Holding to State‘s strict morning diet of natural, non-alcoholic beverages, we begin day two by squeezing our expanding frame in to see a band every bit as pure as the carton of apple juice we hold. First Aid Kit shot to You Tube fame on the back of a Fleet Foxes cover – the two sisters and their pastoral, folk sound making a very -homey’ version of -Tiger Mountain Peasant Song’. The rest of what they do is, well, nice. There’s something Little House On The Prairie about them, especially when after asking the audience to vote between two songs that they play the intros to, they look to Papa at the back to make the call.
Ironically enough we must leave to get over to see Fleet Foxes take on the second biggest stage at the festival. The Arena tent is packed, with many choosing to sit in the shade at the perimeter. State was not so clever and ended up in the middle of a virtual sauna as the hottest rays of the day heated the place up. Water is being dispatched relatively swiftly though, so we don’t get any fainters, and some people cleverly choose to leave the tent for a sit-down. The Foxes failed to grab the crowd on arrival and seemed perhaps a little ill-at-ease being in front of such a large crowd. Songs such as -Your Protector’ sounded huge and really filled the tent but the band’s between song banter was shy and unengaging, perhaps they were a little overwhelmed by the size of the audience. Some broken strings meant a change of set-list we were told (are they still only touring with one guitar?) but it all worked out marvelously and the highlight was a belter of a version of Fleetwood Mac’s -Dreams’, which they insisted was just an exercise in jamming and not pre-chosen.
After liberating a cold one from a beer tent, flipping a coin between Baddies and Glasvegas was the next mission. The ‘Vegas won out and this time we battled up into the front pit to savour the Scots up close. Almost incapable of a bad show they rocked through their one-album set-list as bold as ever, treading the line between humility and swagger to perfection – never more so that when singer James Allan lounges on his side at the front of the stage to begin -Daddy’s Gone’. This is a band so self-assured that you can’t take your eyes off them for the whole gig. At two points Allan even tries to set up both the girl and boys of the band with anyone who’d like to go to their dressing room.
The short trot to the main Orange stage and we’re trying to make amends for missing Faith No More at Slane when Guns n’ Roses played. Dressed much different than they were back then, Mr. Patton and team are resplendent in, wait for it, pastel suits. Yup. Looking more like a Glen Millar orchestra the Trojan Horse of the clothes belies the punch they still have to offer. Patton is a ball of energy with all eyes for about 300 metres focused on him – especially the eyes of those thirtysomethings, some of which may have shed a tear of nostalgia.
Barely time then to catch some of Friendly Fires. Nice to switch to the small but busy Odeon tent to see these fresh young gents burst the place apart. It’s perhaps the most engaged crowd we’ve seen yet and at least half the tent are in a frenzy as the band play for their lives, sounding like there’s a lot more instruments on stage than there is. They even manage to fit in an encore which ends is a percussion cascade, with at some point it seemed, a maraca being repeatedly hit off a microphone. We’re elated.
But no respite from the madness was due. Merely a slip of a thing, Nick Cave still manages to channel the darker side of almost everything human as the sun sets over the Orange stage behind him. Warren Ellis, now Rasputin-bearded, cooks up the chaos from behind Nick and the rest of the Bad Seeds, as tight as ever, bring us on a dark ghost-train ride beginning with -Tupelo’. As the photographers in the pit leave, and Nick bids them farewell, he exclaims; ‘now the fun can begin’.
-Red Right Hand’, -Ship Song’ and a head-boiling -Pappa Won’t Leave You Henry’ leave us speechles for many reasons, not least the exuberant singing/screaming along. -Breathless’ offers some relaxing of the tension with Cave claiming there was a ‘high percentage chance of fucking up’ as they haven’t played the song in ages. Apart from the flute intro it was all there. But Cave finishes us off with his -Mercy Seat’ and out into the cooling evening with us for some beer and salvation. The feeling is like we’d just been to an hour-and-a-half-long confession with a pope from the 15th century.
No further from that could you get than by calling in to Little Boots in the Cosmopol tent. Sweat is rolling off people from a day in the sun and though the tent is cool-ish it’s also thankfully not rammed to the edges. Young Victoria Hesketh looks like a girl going to her first cocktail party and perhaps she’ll be blessed/cursed with those cherubic features all her life. A bit of smart pop is just what we need though we can’t shake the feeling of something a little town hall about the whole thing, she has confidence on stage but doesn’t command attention. The songs are great though it’s a pity the tenori-on, her signature instrument from all her video posts, malfunctions and she abandons it only to play a stylophone which the soundman seems to have forgotten to turn up. -Meddle’ is great fun and the boys up front all link arms for the last hurrah to -Stuck On Repeat’.
While Little Boots is soothing one side of the festival, The Mars Volta have delivered ‘technical heroin rock’ (as one member of the State team, overcome by emotion, called it) which left ears hurting and mouths agape, the band always seeming to find time for an extended bit of seriously-focused drumming and guitar mentalness.
A swing over to the day’s headliners Oasis got us more nostalgic than we imagined. Coming on all mid-90s they gave us -Rock N Roll Star’, -Roll With It’, -Cigarettes And Alcohol’ in the first few minutes and you can’t argue with the fact that these guys can just own a massive gig like tonight. One of the best British b-sides ever, -The Masterplan’ was a tingler and a singalong (with team State‘s anyhow).
The golden chalice of Roskilde, the unlimited-free-beer Tuborg wristband comes our way and we just get time to sink a few perfectly cooled ones before we burrow into the pit for the Diva’s Diva, Grace Jones. And glad we did, as we even got a rub of a sequined jacket hem as the other-worldly Jones (who was 30 minutes late and had a costume change between each song) commandeered a security guard’s shoulders and took him on a walkabout in the lanes between the crowd. A two metre wind machine, a revolving stripper pole, explosions of gold and a dirty, grinding set of songs to, well, grind and be dirty to, made us instantly forget the wait for her to appear. The sound (especially her voice) was really poor and she was barely audible when just talking between songs – which she did from backstage as a team assembled another bizzare creation on her head. She talked of a conversation between Michael Jackson and herself where he asked her how you break away from your family when they have become your church. For -Pull Up To The Bumper’ she invited a stage invasion and also hula-hooped without any break for an entire song too. It ended with -Hurricane’ in a veritable hurricane with the wind machine on full tilt billowing up her robe from where she stood on the stripper pole as gold glitter raced all over the stage. Gob. Smacked.
So to Trent Reznor on the main stage just in time to hear him proclaim ‘this will probably be the last time Nine Inch Nails‘ll play here’, pessimistically. Plenty of fans adorn the field but the late hours and Oasis’ triump earlier leave it looking a little thin. They play -Hurt’ but it becomes clear that Johnny Cash now own this song. We hear Royksopp starting up as we hit the mojito bar but after a day like that we haven’t the will to drag ourselves out once more into that good night. I’m sure the kids queuing up earlier for a space in the pit are dancing their dusty socks off, and good luck to them in the quest. We have our own quest to attend to.
Photos Martin Rosenauer