How good is life when on a Friday afternoon with a cold beer in hand you can walk through a sunkissed field and enter a packed tent to hear the leader of a Band Of Horses, announce “This is the greatest day of my life. Thanks for being here to share it‘ ? The meteoric rise of the Seattle group in Denmark means that their afternoon slot in Arena tent is full with Danes relishing every note by the inked and bearded band. They exude brilliance on -The Funeral’, -The Great Salt Lakes’, and -No One’s Gonna Love You’ and it’s a privilege to be treated to the kind of gig that Arcade Fire delivered last year, all collective joy. We’re all singing our lungs out when they cover -Am I A Good Man’ and it’s clear the band get as much out of this heart-swelling gig as we do.
Such a great start to the day left us needing another cool beverage and then a quick trot across the sun-scorched fields (and punters) to have a goo at Gnarls Barkley. Like a beautiful black beacon in a stage bathed in sunlight, Cee-lo danced his sizeable frame away to his own tunes, just sitting on a stool briefly to regain some energy, while Dangermouse was lost in his own musical world throughout. Almost apologizing for the popularity of ‘a song you guys have probably heard a million times by now’ they lash out -Crazy’ and our lungs get some more exercise especially when the chorus is turned over to the crowd near the end. Some crowd energy seems a little lost in the bright, hot day – the song suiting a more compact place perhaps, but the pit is going crazy and Ms. State is in there enjoying the hell out of it so from that perspective it’s a blast.
State is marching off to check out Vieux Farka Toure when a strangely familiar intro brings us back to Gnarls. Prefacing it with ‘we listen to other music too, you know’ they launch into Radiohead’s -Reckoner’ with Cee-Lo blasting it out more than Thom ever could. It’s glorious and State LOVES festival covers. We end up singing it all evening to ourselves.
We dip back into Farka Toure, where the mostly disenfranchised and bewildered audience are enjoying his afro-electric set. We’re popping all over the site now and back again at the Arena tent we check out Danish act Veto whose rock aspirations are supported by an underlying electronic sound and it’s a pretty solid – and loud – sound they produce. Packed again with loyal Danes we start hearing a bit too much of The Cure in the very Robert Smith vocals.
On the way to Kings Of Leon a friend, like a summer Santa, bestows a free beer wristband and elation carries us, and some tasty brews to the main stage. The Kings make a fine early evening performance – all jangley rock and the odd screech. Covering a fine spread of songs from the albums we’d forgotten about the joy of -California Waiting’ till they nailed it mid-way through. Because we have been so good, we are told, we have been given a brand new number -Dreams’ which is a mid-paced tune, still very Kings. Nice one!
The rest of the day is slipping by as the Tuborg is slipping down. Coco Rosie (all UV lights and triangle solos – seriously) don’t really stir our stew, but it is certainly an unusual performance. Half way through the triangle event a chunk of the audience leave, maybe for Grinderman. All red jacket, white shirt and black everything else, Nick Cave’s side project is harsher and more aggressive than most of his Bad Seeds output. It’s very enjoyable and a bit cabaret but we have Goldfrapp to see. They appear on a stage whick looks like a huge wicker basket with a maypole in the middle, topped with antlers and some stuffed animals. Of course. She’s dressed in a wonderful round table cloth with the best legs in showbiz popping out. She’ll dress sexy as hell but she never really uses her sexiness in her play with the audience which is kind of teasing and a little pleasant. We lose one side of the sound for a few songs but there are loud cheers when we get it back and even some of
the songs from the weak enough new album sound solid, like -Caravan Girl’. We make a promise to re-listen to it but of course the real treats are the old ones – -Train’ has us all jumping.
We finish the night in a tent far, far away to let Yeasayer bless us – and that they do. ‘Happy fourth of July – well fifth of July at this stage!‘. These guys are THE festival band and it’s a glorious end to things. -Sunrise’ is spectacular near the end and we wish we knew all the words. It’s a tiny tent full of swaying, tired people using the last of the day’s energy to move to the New Yorkers upful and atmospheric clap-along tunes. We’re elated and so to camps, and busses, and bed.
Only half way through and one valuable lesson learned today. Never turn your back on Mogwai – especially during quiet bits with no earplugs. Fuck – we nearly got blown out of the tent.