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A Summer's day in London is never usually average. It's either cold and rainy or it's uncomfortably hot. And unfortunately cold and rain seemed to be in endless supply during yesterday (Sunday -*ages ago) as I write, after surviving the onslaught of sound and weather at New Order's open-air, one-day festival; one day after the Fleadh at the same location. DJ Arthur Baker filled the silence between bands by playing lots of house and dance, and most notably almost all of Leftfield's debut album, and in a non-resistance post-jubilee, The Sex Pistols 'God Save The Queen' could also be heard. Opening band Hanky Park were terrible. Somebody fished them out from a pub or some dodgy 3rd-rate Oasis competition. There was a tired 90's Mancunian guitar sound and swagger that had no motivation, despite some fools tapping their feet. They seemed to be playing the same song in different variations for the whole of their set, as people sat and talked amongst themselves. They had no music presence, no stage presence, no fashion presence either; they were the textbook cliche of boring indie band. They seemed to be there to serve as a stark contrast to the acts later on in the 9hr day. The Cooper Temple Clause (whose name irritates me as much as the band themselves) were just a bunch of public school show-offs. They had more volume than the opening band, but strip away the treble and you'd see the boring repetitive music for what it was. They tried to be kind of indie and kind of grunge, but on the whole they succeeded in being boring and uncompensatingly tuneless. Their singer was obsessed with the dull routine of abusing his tambourine, whilst the expensive leather jacketed guitarist and keyboardists seemed occupied in looking and belting out hyperbolic, dumb and dated rock 'n' roll expressions in such quantity that you could almost smell the naffness. I preferred Hanky Park. Things started on
upward trend with Echo & The Bunnymen who seemed to slip on stage like snakes. There was no stupidity about the Bunnymen, and there was nothing tired about this 20yr + old band. Ian McCulloch looked pure 'cool' in his brown overcoat as he sang raspily into his mic, while the others dished out the tunes to many of the classics from the band's collection. And I think that Chris guy from Coldplay was invited on for one song, I'm not sure. Who cares. Despite not understanding almost all of Ian's short Liverpudlian commentary inbetween, the Bunnymen were good and the rest of the crowd were starting to have a bit more fun too. And as snakily as the band had come on, the same they had left. Next up were Super Furry Animals who further upped the ante with their brand of quirky moderate rock featuring an array of experimental beats, some trumpeting and vocoder work. Griff seemed to want to out-do McCulloch in coolness and almost did when he slipped his shades on. Again, the Furries played a mix of all their favourites before leaving us in the hands of Air, at which time a swivel camera appeared to capture the crowd. Unlike what I'd seen on TV of Air, where the two Frenchmen are cowering behind their synthesizers, the duo also had guitars and a drummer to boot, to fit in with the band atmosphere of the day. The rain which had pelted down most of the day, and required many people to seek refuge and hot food and drink, began to stop and the sun appeared as Air presented us with a nice mix of lulling ambience and spaced out rock, featuring all their hits to date thus far. But then the rain came back for one more violent downpour which saw most people trying to stay warm and dry rather than focus their ears. And then, the rain never came again. It was starting to get dark, and everything seemed to have settled for the headline act. 'Dee Dee' was sprayed in silver on a bass amp, no doubt as a passing tribut
e to the recently passed Ramones member. An announcer akin to a town cryer came on to announce the band, and New Order broke into their first song 'Crystal'. My girlfriend and I weren't too far away from the front when the song errupted, and at first some people were moshing a bit too wildly as you had to find your bearings rather than focus on the music and move back. One girl was in tears for a little, but luckily the crowd had settled down within a few minutes. New Order's set was quite exuberant, the racing expectant peak of the night, with Bernard Sumner cracking jokes that were quite funny; there was an appreciative cheese to them. And this was coupled with Bernard doing his famed 'embarrasing uncle dances', and Hooky holding his bass like a weapon. You could almost swear bullets were about to come out from his headstock to us "cockney bastards". Stephen Morris seemed content and lost within the confines of his electronic drum kit, belting out simplified one/two-pattern versions of his recorded beats, and some other guy filling in for Gillian did the rap section for the timing-obligatory 'World In Motion' - which despite press had said, featured no special guests, not even Keith Allen. Aswell as all the traditional New Order classics, and songs from their latest album 'Get Ready', the band delighted many pre-NO fans by playing a considerable number of Joy Division songs, some aired for the first time in 22yrs; almost in equal measure. And they had played 'Brutal' featured on the soundtrack to 'The Beach'. After the beats and bass had faded away (NO's set flew by!), and the announcer re-appeared, and the ring-out DJ mix came, we had to trudge out through the now muddied grass like it was a local Glastonbury, thankfully minus deranged hippies. All in all it was a great day. Despite the rain and the two poor opening bands, it was a fun day that got better
and better until it reached it's end. I enjoyed it, others enjoyed it, and the bands were having fun; and as Bernard said on-stage, that was all that mattered.