Katharine and I come over all queer at the thought of camping so we commuted from Manchester to Staffordshire for the V Festival. And we were pretty pleased with ourselves: it took an hour (to the minute) to get the main gate and the same again from there to home (don’t tell plod).
Anyway. A festival’s strength must be that you get to see people you wouldn’t normally bother with and regular readers will know what I think of Pink, who happened to be on the main stage on our arrival. And she was good – if flawed – fun and got a good size crowd that more than justified her ranking. Pop was to be the theme for the day as we took the tough (some might say bizarre) decision to see Jamelia rather than Faithless (but then pop’s so much more ephemeral; it has to grabbed). And this was pop of the highest quality coming on to the near perfect Superstar and rattling through her set – including a version of Coldplay’s Clocks – with real confidence (although she didn’t have to keep reminding us it’s all on the album).
That led well into a faultless Human League set running from Lebanon to Don’t You Want Baby via Mirror Man, Love Action, Keep Feeling Fascination etc in a way that proved this is where electropop starts. Leaving the JJB Puma Arena we made our way to Tim Booth, former James frontman, on the Music Choice Stage. Last time we saw him it was at a sold out MEN Arena, but this was a more intimate what-do-you-think-of-the-new-stuff affair. Very James-like it was too and none the worse for that.
However, good though Tim was, abandoning the other tent was to prove a big tactical error. We couldn’t get back in for Kelis, with the crowd outside as large as that in. At a bit of loose end we wandered back past Dido who was offering the usual bland, but popular with fifty-quid man stuff, to see who was replacing a bereaved Jet. It was a popular Embrace. Not quite our thing, but we stuck around for a bit, before returing to the tent in the hope of making Basement Jaxx. But the crowd had swollen with at least three times as many outside the tent as in. V’s failure to get the billing right could not have been more stark.
Eventually we gave up and joined Muse on the main stage. They were truly dreadful, rightly commanding a far smaller audience than Pink had early afternoon. Failing to make the slightest effort to engage with the audience they went from near identical song to near identical song barely missing a beat. It was like watching a bunch of teenagers messing around with keyboards in a mate’s bedroom. So on to Kings of Leon, who had a reasonable crowd and were obviously more lively than Muse. Yet sadly with half-an-hour to go, the biggest crowd was in the car park.
V Festival 2004: Saturday……V Festival appears through the rain……Write songs like Pink