We had tea in the morning. Which sounds civilized, but being a newbie, I’d overlooked packing things like… cups, so my makeshift drinking vessel was a Pot Noodle (Sticky Rib) pot. No matter how much I washed it, my poor tea was infused by an extract of ribs. On the plus side, the supermarket (One Degree East, which sounds like the worst boy band ever) had fresh croissants, and several of the food trucks offered decent Full Englishes.
Before heading out, we ran through the line-up, and via the magic of Jo’s iPhone, did some research on some of the unknown bands. Fortunately, I liked the sound of The Duke & The King, which meant we didn’t miss their amazing set in the Word Arena. However, the first band we saw was Avi Buffalo, who weren’t so good; their “falsetto pop” was a little too falsetto that day. I’d like to reiterate The Duke & The King were fantastic.
Thanks to the soundtrack of Nowhere Boy I knew who Wanda Jackson was, and we took in her set at the open-air Obelisk Arena. She was on great form, and provided a great cover of Winehouse’s You Know I’m No Good from her new, Jack White-produced album. She also regailed us with stories, most of which involved Elvis. She’s met him, you know. We certainly knew it by the time she finished. Wanda was good fun, and interacted with the audience, which some of the newer bands mostly avoided. Of course, most of them looked like a gang of twelve-year-olds who’d stolen their Dads’ guitars, so they were probably told not to talk to strangers.
The first “big” set we saw was KT Tunstall’s. She was… off, it seemed. I don’t know the details of her personal life, though she seemed fixated on letting the audience know she was singing break-up songs, and offered a few quite bitter words of advice about relationships. Most of her set was comprised of new songs, with a pefunctory reworking of Suddenly I See. We’d met up with a few friends by then, so our attention was mostly diverted from the stage.
We were obliged to sit in for the Bright Eyes set, though a dispute arose when it came time to decide between The Vaccines and Paloma Faith. Paloma couldn’t lure Jo in, and she disappeared off to The Vaccines while I stayed to watch a great set during which Paloma set off a dozen giant bouncing balls into the audience. Sadly her request to “send them back” into the crowd was misinterpreted as “keep bouncing them off the stage”, but ah well. She played the hits (minus My Legs Are Weak and Play On, which was criminal) and finished up with a new crowd-pleaser called Cellulite. Is it just me, or is her stage patter almost exactly like a female Russell Brand?
We finished up with Bombay Bicycle Club back in the safety of the Word Arena, though by this point drink had happened, so we mostly occupied ourselves with taking photos and trying to make bird noises. As a rule, nobody really wants to hear anecdotes from a night of drinking, because the stories are interesting/funny only to the people involved. Suffice to say, we almost managed to stir up a rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody (I don’t have to link to that, do I…?) on the walk back, and we were mostly force-fed wine straight from the box. We also picked up a sixteen-year-old while trying to locate the impossibly well-hidden Sunrise Arena — and when I say “picked up”, we came to the consensus that one of our number had indeed done just that. Up the mountain road!
To be continued!