The first band up for Already Heard on the opening day of Reading 2012 is Cancer Bats. This band has come a long way, graduating from the lock up stage to today earn a main stage slot. For a band so used to playing smaller venues, the Canadian hardcore outfit are starting to make larger stages their own and despite the usual grumbles about main stage sound they produce a solid set, full of fury and aggression and looking more and more like a massive live prospect.
Tom Delonge’s Angels And Airwaves are next up. Now a main-stay of the festival circuit, their epic sound combined with the undeniable rock-star presence of their front man makes them an entertaining live act. They do not disappoint today with a high energy, career spanning set, including hits like ‘The Adventure,’ ‘It Hurts’ and ‘Everything’s Magic.’ Whilst often underappreciated as a band in their own right, Angels And Airwaves today produce a worthy and competent main stage performance.
It is now that Already Heard takes a trip to the spiritual home of all things punk at Reading Festival, the legendary lock up stage, to see the mighty A Wilhelm Scream. Whilst it is rare that the band play over on these shores, Already Heard have been lucky enough to catch the band twice this month. This performance does not differ much from their performance at Hevy festival two weeks previous. They are still as furious and energetic however and the crowd at Reading is so much better, with particular highlight being ‘The Kids Can Eat A Bag Of Dicks.’ I’m pretty sure A Wilhelm Scream have never played a bad live show and today is no different. It’s always a pleasure to get sweaty in the afternoon when these guys are about.
Scroobius Pip, the rapper meets social commentator meets poet is up next on the Alternative Stage. Playing a set comprised mainly of material from his new solo album ‘Distraction Pieces’ Pip today puts on an intelligent and immensely powerful set that is frantically received by the crowd. The mainstays of the Alternative Stage are normally stand up comedians and the like so to see it come alive in a flurry of moshing and, oddly, the biggest circle pit of the festival thus far, is surprising to say the least. However, it is a pleasant surprise and it is safe to say Scroobius Pip blows away any competition for most passionate set of the weekend.
Back to the Lock Up stage and the opposite can be said of pop-punk veterans Saves The Day. Despite a sizeable crowd present, the set never really catches fire until closer and fan-favourite ‘At Your Funeral.’ It is sad to see a band that seems to be going through the motions, especially a band as iconic as Saves The Day but it has to be said that today they are not at their best. Even massive sing-alongs like ‘Shoulder To The Wheel’ fall flat.
Falling flat is not something Anti-Flag do however. From the opening chords of ‘The Press Corpse’ the crowd react fervently. This is vintage Anti-Flag. Whilst it may be a familiar set to veterans of their gigs, there is no arguing with the power of songs like ‘This Is The End’ and ‘Fuck Police Brutality.’ The numerous Clash covers that pepper the set seem inevitable but are still fun. I must admit that I made my way over the barrier several times despite the severe no crowd-surfing warnings. It is hard to emphasise how much unbridled fun their set was without sounding like a child on a bouncy castle. In fact, that might be a good comparison. Fuck war, let’s bounce.
Doing their best to keep the main stage crowd entertained are Paramore, who, whilst our backs were turned, have got absolutely fucking massive. There is a crowd here that eclipses The Cure’s crowd later. This seems almost blasphemous as ginger ball-of-energy Hayley Williams bounds around in her Cure T-shirt (doesn’t she know the rules about wearing a T-shirt of the band you are about to see?) However, the hits come thick and fast and there’s barely time to catch breath between ‘That’s What You Get’ and that Twilight song (‘Decode.’) After a moment of reflection with ‘The Only Exception’ which due to alcohol consumption I may have sung too loudly in stranger’s ears, (sorry, stranger) the hit machine starts up again with ‘Ignorance’ and the big one and closing song, ‘Misery Business.’ This is quite the performance and one which puts Paramore well and truly “in the big time.”
Not to be outdone by a tiny girl with ginger hair, goth giants The Cure have some hits of their own to play. Within the first eight songs of a giant thirty two song set they have played ‘Lovesong,’ ‘Just Like Heaven’ and ‘In Between Days,’ three of their most beloved hits. ‘Friday I’m In Love’ comes soon after and invokes, unsurprisingly, one of the biggest sing-alongs of the night and the weekend. Through a lull in the middle of the set where the band play obscure album tracks that only the most frizzy-haired, heavily made-up in the audience can take pleasure in, the band go off before coming back for the obligatory encore.
It is then you realise how many bona fide hits this band have. If you can save the likes of ‘The Lovecats,’ ‘Close To Me’ and ‘Let’s Go To Bed’ for the encore, then you can work out the calibre of the band you are dealing with. Also included in the encore is 1982 B-Side ‘Just One Kiss’ which receives it’s very first performance in the UK ever, fact fans. Closing the set is the iconic ‘Boy’s Don’t Cry’ which acts as a truly incredible finale to a stunning set. This is an epic and career spanning set of the highest quality that proves The Cure have still got it. It is fitting they close the Friday night here at Reading because truly it is Friday and we are in love.
Words by Tom White (@whiteywitters)