Bestival 2007

British festivals typically mean lots of music, lots of camping and of course, generally lots of rain. Considering how “summery” the last few months had been, I was a little worried that this last weekend was going to be washed out because I was going along to Bestival 2007. We were all banking on good weather, taking Friday off to drive down to the three-day festival and Monday to have a bit more of a leisurely pace back to London.


It turned out that we had fantastic festival weather, and the entire Bestival experience was thoroughly enjoyable. Music highlights had to be The Chemical Brothers who put on their typically awesome act accompanied by a spectacular light show, the ever energetic The Gossip and then The Foals, a new Indie band who put out a great set in the BBC Introducing. On the disappointing side, The Beastie Boys who I’d seen perform a brilliant set back at Big Day Out, managed to cause the crowd to thin out quite well during their Saturday night set. We also caught the end of Carl Craig’s rather dull and low key set which didn’t seem to match the energetic mood everyone was in at 4 in the morning.

Although there were plenty of music acts, many of them were I didn’t rate on the “must see” list. The upside is that there wasn’t as much pressure to go to all the stages, and I could indulge in the company of other festival goers, chill out in the sun and just generally meander throughout the rest of the festival. There’s plenty of alternative entertainment, including glitter wrestling, an inflatable castle with almost hourly marriage services (Ben and Polly’s one on Sunday was a stunner), a burlesque tea tent, a comedy tent and just plenty of places to lounge around and soak up the atmosphere.

Another big draw card, quite unique to this festival is it’s fancy dress theme. Even though it’s based on a poem, all of it is optional, and so here’s what I went as. It was amazing at how much some people really got into their costumes, with many of them hand crafted to superb detail, especially those that co-ordinated an entire group costume.

It was a great taste of what British festivals should be like when it’s not raining and full of mud and could definitely go back another year.

Keane at the O2

KeaneOn Saturday night I ended up at The O2 to see British band Keane perform. It was my first time at the O2 and is easily the strangest venue I’ve been to, looking like it was part shopping centre, part convention centre and stadium merged into one. It’s got plenty of restaurants with the only probably being you have to join a queue of at least twenty to thirty people for every single restaurant to get a table. Inside the venue doesn’t seem as big even though it apparently can hold up to 23 000 people. It certainly doesn’t seem as big as Earl’s Court of Wembley Arena. It probably helps that the first of the three layers of seating start next to standing and the stage is very accessible to everyone.

Keane are really great performers and often called upon the crowd to get even more involved at many times. The lead singer would often tell a little story before a few of the stories, sometimes drawing a little bit of haggling from the audience who just wanted to listen to the music. Our standing tickets ended up being perfect for this performance since there was a second stage right in the midst of the standing crowd and Keane performed a number of their softer songs from it.

To finish the night off, the band ended their half hour encore with a bang, with what almost looked like an endless stream of confetti blown into the rafters. Overally a fantastic

Oxegen 2007

What: Oxegen, rock music festival
When: July 7 – July 8, 2007
Where: Punchestown Racecourse, Ireland

Muse rocking OxegenI enjoyed Saturday’s line-up the most with an amazing set by Muse finishing at 2am and a stunning light show. A very modest Snow Patrol also performed a very enjoyable set just before them. Pigeon Detective’s lead singer made quite a show when asked to have mud thrown at him and a never-ending supply streamed towards him throughout their entire set.

Other bands we managed to see on Saturday included The Rumblestripes, The View, The Maccabees, The Goo Goo Dolls, The Gossip, The Fratellis, Kings of Leon, and Maximo Park.

I found Sunday’s headliners, The Killers, slightly disappointing with a relatively quiet performance and regretfully missed an amazing light show by Daft Punk on the other stage. Highlights of Sunday must go to the Klaxons who performed a much heavier than expected set and the energetic bouncing Scotsman, Calvin Harris. Thankfully we got around to seeing all the people we wanted to see, even if it was in very small doses including Razorlight, Babyshambles, Arcade Fire, The Kooks, Bloc Party, CSS, James Morrison, The Thrills, Jason Mraz, Unklejam and Bright Eyes.

I particularly appreciated the food options available that went much further than your typical burger and chips with stalls serving food such as hog roast rolls, falafels, fresh salads, crepes, Mexican, Japanese, Chinese, paella and Italian food though most meals cost between €7-€10

Shoe PileI went completely unprepared bringing only a pair of old trainers only to swap them very quickly for some new wellies. It didn’t seem like I was the only one at least. Thankfully my raincoat kept the rest of me relatively dry for the most part. By Sunday almost everywhere you stepped was at least ankle-deep pools of mud or muddy water. Getting back to Dublin on Sunday night post-festival almost ended up in disaster when the organised Dublin bus system completely broke down and people started stampeding their way onto any available bus. I’m amazed no one got crushed.

Overall it was still quite a great experience, as tiring and exhausting and as dirty as it got. Plenty worth it for the number of bands we got to see and the fun and friendly atmosphere. See the rest of the photos that turned out here.

