Saturday, June 16, 2007

Wireless Festival (Leeds) 15/06

My only previous festival experience is, I think, what you'd call idyllic. It was the Cambridge Folk Festival on a blazing summer's day, I saw the Divine Comedy, discovered The Broken Family Band and Josh Ritter, and attended 'An Audience with Loudon Wainwright III'. Things don't get much better.

Flash forward a couple of years. You know the weather's in a pretty poor state when it comes at the start of the news hour, don't you? But me and Big Brother Fuzz were off to brave the horizontal rain and falling temperatures to see a couple of heroes of ours - the White Stripes at the Wireless Festival. Or the O2 Wireless Festival, as it is properly called, which gives you some impression of the hippie values of the place - or lack of them. But let's face it, there's also the Carling Festival and V(irgin) Festival, so it's hardly alone on that score. The site, Harewood House was pretty tiny actually - you can circuit it five minutes tops, but this had one pretty major advantage - it was *very* easy to see the stage. Paul and I chose a spot behind a particularly boggy part of the field, meaning no-one would stand directly in front of us... and it worked a treat.

The main supporting act were Queens Of The Stone Age, who came out in high spirits, thanking us for battling against the rain and, "reassuring" us with the info that David Walliams was standing in the rain as well. Great, thanks Josh! Now my feet aren't wet at all! (Actually, they weren't for the most part, thanks to the wellies. If it weren't for them, it would have been an utterly miserable experience, rather than a slightly uncomfortable one.) They rocked out like the professionals they are - I don't own any of their records, but No-One Knows is a modern rock classic (almost as good as Neil Hannon's cover...!) and I absolutely love Little Sister and Go With The Flow, as well as that one about drugs, all of which they played. I really enjoyed their set, which is impressive to say that the songs I listed are the only ones I know, and they were playing when the weather was at its worst.

And the headline act - those sensational "siblings" who make a big old sound. And they were Fan.Tastic. Devastating drums, gonzo keyboards, screeching guitar and wailing voice; what more do you want? Hotel Yorba? Check. Dead Leaves and The Dirty Ground? Check. My Doorbell with amazing organ from Jack? Check. For Paul, the highlight was new single Icky Thump. It's certainly the maddest song to get into the charts since, well, Blue Orchid, very probably, and Paul especially loves the fact that it's so much like a heavy, Jay-Z hip-hop track, with Jack's vocal that's essentially rapping, and Meg's relentless beat. For me, their cover of Jolene is pretty special, but can't compete with Meg getting up from behind the drums, and fronting The Cold Cold Night - a song that feels like such an age-old classic that I was *convinced* it was a cover (it's actually on Elephant). The White Stripes manage to be formulaic and strikingly original within the same song, they're an enviable partnership, and, above all, they write the sort of tunes you've just gotta stamp your feet too.

4 comments:

Dean said...

I'm really skeptical of things calling themselves a music/arts festival if they only have one stage! Glad you had a good time, I'm off to the biggest festival of all on wednesday - hope the weather turns around!

AnnaWaits said...

Well, they had two stages...! Have fun in Glasto :)

becstar* said...

Whattabout a pun...

The Wet Stripes.

(Demetri style...) Yes.

AnnaWaits said...

Haha!