Reading Festival, 25th-27th August 2017 (Festival Review)

So Reading (and Leeds) Festival is over for another year and this year’s festival was a huge success. The event, held at Richfield Avenue, took place from Friday 25th August to the 27th August and was headlined by Kasabian, Eminem and Muse. There were a couple of (not so) secret sets over the weekend too, including appearances from Wolf Alice and Queens of the Stone Age (who will no doubt be back next year, perhaps the latter as headliners).

Here are my highlights:

Friday

The Magic Gang¬†played a triumphant late morning set on the BBC/NME Stage to set off an exciting weekend of live music. The Brighton band played an enthusiastic and energetic set, filled with previously released songs- including ‘All This Way’ and ‘Jasmine’- as well as their latest single ‘Your Love’.

If you haven’t seen Declan McKenna¬†in 2017 then I don’t know where you’ve been! He’s played pretty much every UK festival and Reading and Leeds was no exception. The 18-year-old played his first ever Reading and Leeds set (having attended Reading for the past two years) on the BBC/NME Stage to a packed out audience. McKenna sang songs from his debut album- What Do You Think About The Car?– and jumped into the audience a few times in the set, with the first time unsuccessfully ending up in the middle of a mosh pit. McKenna laughed off forgetting the words to ‘Paracetamol’ and continued to gleefully run around the stage as the audience sang, cheered and clapped along. Declan McKenna knows how to excite an audience.

Anne-Marie might not have seemed an obvious choice for Reading Festival, but by the sheer amount of people who turned up to see the ‘Rockabye’ singer she’s clearly a popular one. The singer played a mixture of singles, including ‘Do It’ and ‘Alarm’, and lesser known songs, before ending with the hit-singles ‘Ciao Adios’ and a stunning version of Clean Bandit’s ‘Rockabye’, which she features on. The audience were in awe as she sang pitch perfect songs and as she jumped into the crowd to take selfies with the audience.

It’s been quite a year for Two Door Cinema Club. Last year they headlined the BBC/NME Stage and now they’re creeping up the Main Stage line-up, with a new album and countless tours under their belts. Two Door Cinema Club know how to put together a good setlist, which featured hit after hit and a copious amount of fan favourites. They always put on a good, feel-good show.

Bastille brought the Wild Word tour to Reading Festival, with brilliant visuals and stories of politics and life laced throughout. The band played songs spanning their back catalogue and the radio-hits from their latest album. The drumming on Pompeii was an obvious highlight, as the audience loved singing along.

British rock band You Me At Six¬†closed the first day of the BBC/NME Stage. The set- which featured huge pyrotechnic displays- was plagued by technical difficulties, which prompted a spine-tingling acapella rendition of ‘Lover Boy’ from the album Sinners Never Sleep. The band played under a sea of mobile phone lights and lighters during ‘Take On The World’, before bringing guitar lead rock hit after hit to the Reading Stage. The band treated fans to songs from their debut album- Take Off Your Colours– ahead of its 10 year anniversary next year, with front man Josh Franceschi telling his desires of wanting to do an anniversary tour next year. The band were on top form that night.

Saturday

The not-so-secret secret act Wolf Alice¬†played to dedicated fans and festival goers at 11:00am on Saturday morning. The set was incredibly lively with famous fans, label mates and onlookers (including The 1975’s Matty Healy and Slaves’ Isaac Holman) stood side of the stage. The band played songs from their 2015 debut album, My Love Is Cool, and showcased new songs from their forthcoming second album, Visions of a Life,¬†including the singles ‘Yuk Foo’, ‘Beautifully Unconventional’ and ‘Don’t’ Delete The Kisses’. The atmosphere was incredible.

Blaenavon¬†played the BBC/NME Stage early on in the day. The band brought That’s Your Lot to Reading Festival and treated the crowd to their mature, alternative music. The band played songs including ‘Orthodox Man’, ‘Let’s Pray’ and the stunning ‘Prague’ before front man Ben Gregory jumped into the crowd.

Dan Stock¬†played on the BBC Introducing Stage. Singer songwriter Dan Stock stood solo centre stage and played as if he were playing to an arena. His lyrically clever and satisfying songs echoed that of Alex Turner and his assured stage presence commanded the respect of Jake Bugg, Declan McKenna or Liam Fray. With the aid of a band (eventually) he could become pretty huge. He’s definitely one to watch.

A couple of weeks before Superfood¬†released their triumphant ‘comeback’ album Bambino¬†the band played Reading Festival. The festival gave a platform for the band to showcase songs from the upcoming album, including ‘Where’s The Bass Amp?’, ‘Double Dutch’ and ‘I Can’t See’, throughout which they encouraged the audience to dance. The band also played tracks from their 2014 debut album Don’t Say That, including the song ‘Superfood’.

