The fourth day really begins where we left off on the third day. Some days are so long that you can hardly believe what you fitted in and we have just remembered that at around 3am Saturday night/Sunday morning, with a flash mob of new friends we met in a bar, we were dancing to Berlin’s Moderat in a tent at the far reaches of the site. Perfect electronica which just kept the balance between getting us dancing, and keeping things mellow.
After a hot night’s sleep we arrive on site to pick up the tales of the night before. While we relay the good news about Robyn and Moderat, we are told that Gallows may have been in a bit of trouble with the police. After firstly getting the crowd in the tent to run in a massive circle, thus creating a dust storm, they then encouraged them to build a huge human pyramid in the centre. Security not impressed, and we believe they may have had their collar felt too.
You could not ask for more from a festival when on the Sunday morning you are treated to Van Dyke Parks, arranger, actor, composer, and the Danish National Youth Ensemble. There are actually more people on stage in Arena tent than Gorillaz had on Thursday and Mr. Parks is at the piano, white-haired and moustachioed, well-fed and delightfully old-world he’s somewhat Randy Neuman-esque and he runs us through some ragtime and show tunes including -Night In Metropolis’, from 1857, supported by the wonderful orchestra. We are also treated to some re-discovered Latin American songs from his most recent project. It’s a time machine and dream-like to stand there and watch.
Do not try this at home. Take yourself, in this blissed-out state, from Mr. Park’s tent of comfort and transfer your shell of a body to the other side of the site to see South Africa’s Die Antwoord (Die Fookin Antwoord in their own words). This hideous, white-trash rap/pop three piece – the tiny, platinum-blonde, chav sex bomb, the lanky, scrawny and well-hung guy and the feakishly-masked dj – are so, so good at being so, so bad that it’s massively entertaining. Exploiting the worst excesses of suburban values (via the best staccato rapping of the weekend), they turn everything you like about music on its head so many times that you don’t really know why you’re enjoying this so much. We even get costume changes (gold lycra tights for -Rich Bitch’, the infamous Pink Floyd boxer shorts) and some lessons in Afrikaans (even if we could spell it, it would be too obscene).
In a presumed effort to waken us up we then have MotÃ¶rhead next on the main stage. The band are 10 minutes late and as Lemmy explains, ‘Sorry we’re late, we’re just off the bus. Stuck in fuckin’ traffic. But we’ve been stuck in traffic before. We are MotÃ¶rhead and we play rock -n’ roll’. Thus begins the fat sound of Lemmy hitting chords on his bass and we’re off into exactly what you’d expect of MotÃ¶rhead, no frills.
Local Natives have drawn a crowd to the Pavilion tent but this being the fourth day, many are content to sit in the still-beaming sun outside the hot tent. Cheery guitar pop just what the doctor ordered (plus going easy on the cold Tuborgs) and once inside the tent the band are flying through summery harmonies on songs like -World News’ and switching instruments, and positions, on-stage during songs giving us both an audio and visual sugar rush. They kill the tempo a bit with -Who Knows Who Cares’ but the last track all ends in a cascade of drumming and they get forgiven.
Ikonika vs Cooly G look a bit bored in their dj box in the corner of the Cosmopol stage and though the tunes they are mixing are cheery enough it’s definitely the wrong time on the wrong day for these guys – Sunday, 5pm and fry-an-egg-on-the-stones hot.
We approach The National with a little caution. Matt Berninger is more often than not quite un-engaging as a front man and sometimes seems to be hiding behind the mic and afraid of the crowds. Our photographer passed us after shooting the first songs from the pit and quickly noted that there was something a little wild looking about him this time. Whatever was affecting Berninger he was much more watchable than before, though visibly spaced. At one point he raced down the pit which dissects the crowd and dived into the capacity audience, working his way back through the throngs. The sound was clear and the band were loud and tight, though sometimes they looked like they were going to just do their bit well and just hope for the best from their lead. As we near the end we get an intense -Mr. November’ and it’s clear that Berninger is on the edge of something. His voice is disintegrating while yelling the chorus and he slaps the mic stand down so hard that he snaps the pole from the metal base. He then beats the javelin-like pole off the stage repeatedly as the band look on, perhaps thankful he didn’t launch it into the crowd (as we all were). In case you’re wondering, yes this was The National in concert. The gig ends with Berninger putting on his jacket, taking out his in-ear monitors and kneeling with his head against the kick-drum. Fascinating and pretty gripping in a car-crash way.
