End Of The Road Festival — Day 2, Saturday 16/​​09/​​06

With Friday seen by many as simply the introduction, the weekend kicks off proper on Saturday morning. The games of ‘Viking Kubb’ (a game popular in Sweden, apparently) and football have kicked off, Diablo’s and juggling sticks are hurtling through the air in the circus area, and The Memory Band are beginning in the tent. Soothing the ears with melodies of love and life, the band’s quintessential folk isn’t going to change your life. However, music that attempts to is often crap anyway, so this is no bad thing. New single ‘Why’ shows off the newly recruited violinists obvious talents, whilst the cover of Yo La Tengo’s cover of Sandy Denny’s ‘By The Time It Gets Dark’ closes the performance perfectly.

There’s a Swedish influence on the whole festival, so off we wander to catch the first musical example of it, El Perro Del Mar. Strangely translated into ‘the dog from the sea’, the performance is a beautiful demonstration of what the Pipettes may sound like when asleep. The songs are drenched in Motown and Spector, with tunes such as ‘This Loneliness’ showing that a bed of sound can be far more effective than the big and boisterous wall of sound commonplace in similarly inspired artists. The undeniable highlight is the finishing song ‘God Knows (You Gotta Give to Get)’, an instantly classic melody whispered through the backing bands perfect accompaniment of short sharp vocal injections and flowing sea of orchestration, which leaves Gigwise desperate for more.

Next up are My Latest Novel, who plough through their debut album ‘Wolves’ and show that the Scots can also keep up this high standard of music. The sharp edges of the album are removed without losing its potency, resulting in a more fitting sound for a sunny afternoon in a garden. It’s yet another faultless performance, but perhaps more varied than others from the weekend. ‘The Hope Edition’ creeps along delightfully, while ‘When We Were Wolves’ hunts you down with its paranoid undercurrent. Suddenly the peacocks are staring at us with a little more intent than before, and we start to fear their inevitable attack. Thankfully they didn’t, but only because My Latest Novel secretly told them not to.

Feeling a bit annoyed to have missed The Boy Least Likely To, Gigwise attempt to make up for it with a rewarding but exhausting game of football with the bands mascots. As surreal as watching 8 foot creatures battle it out against each other is, we had to pull ourselves away to catch Superthriller over on the main stage. Hand picked by Beck to support him on his latest UK tour, from tonight’s performance it’s not hard to see why the insane group were such a hit. With boundless energy and fantastic tunes, Gigwise almost feels rude as we sit nursing our sore legs. It’s not long, however, before we’re dancing at the front with the best of them to family hits such as ‘Superthriller Motherfucker’, or shouting along to lines regarding Heather Mills’ missing leg. Offensive to some, pure entertainment to others.

There’s a blast from the past in the Big Top Tent, with the front man of 90’s indie darlings Hefner, Darren Hayman. Despite not being familiar with his solo work, the set still sounds familiar and jubilant, demonstrating the advantages of having a knack for a great melody. ‘Pull Yourself Together’ is unleashed early on, but any energy this generates sadly doesn’t last long as the set begins to mould into one. Despite having the ability to immediately lift the spirits; Darren’s songs unfortunately don’t send said spirits hurtling into the atmosphere as some forgotten unplayed Hefner classics do.

British Sea Power are becoming an elder statesman in the indie landscape of the noughties. Constant touring, unique shows and two great albums have made sure of that, but it’s also down to the effort they put into any live performances. Granted, there is a gap left by former keyboardist Eamon Hamilton, who has left to concentrate full time on his band The Brakes, who graced this very stage just moments before. This gap often feels as if it has left the other members with more space to fill, as solos and noises seem even more uncontrollable and erratic than before, if that were possible. The leafy green stage design is present and correct, as are the welcome stage invaders late on and the obligatory ‘man with a big drum walking through the crowd’ trick. The two main musical peaks remain the finer points of the debut album. ‘Fear Of Drowning’ is as unruly and haunting as ever, while ‘Lately’ still manages to use any conceivable sound to eat up the hearts of anyone trying to sing along. Fantastic stuff.

And so before we know it, dark has descended and the headliners are ready. Badly Drawn Boy is a fitting end to the first day proper, and welcomes the events organisers, Simon and Sofia, onto the stage to show his appreciation. It’s a perfect touch, emphasizing once again that it really is the personal touches which matter. Often failing to put across his songs well in a solo live setting, tonight Damon Gough’s band show how important a varied musical landscape can be. New single ‘Born In The U.K’ is the perfect example of this, a song which needs the driving bass and intricate arrangements on offer. Despite spectator’s obvious appreciation throughout, the largest cheers are still those that meet the earlier songs, namely ‘The Shining’ and ‘Once Around The Block’, both of which have lost none of their charm since their birth over six yeas ago. It’s yet another perfect performance from an artist clearly happy to be here, it’s just a shame there’s only one more day of this.

Originally published on www.gigwise.com

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