Ahead of their biggest UK tour to date (which features shows at London’s O2 Brixton Academy) Sundara Karma delighted the Reading audience to a spectacular homecoming show. The Reading band played a no-gimmick set filled with tracks off of their (now extended) debut album, Youth is Only Every Fun in Retrospect, which was released earlier this year. The band opened up the Main Stage at Reading Festival last year in what turned out to be a career defining performance and this felt like a triumphant progression. Sundara Karma are continuing to make waves with their effortlessly cool, alternative music and the fans sure are loving it.

Everything Everything¬†played a lot of their new album A Fever Dream¬†at this year’s Reading Festival. The band’s set featured heavily a lot of new tracks, including the single ‘Can’t Do’, with the odd fan favourite peppered in to the audience’s excitement. The highlight of the set was the weirdly wonderful ‘No Reptiles’, with its absurd, yet clever lyrics and infectiously catchy nature, with songs like ‘Distant Past’, ‘Kemosabe’ and ‘Spring Summer Winter Dread’ also loved by the fans. It’s great to see Everything Everything back with refreshing new material though, even if it seems relatively toned down compared to what came prior to it.

Glass Animals¬†are a band so powerful that they brought on an entire pineapple ban at this year’s festival. The Oxford band brought How To Be A Human Being to Reading with it’s chilled out, psychedelic (almost) tracks and performed in front of the world’s largest golden pineapple disco ball and a plethora of pineapples and cacti on stage. The ban on pineapples did not stop fans from smuggling the odd pineapple in, as those successful sat holding their prize goods high on top of the shoulders, commanding proud applause. The band opened up with the gloriously energetic ‘Life Itself’ and closed with the song that brought on an entire fruit ban, ‘Pork Soda’. Front man Dave Bayely even performed the entirety of ‘Gooey’, from their debut album, stood in the crowd. It was a sight to behold.

Sunday

Ten Tonnes played to a packed out tent full of festival goers on the Festival Republic Stage. The singer songwriter graduated from The BBC Introducing Stage, which he played last year, onto the Festival Republic Stage in a move that felt fitting with his growing audience. Ethan Barnett- as he’s formally known- is gathering momentum, with his catchy, easy to love, feel-good songs.

Up and coming London band¬†King Nun¬†played a raucous Sunday afternoon set on the Festival Republic Stage, where they showcased previously released singles including ‘Speakerface’ and ‘Tulip’. Their punk riddled indie-rock music proved popular with the young crowd who jumped, danced and moshed accordingly.

The Sherlocks returned to Reading Festival for the third year, having progressed up to the BBC/NME Stage this year. The tent was filled with fans and flares and had a similar feeling of excitement to that of a Courteeners concert. This came a week after their debut album, Live For The Moment, was released, so the band treated fans with hit after hit from the album.

Will Joseph Cook¬†brought his gloriously, sun-kissed indie-rock tunes to a blissful Reading Festival late on a sunny Sunday afternoon. His set rivalled Giggs’¬†on the Main Stage- who brought pop/hip-hop sensation out Drake– and the atmosphere in the tent was chilled out in comparison. He played a whole host of songs from his debut album, Sweet Dreamer, and also treated fans to songs from his earlier EPs.

Blossoms¬†played a tricky set before Liam Gallagher on the Main Stage. Blossoms are a band completely capable and worthy of playing huge stages, but this felt as though they were swimming against the tide, with crowds refusing to participate, Muse fans sitting about in preparation for the evening, huge lack of singing, support and engagement with the audience. The band seemed to pick up on this and it all felt a bit depleting. Having said this, the Stockport lads delivered a set full of the hits- with everyone going crazy for biggest hit ‘Charlemagne’- from their debut self-titled albums, with the usual gimmicks thrown in for good measure. I could probably recite the whole set by this point; it’s quite predictable now!

Liam Gallagher¬†performed a gallant set on the Main Stage at Reading Festival before headliner Muse. The icon, clad in his usual green trench coat, sunglasses and iconic haircut, sang Oasis hits (including ‘Morning Glory’ and ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Star’) and songs from his forthcoming debut album, As You Were,¬†which is due for release in October. Gallagher ended his set with the indie classic and obvious anthem ‘Wonderwall’, which saw fans of all ages united in song. Liam actually sounded top of his game though and seemed as happy as ever.

