It provides the closing bracket to a season that Glastonbury begins, though their ideals are different - swap the healing crystals for jeans and a black T-shirt and you're about there. Reading has comfortably evolved from a Sixties jazz festival to host a selection of some of the most vital rock bands, this year being no exception.
Despite an anthemic "Mr Brightside", The Killers appeared tired after a year on the road and were first to admit that it's time to go back to Las Vegas and work it all out again. The Pixies headlined. Frank Black's voice was sharper than in recent shows and they played a bold, exclusive set, which fans took as a clear nod toward their intention to maintain credibility on the forthcoming new album. A searing "Debaser" coupled with the timeless "Here Comes Your Man" were sharpest, but it was Kim Deal's "Gigantic" which emphatically closed the night.
On Saturday, the crowd for The Arcade Fire started off as a quiet mix of intrigue, but the atmosphere quickly swelled into a rousing sonic hurricane and the tent was packed. They closed with "Rebellion (Lies)" leaving an echoing void and a lump in the throat from the weekend's surprise highlight. This euphoria lurched into Pete Doherty's Babyshambles, and it was time to head off to the Main Stage.
The Foo Fighters were more effervescent than ever. Dave Grohl announced that Reading was his favourite festival and played drums to commemorate Nirvana's legendary final UK performance here in 1992. A fiery and frenetic "My Hero" was delivered early, but it was "Monkey Wrench" which proved the band's lasting live significance.
On "rock" Sunday, a dose of abundant sunshine attempted to provide the antidote to rock'n'roll. So, Iggy Pop fought back. Now in his late fifties, he is still imposing. A wailing "1969" and "I Wanna Be Your Dog" energetically lead The Stooges through a melange of hits.
Iron Maiden, in the year of their pearl jubilee, provided Sunday's unflagging final show. Bruce Dickinson's imperious after-dinner anecdotes stitched together "Prowler" and "Run to the Hills", but a venomous "Running Free" was the hit of the night.
Revellers were left dazed after three hectic nights. With the festival season about over, thoughts quickly turned to the mass of potential headline acts discovered this weekend and what next year's season might offer.Reuse content