The Bank Holiday weekend seemed very long and yet went quickly with a fantastic trip to Paris on the Eurostar and onto Rock en Seine in Boulogne by Metro. A much more civilised way to travel to a music festival than queuing for hours in endless Somerset country lanes full of tractors and hippies.
Once in Boulogne (the one on the outskirts of Paris not the seaside resort) we were able to take a 15 minute walk to the festival which oddly but very conveniently was in the centre of town.
The festival was a friendly one, with most of the people working at the festival being able to speak English (which helped with my lack of French) and the festival-goers were of mixed age, plenty of families and absolutely drop-dead gorgeous French girls; all were very friendly and pleased that such a great line-up of bands, including some of their favourite artists, were playing in a suburb of Paris.
For me the music started with a great performance by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs on Friday afternoon and ended with a fantastic show from rave culture veterans, The Prodigy on Sunday night. Both groups are renowned for their live performances and both played out of their skins.
In between there were crates of champagne, good quality doner kebabs and great performances from the likes of Passion Pit, Metric, MGMT, Vampire Weekend, Klaxons, Kitty, Daisy & Lewis and Madness. After playing to a large and very appreciative audience I would like everyone to know how good it was for Madness to go and play a second set in one day as they took the audience One Step Beyond by stepping in at short notice to dispel an angry crowd shocked by the selfless, arrogant and pathetic attitude of the Gallagher brothers.
There was also a polished & professional set from recently reformed Faith No More that started with an acapello set opening version of the classic Ashford & Simpson ballad Reunited & included the Eastenders theme tune which they also referenced – totally bizarre!
Over the course of three days the shows played out on three stages with performance times allowing the audience to get from one stage to another to catch almost every show.
Bloc Party put in a great show, as always on the second stage on Friday night and after several jibes from lead singer/guitarist Kelechukwu “Kele” Rowland Okereke at the “inbred twins” (Oasis) he was only too delighted to tell the audience that news had filtered through from his tour manager that the northern monkeys had just cancelled minutes before they were due to headline the main stage and officially split-up. I wished they had imploded on stage rather than the dressing room and everyone was witness to how rubbish Noel & Liam Gallagher really are at fighting – and yes I would gladly take Liam on for charity, as long as it was televised.
I also wish I had told the angry mob where the two Oasis tour buses were. Call me an old fashioned anarchist. But there is nothing more beautiful than direct action. I would have loved it (Kevin Keegan style) if the crowd had given Liam Gallagher an ultimatum – do or die.
There was No Waysis but the Rock en Seine show went on; and apart from digs and jokes like “we were thinking of splitting up today” (The Offspring) Friday evening was capped by a fantastic live set from techno wizard Vitalic.
Unfortunately I missed The Horrors, Birdy Nam Nam and Just Jack. But only wish I had not bothered with b who were hugely disappointing. Before the performance I was asking everyone if they could suggest a better rhythm section than Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters) and John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin). After the performance I realised a super group also needs super songs and Les Petit Pois were a waste of time. Next time can the super group be The Dead Weather?
The festival highlights for me were Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Prodigy (though I wish they had started with Wonderwall), meeting lots of beautiful people and a sterling performance from Calvin Harris which delighted the audience so much than one stripped down to his pants just minutes after I jokingly suggested to friend and writer of My Chemical Toilet, that he would.
One day all music festivals and trips to France will be this good. Until then, there is always Rock en Seine.