nude

and other highlights
of the Edinburgh Fringe
September 2008
T
his import from Israel made its UK debut at
the Fringe before setting off on a nation(s)
wide tour. Filling the Pleasance Grand
with silvery shiny wonder, it was easily one of the
big talking points of the festival. Pipes prance and ducting dances
in this visual splendour. It certainly is a feast for the eyes and
the soundtrack doesn’t disappoint either. As though that wasn’t
enough, there are also tactile pleasures to be had!
It’s a stunning spectacle; for the majority of the show, the alu-
minum (aluminium goddamit!!) has a life of its
own, bopping pipe-people strut about the stage
together with cutesy little offspring that herald a
wave of condescending awe (and arrs) from the
audience. Don’t doubt that you could fall in love
with a metallic slinky, ‘cos this show will prove
that you can.
Later on we get to fully appreciate the energy
and fexibility of the dancers through sequences
that shield them less from our view as they in-
teract and manipulate the pipework and foil from
which the show gets its title.
The sights and sounds are wonder enough,
but The Aluminum Show doesn’t stop at that.
Aided by hefty industrial wind machines and
leaf-blowers pilfered from a giants’ garden shed,
those sparkly pipes come right out at you, across
and over the crowd making this an enchant-
ing, all-inclusive experience and an undeniable
showstopping treat for all ages.
J
im is pissed. He’s in a shouty and belligerent mood; which is
relatively par for the course. He’s also been fed tequilas be-
forehand by some of the punters; which isn’t.
Jeffries is a contradiction. Huggably vulgar; he comes across as
aggressive and gentle, assertive and fragile, angry and sensitive.
He carries a strong sense of right and wrong, despite the rape gags
and the hostile gender politics you get that sense that he really just
wants to love and be loved… But just as you start to consider this
he remembers himself and asserts that he really just wants to fuck
and get fucked. Whilst he does have strong and noble principles,
he frmly believes they should never get in the way of what his dick
wants.
He’s got a bit of a rant on this year, demoting his trademark dirty
stories to a supporting role; he casts his unforgiving sights upon
religion for much of the gig. It’s an easy target, but one that Jeffries
attacks with relish. The audience are keen to follow.
Shrieks of disbelief fll the auditorium. Upon opening the show
Jeffries asks what proportion of the crowd is seeing his act for the
frst time (his usual material isn’t really welcome on television or ra-
dio), it’s a large number, and this fuels him. He takes every possible
opportunity to surprise and alarm the audience, dropping shock-
bombs left, right and centre. But despite his eagerness to repulse
and offend, he manages to make himself a very welcome abrasion.
A loveable cunt.
Jim Jeffries
Hammered
The Aluminum Show
T
ea and Cake return doubled in strength
and number. They bring extra helpings
of everything in their second year at
the Fringe, lashings of joy and a huge
dollop of depravity.
Last year Lauren Shearing and Tiern-
an Douieb introduced their very special
brand of smiling immorality, this year
they’re joined by Sam Bern and Mat
Wandless enabling the team to further
explore their perspective with more activity,
vigour and energy. At face value, it’s lively,
cheery and energetic stuff, but scratch the
surface and you fnd the wealth of obscure
pain and suffering they can’t seem to help
themselves but revel in.
Their characters thrive on harshly abusing
each other, with rejection and betrayal playing
a major role in many of their sketches. They
also like putting on hats... And quite right too.
Tea and Cake
Tea and Cake II: In The Gateau
S
pending time in the company of Andrew Maxwell just makes you
want to be his friend. You can’t help but yearn for a time when you
can call him up after a shitty day and go down the pub together.
He’s a beautiful medicine for a dreary life, always on hand with a witty
anecdote or a wandering yarn.
His cheery loveliness is encapsulated in the happy chuckles that spill
out as he performs. You can’t take these escaped giggles as conceited
or self-satisfying, he’s just having a good time, enjoying his job and tak-
ing great pleasure in having an audience to bounce off. He revels in his
craft and it’s a joy to see.
Andrew Maxwell
Andrew Maxwell’s Supernatural
T
he aforementioned show of Jonny
and Joe is a slapdash affair. By the
halfway point the stage is littered
with paper and props – casualties from the
sketches that have gone before. Even the
chairs they use throughout the show are bat-
tered and torn, this is not a sketch show with
pretence or airs and graces, this is home-
spun and shabby like a warm old jumper.
Jonny is eager, slightly smug and a little
bit camp, Joe is stiff, bothered and delicate.
Together the pair are warm and engaging;
their youth adding considerable appeal to
their approach. Their relationship and style
is reminiscent of Fry and Laurie, well-man-
nered and chummy but endearingly dys-
functional.
Swiftly passing from sketch to sketch, with ongoing linkage as them-
selves (as if they ever really stop being themselves) the pair create a
randomly blemished comedy landscape, nothing is perfect, everything
is slightly untempered.
This double-act are carving their own niche in sketch comedy, incom-
parable to any of their contemporaries. We’re sure to see a lot more
of this great comedy pairing, and that is a very reassuring prospect
indeed.
Jonny and Joe
The Jonny and Joe Show
E
d Byrne is a big venue man these days, huge venue in fact
and he certainly deserves to have reached these heady
heights. Addressing the vast hall, smartly suited on a large
empty stage with a radio mic clipped subtly to his tie, this is a
far cry from the Fringe intimacy that I’m accustomed to but Byrne
does little to sustain any feelings of separation, he engages the
crowd as though it were a much smaller space and when someone
pipes up with an interjection from a few rows back he un-finchingly
engages with them and interacts with complete ease, his fow un-
affected.
The notion of class forms the basis of this show, predominantly
focussing on refections of pigeon-holing him-
self by assessing his own actions.
As a newlywed, his recent marriage fea-
tures strongly, the long-winded build up
of proposal, planning and preparation
providing him with a great
wealth of material and some
particular highlights.
Byrne holds skilful mas-
tery of the stage presenting
a steady show full of strong
and well-received comedy.
It’s fuid, charming and witty.
Ed Byrne
Different Class
The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the world’s largest open arts festival. 2008 saw an
estimated 18,792 performers appearing in 31,320 performances of 2,088 shows in
247 venues… and 350 of the 2,088 shows on offer were absolutely free.
This year’s Fringe offerings originated from 46 different countries. 838 shows were
World Premieres.
This year saw the launch of the Edinburgh Comedy Festival with more comedy tak-
ing place on the Fringe than ever before. Acts appeared in tons of different perform-
ance spaces including huge concert halls, Portakabins, cellars, a caravan in a car
park and even a swimming pool.
As usual, magazine was there for our annual Fringe Binge… we laughed, we cried,
we sweated profusely (some of the venues get very hot and have little ventilation!),
we stayed up late, we slept little, we drank, we ate (some quite dodgy fast food), we
got picked on by stand-ups, got danced with by randoms, shouted at, rained on (a
lot), we queued, booed, stewed and loved (almost) every minute… Here are just a
few of our highlights…
Extended reviews and further coverage at: thenationalstudent.co.uk/fringebinge
REVIEWS BY
IAN PHILLIPS
T
here’s a certain type of smile you get when you leave a Terry Saun-
ders gig. That indefnable smile of fully-enveloping gentle satisfac-
tion. You want to hug strangers and do one of those happy jumping
sideways foot clappy kicking things (whatever they’re called) as you wan-
der off into the sunset.
Saunders has created a very unique style, something bril-
liantly fresh and simple, and no-one else is doing it. His mix of
stand-up and Jackanory story-telling is distinctive and wonder-
ful.
Armed with a bed sheet and a projector (plus an easel this
year – no expense spared!), Saunders tells meandering stories
of often lonely individuals; misfts and outsiders, and he shows
us how they can fnd love and warmth in an unkind world. Aided
by his own projected illustrations his storytelling paints beauti-
ful pictures of humanity and destiny that would melt even the
coldest of hearts.
This year’s offering introduces Trevor; a man cursed by vi-
sions of other peoples’ futures, and of Adeline the girl he loved
and lost – the girl without a future. It’s magnifcent and charm-
ing and funny, Saunders’ broad narrative brush strokes sowing
seeds and laying down loose ends throughout the tale leaving
you yearning to discover the resolution. Then in his trademark
style, when the many strands of the story fnally come together
its all so wonderfully fulflling.
I want my very own Terry Saunders. I could keep him in a cup-
board (a nice comfy cupboard, I’m not an arsehole) and bring
him out at bedtimes to tell me stories. You’ll want one too.
Terry Saunders
Figure 8
J
o
n

A
p
p
l
e
y
a
r
d
C
ripes oh crikey! An acrobatic comedy country and western burlesque duo
no less. Not something you come across everyday… although some of
their close friends and relations probably do!!
This is a truly unique act; sassy, sexy and fearless - in choosing to join their
frivolity you’re truly running the gauntlet. There is every chance you may fnd
yourself on stage with them. There is every chance you may fnd yourself wear-
ing their clothes.
Burlesque acts have become increasingly popular and mainstream lately, but
no-one does it like the Wau Wau Sisters. Why take your clothes off yourself when
there is an audience to do it for you?!
With slightly incestuous undertones, they climb upon, grapple, stroke, lick, kiss
and manoeuvre
each other through
an astounding
show full of spec-
tacular silliness,
seduction and
songs. When they
launch into their
big show-stopping
routines, the acro-
batic expertise on
show is positively
j a w- d r o p p i n g ,
and for many of
the blokes in the
audience their
jaws have already
dropped as far as
they’re ever physi-
cally capable of
going.
The Wau Wau Sisters
After-Party
W
atson and Oliver just get better and
better. Their wild fancies and cheeky
comedic playfulness continue to tread
new ground whilst dancing joyously through the
traditions of two-hander sketch comedy.
There is not one dud, not a moment that misses
the mark as they throw themselves wholeheart-
edly into their (often obscure) characters and
situations – their very animated faces, physicality
and vocal abilities are pushed to the limit, never
reserved or restrained for a second. At times they
slip out of sketch personas and into characteri-
sations of themselves, reminiscent of a French
and Saunders approach to self-mockery and the
conceit that behind the performances and profes-
sionalism of the partnership, a bitter and stubborn
rivalry bubbles away.
This is a master class in double-act perfection.
Watson and Oliver
P
hil Kay just rolls with it. Constantly receptive to any infuence, more than any other come-
dian around, you truly never know what you’re going to get from one second to the next.
Able to fnd joy and pleasure in everything, for Phil Kay the glass isn’t just half full; it’s
positively overfowing with beauty and wonder. Where mere mortals like us can’t help but allow
our lives and energy to be defated from time-to-time by the things life throws at us,
Kay is ceaselessly overjoyed by life’s hiccups and blemishes.
He’s a free-wheeling livewire of comedy, overfowing with instinctive wit and bizarre
mental digressions, unpredictable to the end.
A Phil Kay show is all about impulse, and this can come from anywhere. It would
only take something like a sneeze from the third row and he’d grab his guitar and launch sponta-
neously into an improvised song about nasal passages.
Phil Kay is the pinnacle of comedy excellence; you’d have to search a very long time to fnd
anyone on a par. In fact there simply isn’t anyone. He’s peerless. He lives and breathes this stuff,
throwing his heart, soul and entire physicality into performing. Embracing life at every turn, he
does nothing by halves. No-one does joy or sorrow like Kay. No-one does anything like Phil Kay.
