V didn’t hit the ground running quite as quickly as last year, but it did the business nevertheless. We arrived to find our near neighbour, Damon Gough, on stage in Badly Drawn Boy guise and a little too folksy for me. Then came the disappointment of no-show Roni Size. I don’t know who it was who came on in his stead and mumbled ‘No Roni Size’ before doing something reasonably interesting. But the crowd weren’t having it; half walked out the others booed (all a bit unfair, but there you go).
That did mean that we caught The Thrills (who were most pleasant), before heading on to a very overcrowded NME Stage for the Scissor Sisters, who sounded great even from the distance. This was only the first time a major organisational flaw in this year’s V Festival was to be revealed. Too many acts were on the wrong stage at the wrong time: Scissor Sisters’ crowd stretched right back to the Strongbow Rooms (DJ sets). I could write an ‘I was wrong’ (and may still do) on the Scissor Sisters, because my first reaction to that initial strangled Bee Gee offering was far from positive. But they’ve more than grown on me; it’s good fun, but intelligent dance music that works well live. They’ve been easily dismissed after being compared to the wrong people: like glam rock icons Roxy Music (who they’re nothing like) rather than the B-52’s (of whom they sound and look like direct decedents).
N*E*R*D also went on to surpass expectations and to easily dominate the main stage. This was hip-hop with rocking guitars and that’s what made the transition to live so convincing. And after that it was left to The Pixies to harden things up in preparation for The Strokes. And while this band’s New York sound unmistakably owes a huge debt to Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground, there’s nothing retro here. Lead singer Julian Casablancas’ patter was a little heavy on the ‘God bless yous’, but this was a relaxed and commanding performance.