Reading Festival day three with Jack Garratt, The 1975, Blacklist Royals, Blink, the Kooks …

Reading Festival drew to a close yesterday with the best day overall for me anyway, down to some unexpected treats.

For instance, as we arrived, we caught the last three songs from Blacklist Royals purely by chance. An American rock / punk band from Tennessee, their Springsteen meets Green Day passionate, energetic songs were perfect to shake off the early afternoon torpor. Like many bands, you also got the feeling that they were genuinely delighted to be there, which helps. I’d never heard of them, hadn’t planned to see them, but loved them – that’s Reading for you.

Also early on, another success with Flyte, a young British indie-dance pop band who showed lovely four part harmonies and catchy tunes as they auditioned to be the new Mystery Jets. Lucius did well to a disappointingly small crowd with their mirror-image lead vocalists in great voice, and the Drowners, Baby Strange, Saint Raymond and the Royal Concept (Swedish off-beat indie band with a nice line in humour doing their first-ever UK gigs) were all strong on the Festival Republic stage. Highlight perhaps in that tent was the excellent The Pains OF Being Pure At Heart – again, new to me, but their “noise pop / indie” sound (buzzsaw guitars with tuneful harmony vocals on top ) went down well in the early evening slot.

Now, a name to remember and look out for. Jack Garratt –a 22 year old, heavily bearded guy from Buckinghamshire, he looks to be a full-on maestro of both keyboards and guitars – and electronics, from the way he coaxed all sorts of multi-tracking, weird sounds and effects from his console. A multi-octave voice too, he’s taking the traditional singer songwriter milieu and twisting it into some new shapes here, but the growing crowd at the Introducing stage were transfixed. A star in waiting, I suspect.

And showing how quickly reputations can grow, The 1975, who 18 months ago were playing the West End Centre, Aldershot, to us and 100 other people, had 15,000 people packed in and around the NME tent yesterday. They got a young fan (Sophie – maybe 17 years old?) up on stage with them and a few seconds of film of her reaction would provide a drama masterclass in emotions - surprise, wonder, terror, delight, amazement, disbelieve all showing on her face within seconds. We really thought the poor girl was going to hyperventilate or pass out! Great set though, cementing them as main stage candidates and global mega-stars before too long. Clean Bandit are another band who have risen rapidly, and their huge hit, Rather Be, generated another bout of sing-a-long madness in the big tent.

Comeback of the day was The Kooks. They faded a few years back and were generally seen as past-it pop lightweights, but the kids who liked them aged 13 are now the core Reading attendees and they got probably an even bigger crowd than the 1975 or Disclosure in the big tent. Their new material is a little more mature, but it was songs like She Moves In Her Own Way that generated the biggest reaction and a huge sing-along.

And talking of singing, who knew that there would be 500 people at Reading, mainly youngsters, who know every word of every song that US intelligent punks The Wonder Years have ever released? Tracks from their brilliant 2013 album The Greatest Generation were one of my highlights of the day.

Back to the Main Stage now. Mackelmore and Ryan Lewis worked hard but were disappointing, with poor sound – the words getting lost in the wind. And for their lovely and socially aware hit , Same Love, could they not have found a female vocalist to sing the female part live? Using a backing track seemed cheap really.

The headliners, Blink 182, whose merits have largely passed me by over the years, did well. Those who like them (e.g. wife, daughter) said they were “great”. OK, so they used different words but let’s summarise. The sound was certainly better than for the Arctic Monkeys and they retained a big and engaged crowd through their set to be fair, even if I can’t quite see why!

So I spent the last 90 minutes or so wandering the site, taking in Frank Turner’s hardcore Mongol Horde (bit of a shock for those who only know him as a folk-rock troubadour), Gogol Bordello’s crazy gypsy folk-punk, a bit of Disclosure’s contemporary dance, Prides with electro-pop, Augustines traditional straight ahead rock ...

You can do that easily, because you have this amazing musical buffet, all laid out (unlike Glastonbury) so you can get from stage to stage in a few minutes. If you like a variety of modern music, including dance and R n’ B these days, that is the real beauty of Reading and Leeds, not whether the headliner pulls it off on the night.

And only another 367 days till Reading 2015! Bought our tickets this morning ...

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