The last day of a festival is always a difficult affair. The joints are stiff, the hangovers are ringing ever louder in your head and the thought of your clean bed, a shower and the comforts of home are fresh in your mind and ever so tempting.
But onwards I say! The bands at Reading 2012 continue, the festival continues to its climax and the acts that played the Sunday were enough to get anyone (including myself) off their arses.
One band sure to shake the life back into you after a heavy night are Leeds based hardcore outfit Pulled Apart by Horses, who shredded through a fast and furious set, filling in just half an hour but tearing though nine songs from their back catalogue. Opening track ‘Back to the Fuck Yeah,’ was ferocious and it was obvious the crowd arrayed in front of the band hadn’t had their Weetabix, for the fact that they just stood zombified in front of the Main Stage.
The highlight of their set, though, came next as the crowd came to life in a furious mêlée of headbanging and moshing to track from their new album ‘Tough Love’. The middle of the set seemed to see a lull from the crowd but the cheeky guitar twangs of ‘High Five, Swan Dive, Nose Dive’ injected the enthusiasm straight back into the waiting audience, reigniting the mosh. (8/10) If you weren’t awake after that, you may as well have gone home then.
After a relatively mainstream hardcore opening, it was time to go into the deep, dark depths of the Lock Up Stage where heavy as hell hardcore outfit Mongol Horde were playing. Fronted by everyone’s favourite punk folk troubadour Frank Turner, with backing from Matthew Nasir who plays with Turner’s backing band The Sleeping Souls and ex-Million Dead member Ben Dawson, pretty much everyone was in for a surprise at what was to come from the set.
The crowd was simply insane for a band who has released just one song. But the appearance of a screaming shirtless Turner was enough for most people. A screaming seething mass of heavy riffs, ear-splitting screams and everything in-between followed and the crowd bloody loved it. The mix in the audience was eclectic, as you had your old Million Dead fans back for some good ole-fashioned nostalgia and fans of Turner’s more mainstream solo work mixed in the crowd.
Starting with the aptly named ‘Make Way for Mongol Horde’, the set went from chaotic to downright absurd, with Turner throwing himself round the stage and into the hordes in front of him like a man possessed. Single ‘Casual Threats from Weekend Hardmen’ provoked easily the best reaction of Mongol Horde’s own material, with crowd surfers and rock revellers galore getting involved.
Next came the climax to the set which included a bizarrely brilliant cover of the Streets’ ‘Don’t Mug Yourself’, which would have made Streets frontman Mike Skinner scratch his head. Another cover in the form of Nirvana’s ‘Territorial Pissings’ closed the set and was performed with such venom, such ferocity that the crowd just genuinely looked stunned. Mr. Turner and co. had smashed Reading. AGAIN. (9/10)
After a short wait and the odd bit of recuperation, courtesy of a greasy bacon butty, I made my way to the Main Stage for the Gaslight Anthem. These New-Jersey cool kids are used to the big-time though. They played with The Boss, yadda yadda yadda.
This was well and truly their set though and they made the most of the mid-afternoon slot they had, kicking of at just after 2:30. They opened with a sing your heart out boys-kind of rendition of ‘Great Expectations’ which provoked mass bouts of festival karaoke. But the crowd after the release of ‘Handwritten’ last month only wanted one thing and that was a rip roaring rendition of ’45’, a track that has already gone down as a classic Gaslight anthem.
Frontman Brian Fallon, rarely had anything less than a grin on his face throughout the bands set and as he closed with fan favourites ‘The ’59 Sound’ and ‘The Backseat.’ By the end they could safely assume, that they are established, as a modern Reading Festival institution. (8/10)
With a brief interlude after the chest-pounding goodness of the Gaslight Anthem’s set it was time to go old school and rock out with Britain’s biggest metal band at the moment, Bullet for My Valentine.
Now scoff you may at these guys, “they sing about crying, blah blah blah”, as they burst onto the stage to the absolutely huge drum intro of ‘Fever’ album opener ‘Your Betrayal.’ The crowd were worked into a frenzy and lead singer Matt Tuck absolutely shredded through the set, with enough guitar solos to satisfy the stingiest of mettalers.
Crowd favourite ‘Scream, Aim, Fire’ had one of the moments of the festival so far, as the band got each half of the crowd to jump in unison. An epic site if there ever was one which I wish I could have seen from above and taken part in. Perhaps a dual John Fernandez at the next festival I go to will work. Their huge rendition of ‘Waking the Demon’ closed the set and it was obvious, the sense of nostalgia that was brought back to all these teenagers souls, had them all yearning for more. (9/10)
The Black Keys’ ‘Gold on the Ceiling’ had already seemingly become the song of the festival, after it was chosen as the BBC coverage’s trail. So when the Black Keys did emerge it was to be greeted by possibly one of the biggest crowds of the weekend. And rightly so, as with a brilliant record like ‘El Camino’ the band deserve the success they have seen in the USA to be translated to the UK audiences.
Dan Auerbach bossed the stage from start to finish, delivering pinpoint vocals combined with some brilliant guitar work, while Patrick Carney on drums kept the set chugging along like a train through the Old West. Final track ‘Lonely Boy’ provoked a singalong, which this band deserves and shows that their success in the UK is to continue.
And so the final act of the weekend approaches.
The Foo Fighters. With Dave Grohl returning to headline Reading 20 years after Nirvana headlined their last and most infamous UK show.
It was always going to be emotional, with the awful events of what happened in the months after that gig fresh in everyone’s minds 20 years on. The band’s epic arrival to ‘White Limo’ set the tone. It was a rock show first and foremost, and the cute/emotional stuff would come much later in the mammoth 3-hour set. The audience were on their toes to attention as Grohl, Hawkins, Shifflett, Mendel and Smear raced through hit after hit, running off huge crowd pleasers like ‘All My Life’ and ‘My Hero’ at breakneck speed.
It seemed like a standard Foo set, until Grohl dedicated a song each to his daughters Violet and Harper. Then it got even deeper as he dedicated ‘These Days’ to Krist Novoselic and the late Kurt Cobain. The standard Foo Fighter set recipe then was changed, as Dave ran through songs that hadn’t been aired in years, including one of my personal favourite Foo songs ‘Alone + Easy Target,’ as well as ‘Winnebago’, ‘Exhausted’ and ‘For All The Cows’.
It was obviously an emotional set for Grohl, but coupled with the sheer intensity of the moment, it really made for a Reading Festival defining set. Foo Fighters 2012 at Reading Festival will go down as one of the biggest and most important gigs of the Festival’s history and I was there. (10/10)