First two days of the festival had gone better than I could have possibly have imagined. So could day three keep up the high standard set by the first two days?
Some band names conjure up all sorts of images and pre-conceived ideas of what the band will be like and my first thoughts when I saw the band name Japandroids was that it was probably going to be a large band that was mainly electronic based (probably because if the ‘droids’ bit in their name) I’m willing to admit that I’m sometimes wrong, and with Japandroids I was well off the mark. I went in the hall expecting Ladytron and what I actually got was a frantic ball of energy and noise that was more akin to Sonic Youth and Dinasaur Jr and shockingly the noise was made by just two men. Sometimes mistakes are made for a reason and I’m glad I got it so wrong as it means that I’m pleasantly surprised.
Immediately I know the band area here to make an impression when they ask for the vocals to be turned up as loud as they can go. The music they then produce is thrashy and loud ….very loud. Infact it’s totally astounding me how so much noise can possibly come from two people.
“Are our accents charming or annoying?” enquires lead singer Brian King, his Vancouver drawl sounding perfectly charming from where I’m stood. The crowd reply with a noise. “You’re answer just sounds like ‘arrrrrgggghhhh’ ” he interjects ” so i’m taking that as charming” and the throws himself almost literally straight into the next song ‘Young Hearts Spark Fire‘ with the racing beats and screeching vocals ripping through the Hall. they announce that they have to jump straight on a plane after this performance but urge everyone to stay around and watch PIL and it’s a shame that they can’t stay as its been fun having them around.
Just time for a quick food stop as we have a busy afternoon ahead, so it’s a quick munch on Pizza before rushing back to the De Montford Hall to catch Scottish Indie band Twilight Sad (who aren’t , I’m pleased to say, as their name might suggest a comment on the latest love shenanigans of R-Patz) from the off this band are all consuming their dark meloncholic tones coupled with the sheer intensity of lead singers James Graham deep tortured vocals making their performance utterly compelling. At one point I’m wondering if the intensity is just for show, but it looks and feels so real and I feel that I’m watching something really special but at the same time am worried about James’ troubled soul.
His performance is both breathtaking and intoxicating as he drops to his knees on the floor seemingly deep in thought , all to a musical backdrop of heavy drumbeat. James’ Scottish accent is coming through loud and clear in the songs ( in a more David Tennant than Proclaimers way) and none more so than in ‘Cold Days from the Birdhouse’ , I think I might have died and gone to Scottish heaven. The slow build up to the song is followed by a crashing chorus but as they leave the stage I know I want to experience their unique style again and I want it to be soon. When I later find out that they are on their third album I find it unbelievable that I haven’t found them sooner.
As if going off at a complete different tangent next band up Django Django are full of jangly cowboy-esque style guitars, whistling and chanting and it couldn’t be further away from the darkness of the Twilights Sad’s previous offering although they do hail from the same homeland. Sounding like a revved up version of Belle and Sebastian their melodies and harmonies are faultless. Crowd pleasing song ‘Hail Bop’ is greeted like an old friend and there’s a fan club starting in the crowd for band member Tommy as the chants of “Tommy, Tommy” fill the air. Tommy looks bashful and the other band member tease “If you keep on shouting then he’ll take his top off” Tommy looks up and indicates that this is not on the cards.
Sooner than I’d like I’m having to rush off to get to the main stage in time for Reverend and the Makers set as I know that if these guys are in town then the party is sure to ramp up a gear. I get there just as lead singer Jon McClure is arriving onstage bellowing “we’re gonna have it !” at the top of his lungs….like I said, the party has arrived and they launch into opening song ‘Bassline’ and urge the crowd to bounce along. Jon dedicates the next song to Sheffield Wednesday and all becomes clear when they start the opening bars to ‘Noisy Neighbour’ – “you can’t let the V crowd beat you” taunts Jon referring to their appearance at the V festival earlier that day and then reassures Leicester that they are now rocking as they go into probably their most well known hit ‘Heavyweight Champion of the World’ . if any band knows how to party hard then it’s these guys and tonight they have played out of their skins. I’m just hoping as they leave the stage that they don’t take the party with them.
There’s not much chance of that as Public Image Limited are next up on the main stage and I have been excited about this particular appearance all day /week/year. Coming on to ‘This is not a Love Song’ Lydon throws the lyrics to the crowd with a trademark scowl and a petrifying glare. Going straight into a track from their latest CD ‘This is PIL‘ (which hasn’t been out of my CD player at home) this shows that the new Public Image Limited material is every it as awe inspiring as the older classic PIL tracks
“You seem a trifle dazed Leicester – it can’t be the wacky baccy” cackles John before adding ” you used to be a hard place – what have you turned into?”. Taunting the crowd, he has not lost any of his bite or wit.
The slow intro to ‘Albatross’ from PIL‘s second album ‘Metal Box’ with the heavy guitar sound accompanying the drawn out and deliberate lyric of “slow motion” on repeat is drawing us further into PIL world and it’s a great place to be as in the 2012 version of PIL Lydon has surrounded himself with some of the best musicians around with Scott Firth, Bruce Smith and Lu Edmunds all providing the background noise that in totality make up the PIL sound.
I have always thought of PIL as always providing us with ‘future music’, as they are always decades ahead in their sound and this is probably why they remain so relevant and contemporary while other much newer bands have fallen by the wayside. Songs like ‘Bags’ and ‘Death Disco’ could be placed with tunes of today without sounding dated infact the only thing that would mark them out as different is that the songs are so much more crafted than your run of the mill indie band song of 2012 and as such the legacy of these songs will live on for much longer.
After delivering a set with a good mix of old and new tracks they play ‘Religion’ which given the fact that it’s a Sunday I suppose seems quite apt and as they play the intro to ‘Rise’ the crowd break out of their Lydon induced trance and scream the lyrics back at Lydon with the fervour that he has applied to the whole set. “Ahhh….Good Evening, Leicester – I knew you had a pulse” quips John sardonically as if acknowledging the crowds sudden energy spurt.
They have come here and delivered the goods and to paraphrase one of their own songs “I could be wrong , but I could be right……’ in thinking that PIL are still one of the best live acts around.