Phil Kay
M
att Green looks really young (perhaps twelve?), but he isn’t (he’s twenty-
nine). So this, his debut show, focuses on how we all from time to time fnd
ourselves being treated like children.
His set encompasses a range of topics taking in nanny-
state warnings, dad pranks and sperm samples along the
way. He completes his show by revealing to his audience
exactly why he looks much younger than his years, and
in choosing to take this path he guides us in a rather seri-
ous direction. It’s not easy to derive laughter from talk
of ‘the big C’ and Green adequately recognises this. He
handles the self-imposed challenge well and doesn’t let
the subject matter distract from the fact that this is a com-
edy show.
Green has made a bold and brave choice in taking that
path in his material, and why not quite frankly, it’s his life,
of course he should talk about it and he manages the
task agreeably.
Green holds the audience admirably, displaying a con-
siderable talent and ability. We can expect to see much
more of this youthful faced fellow.
Matt Green
Grow Up Green
Laurence Clark
Spastic Fantastic!
W
ell there’s a title that’ll grab your attention. It’s caught a fair bit of press at-
tention too, much to Laurence Clark’s amusement. I’m reluctant to label it
as such but this will be pigeon-holed as issue based comedy. As a stand-
up, you draw upon your life and experiences to feed your material. Comics often talk
about their nationality, gender, sexuality or race, but with Clark and his cerebral palsy,
it’s more of… well… an ‘issue’. Despite this, Clark brushes off any suggestion that his
role is to raise awareness, he’s a comedian, it’s his job to make people laugh and he
certainly does that… a lot.
You can’t escape from the facts though, watching Clark perform is a different expe-
rience, it demands a little more concentration in order to catch every word, and tough
shit, as Clark would say – there’s nothing he can do about that.
Through video inserts of prankish behaviour on the streets of London, Clark toys
with the general public and their preconceptions of a man in a wheelchair who can’t
speak properly. These clips follow a simple premise but consistently amuse and en-
tertain. Clark is tremendously cheeky, jabbing away at society’s sensitivities; teasing
and testing those who misguidedly mean well.
Clark is a stimulating, witty, intelligent and genial host who’ll compel you to examine
yourself and others; a genuine pleasure to spend time with.
D
o
n

S
p
i
r
o
M
usic, slapstick, cross dressing, an iceberg and the big-
gest dancing peanut on the Fringe; there’s something
for everyone in Pluck’s latest offering!
The skilled string trio present a collection of tunes we know
and love in a comedy tribute to the famed musicians who played
on as the Titanic sank. It’s a slightly silly yarn that they spin but
a very lovely one. A young lady disguises herself as a bloke in
order to sneak aboard the ill-fated ship and be with the man
she loves. This particularly pleasant plot serves well in holding
together many wonderful set-pieces where the performers show
off their considerable talents and play about.
If you’ve ever wanted to see people playing violins while
putting up deckchairs then this is the
show for you!
Pluck
The Titanic Show
The National Student’s
Fringe coverage is
supported by:
E
dward Aczel (winner of the 2008 Malcolm Hardee Award for comic originality) is an
anti-comic. This has to be one of the bravest stand-up performances I’ve ever seen.
Beneath the ineptitude and overwhelming lack of effort, Edward Aczel is fying by the
seat of his pants. He’s taking his life in his own hands, and he doesn’t seem to give a toss.
Every moment you’re expecting him to fail and die a miserable on stage death, but some-
how he doesn’t. It shouldn’t work but it does. It’s awful
but it isn’t.
Aczel’s forlorn dead-pan delivery perfectly suits his im-
age. Chubby, shabby, scruffy, balding and weary; he’s a
walking talking shrug.
Moments of slight discomfort fll his act as the audi-
ence don’t really know how to receive Aczel. He prac-
tically encourages revolt by pushing the crowd further
towards a feeling of disappointment. By the end you’re
left a little dazed, completely unsure of whether that was
a well-pitched and very clever show or just an indolent
mess. I promise you it’s the former of the two. Aczel’s act
is a tight-rope walk from start to fnish and it’s amazing
that he never loses balance.
Edward Aczel is one of the most daring and intriguing
comedians around today, a brilliant contrast to all those
that show you how hard they’re trying. He’s working ten
times harder than most but you wouldn’t have a clue.
Edward Aczel
Do I Really Have To Communicate With You?
D
anielle Ward is the second most
famous person from her school,
and her placement in this most
revered of achievement charts is sure to
rise in the very near future. On the sub-
ject of one’s past catching up with you,
particularly in the internet age, she revels
in the amusement of Facebook profles of
old school acquaintances and fnds delight
and amusement in the curious statements
and behaviours of others.
Working regularly as a writer on radio
shows, and developing a career as a com-
edy panellist with a growing number of ap-
pearances on television, she has a strong
passion for topicality. Ward keenly refects
upon current events in the news
displaying her reassuring re-
luctance to cling to practised
material. She makes no
apologies for responding to
recent events off the cuff
and her skill and talent
means she certainly
doesn’t need to.
She’s defnitely
one to watch, a
big name of the
future.
Danielle Ward
Danielle Ward In Glorious Technicolor
Dan Antopolski
Penetrating Gaze
D
an Antopolski has undergone ‘the change’. You
see this happening to comics quite often, it hap-
pens at different times in their careers, its often
refected in their manner and attitude on the stage, but
its always most evident in the change of direction in their
material. They can’t escape ‘the change’ or skirt around it
no matter how hard they try. It’s triggered by parenthood.
When your job centres around talking about your life
experiences it’s inevitable. It’s quite fascinating to observe
really, particularly with the blokes, it’s a bit like some kind
of stand-up puberty occurring.
Antopolski’s wily tangential approach and sense of sur-
realism is still intact but his routine now includes views
and observations on fatherhood. These family focussed
meanderings still carry a clear Antopolski vibe but it is
clear that this is a fairly different person we now see hold-
ing the mic.
Amidst the usual joys of Antopolski’s skew-whiff view
of the world, he has become partial to a bit of rapping in
his act. These moments are an absolute delight, superbly
written with brilliant timing and delivery.
It’s quite right and ftting that he is partial to donning a
cape; he is after all, a bit of a hero.
A
ndrew Lawrence has mellowed considerably compared to previous
years/incarnations (he’s not singing about eating his mother anymore!),
but the fear factor is still
there bubbling beneath the surface.
He is much less scary this year, but
when the bilious rants do come out
to play you get the sense that this is
just a dormant volcano and death,
destruction, fre and rage will always be threaten-
ing to strike when the mic is in his hand.
Lawrence has always traded heavily on self-
deprecation; well to be frank (but perhaps a little
unfair) he’s got a lot to play with in that area. Being
ginger, pale, gaunt and slightly squeaky he knows
exactly how to attack himself before he sets his
sights on other victims.
When he does fall upon a topic, people or per-
sons that rile him he launches off into long streams
of hateful phrases and adjectives. It becomes
rather poetic as he stares almost trance like off
into space, lost in the rhythm and catharsis of his
seething revulsion. When he eventually comes
round he seems slightly inclined to excuse his mo-
ment of possession before resuming in his newly
found amiable and approachable mode.
Lawrence is an inspired performer who gives
you a reassuring sense that his material and de-
livery has been painstakingly tweaked, measured
and tested. His current choice of direction must
surely be a sign that he has set his sights on a
wider appeal and larger audiences but whatever
he does next you can be assured that it will be
stimulating. Lawrence may have started purring,
but he hasn’t lost his bite.
Andrew Lawrence
Don’t Just Do Something, Sit There
W
ill and Greg are heading for greatness, which is ftting
because they’re pretty great. Their sketches range from
achingly uncomplicated to the beautifully absurd. Their
genius is marked out by the sheer simplicity of their police interview
sketch (an astonishingly straightforward yet brilliant idea) or the fact
that one sketch basically just consists of them counting to ten but
works like a dream.
They’re an impressive partnership, highly skilled and incredibly tal-
ented; the powers that be in TV-land have recognised this and with
a Comedy Lab episode (Blowout) already under their belts, they’ve
also now clocked up an episode on Channel 4 in their Generation
Next season with ‘The Incredible Will And Greg’. These chaps are hot
property and won’t be performing in Portakabins for much longer!
Will and Greg are tremendously likeable and through the subtlest of
darting eyes or twitching smirks
they develop a keen rapport with
their audience. Not too immersed
in their work to show that they’re
enjoying themselves, they are
clearly very good pals and aren’t
afraid to let a little bit of corpsing
slip through the veneer (but quite
frankly who can keep a straight
face when they’re having a Tun-
nock’s Tea Cake shoved in their
mouth!?!) which only serves to
make them even more likeable.
Will & Greg
A Sketch Show
M
att Lucas and Catherine Tate have both made enormously popu-
lar contributions to the world of comedy by lampooning chavettes
but we are yet to see a main-
stream parody posterboy for their chavvy
male counterparts. Lee Nelson could well
be that man.
Perfectly attired for the role, Brodkin
takes the stage for an hour of stand-
uppy banter in the guise of Lee Nel-
son – baseball-capped and dressed
in three-quarter length Adidas tracky
bottoms he looks every inch the
despicable tosspot benefts-leach,
right down to those little touches of
Elizabeth Duke bling.
Nelson is so cheery and personable
that you actually fnd yourself warming
to the character despite all his loathsome
qualities. Lee Nelson has an eagerness
and dumb fascination for the complexi-
ties and diversity of society whilst happily
making no constructive contribution to it.
He is so endearingly reckless and stu-
pid; Brodkin brings the character to life
with such astute ignorance and truly exposes just how two dimensional the
catchphrase dependent Vicky Pollard and Lauren Cooper are.
Simon Brodkin
is Lee Nelson
Y
es he is… and he’s one of the best ones we saw
this year. Mohammed injects the solo sketch genre
with exciting elements of interactivity and his speed
and energy is striking.
He kicks off at an unrelenting pace with rapid character
switches and lighting cues. Then it all starts to become quite
uncomfortable, but
luckily not for us.
Zoe Gardner joins
him to take on the
role of candidate
and victim in a very
unconventional job
interview with plenty
of cringe-inducing
moments of silliness
where you just want
to rescue the poor
lass.
Mohammed’s im-
pressively clever
fnale turns the
room into a para-
psychology lecture
and our host seeks
to discredit the no-
tions of ESP and
mind-reading. Nick
Mohammed is a
character comedian but he’s also a magician and the
situation is amusingly turned on its head as an audience
volunteer is exposed as a witch.
Sharp, clever, creative and very funny.
Nick Mohammed
Is A Character Comedian
W
ith little to do during the day, many stand-ups fnd
themselves at the mercy of their games consoles.
Not Josie Long. She is embracing enlightenment.
Fascinated by knowledge, she fnds herself exploring a world
of wonder and fascination.
She is attracted to big ideas, the huge unfathomable con-
cepts that shape our universe, but once she has latched upon
such ideas she can’t help but translate them to the everyday
and mundane. Her wonderful wit and imagination flls every
moment of this intelligent show.
Long’s approach to comedy is a refreshingly creative one;
her use of props in this show is delightful and ingenious. The
obvious time she’s spent preparing items with felt-tip pens,
card and glue add to the sense of reassurance that this show
has been constructed with a care and passion many comics
can only aspire to.
Its homemade comedy, put together cross-legged on the liv-
ing room foor and therein lies its beauty; its gripping, fascinat-
ing and a real genuine pleasure.
