Haldern Festival - Day 2 Review - Saturday, August 7th 2004

More larking about in a field.

Saturday began with a hangover, and watching Gem didn't help. If I am to be completely honest here, (and trust me when I say that I don't really want to be) they're getting better and they won the right to perform here fair and square (or so I'm told). I found it interesting to see that the cocky guy from Lancashire has been booted out, and replaced by a fop in a double breasted toy soldier uniform. Out with the Oasis rip offs and in with the Strokes then. They are improving but the singer still has his mullet and therefore nobody outside of the flat land will take any notice of them. So there.


Newcomers Gisli won my affection by handing out the best press freebie of the festival, beating the "HANDS OFF MY COEM" badge hands down. Gisli's freebie included the tiniest, most orangiest CD I've ever seen and surrounding it a pamphlet containing a series of bizarre collages and wonderful little phrases like, "I've been thinking.....Your heart is like a handjob." Boys will be boys ay? They sounded ok too, and did more for my hangover than a Bloody Mary I can tell you.


I'd love to tell you that Patrick Wolf and South were very good, but I was still dying and thus went off in search of Curry Worst and more beer.


Having resurrected my spirits I returned to the throng in time to see the almost welcome return of Embrace and they still sound like they want to be Oasis! Apart from on new single Gravity, of course, which sounds exactly like what it is, a Coldplay cast off. All You Good Good People is still half decent though and it's good to see that they're still trying, but polite applause does not a triumphant return make unfortunately.


I know, I said in part one of this Haldern review that Nicolai Dunger is the best thing to come out Sweden since Abba. Hey, I'll admit it, I lied! I lied because The Soundtrack Of Our Lives are. In fact they're one of the best bands to come out of anywhere since anything. We love them here at Incendiary, and the Haldern crowd did too. They swayed, bowed, pogoed and thrust their arms up to the heavens in worship of whatever rock God these barmy Scandinavians were preaching about.


But then, how can you not enjoy watching a big fat Swedish bloke, who looks like a (more) demented Brian Wilson in a cassock, thrusting and punching the air like a man fighting his shadow, swinging his microphone like an Olympic Hammer thrower whilst a couple of leather clad, guitar wielding lunatics leap around behind him like they're treading on hot coals? Suddenly psychedelic rock doesn't seem like such a bad term any more. And whatever the hell their tipple of choice is, we want a keg of it. Wonderful.


Keane. We told you they'd be massive! They sounded pretty average here, but Tom still jumped around like a nervous Gerbil until his voice broke during This Is The Last Time. Richard still grinned like a Cheshire cat behind his drum kit and Tim still played the piano whilst bobbing his head a lot. Tom got sweaty, as did the pants of the girls in the front row. They came, they saw, they sold a lot of t-shirts. It's amazing what marketing can do.


The Kings Of Leon came bouncing on stage like the little tearaways they are, (Torn right out of the pages of a 1973 Rolling Stone) and rattled off an hour's worth of catchy little tunes without much effort. To be honest, they looked bored. The songs themselves were either very good or very average and there's still too much of the average about them as far as this particular reviewer's concerned, but what do I know? They were bored, I was bored and everybody else was very happy.


If you don't like Paul Weller, I suggest you skip this next paragraph. He's got a new covers album all the way, where he's taken some of his favourite songs and MODified them. His Haldern setlist pretty much ignored that though, and concentrated on the crowd pleasing hits we all wanted to hear. Out of the Sinking sounded fantastic and watching Weller and Craddock sparring off each other was a sight to behold, Broken Stones was as beautiful as always and the amount of improvisation placed throughout the set just proved to me how much fun Weller's having with this band. Of course the biggest cheers were reserved for the old Jam numbers, with A Town Called Malice sounding as fresh and vibrant as it did in its youth and That's Entertainment sending the crowd into a frenzy but Weller's growing into his Modfather coat with grace and pride, and when he's on this kind of form, he's always worth spending your money on. This was a great festival set, it's just a shame there was no Sunflower.


I've waited a long time to see The Divine Comedy, so hanging around for an hour and a half whilst they set the orchestra up didn't really bother me, although some of the more drunken parts of the crowd were getting a little restless by the time Neil Hannon strode onto the stage. Backed by a full German orchestra (If Neil Hannon didn't bother to learn their name then why should I?) our suave little Belfast child led us on a merry trip into the night. Becoming More Like Alfie, Generation Sex, Tonight We Fly, National Express and a bunch of other hits were ably supported in the running order by a healthy dose from the latest (and best) album, Absent Friends, including an entertaining rendition of the happy Goth, a beautiful This Charmed Life and a simply wonderful run through Our Mutual Friend. I won't go on too much here about them, as I'll be able to wax more lyrical in my in depth review, but this was easily one of the best concerts I've ever witnessed and if this orchestral version of No One Knows (yes, the Queens of the Stone Age one) isn't released as a single then there's just no justice in the world. Mr Hannon, Incendiary salutes you. Truly remarkable.


And that, my dear friends, was that. Well, the Dresden Dolls and Das Pop played in the marquee afterwards, but I really couldn't handle anything after The Divine Comedy so I went back to my tent and dreamt of long distance bus journeys. Haldern we love you, and we shall return. See you next year.