Halsey played the BBC/NME Stage whilst her North American tour mate Charli XCX brought her iconic pop hits and bubble-gum pop to the Dance Stage. Charli XCX played surrounded by pink confetti, dancing blow up ‘people’ (I suppose) and her all-female band and brought the party to the festival. The tent overspilled with people jumping and dancing all around. Definitely a highlight.

Haim closed the BBC/NME Stage at Reading Festival with a spectacular headline set. The band’s performance was a year over-due, as they cancelled their headline slot last year due to wanting to finish up their new album, but it was definitely worth the wait. The band played hits from their first album- Days Are Gone – and their latest album, Something To Tell You. The set featured a lot of dancing, bursts of humorous chat, a bucket full of bass face and the most captivating drumming display ending. Definitely a huge highlight over the weekend.

Overall, it was another great Reading Festival and the strong line-up proves why the festival is still going so strong after so many years. The good festivals do it properly and well, setting them miles apart from the rest.

 

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Reading Festival, 25th-27th August 2017 (Festival Review)

BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend Hull Recommendations 2017

BBC Radio One’s Big Weekend marks the beginning of festival season for me and has been a significant event on the music industry calendar for years. Its star studded line-up features some of the hottest, hugest and perhaps even most exclusive artists and bands that the music industry has to offer, as well as a whole host of up and coming bands championed by BBC Introducing. Typically the artists found on the bill are those who get played on Radio 1, but, with an ever expanding audience and increasing interest in what would once have been hailed “niche” genres, the line up now crosses multiple genres and appeals to the masses, with grime becoming a big part of the two-day festival.

This year’s BBC Radio One’s Big Weekend is being held in Hull, at Hull’s Burton Constable Hall, on the 27th and 28th May 2017. The bank holiday weekend event is fully sold out now, with 50,000 tickets up for grabs across the two days, however Radio 1 have been running competitions to win the last few tickets. The event, as usual, will be streamed online, played live on BBC Radio 1 and the red button, and highlights will be shown on BBC 4 and on the BBC iPlayer. This year’s event is headlined by US pop sensation Katy Perry (who will also play Glastonbury Festival next month) on Saturday and BST headliners and alternative icons Kings of Leon. The festival is free ( apart from a very small booking fee)- yes, that’s right, FREE- and is currently Europe’s largest free festival, with some of the most successful artists in the world filling out the huge line-up. This is extraordinary in itself (especially when you look at the line up).

I was lucky enough to attend last year, on the Sunday, in Exeter and it truly is a world class festival. It was a gloriously hot weekend in one of the most beautiful parts of the UK I’ve ever had the privilege to visit. The sets are the perfect length of time- probably around half an hour per artist, with an hour for the headliner, meaning the bands really only play the hits (with is good when the line-up is so diverse)- and there’s backing dancers and confetti galore! It set me up for festival season perfectly. Not only is Radio One’s Big Weekend a FREE event (and last year I was lucky enough that I got to see some of my favourite artists perform, let alone Coldplay, who I went on to spend over ¬£70 trying to get tickets for at Wembley and saw again at Glastonbury), it also showcases some of the UK’s most wonderful places by bringing world class music to somewhere that doesn’t get much live music. It’s professionally curated and managed and is a brilliant family day out. You’d be a fool to miss it if you ever got the chance to attend.

This year’s line up is jam packed full of headliner worthy artists, spanning three stages- the Main Stage, the newly named ‘Where It Begins’ Stage and, of course, the famous BBC Introducing Stage (which even features some returning acts from the prestigious alumni). This year is set to be unmissable with artists from Biffy Clyro to Little Mix to Kasabian and Lorde all set to perform at the event over the weekend. I’m lucky enough to be attending on the Sunday again this year and I truly cannot wait.

Here are my weekend recommendations:

SATURDAY

Katy Perry (Main Stage headliner)– Pop-princess Katy Perry brings her bubblegum pop hit fuelled back catalogue to Hull for what promises to be an unforgettable headline set.

Biffy Clyro (Main Stage)– Scotland’s undeniable rock God’s are returning to Big Weekend, having headlined the In New Music We Trust Stage last year, in Exeter. Their set is obviously going to be brilliant, if their co-headline slot at Reading Festival last year is anything to go by. The band will surely play all the hits- from “Mountains” to “Bubbles” to the anthemic classic that is “Many of Horror”- as well as a whole host of songs from their latest album, Ellipsis.

Imagine Dragons (Main Stage)– If you haven’t seen an Imagine Dragons live set you’re missing out. The atmosphere- especially at an outdoor event- is not comparable to anything. The atmospheric drumming live in their hit single ‘Radioactive’ is phenomenal and never fails to excite a crowd. Their live sets are encapsulating and engaging.

