Going back on our promise to have an early one on Thursday the damage wasn’t so great that it couldn’t be cured by locals Rangleklods in Cosmopol, who came highly recommended by Copenhagen’s best barman (who happens to be Irish). The young Esben Andersen has build a sound that is rock in presentation (certainly live) but with two feet planted deeply in an electronic sound. Gothic and echo-drenched, he sounds not unlike a remixed Chris Martin but with the neon-reflected-in-puddles-at-night audio of Chromatics and Desire. He occupies the left side, singing and jogging confidently on the spot while the silver-clad boys and girls of his band fill the rest of the stage. The Danes really do support their own and for a midday gig he packs it out and kills it like it’s midnight on the main stage, thanking everyone for a great night at 1pm in the day.
The always interesting Gloria tent provides some Saturday jazz by Jakob Bro, a Copenhagener playing and recording his own albums with some big names such as Bill Frisel. Thoughtful and very polite he carefully introduced each piece and with the visuals took some mellow and very accessible guitar-lead routes evoking Iceland and beyond to the US. Best accompaniment to the morning’s cup of tea you could imagine. The same could not be said for experimental electronic pioneer Dalglish. Such an assault on the ears, the sounds went off in so many different directions at any given time that festival sanity was at risk of too much exposure to the industrial darkness. Probably worth investigating on record, this tent was not quite the place to start and the thinning crowd, curious like us at first, made their way slowly to the afternoon’s other offerings during the set.
Gossip were the cold shower the afternoon needed. Beth Ditto just struts around like she owns the place, shouts drinks orders to the wings and waves at various corners of the crowd during songs. Barefoot for most of the concert her and the band (who have the visual appearance of being found at a jumble sale) gave a glam pop punk shot in the arm at just the right time, though it you could just tighten up the between-song pauses and her fill-the-silence sarky ramblings the energy could be kept high throughout. If Gossip were a shot of B52, then The Cult are pure Jack Daniels from the neck. Card-carrying members of the hoary old rockers club, they carry the attitude you can only get away with by being through the mill. Billy Duffy still strikes the classic low-slung guitar pose and is pin-sharp. A fur-collared Ian Astbury avoids some of the glorious high-registers that were a certain trademark, thus ‘Firewoman’, taken down an octave, didn’t have the kick we were hoping for. With only a hardcore up front getting vocal behind them they still put everything they had into the set and it took a wise old codger like Astbury to say “if you can tear yourselves away from your cellular telephones for a moment, you might get something from this”.
That old festival friend, scheduling conflicts, raised its head meaning that it was time to decide between two men with solo albums out who used to share the limelight with the women in their bands. So Jack White or Lee Ranaldo or attempt to catch a bit of both from the back of both crowd? A tough call but as we were always more White Stripers than Sonic Youth we burrowed close to the front for Jack. Choosing the female band of the two he travels with, the bonus was that one of the girls in the band is actually from the very town of Roskilde so there were many homecoming cheers. A man who would put any hard worker to shame with his prolific output, he pulled from all corners of his career – ‘Hotel Yorba’, ‘Blue Blood Blues’, ‘Steady as She goes’ backed by the tightest band you’ll ever hear. Jack sure writes the songs but he is 100% about the music too, perfectly played and delivered. It is perhaps because of this that any personality around the songs is ushered away, the energy spent on nailing each song. And he does, but all work and no play makes Jack more of maestro to watch and less of a communal experience. Well, of course up until he opens the closing song with “Baaam ba ba-ba-ba bam. Bam” and you won’t get more communal that 80,000 people singing one killer bass line (*).
There’s still time left in the day to have a breather and get up close for Niki & The Dove. Looking like a fight between an ’80s work-out video, red indians and a highlighter pen factory it’s golden infectious Swedish pop, leaning nicely towards a darker side where The Knife live. This mood, and a stage complete with slow-mo dancers and a lot of face-paint, would even force a smile and an on-the-spot dance from Jack White. With a swift pace we are able to cap the night with a glimpse of Daughter. The demure three-piece are being genteel and thoughtful on the Gloria stage but on each song, when you think the quiet slightly folky mood will lose you, the drums grab hold and put some mini bombast into Elena Tonra’s crystal clear lines about torn hearts and broken chests. What we saw was simply not enough.
(* yeah, it’s played on a six-string but it’s all about the bass).
Photos by Jakob Bekker-Hansen