Tuesday, 7 December 2010

244 XFM "GREAT X-PECTATIONS", Finsbury Park, Sunday 13 June 1993

"Clive And Drive!" Clive drove a minibus carrying a dynamic dozen of us (most with hangovers, actually, thanks to the usual Saturday night Lev drinkies, so maybe not so dynamic...) to an all day Festival with a rather fine and promising bill, in North London's Finsbury Park. After crossing Ye Olde London Town, we arrived and parked up at 1.30, gaining access to the site and large arena just as openers THE FAMILY CAT were taking the stage. Their oddball surf rock was a good opener, bright and upbeat, but got a little swallowed up by the size of the still-filling arena.

I took a vantage point nearer the front for KINGMAKER, late replacements for Levitation on the bill. They played a bolshy set of fan favourites; good, but a little too "angry young mannish" for the sunny vibe today. Indeed, the sun really poked through as we got food during CATHERINE WHEEL's very poor doomy sludge of a set, a disappointed Clive suggesting it almost bordered on HM... THE SENSELESS THINGS, next up, were a messy mush of punky rumblings in the distance. "Too Much Kissing" was the only number to make my ears prick up and take notice, and even that was poor. Even Rich, a big fan said they were "bollocks".

Things were therefore drifting, so it fell to THE FRANK AND WALTERS to breathe some life into a sagging Festival. And breathe it they did... and then some! Taking the stage in matching straw boaters, orange blazers (which, when discarded, revealed iridescent blue and red striped waistcoats!) and beige slacks with a broad red stripe, they'd clearly prepared for this, and took the crowd by storm with healthy doses of fun, fire and good old rocking tunes. A totally wonderful set of their ramshackle dreampop, delivered with honesty, humour and happiness, with a totally unexpected cover of The Vapors' post-punk classic "Turning Japanese" a highlight.

Damon Albarn of BLUR played one solo song prior to BELLY taking the stage just before 6. Vocalist Tanya and new "rock" guitarist Gail now seeming more like a team, they used their stage time economically, playing a varied set of slow moody numbers and fan favourites like the spiky "Slow Dog", "Gepetto" and my favourite, the soaring "Angel". A fine set; much better than their recent disappointing Portsmouth gig.

I left the posse and wandered down the front, after Guy Chadwick of THE HOUSE OF LOVE had soloed with "Shine On" (which was good) and 2 new numbers (which unfortunately weren't). The scene was set for Bob...

Rambling nonchalantly onstage, SUGAR kitted up amidst a hail of vegetable missiles, until vocalist Bob Mould took the mic with a growled, "anyone who throws things can suck my dick!" Nothing more thereafter was thrown. Respect! As for the set, they charged into "The Act We Act", "A Good Idea" and "Changes", "Copper Blue"s mighty opening salvo, nary pausing for breath. A mixture of moody, titanic new numbers and excerpts from the heavier, harder-edged "Beaster" completed an awesome set of controlled power and passion, during which I was caught up in the moshpit, hammering away for dear life, and eventually emerging dripping with sweat and ears ringing, in the knowledge that I had experienced the best set of the day, not merely seen or heard it.

More food after that, and a new t-shirt, during CARTER USM, whom I have to say were just background noise to the post-Sugar buzzing in my ears, then THE CURE capped a memorable day with a professional set of their angst-fuelled doomy pop, which, apart from the solo encore of oldie "Fire In Cairo", did very little for me. But I'd seen the stars of the show, for me, earlier on!

A nightmare journey back ensued, however, via Euston and Holborn. In at 1.30 in the end, tired but happy!

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