Kasabian (Main Stage)– Reading Festival 2017 headliners are set to perform the Hull event amongst a whole host of equally as huge artists. Kasabian’s expansive back catalogue- spanning over 10 years- is sure to provide the weekend’s biggest sing-a-longs, not to mention their brilliant later releases, such as ‘I’m in Love With a Psycho’.

Lorde (Main Stage)– New Zealand’s finest talent Lorde is back and better than ever. The ‘Royals’ singer has released her first new music since 2013’s stunning Pure Heroine. Lorde has matured over the last few years and her songs are more sophisticated and catchy than ever. She’s set to steal the show at Big Weekend, especially after seeing¬†her own Coachella earlier this year.

Zara Larsson (Main Stage)– She’s been part¬†of the last year’s biggest and best collaborations, from ‘Symphony’ with Clean Bandit to ‘Girls Like’ with Tinie Tempah and even had one of the biggest songs of last summer with ‘Lush Life’. She’s one of pop’s most exciting up and coming artists.

Haim (Where it Begins)– Haim are well and truly back- having cancelled a load of festival performances last summer in order to finish their new record. The band have recently released the new single ‘Want You Back’, as a follow up from 2013’s Days Are Gone.

Lana Del Rey (Where it Begins)– Lana Del Rey isn’t as common a UK festival find as many of the artists on this list. This rare appearance is set to be something special, as the ‘Video Games’¬†singer gets ready to release her latest album, Lust For Life, which is due out in July.

Rag ‘N’ Bone Man (Where it Begins)– I’ve been saying it for the last year now, but if you haven’t seen Rag ‘N’ Bone Man you’re most definitely missing out. The 2017 Brits British Breakthrough Artist award winner (which was voted by BBC Radio 1 listeners) has a phenomenal, almost gospel voice that can draw crowds of thousands in. I expect Rag ‘N’ Bone Man will pull out all the hits of his debut album, Human, including the title track, which is sure to be a memorable sing-a-long moment.

The Amazons (Where it Begins)– The Amazons release their self-titled debut album the day before they conquer the Where it Begins stage (26/05/17). The Amazons are a band who have been supported by the BBC since the beginning and also made it onto my bands to keep an eye on in 2017 list.

Two Door Cinema Club (Where it Begins)– Two Door Cinema Club sing all the songs. Their sets are full of songs that you undoubtedly know, but don’t know how or why (and they’re bloody brilliant live). Their set promises to be huge, with songs from their impressive back catalogue of indie classics. You’d be daft to miss them play on a stage as small and exclusive as the Where it Begins stage; they could quite easily be headlining!

You Me At Six (Where it Begins)– Ahhh, You Me At Six. I listened to a lot of You Me At Six when I was in my early teens and it was a brilliant time of my life. The band knows how to push and play with the genre of pop-punk to create massive pop-rock records that are infectiously catchy and brilliant. They’ve just released their fifth record- Night People– which is full of bangers.

Declan McKenna (BBC Introducing)– Declan McKenna is returning to the BBC Introducing stage for a one-off return treat. He’s set to dazzle the audience with songs such as ‘Brazil’ and ‘The Kids Don’t Wanna Come Home’ ahead of his debut album release, What Do You Think About The Car?, which is due out in July. This could be your last chance to catch the indie-rock king that is Declan McKenna before he becomes huge and continues to play increasingly large stages over the festival season.

Superfood (BBC Introducing)– Superfooood. They’ve been around for a while and have put out some brilliant records over the last few years, but it’s finally becoming real for the band. They’ve signed to Dirty Hit Records- who are the record label of Wolf Alice, The 1975 and The Japanese House- and are starting to release new music and, with the help of BBC Introducing, they’re set to make a comeback to remember. Superfood could easily play the bigger stages, so seeing them play the BBC Introducing stage is a treat.

SUNDAY

Kings of Leon (Main Stage)– ¬†Kings of Leon headline the Main Stage on the Sunday of the festival. The band will play hits from their 14 year+ career, hopefully including the likes of ‘Sex on Fire’ and ‘Use Somebody’, as well as songs from their hugely successful latest album Walls, which was released last year. It promises to be big.

Bastille (Main Stage)– ¬†Bastille played the festival last year and they were one of the acts people talked about for ages. Their first album- Bad Blood– is full of memorable, sing-a-long classics and it’ll be great to hear some of their 2016 latest album- Wild World– at the festival. Bastille have been touring a world tour, which saw them play nights at the O2 Arena.

