Friday, 7 September 2012

Music: Wireless Festival @ Harewood House, Leeds, June 17th 2007 live review

With my usual Sunday morning lie in, and the insistence of a cooked breakfast, I didn't arrive at Harewood House until after 3.30pm; arriving just in time to see Datarock leave the stage. After getting the obligatory drink, and having had a look around the site, I realised that this event had by no means sold many tickets.

After working my way through the boggy, straw covered ground, New Young "one trick" Pony Club took to the stage. With their brand of mid-tempo electro disco they failed to impress. I have to admit that I really enjoyed their album, but they seemed to be trying far too hard to get the small crowd who were actually paying attention on their side. It seemed that most of the crowd were treating them as background music while they basked in the sunshine.

Mark Ronson is an artist who to use the word "formulaic" to describe his music is perhaps to understate the point. Basically, he takes a well know record (preferably an indie-rock one) and does a cover in a funk/soul style. It is entertaining at first, but wears thin quite quickly. By the time they covered Radiohead's Just, I was almost falling asleep. The only saving grace of the set was their version of The Smiths' Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before, which has proved to be a surprise hit.

Plan B were next, and I'm beginning to feel that I had wasted my money, his set was appalling. There is something strikingly insincere about an artist whose work is predominantly hip-hop to make their music more rocky for a festival crowd. Don't get me wrong, I think Plan B has done a lot of really excellent work, but it just didn't come across live. His cover version of Blur's Song 2 was easily the low point of the set, perhaps even the day - why not do a cover of Smells Like Teen Spirit while you're there?

Cansei de Ser Sexy (CSS) were amazing. It was the first time I had seen them, and was blown away by how funky and entertaining they were live. A disco-tinged version of L7's Pretend We're Dead was a surprising, but well chosen cover. I don't think many people in the crowd had heard it, but it went down well, and it was perhaps the first point in the day when people (apart from the drunk, middle-aged women) were dancing.

At this point I had a dilemma. Do I see the Klaxons, or LCD Soundsystem? I hadn't seen the Klaxons before, but I though that it would be great if LCD Soundsystem had brought Lord Harewood onto the stage to join them for Daft Punk Are Playing At My House; it could have worked so well! Coming back to reality, I realised that I should probably go and see the Klaxons before their second album inevitably bombs and they get sucked into the hype vortex and disappear into obscurity, only to appear at an All Tomorrows Parties gig in about 10 years with almost all of the original line-up...

Moving into the tent to see the Klaxons, I was surprised by the amount of people who had actually bought into the new rave (or is it nu rave?) aesthetic. Klaxons are a decent rock and roll band, in some of their songs the basslines are reminiscent of some of the more commercial dance records from the early 90s, but it doesn't even come close to 'rave'. What many of their fans do (which I find hilarious) is to dress in day-glo colours, and use glowsticks (in the day I might add), but without any sense of irony. Perhaps I just don't get it; I really think that the new rave tag will be the Klaxon's albatross. Saying that though, the Klaxons have got some truly excellent songs, and their set was brilliant; they are band who know how to work a crowd.

After getting some food, I decided to go and sit on the exit of the Waltzers and watch people as they come off - dizzy and disorientated - genius!

Daft Punk were the band that I had paid my money to see and they didn't disappoint. A black curtain was raised to reveal them dressed as spacemen in the top of a pyramid. A weird frame of lights and a giant screen behind them made up for Daft Punk's lack of movement throughout the set. And what a set! Along with Basement Jaxx and The Chemical Brothers, Daft Punk easily stand as one of the best live dance acts there is. Opening the set with Robot Rock was just amazing. I loved the way that Daft Punk mash songs together mixing Television Rules The Nation with the vocal from Around the World. The mash-up of One More Time and Harder Better Faster Strong was nothing short of genius.

The Wireless Festival is a little bit odd, I'm not sure if it knows who it is trying to attract as an audience. I think they would find more success (and hey, maybe even sell some more tickets) if they didn't try and have artists so narrow in musical scope.

This article was originally published on Leeds Music Scene in 2007.

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