It used to be that the Reading festival (and latterly the Leeds festival) was a good hard rocking festival where you would get a great number of bands who would fill the moshpit. Even a quick look at this year’s line-up would indicate that this is not going to be the case in 2009. That’s not to say that there is a lack of great bands on the bill but there is just not the same if you wanted to headbang your little heart out. There is also a feel of familiarity with some of the other big festivals this summer although they have managed to keep one or two exclusives up their sleeve with the headliners.
Radiohead are still a band that thrill and bore many people and the thought of Thom Yorke singing splits a crowd like very few others. There is no doubt that songs like “Paranoid Android”, “Just” and “Creep” are bona fide festival classics but the band has lost their way commercially in their last few records. Artistic expression is one but thing but heading down a prog rock route is not for everyone. Radiohead are the band that Muse would like to be but it is fair to say that Muse are further down the prog-rock like the sons of Queen , Rush and Pink Floyd.
The other headliner Arctic Monkeys have changed their sound with third album ‘Humbug’ and the influence of producer Josh Homme looms large. The Queens of the Stone Age front-man has worked with the band in hardening up their sound and broadened the musical output of the band. The change in the bands sound can also be seen in the clothes with press photos showing band members to be wearing Black Sabbath t-shirts. Alex Turner has a better lyrical turn of phrase than Ozzy Osbourne but whether he will be as famous for as long as the Prince of Darkness remains to be seen.
It can only be hoped that this weekends headliners have better luck than Oasis who were the listed headliners at V festival. The simmering tension between Noel Gallagher and his little brother Liam Gallagher appears to be peaking again and many believe that the singers drop-out to laryngitis was a cover for another explosive bust-up between the brothers. What must really gall the Gallaghers is that old sparring partners Blur have managed to rebound and wowed festival audiences earlier this summer. At this moment in time, there is no doubt that Blur appear to be the better bet for having a long-term future than Oasis, which may have sounded out of place over a year ago. The biggest downside is that any fan who was singing “where were you while we were getting high?” would have been directing their lyrics to the band as opposed to joyfully singing ‘Champagne Supernova’ in front of the stage. It may well be the final chapter in the turbulent history of the boys from Manchester.
There probably wont be a classic Reading moment like the time Kurt Cobain was wheeled onstage for Nirvana’s seminal set but it must be hoped that the fans who attend get some memorable moments to enjoy.