. Darwin Deez were definitely a great act to have at the start of the day because of how much the warmed up the crowd. Songs worth a listen to are: Constellations, DNA and Bad Day.

Los Campesinos!

Our expectations for this group were high as it was our first time seeing one of our favorite bands. It was clear from the outset that Gareth (lead vocals) wasn’t particularly enthused. Whilst the rest of the band warmed up backstage, Gareth moodily sat on the stage on his phone, which we later saw to be bitchy tweets about other artists. The set list provided a good insight for people unfamiliar with the band, however we were slightly disappointed as our favorite songs were not played. Having said this, the songs played were performed to a high standard with the instruments complimenting each other well. Although we found this experience a tad disappointing, it will not stop us from seeing them perform live again once their new album comes out this year. Songs worth a listen to are: We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed, Knee Deep at ATP and In Media Res.

Patrick Wolf

Dressed entirely in green and armed with an impressive range of instruments Patrick Wolf certainly did create a lasting impression. The audience definitely loved him and he interacted well with the crowd through joining them on the ground level. Before seeing him I was completely unfamiliar with his music, and after seeing him I wasn’t convinced to give it a listen. Sure, he was definitely talented (he played a golden harp on the stage!) but the show wasn’t likable. After being told that he only had 5 more minutes on stage, he certainly was not pleased. He told the crowd about how this show was a ‘homecoming gig’ for him after growing up in Wentworth, and then proceeded to tell his story of how he used to work in a sandwich shop in Covent Garden but got fired after making a tuna sandwich wrong; and therefore anyone can achieve anything just like him!! He then went on to complain about having a short stage time, and wanted the same duration as Darwin Deez; then carried on his show, running overtime. Patrick Wolf was definitely entertaining, but probably not of the more enjoyable shows of the day. Songs to try are The City, and The Future.

British Sea Power

Having only known a few of their songs before the show, I was hoping to leave wanting to listen to more. Starting their set off with Waving Flags and ending with Carrion/ All In It, the group definitely played their songs well. The highlight of the show was definitely the crowd who were all very excited and responsive to the group, and being in the crowd was enjoyable. However, the band weren’t the most interesting and didn’t engage much with the audience which was a bit disappointing. The group sounded just as good on their albums which was pleasing, and after the show it did make me want to listen to them more. Songs worth listening to are: Waving Flags, No Lucifer and Living is so Easy.


We didn’t see very much of the noisettes, but what we did see was definitely impressive. Lead singer, Shingai Shoniwa looked absolutely amazing and her stage personality was very likable. She interacted well with the audience, and even crowd surfed, and sung brilliantly. The group all sounded really good, and put on a good show with their stage decor and the atmosphere created. Songs worth listening to are: Never Forget You, and Wild Young Hearts.

The Cribs

The Cribs were definitely the highlight of the day for us, they sounded amazing and the atmosphere was indescribable. We had spent most of the day at the main stage in an attempt to be near the front for the Cribs, and this had payed off. At the start of their show we were in the fourth row of people so had a perfect view of the stage, however throughout the show we managed to get pushed back to half way through the crowd due to the amount of pushing and mosh pits. Despite this, the show was still fantastic and so enjoyable. The band started with Cheat on Me and ended with City of Bugs, both from their 4th studio album Ignore the Ignorant, and played songs from all four albums in their show. The band sounded even better than they do on recordings and interacted well with the crowd. Their show was so good, that we have literally had songs by the Cribs stuck in our heads for around a month after. In my opinion, all 4 albums are worth a listen to; however the songs worth a listen to are: Hey Scenesters!, Martell, Mirror Kissers, and I’m a Realist.

A picture taken by Sarah Dear of the band.

Johnny Flynn

Johnny Flynn was the last person that we saw at GLITP, and the show was a nice way to end the day. The atmosphere was quite relaxed and calm, and Johnny Flynn sounded just as good as on his CD’s. Unfortunately we missed him playing Kentucky Pill, but the set was so beautiful that it made up for missing it. Songs worth a listen to include: Kentucky Pill, The Water, and Lost and Found.

Overall the day was so much fun, and the £35 ticket seemed like a bargain! The acts and the crowd combined made the day so enjoyable and made the event worth going to.

-Nadeen Chudge and Sarah Dear.


Leave a comment

Filed under Festival Reviews

Hop Farm Festival 2011 Review

Hop Farm Festival is an annual festival with a specific aim of a return to ‘back to basics’ organisation with no sponsorship, branding or VIP attitudes.  There is a mix of new and old in their line ups with a focus around folk and independent music. Normally there is only Friday and Saturday but this year a Sunday slot was opened suddenly due to the headlining of Prince.  For such a small festival the line up was impressive.  On the Friday the Eagles headlined and their most well known song ‘Hotel California’ was brilliant.  Brandon Flowers, more well known as a band member of The Killers performed a good solo set while also including the classics from The Killers such as ‘Mr Brightside’ which brought back memories for the majority of the audience.  The Human League played the Big Tent and the mix of strobe lighting and projections added to their electronic music with hits such as ‘Don’t you want me’. Death Cab for a Cutie played the main stage to many fans and ended on their song for the Twilight: New Moon movie which got a few teenage cheers.

