Review: Radio 1’s Festive Festival

By on Tuesday, 22nd December 2009 at 2:00 pm

It’s Christmas time and that of course means the annual Christmas party. This year as well as the work do we were invited to Radio 1’s Festive Festival at the legendary BBC Maida Vale studios, featuring some of 2009’s hottest stars and some of 2010’s rising luminaries – Marina and the Diamonds, Enter Shikari, Plan B, Simian Mobile Disco (pictured right), The xx, Mumford and Sons and Jamie T were all in attendance as Nick Grimshaw played out an extended version of his radio show.

Opening things up was Marina and the Diamonds, looking rather dapper complete with Christmassy shoulders (not strawberry’s as Grimshaw mistakenly thought). Opening with previous single ‘Mowgli’s Road’ she took a while to get the crowd warmed up, but come second song, the new single ‘Hollywood’, she was in full Florence Welch style arm flowing swing. All too soon she finished with ‘I am Not A Robot’, fragile vocals coming over perfectly. Of course I’ve been hyping Marina here for a while – now that I’ve finally got to catch her, she lives up to everything I thought.

I’ve never been an Enter Shikari fan, preferring to leave their 14 year old teen boy shout alongs to those that actually like them. However, in all honesty they were far better than expected – at times fragile vocals, at time proper stadium mosh pit sized anthems, Lostprophets mixed with Get Cape Wear Cape Fly’s social conscience – far better than I expected, truth be told.

Of course, with the whole show being broadcast live it was incredibly well prepared and things ran surprisingly smoothly – even Plan B‘s pizzas turned up on time. It’s clear that the old days of “turning up and playing a record” are long gone – Grimshaw clearly puts a lot of love into each of his shows, and has a great team behind him.

The standout band for many people was Mumford and Sons (pictured left) – following on from being introduced by Greg James (in a very fetching Christmas sweater, giving a humorous intro on how much he loved the band, he’d left his family just for the session!), they provided the only proper dose of Christmas with their current single, ‘Winter Winds’, before also treating us to amazing versions of ‘Roll Away Your Stone’ and ‘The Cave’. To be honest, I finally see what everyone’s been raving about – energetic, humorous and some great modern day folk.

Cramming ourselves into the (tiny) vocal booth of Studio 4, we caught The xx treat us to ‘Islands’, ‘VCR’ and ‘Basic space’. Their album has been the top of everyone’s “best of 2009” lists, however, live they fall pretty flat, providing carbon copies of their album tracks. Maybe one to save for that Sunday night in and not a band to catch live.

Racing back to the main studio, Jamie T surprised us with a guest appearance, playing three tracks from his new album acoustically, which really showed off his song writing abilities – some great stories in his songs I need to go back and listen to again.

Finally, a bit of a surprise highlight for me – Simian Mobile Disco. I knew that live they were amazing, however didn’t expect that much from them from a 20 minute set, without their usual monster lighting setup. For one, I never realised just how hard it was for them to recreate their tracks live – disconnecting and reconnecting cables, switching switches, mixing faders – it was exhausting just watching them create their magic. The crowd loved them – as Grimshaw mentioned, if the weather continued snowing we might just have to have a lock in rave. Now that really would have been cool.

With that, I made a move out into the suddenly snow-swept capital to make my way home – It’s taken me a while to feel Christmassy, but a music festival is all that it took.

All pictures were taken by Nyree Riding. You can listen to the show again on the iPlayer until 11:02pm next Monday, 28th December 2009.

After the jump: more pictures.

Mumford and Sons

Marina and the Diamonds

Plan B

The xx

Jamie T

Simian Mobile Disco

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

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