Reading Festival – Muse and a fitting finale

Reading’s final day and the mud has hardened, the sun is out (occasionally anyway), and Muse put on a show worthy of the final day headliners. While playing all of Origin of Symmetry was probably not what the crowd would have chosen, the amazing light show kept our interest through some of the less enthralling parts of that album. But having finished that, it was their greatest hits that really got the crowd going – Black Holes, Knights of Cydonia etc.

On other stages, Panic at the Disco got the biggest crowd of the day in the NME tent – strangely low on the bill, although perhaps they didn’t want to go up against Muse and Elbow?  Twin Atlantic showed why they’re seen as the next big thing from Scotland, following in Biffy Clyro’s shoes, and Flogging Molly caused the wildest “Irish moshing ” you’re likely to see this side of St Patrick’s Day. What an amazing festival / party band they are. Little Comets took a step forward with a lively well-received set, and Cage the Elephant showed surprising subtlety and variation in their excellent rock set, calling to mind the Pixies and even Zeppelin at times

And what can you say about Frank Turner, official national treasure, who did two full sets – main stage and Lock-Up late in the evening – and got huge sing-alongs with his polemical yet catchy agi-pop classics! He also covered Queen’s “Somebody to Love” and showed he’s a fine singer too.


The difficulties of scheduling were highlighted though. Ed Sheeran was hardly a household name when the line-up was announced, but his song “The A-Team” is arguably the single of the year and he’s huge in the key Reading 16-25 age group. So he couldn’t go on stage till security had sorted out the dangerous crush in the small Festival Republic tent – he clearly should have been on the NME stage. My daughter said he was excellent though (we were Flogging Molly at the time...)!

Similarly, no-one could have predicted that Rizzlekicks would be number 1 in the charts (supporting Olly Murs) when they were booked for the “let’s do a show right here” BBC Introducing stage in the middle of the arena – they could have filled a tent as well. But they’re an example of the depth and vitality of the UK music scene. You may not like their blend of old-school hip-hop, rock-steady trumpet sounds and unashamed pop - but the energy, wit, fun and engagement from the two guys indicates a bright future for another young UK band.

So the weather couldn’t spoil another very good Reading – none of the headliners disappointed, and we’ll be looking out for many of the promising bands (Tribes, Clock Opera, Cloud Control, General Fiasco, Grouplove, Twin Atlantic etc etc) who we’ve seen over the last 3 days.

And while Spend Matters will return to more mundane procurement business tomorrow, we’ll be back with our “musical archaeology” series on Fridays and monthly (at least) album reviews – Bombay Bicycle Club, Kasabian, Ed Sheeran and Laura Marling to come in September, so something to look forward to there.

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