Hop Farm is a good first time festival, there aren’t a huge amount of numbers, it’s fairly family friendly and the most extreme you will encounter is excited hippies, the food is good, and for a festival the toilets aren’t too shabby.   Another plus of Hop Farm is the price, now I am by no means saying these prices are cheap, but in the world of festivals with similar line ups they are.  A day ticket is £70 and a weekend is £125 with additional cost of camping.

Saturday was the big day for many festival goers who bought their tickets before the announcement of the ‘Prince day’ and headliners included Morrissey, Lou Reed, Iggy and the Stooges and Patti Smith.  Other great acts of the day included Newton Faulkner who played an acoustic set which showed off his amazing voice and guitar skills, he played many songs from his well-known album ‘Handmade By Robots’.  Little known band called ‘The Leisure Society’ played in the Bread and Roses stage and proved themselves well.  They are a folk band with some resemblance to Mumford and Sons, a key difference is the inclusion of a fiddle and a flute.  I believe we will hear more from them soon, the crowd at the stage were very enthusiastic and they seem to already have many fans.  The first of the headliners to perform was Patti Smith with a half-hour acoustic set.  She lived up to her name and reputation with her songs and I personally found her as one of the most enjoyable acts.  She sang her most well known song ‘Because the Night’ which was a great opportunity for a sing along and also sang a song called ‘Gloria’ which I thought was just a really good song. ( )

Patti Smith was followed by Iggy Pop and The Stooges which was one of the most enthusiastic, mad, audience involving sets I’ve ever seen.  Iggy’s presence, attitude (and half-nakedness) made the set and in one of his songs he brought a small group of the audience onto the stage (rebelling against health and safety like a true rock and roll legend) and for another song the camera moved across the audience onto the big screen and one girl, seeing herself up on the big screen decided to flash the rest of us.  All of this atmosphere made it one of the most epic and exciting sets.  Iggy Pop said ‘now its time for you guys out there to watch some real music’ at the beginning of the set which sums up his attitude and to be honest cockiness.  Iggy and the Stooges may not be the best singers or musicans but they know how to entertain an audience and make a memorable show.

Lou Reed followed and though he had been highly anticipated his set seemed to lack and many thought it went on too long, this meant many people migrated to the Bread and Roses stage to watch The Leisure Society.  The final act of the Saturday was Morrissey.  In a style typical of his character he kept us waiting, his set was meant to begin at 9 but instead of playing to his fans Morrissey began the set with a 16 minute long montage of old videos which appeared to have no relevance.  This received some negative response from the audience but the majority of fans were patient.  He sang his own solo songs mainly such as ‘You’re the one for me, Fatty’, ‘Everyday is like Sunday’, ‘First of the Gang to die’ and many more.  One of the more controversial songs ‘Meat is Murder’ was made visual with red flood and moving images on a large sheet of material.

Morrissey also performed some Smiths classics which had a very warm reception from fans.  The highlights were ‘This Charming Man’, ‘There is a light that never goes out’ and ‘I want the one I can’t have’.

As well as the billed live acts there were many other types of music there.  Live music ends at 11pm on the main stage and from then on there are ‘indie raves’ in the Big Tent, many smaller acoustic music acts on the acoustic stage and comedians.  Even during the day you can get little surprises.  While I was at Hop Farm I encountered many small live bands who bought their own instruments to play independently in the camping village and provide entertainment.  It is this value for entertainment,  appreciation and support for small bands that sets Hop Farm out as a great festival.

Overall Hop Farm Festival is a amazing festival which has an interest in all the right things.  It creates an atmosphere of festivals from the 60’s and 70’s with its interest in letting people lose themselves in the musics.  Hop Farm is suited to anyone who wants to go for a festival for a good time.  While there I saw older people who had come for music they had loved in the 70’s, children who had come for the atmosphere with their families, it has something for every age group.  However I do think the fact there were more teenage boys wearing trackies was down to the addition of Tinie Tempah to the line up on the Sunday. And how many other festivals have shuttle buses that are buses from the 50’s and 60’s…

Leave a comment

Filed under Festival Reviews


Michael Eavis, after this year’s Glastonbury said that the festival “may only have three years left”, both due to people being put off by cost and the fact that they’ve seen it all before. I agree with him, but where this might see an end to other festivals or at least their decline – most likely the festival republic group. Clearly shown by the Reading Festival line-up, firstly because it lacks two good headliners, everyone who wants to see Muse has seen them enough times now to get very bored, if not they aren’t people who are really going to enjoy a music festival because they are twelve years old and still at the stage of just listening to one album before they start to develop any taste at all. I do understand however that My Chemical Romance have to be put up with, even if they are even worse than Muse, simply because “Reading Rock” needs one day of rock emo-pop? Wait a second does it? I think not. The point that I’m trying to make is that none of it is new. The most exciting band playing this year at Glastonbury, and also at Reading formed in 1978 for Christ’s sake. Secondly, due to the price of seeing twenty bands whom you saw two months ago, in my case at Glastonbury and one band whom you’ve never seen, being nigh on £200. All we need is some new music.

