Review: Reading Festival 2009

By on Monday, 31st August 2009 at 7:04 pm

Every August, thousands of music lovers descend muddily onto Little John’s Farm, Richfield Avenue, to celebrate the spectacle that is Reading Festival. A varied musical extravaganza, the 3-day event is annually cram-packed full with the biggest bands from across the planet. Today, TGTF will be taking a look back at the highs and lows of this year’s fest, which took place just days ago over the satisfactorily-sunny bank holiday weekend.

Florence and the Machine (Reading 2009)Friday saw fiery haired frontlady, Florence and the Machine (pictured right), celebrate her 22nd birthday in style as she took to the NME/Radio 1 stage with her powerful vocals and quirky style. The tent was packed out for the upcoming star, and the crowd enjoyed a union sing-along to the thumping ‘Kiss with a Fist’ as the slightly zany Florence climbed the stage scaffolding to bewildering heights. The Horrors revelled in a similarly large turn out, as they played an intriguingly dark set consisting entirely of material from Mercury Music Prize-nominated album, Primary Colours. Friendly Fires also took to the NME/Radio 1 stage Friday, colourfully setting off the party atmosphere as frontman Ed Macfarlane joined with the crowd in pulling shapes to the likes of ‘Jump in the Pool’ and set closer ‘Paris’.

The seemingly pointless Kaiser Chiefs were second headliners on Friday’s Main Stage. The Leeds quintet cracked out the same old hits such as ‘Oh My God’ and ‘Everyday I Love You Less and Less’ during their performance, before top of the bill act, Kings of Leon, struggled painfully through their headline set. Frontman, Caleb Followill, was noticably irritable throughout the performance. Prior to Sex on Fire, he pleeded with the crowd to “help us”, apparently dreading the crowd’s predictable, one-off sing along to the commencing number 1 hit. The band’s dark mood reached a peak come the end of the set, with Caleb claiming “We know you’re sick of Kings of Leon”. Drummer Nathan even took to Twitter to complain about the crowd that night stating “y’all were frozen”.

Thankfully, the Main Stage was a little more successful come Saturday. The Prodigy‘s night-time performance caused a mass-rave, a sea of excitable hands raised as the crowd chanted “I’ll send him to outer space! To find another race!”. Headliners, Arctic Monkeys‘ set consisted mainly of material from brand new album, ‘Humbug’. Although the band are seemingly keen on turning their back on their old sound, the crowd were clearly more interested in hearing nostalgic hits such as ‘I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor’ and ‘When the Sun Goes Down’, than fresher, and alas unknown tracks such as ‘My Propellor’ and ‘Cornerstone’. Still, the band received a warm reception, as did The Gossip, who were simultaneously headlining over at the NME/Radio 1 stage. Ditto and co showed it to the Monkeys with their typically excitable set – with fantastic frontlady Beth even prompting a stage invasion during big hit ‘Standing in the Way of Control’. Meanwhile, earlier on in the day, excitable crowds had descended to the same tent in order to check out the secret special guests, Them Crooked Vultures – Josh Homme and Dave Grohl’s new side band project.

Lost Prophets (Reading 2009 Middle)

Perhaps the highlight of the whole weekend was Sunday’s Main Stage headliners, Radiohead. Arriving on stage to rapturous applause, the band proceeded to break out into ‘Creep’, much to the appreciation of the crowd. A highly charged, emotional set, Thom Yorke successfully put on a typically hypnotic performance, clearly deep in the moment amid his jerky dance moves. The band even treated the crowd to an unheard, brand new song amid the set, which included hits such as ‘Just’ and ‘Paranoid Android’.

Further Sunday highlights included La Roux, who drew such a big crowd, they all struggled to fit into the Festival Republic tent the duo were headlinding. Lost Prophets (pictured above), meanwhile gained a noticeably younger audience during their headline set over at the NME/Radio 1 stage. Hoards of teenagers punched their fists in the air with joy, as frontman Ian Watkins belted out hits such as ‘Last Train Home’ and ‘Rooftops’. Bloc Party gained a similarly enthusiastic reaction as they took to the Main Stage just prior to headliners Radiohead. The quartet truly got the crowd going with their upbeat indie-rave, providing the perfect warm-up set prior to Yorke and co’s captivating closing performance.

For videos, photos and all sorts of further Reading and Leeds goodies, head over to BBC’s exclusive festival website.

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