Pop: Reading festival

This year's festival season really has had its ups and downs. The Phoenix and Universe events were cancelled, Glastonbury got hit by the rains and lambasted by critics while, on the other hand, the massive V98 events plus Womad, Cambridge Folk and other more specialised events sold out.

Reading, the season's traditional curtain-closer, on paper at least, looks to be the best of the bunch, thanks to a bill enhanced by several bands booked to play the ill-fated Phoenix. With more than 100 acts playing over four stages, dull moments are going to be fairly unlikely for the expected 55,000 crowd. Friday's headliners are Page & Plant; the Beastie Boys (right) and Prodigy do the honours on Saturday while Sunday's top billings goes to Garbage and New Order. The pick of the second stage is Spiritualized who play on Sunday. Even the "new talent" stage offers significant crowd- pullers like Gomez, Scott 4, Alabama 3 and those stoner metal groovers, Fu Manchu. The fourth stage has a daily theme; Friday is skate punk and ska, Roni Size heads a drum'n'bass/hip-hop line-up the following night while Bentley Rhythm Ace are the top attraction on Sunday's Big Beat day.

Richfield Avenue, Reading (0541 500 044/0171-344 0044) 28-30 Aug. Weekend tickets pounds 75 or pounds 30 per day.

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