We can’t expect any new music to be at festivals, especially in the next few years, if a replacement genre doesn’t grow quickly out of the death of indie, which too me is a necessity and the sooner the better, for the sake of new music and all festivals. Glastonbury however, is not going to die out even if it is the last festival standing – which no doubt it would be. Glastonbury’s immense variety and diversity of events many of which having nothing to do with music, make it better than any other festival – the healing, craft and green fields all making the festival a cut above the rest. The environmental concerns of the festival are also a great aspect, although a CND speak to an indifferent Pyramid crowd by Caroline Lucas, Green MP  just showed me that the general populous is uncaring for wider society and the survive and improvement of human civilisation. They were waiting to watch U2 so it probably was a crowd disproportionate of British people, or so I hope. I could say a lot on the green aspect of Glastonbury, environmentalism is personally of great importance the problem is the wider world doesn’t seem to find a fault.

Such experiences beyond music make Glastonbury the greatest festival in the world, the atmosphere for me in my third year was unbeatable – even the mud improved things, except from lengthening journey times and that can be a bit problematic on such a huge site. Mud and sun; a strange combination for the time of your life, until you remember the music but that’s what makes Glastonbury as well as the compulsory pie from Pie Minister next to the Brother Bar at West Holts, the nicest pies ever. Also Shangri-La after hours is a must, even if it is utterly pointless and you don’t like drum and bass dance music, it’s an unmissable spectacle of lights and dystopian devastation. If you fail to watch the fireworks and countless Chinese lanterns on a Thursday night you simply don’t deserve to be there. To name but a few of the sides to Glastonbury that give it such an atmosphere of liberation, yes including the pies.

Nothing that I have yet mentioned created such a euphoric atmosphere as the secret gig on Saturday on the Park Stage at sunset, on walks Jarvis Cocker to the largest ever crowd at the stage with people being turned away, people like Kate Moss! Do You Remember The First Time first up just hits the spot, and Jarvis’ banter “You didn’t think we were going to forget about you Glastonbury!” or words to that effect, to me Pulp are Glastonbury, they hit the big time after filling in as headliners in 1995 – making Common People a Glastonbury and a British Anthem. This time it was a brilliant nostalgic sing-a-long, at least for those how are old enough to have remember the mid-nineties.  For me it was unmatched control of the audience thanks to the brilliance of Jarvis, Babies, Sorted Out For E’s And Wizz, Disco 2000 and Sunrise. I can’t think of a better performance, without presuming too much I think it could have equalled their 1995 headline slot, said to be the greatest ever Glastonbury moment. This years is at least mine, the greatest gig that I have ever been to by a country mile.

There were other bands playing, but it only really needed one Pulp gig and I was satisfied, the rest of the weekend was a winding down process after the awe inspiring Pulp. So on to the rest, sadly for those who wanted to hear what I thought of Coldplay and Beyonce, shall not be in luck – I’m religiously stationed around the John Peel Tent and The Other Stage highlights included Everything Everything who played a brilliant set from their first album Man Alive, Tame Impala who are the new 60s Psychedelic revivalists, The Vaccines with some good snappy summer guitar tunes, and Bombay Bicycle Club who’s old material from I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose was as brilliant as always, Cancel On Me is an incredible song ruined by the new material that they have clearly based on Always Like This, the most commercially successful song off the first album and the worst on their – I am not expecting anything from what is undoubtedly going to be a mediocre second album. The Horrors came out with some very mature new material, with resemblances to Simple Minds and Orchestral Maneuverers in terms of the Syth, on first listen they showed that they were building on the brilliance of the second album Primary Colours, particularly with the previously released single Still Life, a strong contender for my personal Festive Fifty number one spot. It sounded superb live, they really have got the hang of the depth created using synthesizers and Faris Badwan has learnt to sing. Skying is going to be some third album.

Three bands all with female front women, really showed some class, The Joy Formidable have improved no end in the 10 months or so since I last saw them live, and they were brilliant then – I suspect this to be down to the chemistry created by the three-piece playing in a line with Matt on drums on centre left rather than behind, plus the addition of a centre stage seven-foot gong pleases me. Warpaint whose ghostly EP Exquisite Corpse far outshone the later debut album The Fool, but luckily they played these earlier songs, and to great effect including the raising of the hairs on the back of my neck, a must listen for a fan of the Cocteau Twins and Siouxsie And The Banshees. The same as Esben and the Witch, to whom I would possibly add Florence And The Machine to the influences of band that sound like a gothic fairy tale, just like their name sake. There album Violet Cries was recently released and is well worth a listen, even if it isn’t the most accessible of albums.

Nothing came close to Jarvis and Pulp, such an strong atmosphere and set list, the headliners of my Glastonbury Festival 2011, and I’m sure quite a few of that crowd’s as well. Eavis is wrong, money and recycling bands aren’t ever going to put people off Glastonbury, such things have no importance, the festival is an escape and a way of life that is as far away from dying off as it is possible to be. Love the farm, don’t leave a trace. I love the farm but always leave a trace of myself, part of my soul there, in those fields of Avalon.

Oscar B. Wilson


Filed under Festival Reviews