Reading Festival, <!-- none onestar twostar threestar fourstar -->

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

A heavy weight of responsibility lay on Pearl Jam here on Sunday, not only because they closed a vintage edition of the festival in its 35th year. These grunge veterans had shunned the circuit since 2000, when several of their fans died in a crush at Roskilde, Denmark. That explained the haunted look in frontman Eddie Vedder's eyes and it was only with a wild, cathartic jam to extend a sprightly "Even Flow" that the band found their groove.

Pearl Jam have discovered new focus on their current, eponymous album, as they have looked up from their usual navel-gazing to notice the state of play. "World Wide Suicide" was strident and straight forward, though this was mainly a greatest hits set that referred heavily to their classic debut album, Ten. They showed their ability to entertain best in a long encore that peaked with a mammoth take on The Who's "Teenage Wasteland".

It summed up perfectly this year's motto, "Make Love Not Riots", something the organisers had worked hard to promote with flushing loos and a secondary crush barrier. It came in especially handy on the final day when even thrash warhorses Slayer knew their place. "This is a song about organised religion," Tom Araya announced. "If anyone even cares."

Side stages took care of more contemporary tastes, with entry impossible to the tents graced by pop pin-ups The Kooks and Goldie Lookin' Chain. Dropped by their record company, the hip-hop spoofsters GLC bounced back with a set fizzing with jokes. There must be a place for rappers who, in response to TLC's "No Scrubs", can dedicate a number to anyone who has failed a driving test.

Two grime artists met the challenge laid down by Dizzee Rascal's powerful Friday night set. With a tight rhythm section, Lady Sovereign was more dancehall Ian Dury than grime MC, while Lethal B and DJ Statik charmed the crowd not only with a version of indie group The Rakes' "22 Grand Job", but also the rapper's own pirate radio hits.

More traditional fare came from Tapes N Tapes, who strengthened their usual David Byrne whine with a steely performance. Most charming, though, were London newcomers Larrikin Love. Their ram-shackle set of folksy jangle was full of verve and crowned when someone's mum came on to play the spoons. One of many bands to look out for next year.