Josie Long
All Of The Planet’s Wonders (Shown In Detail)
U
nable to stand still for
a second, he writhes
about the stage bend-
ing, twisting and convulsing. His curious gurning abnor-
mality is a beautiful thing though, as his show ‘Gaping
Flaws’ seeks to recognise. Perfection is not to be
trusted.
In this lively, manic show, Kane takes the well-
worn conceit that Brits embrace the faulty and fear
the faultless.
There are plenty of easy targets within
this fast paced set; comparisons between
American culture and our own for example
are staple ingredients but enormous fun
nevertheless. But it is when he touches
upon racism and bigotry that Kane reveals
a little more of himself than we are used to
seeing. He seems almost cautious of ex-
posing too much of his own ideology for fear
of distracting from the frivolity of it all, but
he can’t not take a stand. Good for him too.
He recognises a grim future unless we act
to prevent the rise of intolerance and during
these moments we see an aspect of Kane
that is often shielded by silliness.
This year we’ve seen a growth in his talent
and ability, he is insightful and his jerking, failing physicality is unrelenting
as are his breathless speech patterns - he barely pauses for a moment.
It’s a well polished set; ‘Gaping Flaws’ marks Russell Kane’s stand-up
ascendancy and for us he was very well deserving of his If.comedy nomi-
nation, which for him, as a lover of imperfections, must be terribly upset-
ting.
Russell Kane
Gaping Flaws
I
made a terrible error last year. With so
many shows to choose from, it’s impos-
sible to avoid random details infuencing
your choices. I am zany intolerant; this has
been clinically proven by proper doctors and
everything. So with my own personal health
and well-being in mind, one glance at the pro-
motional image for Ivan Brackenbury’s Hospi-
tal Radio Show sent me running for the hills.
I was a fool, a stupid fckle, fyer judging
fool. Will I ever learn my lesson? Probably not.
Thank god Mr Brackenbury is back and this
year I fnally had a chance to see what all the
fuss was about.
Broadcasting live from the Fringe to his bed-
ridden listeners back in Chesterfeld Hospital,
the ruthlessly hewn portrait of “I’m bonkers me”
volunteering invited us to become his ‘posse’
for the day’s show, and it took little time before
all assembled were whipped up into a whoop-
ing and giggling frenzy as the broadcast un-
folded.
Ivan Brackenbury (Tom Binns) is brilliant.
The characterisation is faultless and Brackenbury is translated through Binns’ entire physicality. A very
simple but brilliant joke runs throughout the show as Brackenbury plays inappropriate dedications and
tinkers with his jingles. So to speak! Its concept is so devastatingly simple but its execution shows con-
siderable technical prowess.
Sometimes you’re ahead of Brackenbury as he prepares to drop his next horrifc funny-bomb, at other
times, no matter how hard you try, you just can’t see where he’s going and he completely catches you by
surprise. This is half the joy of the show as you mentally play cat and mouse with his material.
It has to be the best hour of live character comedy I have ever seen.
Ivan Brackenbury
Ivan Brackenbury’s Hospital Radio Christmas Show
R
ichard Herring is a stalwart of Fringe comedy, an old hand. This year he delved
into his rather unfortunate childhood scholastic circumstance; his headmaster at
school was his dad. It’s such a veritable goldmine of comedic opportunity that
Herring can’t understand why he’s not gone here before.
It’s an impassioned set with Herring pleading for sympathy. He admits that despite
the headmaster dad thing, he had a pretty good childhood, and that he feels was
wrong. He calls out for understanding; his upbringing was unjust – it’s not easy
not having a hard childhood to blame.
In the arguments and comparisons he lays down in this plea Herring
dances gleefully on the boundaries of taste and decency. This isn’t just
shock tactic comedy like some of the [ooh-look-at-me-I’m-being] ‘offen-
sive’ comedians might employ; this is cleverer than that. He deliberately
taunts the audience with his material, testing their judgement by crossing
the line and then proving he hasn’t. No-one knows how to take it – is it ok
to say these things? The things he says should be completely abhorrent,
but they aren’t because they’re not, but they feel like they should be… oh
god it gets confusing. Uncertainty flls the room and Herring revels in it.
It’s an accomplished show from this
comedy veteran and comedians half
his age should take note.
Richard Herring
The Headmaster’s Son
I
love a good quest. This is one of those charming
documentary style comedy journeys where the per-
formers’ passion for the subject matter sweeps you
along into an eager supporting role. You can’t help but
become absorbed by the ride, willing him to succeed,
wanting to lend a paddle.
Horne wants immortality. A modest aim if ever there
was. He wants to live forever within the pages of the
dictionary; he wants to spawn new words. His energy
and enthusiasm for the weighty task he’s set himself is
unabashed and he’ll leap upon each and every opportu-
nity to slip his foetal words into the media - he leads us
eagerly through months of unrelenting word planting…
what he fondly refers to as verbal gardening.
As with any truly engaging comedy quest, the peaks
and troughs of
his journey have
the audience
sighing forlornly
and cheering at
every turn.
This was
e n o r mo u s l y
captivating fun,
with strong tim-
ing and brilliant
humour.
Well worth the
honk.
Alex Horne
Wordwatching
T
his is physical comedy jazz-rock fusion. Wild, unpredictable, bizarre, frenetic
and occasionally confusing… actually lets make that often confusing… but in
a good way.
With so many characters and only the two of
them performing (Mark Chavez and Shenoah
Allen), the pyjama clad pair frequently deliver
lines and then spin around or dash across the
stage to respond to themselves. It’s a bit of
a blur and there are so many delightful mo-
ments and strands but a personal favourite
was their exploration of the complexities and
pitfalls of life without thumbs.
Pajama Men
Versus vs Versus
Y
ep, Michael
McI nt yre.
No theme,
no subject matter,
no title, just Michael
McIntyre. And that’s
all you need to fll
the theatre frankly.
The man who’s
been likened to
a noughties Bob
Monkhouse has
enormous wide-
reaching appeal.
Michael McIntyre
always gives an
excellent perform-
ance, ceaselessly
slick, forever fault-
less. You could
easily dismiss this
brilliance as being well-rehearsed and fnely tuned,
but this is a live and unpredictable medium and
you have to dismiss such dismissal the moment
he goes off script. When opportunity or circum-
stance instigates an adlib or complete digression
he proves his absolute control of the stage and the
mic. He doesn’t hold a mic, I should add, prefer-
ring the head-mounted radio mic approach, thus
allowing him to make the best of his very animated
delivery.
It hardly needs saying, as McIntrye sold out, had
extra shows added and sold out again, but he’s
quite plainly one of the very best stand-ups working
today and absolutely at the top of his game.
Michael McIntyre
J
o
n

A
p
p
l
e
y
a
r
d
W
e’ve raved about him at various festivals for the last
three years and he’s fnally and quite rightfully getting
further recognition being retrospectively given the 2007
Malcolm Hardee Award for comic originality.
Its wrong, it doesn’t work and its awful – therein lies its brilliance.
With painted face, colourful pants and little else, Doktor Cocaco-
lamcdonalds reels about the room knocking his equipment onto the
foor and tripping over cables. It’s an absolute mess quite frankly…
and we love it!
Admittedly, Doktor Cocacolamcdonalds is an acquired taste. Like
lime milkshake, it shouldn’t work but it does. He may well have you
putting your face in your hands from time to time; overcome by the
cringe factor that is inescapable, but it’s absolutely hilarious.
His new material continues in the vein to which we’re accustomed,
and Ray – Man of Words makes a welcome return with his latest
poetic compositions, plus he’s introduced a brand new character
known only as The Month Of January!!
Unrivalled and as brilliant, exciting and bewildering as ever.
Doktor Cocacolamcdonalds
Badly Ranted Thoughts Via The Magic Of Song
T
his was a truly exceptional show from The
Pros From Dover (a M*A*S*H reference in
case you were wondering – they’re not from
Dover!) three
men with an
i mp r e s s i v e
comedy pedi-
gree. They
can’t help
subverting the
form, but not
in a conceited
or audacious
way, rather in
a warm, intel-
ligent and wel-
coming fash-
ion that makes
you feel im-
mediately re-
assured and
c o mf o r t e d
by their ap-
proach. Every sketch brings something new and
different, attacking the sketch format from all kinds
of inventive angles. You just can’t help thinking “oh
that’s clever”… And it’s very, very funny too.
There were so many highlights in this show; a
Star Wars driving lesson in German, a sketch per-
formed half-staffed and the breaking of bad news.
But my personal favourite (a press conference for
a crash survivor) was a gorgeous slow-burner that I
simply can’t bear to divulge any more details of (for
fear of ruining it if you happen to have the pleasure
of witnessing it yourself!), it grabbed you from the
start, then unfolded steadily and brilliantly.
This is fresh, brilliant, exciting and inspired vir-
tuoso sketch comedy.
The Pros From Dover
W
ith a large, clever and intricately manipulated set
complete with spongy foor and padding in all the
right places, Frank Woodley throws himself (quite
literally) into a masterful display of physical comedy.
He plays Louis, a kindly
loner, who fnds his body
possessed by the ghost of a
young lady called Phoebe.
Woodley deftly fits between
the two characters signalled
by swift changes in tone and
accent. With a sense of ghost-
ly spookiness in the air, his
basement fat begins to take
on a life of its own and parts of
the set swing and swipe at him
often threatening a hefty blow
to the head. The timing and
accuracy of such sequences
is sheer wondrous pleasure
and shows the immense skill
and cohesion of Woodley and
his technical team.
Alongside the fabulous
physical knockabout set-piec-
es, Woodley litters the show
with poignant interactions
between Louis and Phoebe
as their curious relationship
builds, plus a delightful little
musical number as he takes
on yet another character.
‘Possessed’ brings awe-
some clowning, supreme slapstick and constantly impressive
physical expertise with surprises at every turn. It’s an abso-
lute joy to behold.
Frank Woodley
Possessed
T
here was a fair old bit
of magic on offer at the
Fringe this year, and it
all gets slapped together un-
der the label of comedy, yes
there’s funny patter in and
around the tricks but they
shouldn’t all necessarily be
labelled as comedy. These
guys however, properly fulfl the promise of comedy to which they’re fled under, and
they’re enormously accomplished magicians too.
I don’t know how old they are; they’ve been around for quite some time now, but
they still feel like cheeky little scamps – even with Stuart’s new beard. This is magi-
cians misbehaving, and its fantastic fun. They take great pleasure in toying with the
audience, and take even greater pleasure in toying with each other. The pair are so
much in tune with each other and clearly very close pals; consequently they can’t
resist digressing from the script occasionally to try and throw the other or simply just
take the piss.
Matey banter and comic fuency aside, they are superb masters of their craft.
Despite the inbuilt desire to convince myself that I know how each trick is done,
nearly everything they do is unfathomable. There is plenty to amaze and impress
too, I lost count of the number of tricks performed in this hour (well to be honest I
wasn’t trying to count them at all, that would have been ridiculously anal, but you
know what I mean!)
Barry and Stuart
Part-Time Warlocks
S
tephen K Amos can fll a rather big room, and oh boy
can he command it. He handles a large crowd like a
true pro, managing laughs, chuckles, murmurs and
even boos with expertise.
This year’s offering ‘Find The Funny’ en-
courages us to seek out the humorous in life.
With more impending doom approaching in
various inescapable forms; it’s a pretty well
advised survival technique that we should all
consider employing.
Amos invites (or should that be volunteers) a member of
the audience to tally up the laughs in the show. On this occa-
sion his choice of ‘volunteer’ slightly backfres as the elected
giggle-counter takes it upon himself to also tot up the number
of times Amos laughs at his own jokes, and its not that small a
number by the time we reach the end.
