The Haldern Pop Festival 2005 - Part 2

As soon as the festival doors opened, so did the heavens

The Haldern Pop Festival 2005, as told by Richard Foster and Damian Leslie


Saturday 5 August

Richard: It couldn't rain again, could it? Well, yes, it could actually. If anything, it rained much harder. A late start ensured that we missed St Thomas (apologies to them). However we were in time to see the Magic Numbers fail to turn up on time, so in true Incendiary fashion we decided to use the time constructively before The Coral appeared by drinking very heavily in the press tent. Well lubricated, we sauntered out into the mud and the rain to watch Liverpool's finest present a laid back and beautifully paced set. The fact that The Coral have already recorded four albums in as many years means they can draw on a formidable back catalogue for their live outings. There is also a quiet swagger about them on stage, a supreme confidence in their own abilities, coupled with that Liverpool thing of not looking too arsed about anything. In any case, such is the quality of the songs the band can sit back and let the music unravel its beauty in front of the audience. Simon Diamond was, in particular, fabulous; as was the other oldie, Skeleton Key. However, the highlights were tracks off the new album Invisible Invasion, especially Something Inside of Me and Arabian Sand, the latter being phenomenal; a hybrid of Kinks, Soft Machine and Can it sprouted wings and took off, like some giant metallic bird from a turn of the century science fiction story (or something like that, you get the picture, I am sure. It was very good indeed). If British Sea Power won the event of the festival award, then The Coral won the most impressive musicianship award. A staggering performance, even the torrential downpour couldn't ruin it.


Damian: The less that's said about Moneybrother the better, we think, so let's move on sharpish shall we?


Richard: Later we sauntered out to see The House of Love, who were, frankly, rather boring, especially when compared to the last time I saw them over 15 years ago. The guitars were far too clean-sounding this time around, which is a shame, as I always liked the fact that they used to drown their beautiful songs in squalls of angry feedback. These new, crystal clear guitar runs, whilst being impeccably executed, didn't really do it for me; still they played Christine and Hope and The Beatles and the Stones and these songs still managed to send a tingle down my spine at least. After this, I was called to attend an extremely important briefing in the press tent, a briefing that overran somewhat, meaning that I missed...




Damian: Phoenix were greeted by loud applause, but to honest the rain was nothing short of torrential and even though we quite enjoyed their live album their laid back rock/blues/rap hybrid just dampened our mood even further, so we ran away in search of shelter, liquid refreshment and something more exciting.


I ventured out into the monsoon once again to watch a bit of Tocotronic, but to be honest I felt like my time could be better spent drinking with friends than wasting it away listening to their drivel. Dear God they were horrible.


Now Mando Diao have entertained us here at Incendiary in the past. Their pop hooks and jangly guitars have seen us pogoing up and down with delight on more than one occasion. But what the hell has happened to them? Supposedly headlining this night of entertainment they played as if they'd been made redundant that morning. No life, no enthusiasm and absolutely no passion for what they were doing. It certainly seemed to us here at Incendiary that they simply turned up and said, "where's the money?" This was an insipid performance, an absolute shambles and very disappointing. Even their new songs, which you would think they'd be excited about, were completely lifeless. They should be ashamed of themselves.


Thankfully, next up, to close the festival's main ground, were the Polyphonic Spree. There's something spiritual about this group. Their new cassocks are blue, with a cool looking red lightning bolt emblazoned across them, and they look fantastic.


They wandered on stage close to midnight and proceeded to play a set that was so incredibly bonkers that Haldern didn't know what hit it. Tim De Laughter's lyrics may be a bunch of hippy nonsense; they're all about worshipping the sun and other such pagan frippery, but their music is uplifting it's almost impossible not smile whilst listening to them. And watching them jump up and down, fisting French Horns and waggling thereamins and blowing flutes and trombones and what have you, it's hard not to laugh out loud. Not laughing in a derogatory sense, but just laughing because you're so happy you can hardly believe what you're seeing. The Spree are fantastic and they really come into their own when they play live. You simply don't know where to look as there's that many of them on stage, but as an ensemble, they create some magic.


I spent half of the set just watching the crowd around me, because the looks on people's faces were a story in themselves. Open mouthed, gobsmacked, grinning like Cheshire Cats or singing every word with their eyes tight shut I think it's fair to say that the Spree were one of, if not the, highlight of the festival. Two of our team bought cassocks, they were so drunk and happy and impressed by their show and they reduced one member of the Incendiary team to tears, but we'd best not mention who that was in case Mac gets upset. Truly wonderful and a fantastic end to the festival.


Feeling so elated and more than a little worse for wear, the Incendiary team called an end to the festivities by ignoring the queue for the Spiegel tent and wandering home to our tents, bottles of beer in hand. As the sky had cleared, the moon shone bright and the stars looked down on us as we drank some beer, talked in high voices again for no apparent reason and entertained ourselves until the early hours. Richard, by the way spent the night with his head in the tent but the rest of his body outside in a puddle.


It had been that sort of day.


Haldern, we love you and we will see you again next year.


Words : Richard Foster and Damian Leslie