Reading Festival – Saturday Preview

Here’s part 2 of our preview of the Reading and Leeds Festivals, the world’s greatest popular music events, which take place next weekend. Today we’ll preview Saturday – when the legs start feeling the strain a bit, but the “festival virgins” look less lost, and the sun beats down... maybe.

There’s a real buzz about Eminem as headliner. Even if you’re not a huge fan, he is a one-off and a huge influence on popular music over the last 20 years. I think this is going to be a bit of a special event, one way or another. And it’s a strong and international day for the main stage generally, with the mad Welsh punk-metal-pop showmen of the Blackout, Twin Atlantic with melodic Scottish rock, and the Foals from Oxford, a future headliner themselves. Their last two albums have been excellent, and they’re bang on the Reading demographic, so I expect Inhaler to be a huge highlight and we’ll see one of the biggest main stage crowds of the entire weekend.

The NME stage is perhaps a little less compelling today, but Theme Park have good tunes and are natural performers, Imagine Dragons have a huge hit for us to sing along to, (see below), whilst Jake Bugg has become huge very quickly (but doesn’t quite do it for me), and then the amazing Alt-J headline (who released my favourite album of 2012)and go up against Eminem.

More interesting perhaps is the Festival Republic Stage. At 1pm, just as the arena starts filling up, we have To Kill a King, who are new to me but have a lovely folk-indie vibe but with some emotional heft as well as good tunes.

Balthazar are probably the only Belgian band playing Reading this year, then at 3pm we get Drenge, whose debut album – a sort of punky Sheffield take on the White Stripes – has got good reviews, and great things are expected of Swim Deep who follow then with their floaty dance pop. Then at 4.45 we have The 1975 – they’ve had two genuine hit singles, and they’re good live, so will pack the small tent, as will the lovely Lucy Rose later at 8.30pm. She’s the indie kids favourite female folk singer and sings with Bombay Bicycle Club as well as forging her own career. Savages and British Sea Power will round off a strong day on that stage.

Then on the dance stage, I’m excited about Jagwar Ma at 4.00pm, whose album is patchy (code for one or two almost unlistenable tracks plus some occasional genius) but very promising. And Willy Moon, just before them, is probably best served up in small doses but is a compelling performer – so 3 to 5pm on the Dance Stage could be pretty thrilling.

Another good day, perhaps not the strongest of the three, but a real moment in terms of the Eminem performance, we hope.

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