Despite being achingly mainstream these days, at times,
Amos treads a very fne line. He crosses this line occasionally
and I’m not entirely sure that he is aware that he’s doing it
until he hears the reception his comments receive. He always
handles this well though and rescues the moment within sec-
onds. But personally I do fnd some of his approach on racial
topics to be slightly misjudged, unhealthy and old-fashioned.
Nevertheless this is a joyful show, full of fun and brimming with
laughs. You even fnd out how many.
C
l
a
e
s

G
e
l
l
e
r
b
r
i
n
k
Stephen K Amos
Find The Funny
N
ude is the title, and that’s exactly
what you get. Naked men… yes
proper naked men, being na-
ked, with no clothes on and everything.
The audience are welcomed into a
life-drawing class. Before long there it
is... Body hair, bell-end and bollocks;
male genitalia in all its dangling glory.
Shrieks of disbelief and titters of embar-
rassment scatter the audience, and then
it’s down to business.
What goes through the mind of a nude
model in a life class? His inner mono-
logue is revealed as he struggles with
the insecurity of being on full show and
scrutinized. This then moves on into the
wanderings of a mind simply left to pass
the time, holding the pose.
Rivalry rears its ugly head (if you’ll ex-
cuse the phrase!) when another life mod-
el enters the class and the two men fnd
themselves pitted against each other.
It’s a brave performance from Owen
Roberts and Ciaran Dowd, and an as-
sured debut for them as a writing part-
nership. It’s an impressively uncommon
show and quite unforgettable.
Nude
S
tephen Grant should be
a household name by
now but the cookie just
hasn’t crumbled
favourably for
him or us for
that matter.
He was
almost a
Top Gear
presenter and
has his own unique
take on that (Richard Ham-
mond using his own head as
a plough) infamous accident.
He was also very nearly in The Offce,
and he can’t even get himself to the top
of Google search results for his own
name… he comes second – thanks to a
murderous American namesake.
Grant has plenty to say about coming
second and all forms of things labelled
secondary and the incredibly witty in-
spired material never lapses. There are
so many wonderful sequences in this
tightly packed hour: an interactive warm-
up computer, the postal service, inven-
tions, second class travel that isn’t called
second class, sporting failures and un-
derpaying bills – its no wonder he needs
a towel on hand to mop his brow.
Stephen Grant is dependable, intel-
ligent and really bloody funny. I’m look-
ing forward to his show next year, as he
promises that by then he’ll be legally al-
lowed to talk about his divorce!!
Stephen Grant
Second
We’re sure you’ve all heard the stories about
the biggest disaster in festival history (where
no one died). Countless acts pulling out – no
Dizzee, no Friendly Fires, no DIOYY – hasty
line-up changes, tents being closed, VIP tent
sporadically opened to all, complete lack of
communication to the audience and general
disarray from start to fnish – welcome to
Queue Thousand and Wait.
By the time we’ve fought our way through the
biblical queues for tickets and camping then
to the main area, only for it to open four hours
late (due to, it would emerge later, a four-
hour sound check from Mark Ronson), the
overriding adjective is already “shambles”.
Fighting With Wire
Eventually the gates open and Londonderry’s
Fighting With Wire are ready to open the
weekend with aplomb. With thunderous
basslines and growly vocals you’d be forgiven
for mistaking this for early Foo Fighters or
Feeder as they play a set frmly rooted in 90s
rock. No synths or electronics here, just an
unapologetic classic rock assault to amply test
the limits of the main tent’s PA.
Dan le Sac vs Scroobius
In contrast the electro beat poetry of Dan
le Sac vs Scroobius Pip is heavy on the
beats. Opening with ‘The Beat That My Heart
Skipped’, Pip’s delivery already has an edge
of anger to it, le Sac’s thumping bass adding
gravitas to the message-laden prose. ‘Thou
Shalt Always Kill’ of course gets the biggest
reception, but it’s the super funked-up spoken
word cover of Prince’s ‘Cream’ to close the
set that inspires the frst real hot and sweaty
movement of this sun-soaked day. Let the
festive part of the weekend begin!
Metronomy
Metronomy prove one of the highlights,
despite a criminally small crowd and a
complete failure of their characteristic chest-
lamps in the afternoon’s direct sunlight.
Their synth-led space rock is epic, catchy,
resplendent with great hooks and eminently
danceable. The boys themselves put in a stoic
performance in the Kraftwerk tradition, but it’s
all showmanship one way or another, and by
next year they should be much further up the
festival billings.
The Rumble Strips
The Rumble Strips give a solid rendition of
their brass-tinged indie pop repertoire. The
sax squeals as Charlie yelps his way through
enjoyably light tunes like ‘Motorcycle’, while
‘Alarm Clock’ and ‘Girls and Boys In Love’
have the crowd jigging with gay abandon,
but ultimately it’s an unaffecting set one
can take or leave, with the new material
showcased providing more of the same.
Delays
Delays’ set is ironically delayed slightly by
monitor problems but it doesn’t stop them
exercising their crowd appeal from the off.
They burst into a strong set of indie synth
pop with showmanship being the key. The
frst to beneft from the full effect of the light
rig in the onset of dusk, they shine live. The
frst spots of rain go unnoticed in the festa of
bouncing from both band and crowd, through
tunes like the joyous ‘Hooray’ and the epic
romance of ‘Valentine’.
Gallows
Having dedicated their set to “a fucking diva”
(i.e. Ronson), there are sure to be no such
antics from these boys. The whole tent is
turned into a danger zone as they thrash
out a whirlwind set of gutter punk fuelled
by pure aggression. The circle pit grows
exponentially as Frank Carter stretches his
vocal chords to destruction through gut-
busting tunes like ‘Abandon Ship’ and ‘In the
Belly of a Shark’, standing atop a monitor to
survey his domain like a skinny, ginger Lord of
Destruction. And just when you thought things
couldn’t get any wilder, Carter encourages
the biggest circle of death most have ever
seen for their cover of Andrew WK’s ‘Party
Hard’, backing the more mild-mannered right
to the canvas to bear witness to the visceral,
animal scene in front of them. Things are
nearly stopped halfway through, but Carter’s
not having it, encouraging the band to play on
and reminding everyone that “we’re not here
to fght, we’re here to party,” proving that it’s
not about violence or aggression, it’s about
release. By the end a genuine thank you
goes out to the crowd for knowing that and,
presumably, not killing each other.
Mark Ronson
Roll up, roll up for the Mark Ronson Showband
and Revue! As usual he’s copping a lot of
shit from the “true music fans” for playing
other people’s songs, but the spectacle and
scale of the show is impressive as you’d
expect, and with the conveyor belt of guest
vocalists taking the stage you can see that
that soundcheck was probably necessary to
create this. Highlights include random singer
dude’s own song ‘Out of Control’, a cover
(quelle surprise) of Sugar Hill Gang’s ‘Apache’
featuring Scroobius Pip and Rumble Strip’s
Charlie Brooker giving his rendition of
‘Back to Black’. It’s certainly a bizarre
scene that harkens back to the old
showband days, but ultimately the
majority of the crowd seem to enjoy
it. He’s not this popular for nothing,
you know.
The Teenagers
The teenagers are out in force for
The Teenagers. Opening strong
with ‘Starlett Johansson’, front-
man Quentin Delafon oozes cool
Gallic charm. He may be above
the age of consent but he knows
exactly what these kids want,
sending adolescent girl hormones
surging frst as he approaches
the barrier, and then as he pulls
screaming fans out of the crowd to
giggle their way through the female
vocal of ‘Homecoming’ on stage. By
the time ‘Feeling Better’ closes, with
this much adolescent fesh throwing
around it’s enough to make anyone
feel old, but this is The Teenagers’
power – the sound of capricious youth;
the soundtrack to a long lost summer of
love.
Marner Brown
Unfortunately frst day teething problems prove
to be ongoing as the Tap ‘n’ Tin Tent is closed
for structural repair due to Gallows’ raucous
performance last night, plus more pull-outs
mean a hastily cobbled-together running order
leaves the crowd at the main stage highly
confused. They are instead offered the blues-
tinged rock n roll swagger of Marner Brown.
Most would be daunted by a frustrated and
sun-baked crowd wondering why they’re not
Hadouken!, but the Marner boys take it all
in their stride, making the stage their own
before a word is even sung. While the die-
hards leave, those desperate now to just see
anything good are not disappointed. If festivals
are about surprise discoveries then Zoo8 has
managed to get something right by default.
Stand-out track ‘Up All Night’ is a modern day
‘Ballroom Blitz’, while other parts of their set
evoke the likes of Zeppelin. It’s everything Jet
got right the frst time and while it may not last,
it’s worth checking out all the same.
Hadouken!
Eventually, after yet more waiting, frustration
and sterling work from security who keep the
crowd entertained and watered, Hadouken!
run on stage ready to go. By now the
backstage problems are no secret and it’s
obvious they just want to get out and play,
exploding off the blocks with ‘Get Smashed
Gatecrash’.
Replacing the “go back where you came from”
line with “pay your fucking artists you C**TS!”,
the cathartic release of the day’s delay is
clear, but they know who they’re playing for,
not letting backroom politics dampen their
characteristically riotous stage show. Playing
‘Leap of Faith’, the mist of sweat is visible off
the crowd. A rendition of Prodigy’s ‘Breathe’
doesn’t match up to the original, but these kids
are willing to go mental for it. Biggest hit ‘That
Boy That Girl’ closes and both band and fans,
shirtless and sweat-drenched, are glad they’ve
fnally got what they were waiting for.
British Sea Power
A less numerous but more mature and sedate
crowd replace the youngsters for festival
favourites British Sea Power’s set. Watched by
the Jarman brothers from the back of a stage
crowded with fags and shrubbery, there’s a lot
of activity going on as they play their glorious
and madcap indie tunes but it’s still ultimately
unremarkable and unsatisfying.
Ash
Ash take things up a gear, exploding in rock
fury like seasoned veterans with a set full of
favourites, including ‘Kung Fu’, ‘Shining Light’
and of course ‘Girl From Mars’. It seems an
age since we last saw Tim Wheeler’s Flying
V guitar raised in anger, but time hasn’t
slowed them down one bit, as proven by the
juggernaut chugging of new track ‘Itchy Burn’.
Take a note, Hadouken! fans, this is the sound
of my youth, and it’s still glorious.
The Cribs
Not nearly as tight or slick, but all the more
exciting for it, is the headline set from The
Cribs. Squealing their way through a set
packed with hits, the raw noise is almost
indecipherable at times, even on big hits like
‘Hey Scenesters’, but the unpolished nature
captures the spirit of the song rather than the
letter, and the band’s philosophy as a whole
– just play it fast and loud and have fun doing
it. Despite the ear-splitting feedback and
distortion, when songs are this singalong – or
whoa-oh along, as it were – it doesn’t matter.
The news has spread by now that bands aren’t
getting paid and therefore are cancelling all
over the shop. This combined with Sunday’s
driving rain makes it a day for checking out a
host of lesser-known acts in the smaller tents.
