Thursday, August 31, 2006

Yeah Yeah Yeahs

If ever a band should be locked in a studio and never allowed out on the road, it is the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Granted, their early success was founded as much on Karen O's eclectic dress sense and wild on-stage behaviour, but the problem is that she now seems to have forgotten that she needs to do more than just writhe around on the floor whilst wearing the first 15 things that came to hand that day and to actually perform and, dammit, SING. The curiously muddy sound mix doesn't help, but for much of the time O is simply inaudible, largely due to her inability to keep the microphone anywhere near her mouth for more than two words. Even a mid set blast of 'Date With The Night' 'Pin' and 'Gold Lion' cannot improve matters and the band end up as the disappointment of the entire festival.

Bromheads Jacket

Fate has been kind to Sheffield's Bromheads Jacket. Given only Belle & Sebastian, Secret Machines or Bouncing Souls (see below) for competition, they draw one of the biggest crowds seen in the Carling tent and they do not disappoint. From the moment they stroll onto the stage and announce "Don't drink Carling, it's sh*t" they have the audience in the palms of their hands and they refuse to let go. Their lyrics have more humour in one song than their Sheffield mates Arctic Monkeys can manage in a whole album - for example the hilarious "Trip To The Golden Arches" - and they have better tunes, too. Something very special indeed.

Bouncing Souls

Something has gone very wrong for Bouncing Souls. Less than 5 years ago they were one of the bands who were supposed to follow Taking Back Sunday in the vanguard of a new emo/punk movement. Instead TBS vanished up their own rear ends and Bouncing Souls just lost their way totally. Their set has nothing whatsoever to commend it, being a series of variations on the same music theme, performed without wit, humour, or (let's be frank) discernable talent.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


For some reason, the whole concept of someone like Peaches playing such a rock orientated festival as Reading just seams wrong. Until, that is, you realise that she is more likely than any hair metal act to shock the unwary. Carried on stage by two members of her androgynous backing band, she immediately begins yelling "If I'm wrong, impeach my bush" and if that isn't enough to make any parents lead their offspring rapidly from the NME tent then the moment she rips off her silver top and hot pants to reveal a purple bikini underneath they start dragging junior for the exit. Which is a shame. Where else will they hear stuff like 'Shake Yer Dix' or 'Boys Wanna Be Her', let alone see a 7 foot penis being inflated on stage?

By the half hour point, the purple bikini has been ripped away to reveal an even tinier black one underneath and Peaches is rolling across the heads of the audience singing 'You Love It' before a thunderous 'F*ck The Pain Away' closes the show as the (by now predominantly 16+) crowd bay for more.

The Subways

The past few months have been difficult for The Subways, as Billy Lunn's throat condition caused the cancellation of several UK shows and threatened the future of the band. Live, it is easy to see how this happened. Not only does Lunn senior approach every song with the same larynx shredding roar beloved of the heaviest of metal bands, but his only vocal help comes from fiancee Charlotte, a woman so squeaky it is only a matter of time before a dog mistakes her for a chew toy.

Two months on the road in the US have taught Lunn every rock trick in the book, from prowling the security barrier to climbing the lighting rig to shamelessly sucking up to the audience with lines like "We wanted to call this song 'Reading Festival' but instead we've called it 'California'". The fact is, though, that in this kind of setting most of the old songs fail to carry enough weight and venom to move the crowd at all, whilst the new numbers are no improvement on the well known ones. In fact, only the closing 'Rock & Roll Queen' saves the set from falling flatter than Brendan Urie did 90 minutes earlier.

Panic! At The Disco

Reading's most dramatic moment arrives shortly after 2.40pm on Friday, as P!ATD singer Brendan Urie is hit in the face by a bottle thrown from the audience and crashes to the floor. As the crowd stand bemused, paramedics rush to his side whilst the rest of the band walk off...

There was a huge air of expectation surrounding P!ATD and the hiatus only adds to it. Will they continue? To his and their credit, Urie seems merely inconvenienced and returns to the stage, sporting an angry red weal on his right cheekbone and announcing to the audience "You can't take me out...let's see what [you] and do with my left side" before picking up 'The Only Difference Between Martyrdom And Suicide Is Press Coverage' at the exact point he left off.

Silly though their song titles may be, P!ATD are hugely impressive. That they can reproduce debut album 'A Fever You Can't Sweat Out' in anything like it's densely orchestrated studio form is remarkable, but Urie manages to sing live lines that the rest of us would struggle to fit into twice the number of bars available. Despite an entirely unnecessary cover of 'Karma Police', this was one of the high spots of the weekend.

The Long Blondes

Much touted by everyone from NME to Guardian sportswriter Rob Smyth, the Long Blondes were the first of the large crop of Yorkshire bands to hit Reading. Their slightly fey sound puts you very much in mind of such mid-to-late 80s acts as the Shop Assistants, but the problem is that they are not even that interesting. Whilst songs like 'Divided By Motorways' and 'Weekend Without Makeup' have the crowd bouncing along happily, the fact remains that the most exciting thing that happens is when Kate Jackson's stiletto heel gets caught in the stage.