Ho-hum; another week, another muddy field and yet another rock festival. And that'll be another 40 quid, if you please. The worst aspect of this - as is inevitable with such a deluge of mega-bill concerts - is the same bands get booked for as many as possible, so the festivals lack personality. There's a sort of grey uniformity which ensures the style of Phoenix does not differ terribly from the Essential Weekender, and V97 in a couple of weeks will serve up a similar flavour of pop and dance, to include newcomers and big names alike.
So with little real identity, the Essential Weekender has nothing to recommend it but its best bands. And one of the most special Britain has to offer is Massive Attack. Perhaps the Bristol kings of dub-heavy atmospherics will have a few problems transforming Finsbury Park into a reggae dancehall blues party like they used to do at their gigs, and maybe this date isn't as wild as playing Mount Fuji in Japan as they intend to do, but this represents their last British appearance for the summer. They are expert at keeping us hungry for them - the awesome recent single "Risingson" was a limited edition. And now they will keep a low profile to complete their third album. But boy they've been busy - so much so they turned down the chance to remix Radiohead's OK Computer.
Their cinematic talents have been put to work writing the track "Wire" for the film Welcome To Sarajevo, and helping out Kevin Reynolds, director of 187. If Massive Attack's previous well-chosen collaborations are anything to go by - Shara Nelson, Tracey Thorn and Horace Andy included - we can expect the very best.
Also seeking a film comrade are the band second on the bill at the Essential Weekender, Spiritualized. They are looking to director Jim Jarmusch to put the songs from their album Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space to film. Last year they played the States with Neil Young and that's what they'll do again straight after the Essential Weekender. After entertaining the hordes at Phoenix, the festival vibe is obviously their thing.
EYE ON THE NEW Super Furry Animals, Welsh purveyors of warped indie grooves, plug new single "The International Language Of Screaming" and showcase tracks from their new album. The Fall support.
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