Day three and State returns to the site, delighted to find that things are looking up weather wise and even more delighted to discover yet another new Irish band. Arriving here via a competition, Awake Young Soldiers find themselves on at the usual early slot but are undaunted. With a name like that we expected a big sound and they almost deliver, bolstered by having seven people on stage. There is still a fair bit of work to do – at times they tend to stray into rather unconvincing Irish hoe-down territory – but if they can toughen up their sound a bit they could be something quite special. Another one to keep an eye on.
With two of the weekend’s major names coming from the world of hip-hop, the effect seems to have filtered down the bill and onto the Vodafone Stage. Given his pop singles and association with Lily Allen, we were expecting something fairly lightweight from Professor Green but he turns out to be a lot tougher proposition live. Backed by a full live band and regulation co-rappers, his set is a sprint through some fine Brit-hop delivered with gusto and conviction. It’s the familiar samples of the singles that get the most reaction but Green does enough here to persuade us (and hopefully those casual fans) to investigate more of his work.
He is certainly more fun than D12. A lot more fun. Let’s face they’re only here because of Eminem and so are most of the audience. Compared to Jay-Z’s masterclass of a modern hip-hop show on Friday night (and even Professor Green just half an hour earlier), this is pretty dreary stuff, with the usual call and response stuff covering the fact that there is very little here of any substance. That said, there is still something thrilling about seeing a multi-man rap crew in action, although what kind thoughts we have are dispelled one the more portly member of their number takes his top of and spends the rest of the gig wobbling his bits around. Idiots, although that doesn’t stop them reappearing on the main stage later on with their famous mate.
Over on the Heineken Green Spheres Stage, there is a similar battle from the pop world going on. Before the weekend we questioned the inclusion of Diana Vickers on the bill and her performance provides no further answers. What it does do is highlight what a breath of fresh air Kate Nash is. When she played the second stage here two years ago she seemed lost but ‘downgraded’ to a tent (perhaps on the back of her superb but less punter friendly second record) she is in complete control. Her time spent with Billy Bragg has rubbed off, as she is not backward about forwarding opinions on a variety of topics. It helps that she now has a bagful of quality pop tunes to draw from, something that has surely helped enhance her confidence. She finishes by climbing on top of her piano, tossing her mic away and striding off stage and we love her even more.
A slightly less obvious pop star is Dougy Mandagi of The Temper Trap, but he and his band are still clearly on a lot of people’s to do list today. Like a fair few other acts over the weekend, many are here for just the one song but the Australians aren’t going to give in that easily. As we’ve noted before, they’re far more muscular live than on record and give it no small amount of socks. Mandagi’s voice is part of their unique appeal, although the quieter stuff isn’t suited to the outdoors. Of course they finish with ‘Sweet Disposition’ (dedicated to all the “sexy motherfuckers”), sending people running from over the site with their arms aloft, and of course it’s quite magic.