Playing that gorgeous guitar pop that the Swedes do better than anyone is Miike Snow ‘we’re a band, not a person’ who accompany a sit-on-the-grass pause outside Odeon tent, but soon we’re back to Arena via an inoffensive and harmless Kasabian playing in the sunlight, on the main stage. The reason we spirit up to Arena is to make up for the sins of our youth, which was not listening to enough Pavement. Their recent best-of re-ignited some old college memories but having never seen them live we popped our cherry to the sound of -Stereo’, the song of so many youthful mixtapes, playing as we trotted into the tent. The band look like they’re enjoying being in the band again and any alleged strain between members seems to be treated playfully. Their summery, low-fi, north-American indie sound is a perfect match for the day outside and when -Shady Lane’ is introduced with ‘this one was really big in Scandinavia’ the dancing crowd use their reserves of energy to dance with each other. But energy is just what we’re going to need now as we hit the home straight.
A planned trip The Temper Trap is cut off as a call goes out that the pits are still open on the main stage, and a chance to see the mighty Prince close-up can’t be passed up. Our efforts pay off and within 10 minutes the State team have engineered their way through to be nearly in line with the middle of the stage, which is now full of tech guys all looking at the ground. Some technical error with perhaps a tele-prompter, guitar board or trap door (well, you never know) at the front of the stage delays things and various members of Prince’s band come out and warm up the crowd with some left crowd vs right crowd cheering and a bit of harmonica playing. The man himself, notoriously difficult and self-conscious (no photos allowed at all) eventually makes his way out through a perfect, back-lit smoke cloud wearing a relatively simple white trousers and polo-neck with a illustration of, well, himself on it. And the crowd go loo-la.
He looks perfect, not an extra year drawn on his face since we first had a poster of him on our wall in the ’80s. He’s possessed of an other-worldly cool and as you’d expect, is basking in his own ego while he effortlessly plays some licks on his guitar. ‘Dearly beloved…’ he speaks. More wildness. ‘…we are gathered here to day, and it is so true. To get through this thing called… life’ and with a twirl of his arm in the air, the tightest funk-rock band in the world plummet straight into -Let’s Go Crazy’. From that minute the glassy exterior opens up and he’s calling a crowd, battered by four full-on festival days, into action. ‘Clap your hands.’ ‘Double time.’ ‘Are you ready to dance?’ He’s laughing to himself and seems to be loving every second on-stage, almost as much as we are.
It’s hard to believe anyone can forget the first verse of -1999’, least of all the man who wrote it, but he laughs off the only gaffe in the evening and he goads the crowd into a party and tired feet are lifting off the ground. Throughout the show he instructs the band when he’s going to continue a song, or end a song which gives a great air of improvisation – he’s also asking the engineers ‘turn on the lights, I want to see everyone’, or ‘turn up my guitar on this one’ before flying into one of his solos. This is a show not a gig. He both gives, and duly receives a party. We get a mellowed-down -Little Red Corvette’, a gospel -Nothing Compared 2 U’, and a straight-up -Kiss’. As tired as we were at the end of a great four days, we were lifted again. Watching some clips later on brings back a warm, tingly feeling – far as we now are from those tired feet in our festival-battered shoes. ‘We love this song’ he says, while enjoying another solo and you get the feeling we will too. When he eventually sings ‘Never meant to cause you any sorrow…’ that’s our cue. Find some reserves in the tank and give it all you’ve got. ‘Purple Rain, Purple Rain’. Genius.
‘Purple Rain’ part 1
‘Purple Rain’ part 2
Photos Jakob Bekker Hansen