X-Certs
Special mention goes to Aberdeen’s X-Certs,
a three piece Scot-rock act singing in their
native accent obviously draws comparisons
to Biffy, but such lazy observations shouldn’t
draw away from the passion and sheer
intensity they play with. The singer’s yearning
vocals bulge his neck veins almost to bursting,
with a sound reminiscent of Taking Back
Sunday’s more epic moments. The highlight
comes when same lead singer jumps the
barrier to take a snare drum into the middle of
the crowd for the fnal piece de resistance. It’s
an amazing display, and the small crowd aren’t
exactly sure what to make of it all, but leave
knowing they’ve just witnessed something
pretty damn spectacular.
The Holloways
The Holloways bring some happiness to the
main stage – how can we be anything but
when they bring their infectious, light-hearted
pop into our lives? As if by fate the frst clear
skies of the day show as they play the frst
bars of ‘Generator’, setting the scene for some
skiptastic bopping through equally joyous
tunes like ‘Fuck Ups’ and ‘Two Left Feet’.
They’re the modern day Chas n Dave.
The Hives
So the weather’s improved, the crowd are
suitably warmed up and those that are left are
ready to salvage something of the weekend
by enjoying The Hives. Epitomising the rock
n roll swagger that’s been only hinted at by
other young pretenders this weekend, front-
man Howlin’ Pelle Armqvist struts around the
stage while the rest of the band play with an
energy that the crowd just can’t match. It’s
been a long, draining weekend for most, and
Pelle’s faux(?) conceit and calls for clapping
and shouting wear thin pretty quickly. It’s an
enjoyable set, spanning the last three albums,
but collective energy is being saved for what
everyone knows will be the fnale: ‘Hate To
Say I Told You So’. When eventually it does
come, the entire crowd’s last reserves are
used to go bat shit crazy for three last minutes
of cathartic movement as reward for the ordeal
everyone has been through.
If there does manage to be a Zoo9 then let’s
only hope they can learn from the bevy of
mistakes made this year.
by Phil Dixon
ZOO8 Port Lympne Wild Animal Park, Kent, July 4-6
Festivals 2008
Mark Ronson
The Cribs
D
a
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G
o
l
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t
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The Pros From Dover
Something feels a little skewed, there’s a weird
atmosphere I have never encountered at Truck
before – I have been queuing in a line of traffc
for over an hour, and am feeling a little daunted
by the burly added security (some with dogs)
– I contemplate that with it’s growing popularity
Truck has lost its freedom and innocence.
Fonda 500
Luckily all fears are short lived as Fonda
500 shatter any mis-placed doubts with their
chaotic disco-indie mish-mash. Front-man
Simon burbles, sings and beat-boxes into the
micro-phone over a mess of rock riffs and
juvenile electronics. Once again Fonda own
the stage with their complete disdain for the
mundane.
Little Fish
The sunny start is soon shadowed by Little
Fish’s staid, by-numbers alt-rock. Even in
the blistering sunshine the two-piece leave
me a little cold. The angst, aggression and
fery energy is contrived, pre-meditated and
ultimately embarrassing. Little Fish have ticked
all the boxes of the genre but forgot to put
anything of themselves into either their music
or performance making them a sick parody of
the band they wish to be.
Green as a Primary
Green as a Primary sooth with their uplifting
and engaging electronic sound-scapes. Laptop
driven beats and surges lollop over live post-
rock instrumentation as guitar, bass and piano
build relaxing swathes of ambient noise. The
performance is nothing to write home about but
the music speaks for itself. Green as a Primary
act as one of Truck 2008’s exciting new fnds.
Lovvers
Being a fan of grungy, grotty hardcore punk
outft Lovvers for some time I am drawn to
their mid-afternoon set in the Barn for some
antagonistic rock debauchery. They might not
be at their confrontational best but still put
on a show full of failing energy and carefree
vigour. Lovvers blast out heavy hardcore tunes
coupled with an intelligent understanding
of engaging melodic hooks. They bound on
stage, lay-waste to it and leave in perfect punk
rock style.
Rollo Tomassi
5..4..3..2..1…Rollo Tomassi are go! Waging
aural blitzkrieg on the Barn attendees the
Sheffeld techno-prog-jazz-metal brats sound
like the most violent teenage tantrum ever – if
you’re going to be an angry teen making angry
teen music it should sound like this. They look
like petite, polite indie-kids and make the kind of
music that will have Christian nut-jobs holding
candle-light vigils – all hardcore riffs, pounding
rhythms and screeched vocals offset by swirling
electronic blips and surges. Single ‘Beatrotter’
is an insane math-metal juggernaut that lays
waste to my ears.
Noah and the Whale
You have to wonder why indie-darlings Noah
and the Whale aren’t on the main stage. The
Market tent is flled to bursting. The modern-
day dandies do a fne-line in traditional folk-
laments revised in the modern jangly-indie
format. It’s a wonder exactly what the buzz
around this band is all about, folk isn’t exactly
new and neither is indie, so an amalgamation
of the two probably shouldn’t get people this
excited – or maybe I’m missing the point!!
The Lemonheads
The day has gone a little limp and
unfortunately the Lemonheads aren’t doing
much to remedy that. Them playing classic
album It’s A Shame About Ray is an exciting
proposition and the tunes sound great, but
nostalgia aside, if front-man Evan Dando can’t
be arsed to perform he should have stayed
at home. Dando plays with all the enthusiasm
and verve of a eunuch at an orgy, and it totally
ruins the moment. The band leave the stage on
fve separate occasions, and mutter ‘thanks’ a
few times as their only acknowledgement that
a crowd has gathered at all. The advertised
full performance of Ray is cut short as they
miss out the brilliant ‘Rockin’ Stroll’ and decide
in their wisdom to skip their only major hit
‘Mrs Robinson’. The great thing about being
at Truck is the bands seem to be as happy
to play it as fans are to attend it, it is a rare
event where everyone is happy to be alive…
this fact seems lost on slacker-dullard Dando –
miserable bastard!
Mephisto Grande
A gospel choir brings angelic harmonies to an
act fronted by a huge man who sounds like
Tom Waits, if Tom Waits had been gargling
gravel and started banging out the hard-
rocking sounds of hell. Like the Birthday Party
and Slayer covering Christian songs this
perplexing act brings some distinct darkness to
the light of the summer morning. Is it good, or
is it awful... I’m stumped but it certainly won’t
be forgotten.
Kyte
Nu-gazers Kyte unleash epic ‘cathedrals of
sound’ during an animated performance which
leaves no one in any doubt that this band
are extraordinary. Fitting in with the recent
revitalisation of the shoegaze genre Kyte bring
surging electronics to the classic template
of complex arrangements - melding earth-
shattering beauty with neuron-goading noise.
The breathy vocals and subtle percussion give
the whole performance an otherworldly feel.
Kyte are a living testament to how moving live
rock music can be.
Le Volume Corde
Intelligent French-pop outft Le Volume Corde
bring an air of Velvets’ bohemian cool to the
proceedings. They are a band of random
juxtapositions bringing a seemingly dark,
morbid air to classic indie-pop twee-ness to
form a truly ethereal pop-sound. Like Francoise
Hardy fronting My Bloody Valentine at an indie-
pop gathering.
The ambience is ruined by some knuckle-
headed and decidedly sexist heckles, but
the band being French don’t seem to fully
understand.
Pivot
A garage-rock band from a sci-f future
where the machines have taken over; Pivot
exist in their own musical dimension blasting
out blistering electronica, Autechre-esque
beats pinned to pounding live jazz-metal
drumming that is both experimentally
challenging and danceable. Despite the
obvious limitations of the sound-man in
handling the bands complexities this is the
most exciting thing all weekend.
The Nuns
The Nuns are one of those ‘only at Truck’
bands that make life worthwhile. A female
garage rock super-group (made up of
members of amongst others Curve, Thee
Headcoates and Echobelly) dressed as ‘sisters’
covering tunes by legendary and underrated
60s garage act Monks – nothing could be
better! As the chanting brilliance of ‘Monk
Time’ blasts from the tiny stage the Monks
are recreated in all their glory and it shows
just how ahead of their time they were. They
play the comedy-card brilliantly in between the
chugging, fuzzy nuggets of garage gold. This is
the best sermon ever.
Maps
Maps shoegaze orchestrations now sound
bigger than ever. A vast almost omnipresent
aural tapestry unfolds from the Barn stage
amidst smoke and fashing lights as weird
images fash behind the band. The sheer
intensity of it all leaves me shattered, it’s like
being hit by a musical power shower. In an
explosion of noise they are joined by Ulrich
Schnauss and a member of Chapterhouse
for an extra special and ftting Ride cover and
leave the stage with sound reverberating round
the cow shed.
Chapterhouse
Shoegaze legends Chapterhouse make a
short reformation appearance but are cut off by
the curfew which makes the whole thing feel
like a bit of a waste of time – special but not
really worth the ‘special guest’ hype. This is
not a ftting end to yet another wonderful Truck
festival – but you can’t have it all can you?
by Chris Marks
Truck Steventon, Oxfordshire, July 19-20
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Fonda 500
Beast meets man this weekend in the heart
of Suffolk for the three-year-standing Latitude
festival. Four-legged rainbows of wool
meander about their pens, checking their
sheepish refections in the lake and watching,
thanks to the weather, clean wellies trudge
past.
Through the art-clad woodland Lykke Li can
be heard on the Sunrise stage. A peek through
the trees reveals her dainty limbs sweeping
vivaciously through the air while her lungs take
a frm hold of the audience. Now cross the
water and you’ll fnd Robin Ince relaying his
set for the sixth or seventh time this weekend,
having taken up regular slots twice a day in
the literary tent. Then pass the poetry tree and
stumble into the dark of the music and flm tent
where Johnny Flynn is reading the Epic Tale
of Tom and Sue between his folk-laden ditties.
Latitude sets out to provide variety to cater for
the desires of the kids that are dragged here
by their music-loving parents, or the OAPs
who are looking for a festival they can still
relax at, and of course the regular festival-
goers who want a jam-packed weekend
they’re unlikely to remember come Monday
morning, and they’ve succeeded.
Closing the frst night of revue is Irvine Welsh
in the literary tent. His deep Scottish infections
bound from the pages of his new book ‘Crime’,
leaving everyone in suspense when he ends
on cliffhanging “scream”. Earlier in the day,
Ross Noble treated everyone to a singing
session when he managed to persuade
the entire comedy tent to yell the whole of
‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ before diving into the
crowd
and starting a hundreds-long conga line. He
steered it towards the Vegan and Vegetarian
hut where they all proceeded to shout
“Sausage roll” as Noble crowd-surfed his way
out.
Headlining the main stage, are Scot-popsters
Franz Ferdinand. But unlike the majority of
the other acts this weekend, they carry little
new material, and though it’s always fun to
have a sing-a-long to ‘Michael’ or ‘Take Me
Out’, their set is shadowed in last-minute-
fller. They only gain a full feld when Crystal
Castles fnish up their volatile performance in
the forest, with front-woman Alice Glass taking
a leaf out of Noble’s book and throwing herself
into the hands of the clammy throng.
Day two sees folk-disco sextet, Fanfarlo
stepping in for a poorly Ida Maria, showing
off a skill for playing any instrument you lay at
their feet. Sebastian Tellier meanwhile puts
on a sexy stage show in the Uncut arena,
parading around his voluptuous shaggy beard
with tracks off his latest record, Sexuality.
Following him are the Mars Volta with 20
minute long prog-improvs of shrill guitar solos
and heart attack-inducing drum beats. But
the real show is at the main stage with the
Icelandic wailers Sigur Ros, who go all out
with a marching brass band in white suits -
including bowler hats - and set off confetti
canons during ‘Gobbledigook’ hefty enough
to rival Muse’s live show. Their strange,
language-less music is so absorbing that
even the kids have stopped swinging their poi
around.