Enough H2O at Oxegen

Festivals over here mean something plenty different to the ones back home. Chances are you’ll skip the sweltering heat to be replaced by lots of rain and what follows… plenty of mud. After just getting back from Ireland (about half an hour ago), to attend Oxegen I assure you we were in no short supply of all that brown stuff. More to come in a day or two.

The Editors @ The Roundhouse

The Roundhouse is yet another magnificent venue walking distance from Camden station and recently reopened after renovations starting in 2004. On Wednesday I went there to see The Editors supported by two man band, I Was a Club Scout, and the bigger quartet, The Envy Corps. Out of all of the venues I’ve been to so far in London, this venue has a size ideal for more intimate gigs being slightly bigger than the Islington Academy. Only formed with two floors, the first is all standing directly underneath the dome, and the second being a circular row of seats. Most seats have a great view of the stage except for those unlucky enough to be directly behind the poles that hold up the roof.

The Editors

The support acts were not bad although most of the concert goers sat outside on the first level roof indulging in the long lasting sunshine and warm weather we’ve been having lately. I’m not quite sure how to rate The Editors – I found their set a strange choice combining their popular old songs with many of their new songs from their yet to be release album, An End Has A Start. Although I, like much of the audience, enjoyed many of their songs that I knew, I found it hard to react to songs that I’d never heard before. Watching from the second floor, the standing crowd also definitely didn’t know how to react with songs either receiving the all-arms-in-the-air treatment or the stand-and-listen-and-be-relatively-silent for all the new songs. They still played a decent set though I cannot say it was very memorable.

They still played well and I had a lot of fun listening to perform. I’ll now have to watch out for their new album. Rating: 6 out of 10

Bloc Party, Brxiton Academy

I’d managed to get some tickets to see South London indie rock band, Bloc Party at Brixton Academy. As usual, the academy was packed out and the usual ticket scalpers stood at the Tube station entrance trying to work the market. We missed the first support act (Mahogany), but caught the second support act, Biffy Clyro who were very impressive and played a very decent set. I’d highly recommend trying to find a track or two of theirs to listen to.

Bloc Party

Bloc party came on in no time and really got the crowd pumping. We were upstairs which was seated although that didn’t stop some people from standing up. Strangely enough, security constantly went through the crowd in waves shouting at people to sit back down, the first time I’ve seen that at Brixton upstairs. It turned into a little bit of a game with many of the attendants as it became what looked like a whack-o-mole game.

The band played a fantastic set, part of which came from their new album, A Weekend in the City, and the other, made up of many hits from their previous album, Silent Alarm. Rating: 7 out of 10

The Feeling @ Hammersmith Apollo

On the Friday before heading out on holidays, I had a couple of tickets to see pop band, The Feeling at the Carling sponsored venue, the Hammersmith Apollo. Surprisingly the venue was busy but wasn’t completely sold out given a number of empty seats around us. The Fray performed as the support act and obviously had a large following in the audience given the amount of clapping from the audience. They placed a decent set that lasted for almost an hour before the switch to the main act.

The Feeling

The Feeling opened with an appreciation for their fans by projecting footage of their fans singing their songs on to a huge white sheet. The clips were pulled from You Tube and played for about ten minutes before kicking into the set for the evening. The band’s main singer, Dan Sells, though sometimes overly camp at times, performed perfectly as the hyper-active and obviously passionate lead singer. It was obvious that he enjoyed the attention of the crowd and fed that energy back interacting well with the audience. He had such a great rapport with the audience that he managed to pull off a harmony involving the entire audience – the best I’ve ever seen. They performed a great set, playing most of the songs from their album, a few covers and a double encore (admittedly the first only lasted a single song) and finishing up with the title song of their debut album, Twelve Stops From Home.

A fun performance with a great light show and a very entertaining set of performers. Rating: 7.5 out of 10

Paolo Nutini @ The Forum

These StreetsLast night I saw Scottish pop singer Paolo Nutini in Kentish Town at The Forum. At only 19 years old, this young musical star has the scratchy voice of a much older person and though it doesn’t come through when he speaks, his vocal range and talent are well beyond his years. The gig was completely sold out demonstrating his popularity. Rod Stewart even came along, further testifying to the talent that deserves recognition and appreciation.

Paolo did an amazing job of a richly entertaining show, both musical and visual with a great range of songs and a light show. You do have to look past him sometimes when he performs as he looks like the convulsive John Mayer whilst performing, but in a way you have to appreciate the passion that he has, and the amazing voice that comes from his small frame. He performed many of his songs from his current album, These Streets, a few new songs, and even a few covers that only he could render in his own unique way.

The best thing about this concert was that, unlike any I’ve been to, this one organised a recording of some of the songs and offered it as the “Bootleg EP” – only five songs from the concert for only a fiver! For the small amount of time it took us to line up, and thankfully a much shorter time actually picking up the CD in the huge queue, I definitely think it was worth it. It’s so good in fact, I’m listening to it right now as I write this entry.

I highly recommend you listen to his album if you get a chance, if nothing for his unique voice and easy going songs. I think he deserves the popularity he has got around the world, and I’m sure you’ll agree with me if you ever get to see him perform live. Rating: 8.5 out of 10