Kids, Kele, Mumford & Sons and the festival to end all festivals
It's always best to write a review when the event is fresh in your mind. Sadly it's difficult to write when your mind isn't so fresh!
This year was my 10th year working, hosting and DJing at the Reading Festival. A strange twist of fate and some patronage from Steve Lamacq back in the Evening Session days gave Huw Stephens and me the opportunity to host the Radio 1 stage, and we've been there ever since.
The Reading Festival organisers and team of stage crew become more and more like family with each passing year. The bands come and go, but the festival is one monster that keeps on growling, and 2010 was a fine beast of madness.
I work on the Radio 1/NME stage, which is the second stage of the festival and holds up to 20,000 people when the surrounding areas are also full. It's an intense experience compared to the main stage. It's all about the bands that have worked and grafted and suddenly see the culmination of their work: it's hot, sweaty, packed, a crowdsurfing, shoulder-jumping, mosh pit heaven.
It's always good to kick off with some lovely people, and a band that has a bit of a buzz. Frankie & the Heartstrings were the perfect call; all flair and poise, grace and melody. They were swiftly followed by young, fresh faced Surfer Blood, whose anthem Swim has such a classic feel about it. Friday was shaping up to be a great day with a constant buzz about how nuts Mumford and Sons would be later that night.
I was also recording plenty of interviews for the radio throughout the weekend, and caught up with Mike from Lostprophets, Marina & The Diamonds and Peredur Ap Gwynedd from Pendulum. Listen to the show this Wednesday and Saturday on BBC Radio Wales from 6.30pm for some of those chats.
Back to Friday at the R1 stage, and from mid afternoon the excitement was mounting. Two Door Cinema Club threw the tent into sheer chaos with their electro pop; Yeasayer brought fun, tunes, and their otherworldy vibes; Delphic provided another notch of anthemic hits; then all hell broke loose as Mumford & Sons' shindig caused riots all the way through the tent. It was the moment when Reading forgot to 'rock' but threw a proper hoedown, and will probably never recover from the shock.
Having the unenviable task of following the hype and radio hits of Mumford & Sons, Phoenix were outstanding and really shone. Their canon of hits over the past few years came together perfectly for a superb set. Headliners LCD Soundsystem played a storming show, and I'm a superfan so they can do no wrong.
A perfect end to an amazing day.
Saturday was all about Kids In Glass Houses on the Radio 1 stage. They're one of the best bands to come from Wales in recent years, and each time I see them perform they just get better and better. Aled is a mesmerising frontman, and they all have golden personalities - a brilliant festival band in every way.
Then the line up got a little weird with Frank Turner, who is such a huge star, Serj Tankian, the lead singer from System Of A Down, the ever-baffling screams of Crystal Castles, and the super-pumped Enter Shikari. Finally there was the juggernaut of live drum and bass, with extra speakers and pyrotechnics, from Pendulum!
Sunday is always a weary start, especially after DJing the Silent Disco till 3am! Thankfully, the opening band have the sweetest most incredible songs, melodies, harmonies - and did I mention SONGS? Then it's a whirlwind of bands from The Joy Formidable, Local Natives, Los Campesinos!, Wild Beasts, The Drums, and then the biggest shock of the day...
Kele, formerly of Bloc Party, was a man possessed, possessed with some sort of happy drug. He came on in the maddest outfit, danced wildly, raved it up completely, was funny and entertaining, climbed all over the stage and stacks, and threw the crowd into a wild frenzy.
The last evening then came and went with Band Of Horses, Foals, We Are Scientists, and Klaxons bringing this huge beast of a festival to a close. We partied till dawn, and struggled home on the bank holiday with another official end to the summer hols and summer festivals. Muddy fields I bid you officially goodbye for now.