Festival Review: V, Day One, Saturday August 19, 2006

On Friday morning I wasn’t going to V. You see, in 2004 we’d been for the day to see The Strokes and the Pixies. We bought the tickets when those had been the only 2 acts announced for the day. Subsequently they didn’t add anything else worth seeing. So we spent a fortune to see what turned out to be 45 minutes of decent music. 45 minutes you ask? Well, the Strokes sucked harder than a band has ever sucked to that many people. And we swore off V forever. For the sheer blandness of it. But there I was on Friday morning with the offer of a ticket from Bricking Chick and if I said no, then she was on her own all weekend. It would have been mean not to go, right?

So, despite predictions of vile weather, and despite V being generally the shite cousin of every other large music festival, I dutifully packed up my stuff and we headed off, rather later than we should have, on Saturday morning. This was mistake number one. See, being the last one into a festival to camp is bad at the best of times cause you have to troll around looking for a spot for your tent. It’s doubly bad when they’ve oversold the camping and the stewards are actually turning people with camping tickets away. It did not help that you had to drag all your gear from the carparks to the arena to get a wristband before you could backtrack to the campsite to get in. Luckily, Bricking Chick and I look honest and harmless, we managed to get into a campsite without wristbands. And we managed to find a spot amongst a group of men with about 5 tents between them. They turned out to be dead friendly, but we were worried for a while there when they chose to make friends with us by showing us their genitals.

Then came getting into the site. Some people were having water and food taken off them. I got through without a bag search. I think they just thought I was a hunchback because in the heavy rain I had my rucksack under my rain poncho. Once inside the search began for beer tokens and a programme. We couldn’t find anyone selling programs. The queues for the beer tokens were outrageous, 100 or 200 people in each line. It took an hour to find a merchandise stand to get a programme where I was charged £10. This is gripe number 2 really. It was £120 for a ticket + camping including the service charges. Then they charged an additional £7 to park the car. Then if we actually wanted to know who was on where and when we had to pay another £10. Nice eh?

We worked out that Richard Hawley was about to begin in the JJB Arena so we decided to wait until the queues for beer tokens had subsided a bit and headed over there. Now, I adore Richard Hawley, but we noticed at Summer Sundae that he was starting to repeat stories. By V, I could have repeated them for him. He sounded ok, but ran through the all-too-familiar set including “Cole’s Corner,” “The Ocean,” “Born Under a Bad Sign,” and “Something Is…” using the same jokes in between, including the one about being “pulled off.” It was nice, but it would have been nicer if it were newer.

After Richard Hawley, we decided to brave the queues for beer. I got some food, Bricking Chick bought a bunch of tokens and then we queued a second time for alcohol. As the heavens had opened up onto us, we decided to head back over to the JJB and see what Imogen Heap sounded like, as we had no idea and there was nothing else on we wanted to see. Boy was that a mistake because she was a bland combination of Dido and dancy trip-hop garbage. Ugh it sucked. I tuned it out very quickly and we sat near the back and chatted instead and planned out the rest of our day. Typically, it worked out that everything I wanted to see clashed. So I could either watch all of Morrissey and all of Rufus Wainwright or watch The Dears and part of Moz. As Rufus was the selling point for me that day really, I had to forego the wonderful live show The Dears surely put on. It was less obvious for Bricking Chick who didn’t like any of those bands. I suggested she watch The Cooper Temple Clause while I was seeing Moz, and she said she’d wait and see how she felt.

Next we headed over to watch James Dean Bradfield on the Channel 4 stage. He didn’t disappoint. I mean that in the sense that he sounded like he was singing Manic Street Preachers songs. He even threw in a couple, although, sadly, not the good ones. His solo stuff was okay, if a bit reminiscent of the last 2 Manics albums, and he is always good on stage. He even gave us his rendition of “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” in honour of the downpour which had stopped but then started up again. The crowd around me spent much of the set going “When is he going to play some Manics stuff? Maybe ‘Motorcycle Emptiness’!” Ahh well.

Next up was chatting to drunk men, queuing for the toilets (minimum wait time for a portaloo on Saturday: 30 minutes. Sort it out Virgin!) and getting food. Food which, I might add, required a bank loan to afford. It was outrageously expensive. £2.50 for chips. £4.50 for a potato. Some stands were charging more. People were reporting having to pay £7 for a burger and chips off a burger van. Outrageous. They really need to make these things affordable. Most of the people who go would also like to have a proper holiday rather than having to make 2 days in a muddy field in the rain their only real time away in a year.

Then, oh yay oh yay oh yay, it was time for the marvel that is Rufus Wainwright! Now, I’d wanted to see him back in Novemeber when he was in Manchester but didn’t have the money for the ticket so I was very very excited about this. I managed to get myself to the barrier, I could sort of see, but it was in front of a speaker. The view was limited. But who cares because he sounded perfect! It was him, a guitar, a piano, and for a couple of songs, his sister Lucy. He didn’t play everything I wanted, but “The Art Teacher” and “Vibrate” and “Gay Messiah” all sounded magnificent. Plus, his rendition of “Hallelujah” was phenomenal and everyone I spoke to later that evening either said it was a festival highlight or kicked themselves for missing it. I was, however, highly amused when, after Rufus said he fancied the singer Jack Johnson, two guys stood behind me exclaimed, “Is Rufus Wainwright gay!?” Like, umm….oh never mind. In any case, he was charming and dapper and his voice was gorgeous. I cannot wait for a new album and hopefully being able to see him in a proper venue with a full band. At some point Bricking Chick had enough and left me for the beer tent, saying she’d meet me before Morrissey. I felt bad, I knew it wouldn’t be her thing. It’s a shame there wasn’t anything else she’d have preferred.

When I emerged from the JJB Arena looking for my friend it was dark but thankfully not raining. Not seeing her, I sent a text saying Moz was on in 2 minutes and I was heading for the Main Stage, assuming she’d head over to see Razorlight or the Cooper Temple Clause and that she wouldn’t let my drink go to waste. I got to the Main Stage just as Morrissey’s intro music of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” began to play and a cheer erupted. I made my way deep into the crowd, where I could see the screens as, much to my delight, Morrissey and band appeared and launched into a rousing version of “Panic.” Yay, they changed the setlist! It was still heavily geared towards Ringleaders of the Tormentors, but “We’ll Let You Know” returned, and he did “Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before” and “Girlfriend in a Coma.” He sounded marvellous. And he was selling downloads of his new single, recorded live on the spot for “In the Future When All’s Well.” The crowd was celebratory, dancing and singing and I had a boogie with a friendly bloke who kept balancing a water bottle on his shaven head. I tracked down Bricking Chick as well, near the sound desk, watching Morrissey and hating every second of it. She apparently couldn’t remember who was on where so thought she’d give the Mozfather a chance, so at least she could say she tried. She gets points for that. And for still having the drink she’d got me, untouched. So, after Morrissey finished the evening with “How Soon Is Now” and lots of screams from the crowd, we trekked back to our tents for an hour or so’s chat and fun with our neighbours until the pouring rain drove everyone inside and to sleep.

One Response to “Festival Review: V, Day One, Saturday August 19, 2006”

Leave a Reply