Same as it ever was, the now traditional drive from Copenhagen with photographer Jakob Bekker-Hansen is the usual exciting journey, music a little too loud, driving a little too fast, to get on site once again for State’s eighth Roskilde. A few things have changed when we arrive, mainly the loss of two band tents to be replaced by just one – the Avalon – which does give some of the days quite a thin feel in line-up options. This being said, there’s still a lot of pink highlighter pen on our planner and first glowing option is in the afore-mentioned new tent which get’s an official baptism by some over-excited Danish announcers. Earl Sweatshirt breaks the champagne over the bow, his cheery disposition and infectious toothy grin even more cheered by the sight of thousands bouncing from the off after his DJ warms us up with some Dr. Dre. The set is a dialled up version of his more mid-paced album, and pulling the crowd in with a “There’s 10,000 of you and is that all the fucking noise you can make?” is just what we need to warm up the vocal chords for the weekend ahead.
On the main (Orange) stage the beautiful return of Outkast into the afternoon is heralded by a boiler-suited Andre 3000 with a platinum hair-do, white glasses and fast-acting brilliance from the pair of them. The Danes can’t be faulted for their love of hip-hop and tens of thousands are glowing in the open air. Andre and Big Boi are never fawning, but are pros at rising an audience, even as big as this. They make enjoying it easy work and never easier than when we’re floating on ‘Ms Jackson’. Sensing an air of summer love, Andre says “fellas, if you don’t get some tonight, I can’t help you” before bringing his choice of pretty girls on stage in time for “One, Two, Three…”. As summery a moment as you’ll get, you could almost smell the factor 20 and feel the warm sand.
Lykke Li, if not quite a local hero, is a neighbour done good and she has no problem cramming the 13,000 capacity Arena tent back to the pegs. With a new, somewhat panned, album since she last played this stage, it seems essentially the same set-up and stage show too. As good as that show was/is, having seen it (and loved it) a number of years ago, it now feels diluted. We squeeze into the tent in time to catch the ever-perfect ‘I Follow Rivers’ and her on-stage effort can’t be faulted, but we have enjoyed this before so it’s time for us to move along. Alas, our journey to Chance The Rapper was stopped by the news that 5 minutes before he was to start he becomes another of the cancellations to beset the event (Chromeo cancelled last week, and Drake cancelled his Sunday night closer slot due to illness – to be replaced by Jack White).
Well able to kill some time with a cold beverage, we find that Banks is out in the campsite’s Apollo Stage and make the journey around an already-swelling crowd who are waiting for the night’s big hitters. In all black, emotional almost to the point of tears at the thousands who have showed up, she had a slow start but didn’t take too long to shake off the nerves and grow into her soulful beats building more in confidence right up to the perfect closer, the ‘big hit’, a dark pulse of compressed beats, ‘Waiting Game’. A win in any sense.
Many many years ago, one of The Rolling Stones’ first touring stages was sold to a Danish music festival, and thus we have Roskilde’s iconic Orange Stage. For the first time since it was sold, Mick & Keith & Ronnie & Charlie step out under it to a crowd that must be made up of about six generations of fans. There’s no point in even talking about the back catalogue, or the living icons of rock n’ roll, but to be fair, any band would make an impression walking on to ‘Jumping Jack Flash’. When it’s the guys who wrote it in 1968, well, you take your take your damn hat off and you dance. Simultaneously as spritely and as haggard as ever, Mick Jagger is a thin, ever-twisting splinter of infectious moving and shaking. Stab a piano into delivering ‘Let’s Spend the Night Together’ and roll us like craps into ‘Tumbling Dice’ with everything a band who’ve been at the top almost all their lives have in their vast arsenal. As you’d expect, the backing musicians mightn’t be fresh faces but they are perhaps the finest you can put on a stage. Jagger is parading up and down the long catwalk (for want of a better word) that runs deep into the crowd, throwing out hallmarked gold from the vaults. Keith sings a bit and the middle drops into a bit of bluesy indulgence but in a three hour set you’d give them that. Jagger is speaking quite brilliant Danish throughout which he learned in a short time backstage. Way to endear, if he even needed more endearment. For all the jumping about it was ‘Wild Horses’ that snagged the heart. If you can have five minutes of solo escape in a crowd of 100,000 then you are in the midst of something very grand. Box up the long set with ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’ and ‘Satisfaction’, launch a veil of fireworks above us, bow and depart. Unlike Dylan, these guys seem like they really love every minute of showbuisness and it soaks into your pores quick. It wasn’t the Jagger moves that hooked us though. Still now, days later, it’s there in the fifth song, when Charlie Watts’ sticks open up ‘Wild Horses’ and something in the memory still sends flushes up behind the eyes.
The Rolling Stones photographed for State by Jakob Bekker-Hansen.
Additional reporting by Marina Friis Ghazaleh.