Reading Festival: The Sunday Review

Published: 29 Aug 2011 01:410 comments

Muse provided a fitting end to this year's festival with a dazzling two hour set that saw the three-piece from Devon perform second album Origins of Symmetry in its entirety to celebrate the 10th anniversary of its release.

The final headliners of this year's festival pulled out all the stops as lasers, huge flames, giant eye ball balloons and fireworks accompanied their set.

Show opener New Born warmed up the crowd before the giant balloons were released in to the crowd during Plug in Baby.

The bands cover of Nina Simone's Feelin' Good saw a mass sing-a-long break out as the band rattled through the album with breath taking speed.

Muse stepped it up further in the last half hour of the show as they performed hit singles including Super Massive Black Hole, Absolution and Stockholm Syndrome before closing with Knights of Cydonia.

Elsewhere festival fatigue threatened to set in as The View and Interpol fell flat on the Main stage. Friendly Fires, sandwiched between the two acts, did however grab the attention of the crowd with a set that saw bare-1footed Hula girls take to the stage during Hawaiian Air.

Aptly Elbow were accompanied by the sunset as front man Guy Garvey orchestrated the crowd with typical aplomb.

The Mexanines opened the BBC Introducing stage on Sunday with a groovy-laden, 70s rock'n'roll inspired set, complete with leather jackets and just enough swagger to convince the early-risers gathered round the stage, and Rizzle Kicks gave a boisterous performance when they headlined the BBC Introducing stage.

Frank Turner, festival tart that he is, played two sets on Sunday, the first his main stage debut, and the second a return to The Lock-Up stage. The man who has played every stage at Reading pulled in a large early afternoon crowd, with triumphant sing-a-longs, a swaying cornfield of hands-in-air, spontaneous outbreaks of jigging and an en masse crouch-and-leap for Photosynthesis ("I won't sit down... I won't shut up"). With a smattering of oldies and a great dollop of new material from his recent album, England Keep My Bones, the set was a definite crowdpleaser - Peggy Sang The Blues sounding every bit as much Frank's patented punk-folk (funk? polk?) as Long Live The Queen. Later in the afternoon, as the not-so-secret special guest playing to the rammed-to-bursting punk-tastic Lock Up tent, Frank pulled in old mate Chuck Regan from Hot Water Music for a duet, got his Freddie on for a cover of Queen's Somebody To Love, and sent a crowd of old fans and new out into the evening buzzing with the life-affirming lyrics of his traditional set-closer, The Ballad Of Me And My Friends, still echoing in their roared-raw throats.

Warpaint offered the perfect atmospheric Sunday afternoon soundtrack in the NME tent and The Streets provided a fantastic final-ever performance to a hungry crowd both in and outside of the packed tent. Mike Skinner, who threw himself into the performance in a typically brash manner, finished his performance by diving into the crowd and briefly baring his backside, proclaiming: "I [The Streets] die tonight. I'm going to leave you now, I've got other things to get on with and I'm getting too old."

Hot Water Music played a classic set on the Lock-Up with a smattering of newbies - Chuck Regan's fifty-a-day vocals an unlikely balm to the ears. HWM are a Proper Punk Band - if you missed them the first time round, now is your chance to let their meaty punk rock'n'roll into your life. Ignore those flimsy pop-punkers and skinny, ethereal indie groups... Hot Water Music are hearty musical nourishment for the body and brain.

The newly reformed Death From Above 1979 defied what two men and a clutch of instruments can do when they owned the NME/Radio One stage, from singing-drummer Sebastian Grainger's hoarsely howled vocals, to Jesse F. Keeler's distortion-fuelled bass. The crowd went suitably mental to the Canadian duo's unrelenting battering of noise, with white-clad Sebastian a suitable counterpoint to black-clad Jesse - it was the kind of set that leaves gig-goers shell-shocked yet begging for more.

Ed Sheeran was perhaps the festival's worst kept secret as fans flocked to the Festival Republic stage to see the 20 year-old singer/songwriter.

Jig-pits, sloshing pints and roaring voices greeted Flogging Molly, also on the Lock-Up, who dealt out hearty helpings of Irish folk-punk that induced leg-flailing attempts at Riverdance moves and meandering, out-of-control pogo-ing in anyone who had a heart in their chests and spirit in their bodies (or plastic cups). It's hard to leave a FM gig without an idiotic smile plastered across your gob, and not many stepped outside without giving passers-by a good view of their pearly whites. (This reviewer may have done serious damage to their knees jigging during Drunken Lullabies...).

The Descendents closed the Lock-Up to sadly depleted crowd, but their breakneck speed punk rock ditties had those who remained dancing and yelling for more from the still-relevant and vibrant veterans of the scene.

Whether it was moshing to Hot Water Music, jigging to Frank Turner, seeing off The Streets, or just chilling out to Elbow in the sunset, Sunday at Reading Festival 2011 was truly one to banish any fears of festival fatigue. Roll on 2012.

* Don't miss Thursday's Reading Chronicle for pictures, the full review and exclusive on-site interviews from the festival!

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