REVIEW: 6 Music Fetival Day 3 | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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By the time I arrived at Sunday’s final leg of the 6Music Festival after a weekend out of the city, conflicting rumours abounded: it was either a clusterfuck of massive proportions (this largely from people who’d missed out on tickets, or people who missed The War On Drugs due to the ridiculous start time, although how that is anything other than a bonus eludes me) or a credit to the city and its people (pretty much everybody else). There were stories of 6Music DJs being removed from the air mid-record, Sleater Kinney delivering a vicious musical putdown to Interpol and the usual claims and counter claims about The Fall’s performance. The presence of weapons grade bellend Jeremy Clarkson and his merry band of performing seals over the Tyne at the Metro Centre for the Top Gear Roadshow made Newcastle quite the place to be.

The BBC had certainly pulled out all the stops: the normally quite sterile atmosphere of the Sage looked positively lovely (although claims that it was like being at a ‘real festival’ made me wonder what ‘real festival’ these people had been to. My money is on Wilderness). A sizeable crowd were packed into the concourse early in the evening for King Creosote’s performance. Always someone I’ve respected rather than necessarily enjoyed, the songs I caught didn’t change my mind. Wire were next and it’s something of a damning indictment of the line-up that this band – three quarters of whom are in their mid-sixties – delivered a set more radical and more powerful than anything else I saw that day (and, I suspect, most people saw all weekend). With the kind of orneriness that has defined their career, their entire set was taken from an album nobody has heard yet – no I Am The Fly, no Drill, no 12XU –and that’s just dandy. (Relatively) new boy Matt Simms spend most of the set crouched before a battery of pedals, adding a whirlwind of noise to the band’s angular art school songs while the other three powered through like musicians half their age. Remarkable stuff.

Perhaps more surprisingly, Neneh Cherry also eschewed crowd pleasing moves by playing only songs taken from her Blank Project album (Wire would probably accuse her of being a sell out because at least that album has actually been released). Presumably this was much to the chagrin of the yammering, phone-tampering audience who were there to hear Buffalo Stance – perhaps Seven Seconds at a push – and didn’t seem too keen to engage with anything else. It was their loss: Cherry is one of the most charismatic and compelling live performers I’ve ever seen (as true now as it was when I first saw her in 1989) and the slightly disconnected atmosphere that hampered the album was replaced by vitality and invention by her two piece backing – just drums and electronics. At times you could tell the relative indifference of the crowd was getting to her (although by all accounts she coped better than Lonelady in Hall 2) but Cherry is a pro and seemed genuinely glad to be on the bill. I’d have loved to have heard her Dream Baby Dream cover but loved her set anyway.

A brief lull between bands saw me stick my head into Hall 3’s ‘club space’ for some pilled-up ‘ardkore rave action. None of the 11 or 12 people mooching around in there seemed to be on anything stronger than one pint of Birra Moretti (at those prices, who could afford two?) and there was a distinct lack of ‘aving it. Bloody kids.

I’d like to pretend I went to see Public Service Broadcasting with an open mind but I didn’t: PSB disgust me, and have done since the very first single. Album one was basically a Keep Calm & Carry On teatowel over lazy, dated beats (the setting of Auden’s already facile Night Mail poem was particularly irksome). It seems they’re on to space travel with album two. Meh. Their schtick would have sounded dated in 1995; it sounds reprehensible now. When there’s so much exciting, innovative electronic music being made to little or no exposure, the continuing success of these clowns – wacky bowties and all – makes me want to see them tarred and feathered and thrown in the Tyne. To easily be the worst band on a weekend bill that also includes Fat White Family and War On Drugs is an achievement of sorts, but PSB had it sewn up.

Conversely, I didn’t expect to like Jamie T at all but – although I wouldn’t have his music in the house – I grudgingly enjoyed his set and for the first time that evening the crowd really went for it too (another cavalcade of yammering media types nearby notwithstanding). While I still think he’s essentially Beans On Toast with a record deal, and while I wish he would fucking ANNUNCIATE occasionally, he’s possessed of a real charm and approachability, and by the time he played Zombie I was having something close to a ‘good time’, enjoying the energy of the crowd’s reaction and not even minding too much as somebody in the peanut gallery spilled red wine on my head while they danced.

Similarly, The Charlatans closing set felt like an ‘event’ – the crowd went batshit, you could feel the love flowing to and from the stage and Burgess in particular (looking ever more like an Aryan mushroom) seemed to have the time of his life. From a band once largely perceived as baggy also-rans, they’ve carved themselves out a fairly strong career (despite a slew of bad luck and tragedies) and while their hit-laden set didn’t set my particular world on fire, you’d be some sort of bastard to begrudge everyone their fun.

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