So. Reading. My back hurts, I don’t know how people do this for a whole weekend! But somehow even if on the train back you want nothing more than your bed, you’re still happy. There’s something about festivals that leaves you no option but to be joyful and slightly Hippie. It may be the idea of Woodstock instilled in anyone who really loves music but it’s great.
I went on the Sunday, as the line-up looked most like stuff I would be into and also I just could not justify spending that much money on a gig for three days.
The bands I saw were: The Libertines, Frank Turner, Gaslight Anthem, Against Me, The Cribs, Jack Garrett, Frank Carter, The Maccabees, We Are The Ocean.
Got there for about 1pm, so I got to catch the last half of the Against me set. I saw them just the night before when they supported Gaslight Anthem at Shepherd’s Bush. Their main stage set was heavily based around their 2014 Transgender Disphoria Blues album. The 13 song said was powerful, and lead singer Laura Jane Grace explained to a well-receiving crowd exactly what the Florida-based band stands for: against racism, homophobia and misogyny, but for freedom of expression. They closed their performance with a rocking rendition of their classic “I Was A Teenage Anarchist”.
Right after, The Gaslight Anthem played their final set before an indefinite hiatus. The rather solemn opening with “Have Mercy” was no surprise to Gaslight fans but might have been not quite what the Reading crowd expected. It made the gravity of the situation a little bitter sweet. The set overall was not all that surprising, and it felt a lot more like a last debt to pay. However, Gaslight can do no wrong in my eyes, and all the classics were there. Brian did seem to enjoy himself – although the others didn’t seem too impressed. Who knows, but maybe it’s a good thing they’re taking a break. Brian did not mention this being the last gig or anything to do with the hiatus. Rather, he reminded the crowd of the bands they were yet to see. My favourite bit was “Here’s Looking At You Kid” – I’ve always love that song, and this time was no different. You can check out the whole set here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TyJoaMRlVQc
Moving on, The Cribs. Man, I don’t get it. And maybe I’m not supposed to get it. But it looked like they were trying a bit too hard. Their life skills were average and I could definitely think of better bands from the whole line up to place on that main stage instead. It’s a sad man’s version of the Libertines if you will – without the drugs and drama, but also with a lot less talent.
Frank Carter wasn’t my cup of tea either, but that’s because it was a bit too hard core for me. I still think his set was pretty spectacular and the crowd enjoyed it immensely. He brought his son out on stage which a cute touch from a tough guy like him.
Jack Garrett. Talented man I tell you. I wouldn’t buy his music, mainly because it’s not my thing but if you can stand on a festival stage by yourself and get a crowd so involved and immersed in your performance, I’ll say you’re doing a pretty great job!
The Maccabees. Another great discovery of Reading! These guys are awesome. Super talented. Even though I didn’t know any of the songs I still couldn’t help but sway along and feel the need to google the lyrics so that I could sing along.
I’ve seen Frank Turner many a times (as you know) and he just always kills it. But I’ve never seen him at a festival so I thought this would be interesting. Frank is a Reading institution, he holds the record for most performances in a row (9 years going strong). While waiting for his set, there was a DJ to keep up the mood while the stage was changed over. However, and this may be a festival thing so apologies if this is normal, the DJ played songs that were nowhere near what a Frank Turner crowd would listen to. Much to my disappointment, the crowd was definitely different to FT gigs, I think you’ll hardly find Frank Turner fans willingly singing along to “Gold Digger” or Rihanna. That’s not even remotely the right genre. With the crowd singing along to those songs, I wasn’t too sure what to expect from the set. It was just Frank and his guitar and it turned out to be magical. The man just needs his guitar and he can entertain an entire tent with just that. That takes talent, and he has it. He played a couple of new songs and a few oldies to sing along to. The crowd turned out to be quite fun when it came to the actual set, so I do gather that festival crowds are definitely different to gig crowds. As a special treat, Frank played a cover of “Somebody To Love” by Queen, introduced with the words “Don’t ever let anyone make you feel like you’re not good enough”. Hell yes, Frank! It felt a bit like he was also singing this song for himself. With rumours of the latest break-up it felt heart-wrenching.
After Frank’s set I rushed to the main stage to catch the Libertines’ set before Reading headed to a close. With their 2015 performance Pete & Co righted the wrongs of 2010 and many of the crowd got to witness a band they had probably never even heard of before. But many in the crowd, like myself, have waited years to this band reunite and it was during that set that classics like “Don’t Look Back Into The Sun” and “What A Waster” shook reading to its core. The boys are back and they mean business. Doherty and Barat shared the mic in their trademark manner and a new Libertines age was on the horizon. Half-way through their set they welcomed Ed Harcourt on stage to perform the legendary “You’re My Waterloo”. It was by far, hand on my heart, the most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard live. The piano and Pete’s voice along with the hauntingly beautiful lyrics like “And you see I brought you flowers, I brought you flowers all collected from The Old Vic stage. Well, I’ve been sitting here for hours, baby, just chasing these words across the page.” And with Pete being lifted on drummer Gary’s shoulders the lads brought the 2015 festival to a close with a bang.