Photo courtesy of www.citypages.com
Focussing now on the Saturday of this years Glastonbury Festival, I review DJ Parker, Nero, The National, Biffy Clyro, Foals and The xx.
DJ Parker was a tip from Spotisfaction contributor Craig Haynes. A DJ Yoda styled dubtronica DJ, who gained some recent exposure with Where”™s My Monkey, a humourous retake on TC”™s Where”™s My Money, he was too low down the bill to attract the crowd his upbeat set deserved. This was a little gem of a DJ set, and he should be looked out for in future. 7.5/10
Nero played twice over the weekend, once in the saloon style bar known as the Pussy Parlour late on Thursday, and once in the Glade, early on Saturday. There was little to get excited about on Saturday – especially when old timer Adrian Sherwood, due on after them, crashed their final song during his set up. Thursday, though, found Nero at the top of their game.
Photo courtesy of www.wma.com
Dubstep is maturing. The initial burst of dubstep a few years ago – fronted by Benga, Skream and others – stagnated somewhat, as these pioneers offered somewhat surprisingly downtempo releases. It”™s taken a few years for their influence to build, but there are now a new crop of dubstep artists who, having found a way to add textural influences from euphoric trance and techno along side the dub, heavy bass, and supermassive glitch two-step beats, are now drawing crowds and delivering electrifying sets. This weekend, along with Rusko, Nero showed that they are at the absolute pinnacle of the new breed of dubstep. 9/10
When the year is out and the aficionados are making their Album Of The Year lists, The National”™s brilliant High Violet (4AD, 2010) will be finding itself on most of them. Following on from their triumphant Royal Albert Hall gig in May, they return to the UK for Glastonbury, a festival they headlined, on the John Peel Stage, 2 years previously. In the dark, enclosed spaces of their own gigs, their downbeat, crooning songs squeeze touching melancholy into all four corners of the space; this time, though, they were appearing on the large open space of The Other Stage in the bright early evening of Saturday.
Photo courtesy of DrownedinSound.com
Due to a combination of poor sound quality and the less-than-intimate space with which they had to try and communicate their sound to a festival crowd, their set did not hit the ground running. Fortunately, there seemed enough genuine fans to keep the set going, and the natural professionalism of the band was put into practice only 4 songs in when lead singer Matt Berninger jumped off the stage, microphone in hand, and furrowed deep into the crowd as far as his mic lead would carry him – a trick usually kept for much later in their performances, which became obvious when he jumped into the crowd for a second time later on (a fact this reviewer missed, having to leave slightly early to make it for the Special Guests) -Â but one that enlivened the audience enough that the strength of their fantastic songs could carry them to the end of the set. 7/10
Biffy Clyro were the not-so-secret special guests on The Park Stage on Saturday, and they had a lot to live up to following Thom Yorke”™s exceptional set the day before. The crowd had swelled to gargantuan proportions by the time their set was due to start, an army of Biffy fans turning up with customary “”˜mon the Biffy” flags.
The Biffy indeed take to the Park stage in the late afternoon and jump into a thumping rendition of That Golden Rule, the start of a rousing set of Biffy Clyro”™s most successful tracks. In particular, the melancholy Many A Horror and easy sing-along The Captain, used to close disappointingly short set – the only mark on an otherwise flawless set – were met with rapturous ovation from the huge crowd. While not quite the surprise of yesterday, but an excellent set. 8/10
At the end of the set, frontman Simon Neil climbed on his speaker one final time, and I had flashes of him landing awkwardly and falling over. Turns out I was quite the prophetic.
Hot-footing it straight from Biffy Clyro, I needed to catch Foals. Foals on record are somewhat of an enigma, their live shows expounding energy and musicianship. But their first record Antidotes (Transgressive, 2008) was surprisingly downbeat. Firstly, they got a little ahead of themselves in hiring Dave Sitek of TV On The Radio to produce it, only to reject his copy and remix it themselves, complaining that he”™d made it sound like it was “recorded in the Grand Canyon” (have you HEARD TVOTR, boys?). They also decided to eschew popular pre-release tracks Hummer and Mathletics, and these two things combined left an album that lulled a suprising amount, by building up tension in slower songs that had a dearth of upbeat songs to release the tension. Live, though, Foals continued to triumph, delivering adrenaline-rush, 1000-mph funk-punk.
The new album, Total Life Forever (Transgressive, 2010), was a realisation of the growing maturity in the band. The songs are louder, deeper (take a bow, Mr Sitek), more balanced, more energetic. It”™s still definitely downtempo, but you sense, when you see Foals live, that they”™ve got their craft exactly right now – explore songs and dynamics on record, but see them live to truly understand the band. Here at Glastonbury, Foals were in full swing, performing the new album impressively, transmitting their energy through their music and into the crowd, tighter-than-tight renditions of their growing catalogue of tunes, and the standard ”˜climb on the rigging and then jump into the crowd”™, a thrilling end to a fantastic party. See this band live, at all costs. 9/10
The xx build atmosphere from sparse arrangements. It was going to be interesting to see how they coped with the loss of guitarist/keyboardist Baria Qureshi, and whether they would replace her minimal arrangements, or attempt to work out arrangements as a 3 piece. They chose the later, almost totally ignoring the parts of their former band member.
>Unfortunately, the gig suffered from a number of avoidable issues. Following the electrifying Foals set was going to be a real change of pace for a band so high up the bill, and with only one 40 minute album behind them, they were always going to be padding their set out. Which didn”™t match up well when they, conversely, chose not to replace the arrangements missing following Qureshi”™s departure. This had the result of reducing their already downbeat songs into something so empty it was half asleep. There”™s no doubting the strength of some of their songs, and the crowd did their best to keep the momentum of the gig going, but ultimately the set merely was a sluggish run through of the album. Not until Florence Welch joined them on stage to do a live version of their cover of You”™ve Got The Love did the stage come alive; indeed, Welch”™s take on the stutter-cut vocals heard in the remix was the most impressive things heard that night. 5/10
The headliner on Saturday was Muse, catch my review of their set, along with the other headliners and a Glasto review overall, here.