Another crowd-silencer is the petit squeaker,
Joanna Newsom. She has arrived early this
Sunday especially to ft two shows into her
day. And the midday start hasn’t deterred
the hungover revellers, because there is a
substantial swarm hovering while she tediously
tunes her harp. Her childlike mannerisms are
enough to make you blush with awe, but her
voice is the clincher. It hangs in the
atmosphere and you can
almost feel it drop every
time her fngers part the
strings. It’s even endearing
when she forgets her own
lyrics and you can’t help but
fall for her.
Foals just about make it in time to fall about
like puppets to their erratically paced math
rock after singer Yannis Philippakis spent the
night in a Spanish jail following a fght between
Kele Okereke and Johnny Rotten.
“I’m sorry we look like we don’t want to be
here, we’re just tired,” said Philippakis.
To lighten the mood a bit Frankie Boyle tells
some cringe-worthy paedophile jokes in the
comedy tent that make you feel terrible for
laughing, and Mark Thomas reads from his
upcoming book about the destruction Coca
Cola are causing.
But as dark begins to fall and the wormhole-
esque lights that hover above the lake become
visible, the direction of feet starts shuffing
towards the main stage to watch Interpol’s
shatteringly austere performance. Droplets
of rain begin to descend and front-man Paul
Banks complains of the cold, but dressed
in black suits and dark glasses, they don’t
even hint at discomfort. They intertwine
singles spanning all three albums, such as
‘Slow Hands’, ‘Obstacle 1’ and ‘The Heinrich
Maneuver’, with other gems. Banks’ Ian Curtis-
like drawl carries across the site, through
the forest, above the cars that are gradually
making their escape and lightly ruffes the fur
on the grazing fuff balls that will be back next
year with the rest of us.
by Danielle Goldstein
Latitude Henham Park, Suffolk, June 17-20
Pulling into Indietracks aboard a classic steam-
train you enter a very special place – a place
where C86 indie is bigger than Britpop, where
tweeness, politeness and polka-dots are the
norm. Indietracks is an oasis in the vast desert
of indenti-kit, mortgage indie for like minded
indie fans to shelter from the blazing heat of
mediocrity.
It’s time to sit back with a glass of elderfower
cordial and enjoy some REAL indie music.
Slow Down Tallahasse
The shambolic Spectoresque pop-ambitions
of Sheffeld’s Slow Down Tallahasse is a ftting
start to the weekend, but the nice-enough
pop tunes are marred by over-stretched vocal
harmonies that grate and don’t in anyway work.
The DIY-ethic is admirable but gives them a
false idea of their singing abilities which leaves
them wanting.
Shrag
Shrag have it going on!! Angsty riot grrl
attitude, lush indie arrangements and a defnite
love of The Fall that creates perfect artrock
played with boundless energy. Each and every
one of their post-punk pop ditties enthrals to
the last note. Shrag even impress in their more
quiet and considered moments, ‘Forty-fve 45s’
is beautiful and is an unparalleled and incisive
ode to indie-fandom .
The band suffer for their art as I see the
drummer carried out to the frst aid trailer
following the set after passing out through the
heat – now that’s dedication!
The Parallelograms
Tallulah Gosh mimickers The Parallelograms
are C86 indie through and through - all jangly
guitar, twee intellectualism and even the
obligatory stand-up drummer. It’s just that
they are obviously trying to copy the bands
they love with no effort to be themselves, they
become a parody of the ‘scene’ and just sound
like a tribute act rather than one in their own
right. They even cover Tallulah Gosh to justify
the thoughts going through my mind – they’re
not bad, just derivative (not in a good way) and
dull.
Darren Hayman
Darren Hayman is an indie institution.
Crammed in the walk-in-oven Church it is
obvious that to last the whole set is going
to be an endurance test, but it is worth the
uncomfort. Hayman is engaging, endearing and
his songs speak on levels that even the most
revered song-writers barely manage. His sense
of humour makes the whole affair an event
rather than a set, ‘And they told us playing in
the Church wasn’t a good idea, they said it
would be too small, too hot…well we showed
them’ he says sarcastically. He informs us of
the indie high-powers ‘xylophone amnesty’
where those turning in their instruments won’t
suffer for their ‘crimes against music’ and tells
us of his meeting with Wu Tang Clan, before
entering into a brilliant song about said hip hop
crew.
He is so inspiring that by the end of the
set, even in the deathly heat, the entire
congregation is out of their pews and dancing
and singing along in unity – it would be hard to
fnd a more special atmosphere anywhere on
earth at that exact moment.
Tonight the Church is the House of Hayman
and everyone is in worship.
The Wedding Present
Reputation and nostalgia aside, as usual the
band’s each and every song sounds incredibly
similar to the last. The excruciatingly bad sound
in the metal roofed main stage shed makes
the repetition hard to bear, with Dave Gedge’s
wonderfully insightful lyrics being lost in a
sludge of sound that makes what should be the
weekend’s highlight a bit of a waste.
Winston Echo
Echo is suffering from a hang-over and
the moving train isn’t helping matters, but
regardless he exudes a nervous charm. His
obvious modesty and awkwardness makes the
whole thing feel less like a performance but a
gathering of friends, who laugh and joke with
him as he sweats through a run of gorgeous
ditties. Audience participation includes making
monster noises during ‘Dracula’s Disco Party’
and a mass sing along during the amazing
‘Never Be The Same Again’.
Echo fnishes his set on the station platform,
ending an experience which Indietracks was
made for – small, intimate and comforting.
Kate Goes
Today Kate Goes to the Stone Age….the
Brummie wrong-pop collective amble out
from their caves, grunt and bang into some
of the most gloriously off-kilter music you are
ever likely to hear. Maybe it’s their re-shaping
of pop structures, their ability to fit between
styles or maybe their rather lovely eccentricity
that makes the whole sublimely ridiculous set
unmissable. A punky, reggae, screwy-jazz, pop
party with added animal noises, squeaky toys
and child-like rapping – it shouldn’t work but it
all comes together as a perfect performance.
In ‘Heartbeat’ they may have written the most
sentimentally beautiful, yet twisted love song
ever – the subtlety of the music and soaring
vocal harmonies send a shiver down each and
every spine in the room (or at least it should).
The Smittens
To The Smittens everything here is
‘AWESOME!’ The New Englanders are a
‘fuzzy-wuzzy DIY pop explosion’ who are the
total antithesis of the rock n roll ideal – an all
colour, friendly and polite bunch of friends
peddling poor harmonies and ramshackle
rhythms that despite their obvious limitations
are so delightfully infectious you can’t help but
smile, many people even dance despite the
heat. The band inform us of how much they
have loved the whole weekend, and their set
embodies how I have been feeling – pardoning
the pun, I am smitten by The Smittens.
The Retro Spankees
I’m disappointed by The Retro Spankees set
not because of the quality of the performance,
which as usual is infectious and interesting,
but because the sludgy main stage sound
(the band have been moved inside, like so
many other acts today, due to some technical
diffculties at the start of the day) leaves them
sounding a little normal. All the crazy nuiances
of the Spankees sound are lost in the mix,
making the band sound like little more than a
punk band, a really feckin’ great punk band but
they are so much more. The new material sees
them push their twisted pop adventures into
more ridiculous and exciting realms, and new
track about building a castle is a highlight. The
Spankees are one of the best live guitar bands
in the country but today they are let down by
the sound.
by James Thornhill
Indietracks Butterley, Derbyshire, July 26-27
Foals
Sigur Ros
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Bank Holiday weekends are often known
for being a bit of a let down weather wise,
thankfully this one day urban festival managed
not to suffer from this pitfall.
Ipso Facto
Recent Mute signings Ipso Facto appear to
confuse much of the crowd. They aren’t like
normal bands, they are a million miles away
from being what may be considered a standard
“landfll indie” act, so much so that they could
cause some people to start quaking in their
well heeled boots.
Their sound is haunting but songs such as
‘Ears and Eyes’ and ‘Smoke and Mirrors’ lack
instantly identifable choruses. Occasionally
they veer into sounding like Electrelane where
organ lines swirl around unconventional almost
theatrically touched drum patterns. Yet overall
it’s a performance which is ice cold, devoid of
emotion and almost robotic in execution.
Soulwax
Certain bands belong to the night, when the
sun is glowing outside them performing just
seems wrong, Soulwax are one of those bands
best suited for when the day is drawing to a
close. After a hefty delay they appear suited,
booted and being more than keen to tell us
that though it may be Sunday the weekend
never dies. It’s extremely diffcult to tell what
guise these Belgians are in today, elements of
the standard traditional Soulwax sound stands
proudly alongside equal sized electronic and
remix efforts; the ram packed tent is thrown
into a frenzy when they drop into playing Daft
Punk’s ‘Robot Rock’.
The Hives
The Hives deliver an energetic set full of
charismatic between song banter, archly poses
and of course stripped down raw rock ‘n’ roll.
Songs such as ‘Walk Idiot Walk’ and ‘Hate To
Say I Told You So’ don’t fail to bring a smile to
many a face.
The Maccabees
The Maccabees make a return visit to their
home turf as one of the most promising
bands on the planet. Today in front of an
eager audience they do not disappoint and
pile through a set of familiar songs such as
‘Latchmere’ and ‘About Your Dress’ as well as
recently penned songs which indicate a more
sonically adventurous second album is on it’s
way.
Supergrass
Supergrass are keen to show that though their
youthful exuberance has been stripped away
they still have an ear for a good pop song.
While others bands of their era have slipped
by the wayside, Supergrass have managed
to keep on track by releasing a fne stream
of albums that never dipped below the line
marked acceptable. So it’s not really that
surprising that today they dip into the majority
of them with songs such as ‘Sun Hit’s the Sky’,
‘Movin’ and ‘Richard the IIIrd’ receiving the
warmest of receptions.
Iggy Pop & The Stooges
This leaves Iggy Pop & The Stooges to close
the days festivities and of course they do
this in style. Charges of them being parodies
of their former selves have in the past been
levered against them but tonight they put on
an explosive show that silences any doubters.
Songs such as ‘1969’ and ‘Real Cool Time’
are the kind of songs most bands dream of
writing and when the frst few notes of each
are aired tonight the audience are thrown into
a mad scrambling sea of bodies. Distorted
guitar riffs, thundering rhythms and blasts of
sax collide fercely while Iggy marauds his way
around stage. ‘No Fun’ sees the ante upped
further with Pop encouraging people to join
him onstage, the audience responding and
security not sure how best to react, as bodies
climb over the barrier half are being grabbed
by the neck and escorted away the other half
scrambling through successfully before matters
are soon returned to normal. Security may not
have been happy but The Stooges left making
sure everybody else sure was.

by Nathan Westley






Get Loaded Clapham Common, August 24
Is it just my imagination or does every
medium sized town and city have a
music festival this summer? Not that I’m
complaining, three days of great music on
my door step, who would? This being my
third summer sundae experience I have a
good idea what to expect and, as always, the
weekender doesn’t disappoint.
Dead Slow
Dead Slow make music reminiscent of some
of Britain’s best rock acts. This isn’t to say
they aren’t original, far from it. With nods to
Radiohead this is an extremely tight band that
have already amassed a collection of radio-
friendly tunes. Dead Slow play an excellent
set, by this time next year they will probably
be on the main stage.
