The Reading Festival serves as a curtain-raiser for the autumn when the bumper harvest of new albums brings all the major tours of the year. And one woman who'll be doing the rounds with a snatch of dates is Tracey Bonham (below right), currently picking up accolades for her pop metal sizzler of an album The Burdens Of Being Upright. She'll be compared to Alanis Morissette (She's female. She writes feisty lyrics. She plays guitar.), but Tracey is more raw, with tunes leaning nearer to Nirvana's Nevermind than anything else. Hers has the rare distinction or being an album so well conceived and clear (maybe something to do with Tracey's classical music training), there's not a duff track on it. But many of the album's sentiments, notably the single Mother Mother, belong to a younger, more scrambled Tracey. When you hear the lines: "I'm hungry, I'm dirty, I'm losing my mind, EVERTHING'S FINE!" screamed deliriously, remember, she's changed.
"Something happened when I was 27," she recalls. "I think I travelled overseas for the first time. Something clicked, and I became just that little bit more religious. Before, I was really confused and agnostic. I finally got my life together, and this band. Good things fell into my lap," If the scorching grooves of her album do the business at Reading, she'll make an immediate imprint on people's minds that will stand her in good stead for the dates to come. "But will there be anyone there at 10am?" Tracey asks, slightly despairingly. If they have any sense they will, sweetie.
Other weekend highlights include Tortoise, Sparklehorse, Sensefield, Moloko, New Kingdom and Broadcast.
Reading Festival, today to Sunday, Richfield Avenue (0181-963 0940)