Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Wearing Sensible Clothing And A Silly Grin Since 1964

The Wireless Festival, Hyde Park, London, Friday June 24 2005.

The weather forecast (blazing sunshine followed by the high probability of thunderstorms and torrential rain) is an outdoor festival nightmare in terms of preparation. Too hot for a coat but too wet not to wear some kind of protective gear, your correspondent goes for the full Dead Kenny effect by reaching out into his closet and pulling out the orange kagoule that has seen perhaps half-a-dozen outings since it was bought for him by his folks back in the days when Ian Curtis was still alive.

Oh yes, how the Lahndoners laugh as they bake in the hot sunshine (even the Serpentine shines), seemingly oblivious to the weather forecast in the mistaken belief that the sun always smiles on W2. This all leaves Dead Kenny and playboy millionaire Roy feeling like the good guys in those disaster movies, pointing to the distant clouds in knowing sadness in the face of incredulous shrugs and moronic mirth. Still, the early afternoon sunshine does allow us to enjoy the civilised delights of the festival grounds (real ale served! margaritas! space to walk around!) while skilfully avoiding being interviewed by C4 tousle-haired twit Simon Amstell.

By the time the bands start at 4pm the weather is already looking ominous and the first few drops of rain see us scamper past the snowfights in the Smirnoff Ice Secret Garden into the Xfm stage where whippersnappers Boy Kill Boy appear to have located the exact median point between The Killers, The Libertines and Coldplay with their radio-friendly rock rowdiness. 'Anyone here heard of [Fierce Panda label-mates] Apartment?', the vocalist enquires to two replies in the affirmative, 'well, the lead singer's right here!' he exclaims pointing to the centre of the moshpit where the punters are getting more than moderately excited by BKB's melodic mayhem. A good start to the day's musical entertainment, then, and if Dead Kenny was an A&R man he'd be making them an offer they'd be greedy to refuse.

At the other end of the age/experience spectrum, The Psychedelic Furs on the main stage are clearly enjoying their return to fashionable status with lead singer Richard Butler doing his party-piece circledancing to his heart's content as he mugs his way through stirling versions of classic tunes like 'Pretty In Pink' and 'Love My Way'. The PFs are probably Dead Kenny's favourite band he owns absolutely no records by, maybe it's time for that anomaly to be corrected once and for all.

Then it's back to the Xfm stage where Rilo Kiley have filled the tent out with a combo of people eager to see whether they justify their transatlantic hype and those that are keen simply to stay dry. All seem converted by the end of the set, with slower numbers like 'I Never' and the title track from their album-of-the-year-so-far contender 'More Adventurous' particularly standing out. In fact, it's pretty much impossible not to have tummyflips in the presence of Jenny Lewis' combination of fabulous figure, beguiling singing voice and that I'm-a-bad-girl-but-you-know-you-love-me-anyway schtick of hers.

Then there is a slight gap in the proceedings but it's still bloody pissing down so we head over to the Drowned In Sound stage to see The Boxer Rebellion, a band Dead Kenny has drifted away from since buying their second single some time back. One of the early adopters of the Joy Division soundalike vogue, they've since broadened out their repertoire into more epic (and commercially viable) soundscapes, more reminiscent of U2 or Echo & The Bunnymen. They sound in better shape than Dead Kenny had expected, in fact, and their debut album Exits might prove to be a shrewd sonic investment.

It's still raining hard enough to make The Bravery's make-up run, so we opt to stay in the tent to catch The Rogers Sisters (not The Roger Sisters, as had been advertised, whom Dead Kenny imagines would be an entirely different proposition) and this decision is spectacularly justified by a ferociously entertaining set. Sometimes, the dancepunk trio come over over-earnest and a little one-dimensional on record, but in the live arena the energy and good humour they put into their performance dispels any whiffs of po-faced pretentiousness, with upcoming single Zig Zag Warrior and the more obscure Object amongst the highlights.

By the time Tegan and Sara hit the stage, the beers are starting to kick in and Captain Boisterous is starting to take over Dead Kenny's personality, which proves quite fitting as, backed by a full band, the lesbian twin sisters with the looks and voices of indie chipmunks pack a harder rock punch than on record. This enables their catchy bittersweet refrains to assume anthemic status, 'Walking With A Ghost' proving particularly immense, although Dead Kenny is still left scratching his head as to which one's Tegan and which one's Sara (who knew identical twin sisters looked so alike?).

The rain then eases off by the time the mighty New Order enter the stage, although Dead Kenny is starting to feel rather worse for (protective weather) wear. Just a few weeks after seeing them play at the Super Bock Festival in Lisbon, some of the novelty of their live set has worn off, but we do get to hear under-rated pop gem 'Jetstream' and a rousing 'Temptation' as well as high-tempo renditions of old Joy Division numbers for the encores which leave the audience sated, soaked and happy, even if your correspondent is still sulking a bit that Hookeh didn't return his wave.


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