Youth Movies
Youthmovies are an eccentric genre-jumping
joy to behold. Hard to pigeonhole, they play
what can only be described as a clash of
progressive experimental jazz-esque bravely
ambitious pop with some great post hardcore
moments. Their set leaves an impossibly high
benchmark for the rest of the weekend.
Fight Like Apes
Fight Like Apes give 110% throughout. From
the start singer MayKay makes the stage
her own. With the energy of the Yeah Yeah
Yeahs and the punch of an eighteen wheeler
full of keyboards this is a band impossible
to ignore. A cover of McClusky’s ‘Lightsabre
Cocksucking Blues’ is a highlight that
certainly leaves an impact.
Noah And The Whale
The indie-folksters draw a predictably large
crowd. With almost constant airplay of their
new single ‘Five Year’s Time’ the band seem
undaunted and play a great set with their
trademark folkish sounds.
Howling Bells
The Australian four piece make their Summer
Sundae return and prove my fond memories
correct. Providing intoxicating cinematic
backdrops for the PJ Harvey-esque vocals of
their painfully attractive singer Juanita Stein
the band fy through a blinding 45-minute set.
This is atmospheric rock at it’s best. Old-fav
‘Setting Sun’ is defnately the highlight but it’s
not an easy choice with their new material
sounding epically brilliant amongst other
older gems like ‘Low happening’ and ‘Broken
Bone’.
Supergrass
Opening with the recent blues-swagger of
‘Diamond Hoo Ha Man’ Supergrass seem to
have lost none of their immediacy and energy.
With constant sing-along classics like ‘Alright’
and ‘Late in the day’ they prove to be a great
headline choice and own the main stage.
Maybeshewill
Bringing an all together heavier edge,
instrumental act Maybeshewill prove lyrics
aren’t always needed when the music’s this
good. With epic sound-scapes full of drama,
highs and lows the presence of a singer
would be extremely hard to successfully
integrate (and probably unnecessary).
The Screening
Chants of “Screeeeeeening” prove their
hometown fan base are out in full force,
combine this with mid afternoon rain and
you suddenly have a huge group of people
waiting to see one of Leicester’s most hyped
bands. With a mixture of new material and
older anthemic tracks like ‘Diem’ and recent
single ‘God Save The Queen’ (nothing to do
with the punk classic) the band are clearly
at home on large stages and mainstream
success is surely only around the corner. If
you like your indie fast, punchy and anthemic
these Leicester lads’ might just be what you
have been waiting for!
Danny and the Champions of the World
Featuring members of many great bands
including Mercury Rev and the Magic
Numbers, Danny And The Champions of
the World must be the largest band of the
whole weekend. Bringing all their musical
backgrounds into one cohesive effort can’t
have been an easy operation but it’s clearly
paid off. With more than a slight nod to late
sixties and early seventies psychedelic
Californian rock they pull off a memorable
set. They even have a giant deer/moose-like
creature onstage with them waving to the
crowd throughout.
Foy Vance
Laptop-pop troubadour Foy Vance is possibly
the surprise of the weekend. Singing into a
microphone only a few feet from the foor and
playing an acoustic guitar with a child drawing
taped on, this set is a special happening.
Henry Rollins
Henry Rollins’ spoken word set is an
amazingly involving experience. Early on
the crowd are treated to a vivid description
of how the US government tries to stop
people visiting certain parts of the world,
and how America is viewed in these places.
As his performance progresses it would be
easy to assume this is all a pre-conceived
stand-up routine but time and time again
the aggression and distain in his voice and
mannerisms suggest this is all heart felt,
off-the-cuff and honest. If you get a chance
to see him live, it’s well worth the time. You
might just come out feeling more alert and
interested in the world around you, which can
only be a good thing.
Roisin Murphy
Never one to under dress for a performance
Murphy has a costume change for every
single song. Mixing some great dance, RnB
and electronic infuences she blasts through a
highly energetic and polished pop set.
Natty
A former recording engineer, Natty plays
the kind of summery and easy going reggae
infused pop music perfect for a summer
festival. Bending Jamaican infuences
effortlessly to suit his own style of lyrical
delivery it’s clear this is going to be an
exciting year for Natty.
The Whitest Boy Alive
The European group rip through a
staggeringly engaging hour of off kilter dance
music. Their unique 100% live dance music
has the large crowd in the palm of their hands
for an hour.
by Ollie Millington
Summer Sundae Leicester, August 8-10
Soulwax
Howling Bells
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Goldie Lookin Chain
Suitably dressed in their trademark track suits
and fake gold GLC give the crowd a predictably
light-hearted performance including some of
their best known material such as ‘Your Missus
is a Nutter’. Having seemed fash in the pan it’s
now becoming evident that there might just be
some longevity in their comedy rap routines.
Love them or hate them it’s hard to deny they
know how to make crowds smile. Penis jokes
and comedy slurs aside, they manage to pull
off being an 11-piece rap group performing to
backing tracks quite well.
Amy Winehouse
Despite everything that’s happened to her
recently I am still hoping Winehouse will pull a
grand performance out of the bag.
She does not.
Arriving on stage half an hour later than her
band she really doesn’t seem interested in
anything let alone performing. After listening to
a few songs it becomes clear this is not going
to be a performance to remember. Well, not
for the right reasons! She may have made her
mark singing about not needing to visit re-hab
clinics but now it seems like a visit might be
the best idea. It’s going to take a lot to repair
failures like this. Maybe it’s time someone told
her “No No No”.
Reverend and the Makers
Sheffeld electro-indie stars Reverend and
The Makers don’t disappoint. Having all the
cultural and current issue awareness politicians
seem to lack, the band’s leader Jon McClure is
defnitely not one to hold his tongue. Between
recent singles he informs the crowd of his
disdain for modern celebrity asking people to
seek answers to important issues instead of
autographs. Their performances are regularly
peppered with little between-song spoken word
diatribes and V is no different with a particularly
angry and seemingly heart-felt dig at the
entrenchment of tabloid racism.
Hot Chip
Bringing their infectious electro dance Hot
Chip provide a much needed refuge from the
onset of the rain. Having rightfully earned their
adoration from UK festival crowds they bring
a more danceable edge to the frst day. Today
the band seem more energetic than usual.
Expectantly ‘Ready for the Floor’ ‘The Boy from
School’ and monster single ‘Over and Over’ go
down a storm.
Kings of Leon
Once again the Followill boys give a truly
remarkable festival show. It’s hard to believe
it was fve years ago they exploded onto the
world with their debut EP.
As the set continues the wet masses are
treated to plenty of the singles that have led to
such adoration. From the incendiary squeal of
‘Charmer’, the anthemic chorus of ‘On Call’ and
their newest classic-in the-making ‘Sex On Fire’
Kings of Leon give one of the best sets of the
weekend.
Verve
Taking to the stage with his famous swagger
Richard Ashcroft doesn’t seem deterred by
predictions of a no show, or by the Kaiser
Chiefs ability to take the biggest crowd. It has
to be said, they are a great band but hardly
the most uplifting to watch in the middle of a
torrential downpour.
Kaiser Chiefs
Stealing The Verve’s thunder the Kaiser’s seem
at ease playing in strong winds and heavy rain.
With every song receiving euphoric reactions
Ricky Wilson’s claims that “We can drown out
anyone” don’t seem far off. A brilliant end to
the very wet and (almost completely) great
frst day. Only a twenty minute wait with about
10,000 others queuing for campsite access in
such heavy rain on a river like path could put a
damper on the euphoric feeling.
The Futureheads
Drawing a large crowd relatively early in the
day the Sunderland four piece kick things off in
fne form,.They play an ostensibly greatest hits
set including a certain well known cover and
recent single ‘Radio Heart’. Despite opening to
a crowd that had been made to wait for hours
for the gates to open The Futureheads set
goes down well and proves a great opener.
Alanis Morissette
Set opener ‘Uninvited’ begins without
Morissette onstage, singing half from the wings
then entering to huge cheers and promptly
beginning head banging her way through the
second half, and the majority of the nine track
set. Having made her entrance the Canadian
provides more than enough evidence to explain
her status as the biggest selling female rock
artist. With her powerful vocals truly putting the
previous day’s big female star Amy Winehouse
well and truly to shame her set is a testament
to strength of her seven album back catalogue.
Stereophonics
The set opens with ‘The Bartender And The
Thief’ and consists of predominantly older
material including personal favourite ‘More Life
in a Tramps Vest’. The band’s 70-minute set
is nothing short of brilliant. The lack of more
recent material doesn’t seem to bother anyone
as the crowd sings along to nearly every word.
Maximo Park
Erupting onstage with their usual energy
Maximo Park start out with “Girls Who Play
Guitars”. New track ‘The Kids Are Sick’ features
the band’s trademark keyboard parts and hints
at a more laid back slower direction. Front-
man Paul Smith gives a blinding performance.
The band seem to be going from strength to
strength and this performance will certainly
have gained them some new fans. On days
like this it’s clear they are fast becoming one of
the most interesting and exciting bands in the
country.
Newton Faulkner
Winning the award for the most chatty
performer of the weekend Faulkner speaks
between every song, sometimes just a
little introduction and in other cases like
his ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ cover giving an
explanation of the songs origin. With his
incredible acoustic guitar skills on show it’s
clear that he has an unstoppable ability to
make any song his own.
Lost Prophets
Performing a high profle festival with a
member missing can’t be fun for any band but
Lost Prophets don’t let it deter them. Showing
a striking resemblance to comedian Russell
Brand, lead singer Ian Watkins struggles
to keep his shirt on his back as the buttons
seemingly undo themselves throughout the set.
Both this and the ill band mate are discussed
at length. I confess, I was a previously a bit
sceptical despite enjoying some of their older
singles but their performance certainly changes
my opinion.
Roots Manuva
For some unknown reason Roots Manuva is
given the shortest stage time of the weekend.
Proving no problem the majority of the
Londoners set, backed by two DJ’s (one with
a sax) and another MC, is made up of new
material leaving crowd favourite ‘Witness’ till
last. Despite what many say UK hip hop is long
from dead and its undisputed lord proves this
fact categorically.
Muse
Despite being unable to bring a purpose built
UFO because of health and safety issues Muse
manage to bring some huge satellite dishes
complete with laser lights that reach out across
the crowd. Not breaking with their traditions
they also bring the most impressive stage show
of the weekend with far reaching lasers and
a multitude of food lights and famethrowers.
The set consists of 15 epic feld-fllers including
‘Dead star’ ‘Newborn’, ‘Feeling Good’ and
the ever so slightly over the top monster tune
‘Knights of Cydonia’. It’s true at times their
songs border on being a bit O.T.T but when
they bring this much energy and extravagance
to a cold wet park in Staffordshire no one can
really complain.
Prodigy
Whilst Muse bring prog-rock and lasers, the
Prodigy bring the dance across the other side
of the site. Their 90-minute set is a break-
neck speed, adrenaline-flled trip back to the
excesses of nineties rave. Belting out classics
such as the classic ‘Out of Space’ alongside
newer material such as ‘Spitfre’ they prove
they are still just as relevant and enthralling as
they were in the early days. Prodigy obviously
stand up well against the biggest UK rock band
out there. A great end to a very wet and very
entertaining weekend.
by Olllie Millington
Die! Die! Die!
A dose of punk energy comes from Die! Die!
Die! Spending more time breaking through the
barriers into the crowd than on the stage their
singer certainly leaves his mark. Spanning
the divide between bands like Black Flag and
Sonic Youth the band give a raw and engaging
performance that is much talked about over the
rest of the weekend.
