Green Day brought the first day of the Reading Festival to a vibrant close that cemented the view both veterans were trading on tried and tested values.
Highlights from their trio of recent albums, notably the anthemic ’99 Revolutions’, contrasted well with crowd-pleasing rabble-rousers, among them ‘Know Your Enemy’.
At the heart of the set was a run-through their breakthrough album Dookie, 20 years young next year. The punk-pop threesome sped through it so quickly that less memorable material was soon forgotten as they hurried to the evergreen ‘Basket Case’ and the romantic ‘She’.
Despite some progression over two decades, Green Day have stayed true to their roots, making a two hour set a challenge to maintain interest. Fresh from treatment for substance abuse, frontman Billie Joe Armstrong showed he maintained close empathy with his fellow “freaks” as he called the band’s army of fans.
Likewise, Reading knows its audience.
This year may be the first to see a dance stage across all three days, yet the Berkshire weekender remains a rite of passage for young music fans and groups that prefer guitars, the crunchier and louder the better. Main-stage notables System Of A Down and Deftones would have been familiar in the early noughties.
Yet 2013 has been especially favourable to British proponents and Sheffield metal outfit Bring Me The Horizon rose to their outdoor billing (most other stages are in big-tops), moulding their screamcore and thrash tropes into festival-friendly shapes.
A rare diversion was the spirited if gratingly positive Frank Turner. Apparently suffering from a bad back, he was introduced by his mum, who insisted “you all be very nice to him”. No fear, Ma, the days of flying piss bottles felt a long time ago.
Elsewhere came career-propelling performances from Californian all-girl glam duo Deap Vally and Montreal’s Half Moon Run, mixing sweet Fleet Foxes-style harmonies with involved percussion. And expect to hear more from US four-piece Parquet Courts, their more surfy or Pixies-inspired post-punk showing snotty aggression amid their obvious Brooklyn cool.
Peace’s shoegazing revival paled in comparison. Their combination of shimmering effects and handsome frontman were popular around the Thames valley 20 years ago, but despite updating the sound with the occasional dance-friendly beat, Harry Koisser’s insouciant charisma could not disguise the Birmingham group’s shortage of stickable tunes. Their whole-hearted cover of Disclosure’s ‘White Noise’ with a verse from Pink Floyd’s ‘Another Brick In The Wall’ included was a definite highlight.
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Despite a line-up strong in depth that leaves zero space for literary readings or meditation, Reading remains known for its surprise appearances. Pop darlings Bastille previewed their early evening slot on the Radio 1/NME stage by busking on the BBC Introducing set-up normally reserved for mainly unsigned acts. In an outdoor space uncomfortably close to the dance tent, the vertically coiffed Dan Smith and his largely acoustic crew struggled to impose themselves, even with his usual strident tone. Yet the new area remained a mere staging post, outclassed later on the second stage by Major Lazer’s infectious dancehall/techno mix with Diplo zorbing across the melee and a committed performance from hip hop upstart A$AP Rocky.
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