The famously long Danish winter only really ended five or six weeks ago as the temperatures struggled to reach above 10 degrees, but you wouldn’t know that today as its pure blue skies and temperatures in the mid-20s that greet the opening of the gates at Roskilde 2010 – now in it’s 40th year.
Though the bill is not packed with must-sees causing a racing around the stages like pinball, there’s still plenty of attractive names and lots of space between to lounge around in a field with a cold one. Though a rock festival in the main, the vibe is so relaxed and easy-going and the non-music activities many and varied, that the relaxed times between music are every bit as entertaining as the shows.
Opening the main stage this year is Patti Smith. It’s not a gig per se (her show proper is on Saturday) but a remembrance of 2000’s festival tragedy when nine young people lost their lives in a crush at the Pearl Jam concert. The nine names are read out as she throws flowers into the audience. This part is pogniant, though her no-doubt heartfelt platitudes that follow are of a different generation to the ones affected and she seems too removed from that particular event to resonate.
Paramore are keeping the kids busy over at a packed Arena stage. Their “my-first-punk-band” sound and edge-free performance may not draw in non-believers but the crowd, many who have been camping here for four days waiting for the music to begin, are eager and receptive. One such fan who made it up the front impresses energetic frontwoman Hayley Williams enough to be brought up on stage to sing -Misery Business’ practically on her own. She introduces herself as -Signe’ and she overcomes an initial stage-fright to fully rock-out. The band walk off stage waving goodbye and leave her standing there – while the audience rise to a huge chant of -Sig-ne, Sig-ne’.
On the way to the Odeon tent we pass a for-real swimming pool and can’t resist a dip as the day has really heated up. To get in you need to contribute fivw minutes cycling, which powers the water heating and purification. You can rent trunks and a towel for about €5 (how superbly organised) and then you can take as long as you like swimming and diving into a delightful deep pool in the shape of the Tuborg logo. A literal oasis and an awesome interlude in the day.
Locals Efterklang have the Odeon tent rammed though, these guys could easily pull of a much bigger tent. From where we squeeze ourselves the show looks as intense and engaging as ever but it’s hard to soak it up completely from our place in the sun. We make a mental note to get in early for these guys next time, and then bee-line up to LCD Soundsystem in the Cosmopol tent so we can get a decent look at James Murphy. He’s all in white and all LCD need to do is start a beat and the audience are off. Rapt and bursting with energy all the way to the tent pegs, they treat each song (including particular favourites ‘Drunk Girls’ and ‘Tribulations’), with the same enthusiasm and when the inevitable -Daft Punk Are Playing At My House’ arrives you could boil an egg in the hot sweaty air of the tent.
An invitation to ‘go have our eyeballs rocked’ from a friend brings us to Valient Thorr. Heavily bearded and delightfully straightforward axe-wielding rock men they introduce themselves with the line ‘Hello we’re Vampire Weekend’ and then power-chord their way through some no-frills, unpretentious and highly enjoyable rock.
Gorillaz are 30 minutes late which is fine by everyone who are enjoying the sunset and the cooling evening. After the -Orchestral Intro’ they go straight into -Welcome To The World Of Plastic Beach’ with Snoop appearing on the big screen behind and Damon Albarn as well as The Clash’s Mick Jones and Paul Simonon looking extremely like their cartoon alter-ego Murdoc. Snoop’s on-screen appearance reminds us of those -An Evening With Elvis – back from the dead’ shows doing the circuit and while it’s the only opening song you could choose it’s immediately a bit disconnecting from the live feeling. It’s a tough challenge bringing their new album to the live arena and Albarn took a little bit of flak at Glasto for the show there, but he is a happy man this evening with a lot of laughs and smiles throughout the whole show. There’s such a massive amount of things going on on-stage and if you blink you could miss where Hypnotic Brass Ensemble stop and the National Orchestra for Arabic Music begin. Bobby Womack appears for -Cloud Of Unknowing’, Yukimi Nagano joins Albarn for -Empire Ants’ and also -Dare’ where Albarn kind-of sings Shaun Ryder’s part but doesn’t seem fully committed to where his bit ends and Nagano’s begins.
What was so special about the Glasto show was the cameos, and we don’t get any others tonight. No Lou Reed, no Mark E. Smith. To the fans it was a non-stop dance along, but it at times seemed there was too much packed in without the peaks you’d get from guest appearances. It was clear that from the front of the stage it was a delightfully heaving mass and Albarn did thank everyone, saying ‘you’ve brought us back to life’ while sending everyone home dancing to -Clint Eastwood’.
Three hours later, the night ends with a very friendly black american guy hugging everyone in the beach bar and thanking them. Was he on stage? Is he Bobby Womack? The mystery wasn’t solved but whoever he was he nailed the atmosphere of the festival. Bed now, three more days to go. Pace it the trick.
Photos by Jakob Bekker Hansen