The Strange Death Of Liberal England
From the outset it’s clear this isn’t a band you
can pigeonhole – orchestral and atmospheric
with all the best elements of Arcade Fire
and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah the band
defy any and all musical logic. They have an
enormous sound in places and then they turn
it upside down and add some folk-esque sea
shanty brilliance with new single ‘A Good Old
Fashioned War’. Given some time and a few
open minds they could just become a national
treasure. If you ask in certain circles, they
already are!
Young Knives
Young Knives have carved a place for their
tweed-clad pop-punk offerings and have long
surpassed the ‘ones to watch’ accolade. Having
lost none of their trademark humour with their
increased success the band treat the crowd to
between song banter almost as entertaining
as their music. They are on fne form with a
mixture of older material and newer nuggets of
genius such as ‘Turn Tail and Run’.
Wire
With most of the bands onstage during the
weekend owing a fair chunk of their sound
to post-punk legends Wire their set is highly
anticipated. It is clear how much the band
have been imitated in recent years. A trip
down nostalgia lane this is certainly not! The
18-track set opens with ‘Our Time’ and as
they progress they prove that while there are
many imitators and adaptors emerging there is
still only one Wire. They may not be the most
visually stunning band of the weekend, but
Wire don’t need to be. Performing a chunk of
newer material from their last album Object
47 alongside the classics; the request shouts
came thick and fast from the front few rows
throughout. While most bands with such a long
history are content to just spew out greatest
hits sets Wire certainly don’t and it’s hard to
imagine they ever will.
Chromehoof
The 10 piece were always bound to have a
big sound but it is surprising just how colossal
it all is. With a musical armory including
violins, a cello and an array of others they
are a math-inspired, death metal band, with
some orchestral additions and a soul singer.
Progressive? They most defnitely are, in the
best possible way.
Gloria Cycles
Brighton’s Gloria Cycles plays half an hour
of great indie-pop. With a little vocal-duty
swapping and some really catchy choruses the
band could easily be going places by early next
year. Festivals should be about discovering
something new that you like amongst the
more well known artists and in Gloria Cycles I
certainly do.
So So Modern
Bringing a nice slice of electro-inspired funk
laden dance music So So Modern supply a
great marriage of synthesizers, two guitars and
an excellent drummer. It’s surely not going to
be long before every indie club in the country
is pumping So So Modern out across the
dance foors. While every one of their songs
is easily distinguishable from the next their set
fows brilliantly and almost feels like one half
hour long track. Defnitely one to watch, So
So Modern prove that they’re not just another
electro band, but one who bring the party and
manage to perform consistently.
Hot Club De Paris
Going against the trends at the moment Hot
Club De Paris make beautiful afro-beat infused
punky angular music. Constantly described as
outsiders and at times inexplicably un-popular,
the band seem to have no problems pulling a
big crowd.
Neils Children with SKIPtheatre
Having come a long way since the days of ‘I
Hate Models’ the band have developed a much
more confdent and more ambitious sound
that’s more indie post-punk than their origins
would suggest. It’s not a change for the worse
by any means. Joined on stage by dance
performance group SKIPtheatre, who had been
keeping crowds amused outdoors previously
with their engaging skipping rope routines, the
band’s performance is a defnite one off.
Blood Red Shoes
Often weakly compared to The White Stripes
this two piece are a pleasure to watch. So
the group consists of a girl and a guy… the
comparison is tenuous at best and ends
there. Be it the confdent enigmatic vocals and
guitar of Laura-Mary Carter or Steven Ansells’
incredibly passionate drumming and vocals
(the two trade lead vocal roles constantly) it’s
clear they have the real x-factor. The highlight
is probably ‘You Bring Me Down’. With the
energy of the Subways and the power of a
juggernaut hurtling downhill with no brakes,
BRS make it clear they aren’t one to be
confned to fashion fads.
The Maccabees
Clearly one of the most loved bands of the
weekend the crowd seems ecstatic throughout
with make-shift signs appearing declaring their
creator’s undying love for the band. It’s easy
to see how they are so loved, their beautifully
crafted songs offer a welcome honesty. As
the fantastically delicate ‘Toothpaste Kisses”
comes to an end it’s clear they were a great
choice for Offset and more than capable of
providing one of the best performances of the
weekend.
Gang of Four
Looking through any music magazine in the
last couple of years it would be hard to fnd
one that hasn’t constantly referenced Gang
of Four when describing new music. Tonight’s
performance is not one of my highlights.
It is a good, professional and well crafted
performance but maybe it’s just the sheer
amount of infuence they have on modern
music or some unrealistic expectation I had
sub-consciously formed. I’m not saying I
don’t like it, there are some borderline great
moments but in general it all seems a little fat
and a little routine. Do I like Gang Of Four?
Yes, on record I love them, but live they don’t
really hold up.
Prinzhorn Dance School
With their sparse stripped-back style and their
trademark momentary silences in songs such
as ‘Space Invader’ this is not a band that waste
instruments, playing a newly constructed drum
kit together the two piece are a real sight to
see, facing each other and swapping guitar
roles with the greatest of ease they simply
make great music and don’t mess around with
adding un-needed elements. Featuring three
new songs, the frst untitled, the second being
“Too Much Time On Your Hands” and the third
again untitled the band are the perfect end to
a weekend of interesting, diverse and in some
parts surreal examples of today’s music.
by Ollie Millington
V Weston Park, Staffardshire, August 16-17
Offset Hainault Forest Country Park, August 30-31
Wire
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The Leeds Festival 2008 line-up has a
distinctly American feel with US big-guns
Metallica, Tenacious D and The Killers all
appearing, it provides extensive quality.
Driving up the M1 it’s a daunting task
sifting through the band list to decide some
sort of itinerary.
Pendulum
Due to a late arrival drum and bass giants
Pendulum are the first band that I manage
to catch and they do not disappoint. You
pretty much know what you’re going to get
with Pendulum, adrenalin-filled drum and
bass, and this performance is no different.
‘Slam’ and ‘Tarantula’ are the two stand out
tracks, as the weekend gets off to a great
start.
The Last Shadow Puppets
With an hours break, the NME Stage is
again the setting for a storming set, this
time from Arctic Monkeys’ front-man Alex
Turner’s side-project, The Last Shadow
Puppets. Having the extra dimension of
the backing of a full orchestra the band’s
cinematic pop sound is greatly enhanced.
If Turner decides to call time on the Artics
and concentrate his many creative talents
on this lot, I don’t think anyone would
complain.
Metallica
Not being a Metallica fan does hinder my
enjoyment of their performance slightly.
I may not be the best person to pass
judgement on the metal giants but I leave
the arena feeling a little disappointed. It
may be a simple case of over hype, or
maybe Metallica really aren’t all that good.

Babyshambles
The highlight of Saturday is undoubtedly
Peter Doherty’s Babyshambles. No shows,
drug-addled performances and riots are
clearly behind the band as they perform a
crowd-pleasing hour long set to a packed
tent. Appearing at the same time as festival
favourites Rage Against The Machine may
have daunted many other bands, but if it
is affecting Doherty and his mob then they
are hiding it well. The 13 track set sees
the band at their punk-laced best. The
sing-along anthem ‘Albion’ is poignantly
dedicated to the memory of 16-year-old
fan Daniel Squires, who tragically lost his
long battle with bone marrow cancer. The
‘shambles set which includes exclusively
post-Libertines material is a massive high
to end the second day.
Be Your Own Pet
Playing their last ever show on British soil
trashy teen gutter-punks Be Your Own
Pet are coming apart at the seams live
on stage. They are under-rehearsed and
thoroughly shambolic, and are in death
what made them so bloody exciting in life
– being a true punk rock fuck you. This
may not be their best performance to date
but it is one of pure energy and is a fitting
testament to their in-your-face youthful
abandon.
MGMT
Leeds is currently having its mind-
expanded by the neo psyche-pop sound
of MGMT. From colossal Pink Floyd-esque
wig-outs to rousing glam-pop stompers
the band drag the sounds of the outer-
reaches back into the acceptable realms
of pop – which may be why they have such
a large crowd onboard for sounds which
are usually inaccessible to most. The
good vibes erupt in a joyous outpouring of
appreciation during the new Flaming Lips
pop majesty of ‘Time to Pretend’. The band
even prove that overblown theatrical guitar-
solos can sometimes be fun, if you don’t
take yourself to seriously.
Vampire Weekend
The New Yorker’s particular brand of afro-
beat inspired, academic-indie has set
2008 alight as one of the best new pop
sounds around. With this fact expectations
in the packed tent are high. Oozing pure
happiness the music covers the assembled
crowd in a blanket of euphoria. ‘A Punk’
is still one of the tracks of this year and
causes a spine-tingling sing-along. In
this case do believe the hype, Vampire
Weekend are a class act.
British Sea Power
The Brighton groups appearance on the
main stage early in the day leaves what is
usually an exceptionally brilliant live band
seeming a little non-descript. Marred by
the usual main stage sound issues, the
ethereal beauty of their indie-epics drift off
on the breeze and at times it sounds like
there isn’t a band playing at all.
Seasick Steve
Seasick Steve is a revelation, his pure
primal blues is one of the most powerful
sounds known to man. Stripped of
pretence, fashion, fads and other such
hindrances this is rock at its heartfelt best
and it’s all the better for it. Now armed with
a drummer (and not just a wooden crate
for percussion) his sound is beefed up to
the max and puts other ‘rock’ bands in the
shade. Seasick can do no wrong, and ‘Cut
My Wings’ is a undoubted blues classic.
Dirty Pretty Things
Having loved Babyshambles the night
before it seems only fair to watch Doherty’s
ex-band mate, Carl Barat and his band
Dirty Pretty Things. Despite the poor-
quality of their second album they have
enough quality tuneage to carry off a
blinding set, with ‘Bang Bang Your Dead’
and ‘Tired of England’ being particular
favourites. A surprise and suitably heavy
cover of Nirvana’s ‘In Bloom’ is a welcome
addition to the set.
The Raconteurs
The energetic blues-rock of The
Raconteurs is a huge highlight. Seeing
them perform the untouchable ‘Broken
Boy Soldiers’ live is a musical must. The
hour long set is flawless from start to
finish providing perfect rabble-rousing
rock n roll taking in tunes from the
band’s two exemplary albums.
Bloc Party
Promoted up a time-slot due to
the quality of last year’s set, Bloc
Party prove they are going from
strength to strength. Despite
a heavy focus on tracks from
Weekend in the City and new
album Intimacy it is the band’s
indie classic oldies ‘Banquet’
and ‘ Helicopter’ that go
down the best. The set shows the band’s
progression and how their new dance-
infused direction translates brilliantly to the
live arena.
The after-dusk slot allows the band to
blind with an elaborate light-show, which
keeps the crowd’s attention despite the
usual mainstage sound woes – with Kele
Okereke’s vocals taking precedence over
the often inaudible drums.

Manic Street Preachers
Taking the decision to miss headliners The
Killers we head to the NME stage for
Welsh indie gods the Manic Street
Preachers.
James Dean Bradfield and the
boys prove the right decision.
Including hits from their
extensive back catalogue the
band bookend what is a great
weekend, with a fittingly
strong set.

by James Randall



Leeds Bramham Park, Leeds, August 22-24
Babyshambles
Dirty Pretty Things
Seasick Steve

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