Clean Bandit (Main Stage)– Clean Bandit could wheel out the special guests, due to their many collaborations with huge artists, which could potentially be exciting. I always end up in weird places watching Clean Bandit and I don’t know how or why but they’ve always been a treat. They’re brilliant live.

Little Mix (Main Stage)– Little Mix are opening the Main Stage on the Sunday. They’re set to bring a healthy helping of guilty pleasure, girl-band hits to the party to get it underway. The band- undeniably- have some absolute bangers and I’m fully expecting fellow Sunday performer Stormzy to join the band for their latest single, ‘Power’. Watch this space!

Shawn Mendes (Main Stage)– Shawn Mendes is another guilty pleasure, gloriously unapologetic pop act. He’s on a UK tour and this set in Hull is set to impress the pop hungry crowd. It’s hard to forget the catchy choruses and hooks of songs like Stitches and Mercy.

Stormzy (Main Stage)– Stormzy played the event last year and was undoubtebly one of the most talked about acts of the event, along with fellow grime artist Skepta. As grime continues to make waves in the music world, it’s especially significant that artists like Stormzy are getting the chance to dazzle such mainstream audiences on hugely accessible platforms. He will no doubt be talked about a lot this year again.

The Chainsmokers (Main Stage)- They’ve come along way since the “lemme take a selfie” days back in the Flappy Bird days of early 2014 (a time best forgotten). They’re responsible for some of the biggest collaborations of the last year, including ‘Something Just Like This’ with last year’s headliner Coldplay, which was debuted at the Brit Awards this year.

Royal Blood (Where it Begins headliner)– ¬†Royal Blood are back with the first new music since their phenomenal self-titled album was released in 2014. Again, their music is probably something you’d recognise, even if you didn’t know they sung it. The Brighton duo are already huge and this set is set to be very special and I, for one, can’t wait.

Alt J (Where it Begins)– Alt-J’s incredibly atmospheric, ambient music is coming for Hull on Sunday afternoon. It’ll be great to finally hear songs such as ‘3WW’ and ‘Cold Blood’ played live, nestled between the songs that made they the band they are today. Here’s praying for Ellie Rowsell from Wolf Alice to join them for 3WW.

Christine and the Queens (Where it Begins)– I’m told she’s unmissable. 2016’s Chaleur Humaine¬†was one of 2016’s big albums and her dancing is something to behold. The French performer’s incredible stage presence and brilliant songs are set to make this set something to remember.

Twin Atlantic (Where it Begins)– Twin Atlantic are undoubtedly one of the greatest bands that I’ve ever seen live (and the most down to earth, lovely band that I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet). The Scottish band are Sunday’s answer to the magnificent Biffy Clryo and they’re set to tear the Where it Begins stage up with huge rock riffs and loud lyrics. They’re something else live. It’ll be great hearing songs from their latest album, GLA, live, finally.

Circa Waves (Where it Begins)– Circa Waves are another great indie-rock band. Their sun-kissed sounding, glorious first album,¬†Young Chasers,¬†could soundtrack the perfect sunny Sunday, whilst their brilliant latest album- Different Creatures– brings a slightly heavier vibe. Here’s hoping for ‘T-Shirt Weather’.

Blossoms (Where it Begins)– No festival would be complete without Stockport’s finest export Blossoms. Blossoms bring their continuing tour to Hull to play songs from their debut album, Blossoms, as well as songs from its extended edition, which was released late last year. The band played a triumphant set as a returning guest on the BBC Introducing stage last year, which was brilliant, so this is set to be a treat.

Pale Waves (BBC Introducing)– ¬†Pale Waves are label mates with the likes of Wolf Alice and The 1975. Their new music is The 1975 produced, too. What more could ¬†you want? They’re about to hit the big time, so catch them playing intimate stages whilst you can!

The Big Moon (BBC Introducing)– The Big Moon return to the BBC Introducing Stage after the release of their debut album, Love in the 4th Dimension, which was released earlier this year. The band have been championed by Huw Stephens for years.

Of course, there’s so many other huge artists playing across the weekend who I haven’t named here- including Anne-Marie and Mura Masa- but these are my picks. You can check out the whole line up on the BBC Radio 1 website (https://www.bbc.co.uk/events/eppp6q) and it’s useful for more information if you’re going. You can keep up with the event via their Facebook page or via Twitter (@BBCR1). Below I have linked their own playlist of artists playing across the weekend for you to get hyped about, or pretend you’re there to, if you’re not going.

If you’re going I hope you have a great weekend and have a brilliant time. Let’s hope the summery weather holds like last year!

 

 

 

 

 

BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend Hull Recommendations 2017