Posts Tagged ‘Reading Festival’

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England’s Reading Festival has long welcomed artists large and small from around the world, and sometimes it welcomes back performers who have become global stars since their previous appearance. So it was on August 30, 1992, when Reading hosted Nirvana for the second year running. As we now all know it turned out to be one of the most exhilarating sets ever performed, not just by Nirvana, but by any band, any time, anywhere!
At the point when the band played the famous festival a year earlier, in the summer of 1991, they were halfway down the bill. They’d released their first record, ‘Bleach,’ on Sub Pop in 1989, but despite critical approval, it hadn’t troubled the charts. The ‘Nevermind’ album and its seminal opening single ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ were still a couple of months from release at the time of Reading 1991. When they came back 12 months later, Nirvana were a multi-platinum sensation and the biggest thing in rock music for a generation. ‘Nevermind’ had started a five-year run on the Billboard 200 that would deliver US sales alone of ten million copies.

On that Reading return, Kurt Cobain mocked rumours around the festival site that he had been hospitalised with a drug overdose by coming on stage In a wheelchair, pushed by music journalist Everett True, and faking a collapse. He was met by Nirvana’s bassist Krist Novoselic, who shook his hand and told the audience that “with the support of his friends and family, he’s gonna make it. Cobain pretended to struggle to his feet as he stood up in front of the microphone, sang a line from the Amanda McBroom song “The Rose,” then collapsed to the ground. After lying motionless briefly, Cobain returned to his feet, put his guitar on and the band immediately started their set.
True later recalled to Clash magazine that the wheelchair stunt “had been planned the previous night as a burn on those who’d been gossiping about Kurt and his wife [Courtney Love], who’d just given birth to Frances Bean: ‘Kurt’s in hospital, Kurt’s been arrested, Kurt’s OD’d, Courtney’s OD’d, the baby’s been born deformed…Nirvana’s drummer Dave Grohl recalled in a 2018 interview  “I remember showing up to Reading ’92 and there being so many rumours that we weren’t going to play, that we had cancelled. I walked backstage and some of my best friends in bands that were opening would see me and say, ‘What are you doing here?’ And I’d go, ‘We’re fucking headlining!’ And they’d be like, ‘You’re actually going to play?!’ I didn’t realise there was any question that we were going to play.”

The performance at the festival was immortalized on the ‘Live At Reading’ CD and DVD, a film that had been bootlegged by fans for years and was finally officially released in 2009. The film, and the set, featured Nirvana staples including ‘Teen Spirit,’ ‘Come As You Are,’ ‘All Apologies’ and ‘Lithium’ as well as covers of tracks by bands like the Wipers and Fang. No one could know that the performance would turn out to be Nirvana’s last in Britain.

The performance included almost all of Nevermind, along with several songs from their 1989 debut album “Bleach”, the Sub Pop 200 compilation track ” and set list regulars “Aneurysm,” “Been a Son” and the 1990 single, “Sliver” It also included a cover of the Wipers’ “D-7,” which had been released as a b-side on the “Lithium” single in July 1992, and Fang’s “The Money Will Roll Right In” The band also performed the unreleased songs “tourette’s,” “All Apologies” and “Dumb,” all three of which appeared on their final studio album, “In Utero”, in September 1993. Cobain introduced “All Apologies” by announcing, “This song is dedicated to my 12-day-old daughter, and my wife. She thinks everybody hates her,” and then encouraged the crowd to chant, “Courtney, we love you!”

The performance of “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” the band’s 1991 breakthrough single, incorporated part of the 1976 track by USA band Boston single “More Than a Feeling” at the beginning, a reference to the similarities between the two songs’ main guitar riffs. The show ended with Cobain playing the American national anthem, “The Star Spangled Banner,” and the band smashing their instruments.

The Band:
Kurt Cobain – vocals, guitar
Krist Novoselic – bass guitar, backing vocals on “The Money Will Roll Right In”
Dave Grohl – drums, backing vocals

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Slaves perform “Sockets” at Reading 2015. Visit the Reading 2015 website for more videos and photos.

Slaves whipped up a storm. Reading was the festival they were born to play – even the band themselves think so: “Reading is the best festival in the world”, announced singer/drummer Isaac Holman before bursting into a concrete-smashing rendition of ‘The Hunter’.

Taking a moment of reflection was never Slaves’ wheelhouse, as they rambled quickly about the death of Laurie’s pet goldfish, Gerald. “Ger-ald, Ger-ald, Ger-ald”, the crowd chanted in remembrance of the aquatic companion they never knew. That’s how dedicated Slaves fans are.

The blues-tinged studio versions of the songs dissipate as Slaves perform their raw, more confrontational (if such a thing is possible) renditions of ‘Where’s Your Car, Debbie’, ‘7am’ and ‘Sockets’.

Slaves’ performance was the literal encapsulation of search and destroy.

Foals shone with one of the definitive moments of Reading Festival 2015, taking the day by storm with a surprise secret set on the BBC Radio One stage. Rumours of a secret appearance had been circulating for weeks, following heavy hints from Reading and Leeds boss Melvin Benn. Then, the band confirmed the news this morning via Twitter – before legions of fans flocked to the tent to catch a glimpse of Yannis and co.

“It’s good to be back,” said frontman Yannis Philippakis, after the explosive opener of ‘My Number’ sent the packed tent into a relentless bounce. “We’re Foals, if you don’t know who we are.”

“The last time we played this tent was 2008, I think,” said Yannis before a beautiful ‘Spanish Sahara’. “It’s fucking great to be back – this feels like our home.”

As the fans embrace him with open arms as he wanders into the audience for ‘What Went Down’, we can’t help but feel the same. They played a set more than worthy than headliners, now is truly their time. Fingers crossed for them topping the main stage next year.