2012 festivals roundup and review, best and worst festivals, festival acts and festival performances
It's back to reality again after another magical festival season. But as we return our wellies to the deepest depths of our wardrobes once more, we cannot help but relive the rollercoaster ride of recent months. In this 2012 festivals roundup, we return to the dizzying heights of this year’s highlights, including secret gigs, new talent showcases, and awe-inspiring performances from some of the best acts in the world. Although the ups always outweigh the downs by a large margin, there are always a few disappointments, however, with this year’s unsavoury selection including wet weather cancellations, diva strops and good old fashioned pee throwing. Check out our 2012 PAAM event staff festivals review and revisit the best and the worst of this year’s happenings.
Emotionally-charged epicness from the Foo Fighters (Reading Festival, August 26th 2012)
In a two-and-a-half-hour set packed with dedications and appreciation, Foo Fighters rocked Reading Festival on the 20th anniversary of Nirvana’s last appearance at the festival, in what Dave Grohl said would be their “last show for a long time”. Bettering the Friday night performance at Leeds Festival by five songs, Grohl told the mass of fans, "Well, well, well. The f**king Reading Festival. You guys realise we've got a lot of songs to play,” before speaking of his love for the event that has hosted him so many times before. The band did not perform a Nirvana cover as rumoured, but the reflective frontman did dedicate These Days to his former band mates. He also got the crowd to sing Happy Birthday to his mum, as Nirvana did two decades before. "In 1992 when Nirvana played here, the last show we ever played in England, you sang happy birthday to my mom. Here's your chance," he said, before leading the rowdy chorus.
The family theme continued as Dave serenaded his two daughters on stage. Fellow Foo Fighter Taylor Hawkins then returned the love by saying he was honoured to be playing with "the greatest musician of this generation". The energetic set spanned all albums, but particular attention was paid to the band’s earlier work, much to the delight of die-hard fans. In an act of ultimate intimacy and trust, Winnebago, a song first recorded on a cassette tape, was given an almost unheard of airing. ''The first time we ever played here, we played in the tiny tent and it was the hottest show we ever played,” Dave told the spell-bound crowd. “This was the first song we ever played." An emotional Everlong and the festival’s firework finale topped off the set, ending one of the best 2012 festival performances with a bang.
Dance Tent diva day with Grimes, Katy B and Azealia Banks (Leeds Festival, August 26th 2012)
Sunday at Leeds saw a trio of dance divas get down and dirty in style. Canadian electro pop princess Grimes kicked things off in the early afternoon with a third-album-heavy set, performed with just a drummer and a topless male dancer. After opening with 2011 hit Broken Record, Katy B then turned the thermostat up a few degrees by inviting “one special guy” onstage for an, albeit slightly cringe-worthy, lap dance. Go Away and an untitled new song were followed by a fun medley of all-time pop classics, complimented perfectly by the Katy B branded beach balls that bounced around the crowd. Azealia Banks finally finished off with a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it but hugely attended show of skill. Flanked by two acrobatic dancers, she delivered a 20-minute shotgun set topped off with runaway hit 212. She also played a cover of Zebra Katz Ima Read and tasters from her newer-than-new debut album, served up with plenty of swaggertude, as expected.
Green Day’s runaway secret gig (Reading Festival, August 25th 2012)
Green Day knocked the socks off Reading Festival on Saturday morning when frontman Billie Joe Armstrong announced a surprise show via Twitter, just 45 minutes before taking to the stage. Although the gig begun at the NME/Radio 1 tent at the ungodly time of 11am - a whole hour earlier than originally rumoured - the huge demand saw access to the tent eventually sealed off and the surplus of fans sent across to the Main Stage to watch the gig on the big screens. Rather than playing the entire 1994 album Dookie as first thought, the band treated fans to a career-spanning collection that featured firm favourites like St Jimmy, Letterbomb and Hitchin A Ride. Following the more-than-enthusiastic audience response to the latter, Armstrong told the crowd: "That's why I f**king love England, the Americans just don't get that s**t." The band also played two tracks from their upcoming album trilogy '¡Uno!, ¡Dos!, ¡Tré!' in the 14-song, hour-long set. When time started to run out, coverage stopped at the Main Stage, leaving die-hard fans to strain against the security cordon for a glimpse of the far off but fearsome gig, which ended with She from Dookie.
Wild Beast refusal to let the party die (Latitude, July 15th 2012)
Despite competing against Britpop legend Paul Weller, Wild Beast attracted a huge crowd to the final set at the Latitude Festival World Arena on Sunday, July 15th. "Congratulations guys, you've made it to the end," said frontman Hayden Thorpe while raising his glass to the crowd. "Now let's party like there's no tomorrow." The 60-minute show did not disappoint, opening with an energetic Bed Of Nails and continuing with favourite tracks from all three albums. Before closing with the appropriate End Come Too Soon, Thorpe told the still-hungry revellers, "This is our last song but don't worry, you've got hours and hours til dawn."
The subtle showmanship of The Stone Roses (V Festival, August 19th 2012)
The Stones Roses bought their own brand of nonchalant confidence to the final set of V Festival this year, treating fans to one of the best 2012 festival acts, stuffed full of light-hearted rock star arrogance and egotism. After heavy downpours in the morning, Ian Brown bounded on stage in a customised cagoule and greeted the crowd with a simple, "Yeah? We're The Stone Roses," before launching into I Wanna Be Adored. The band barely took a breath between the 17 songs of the 90-minute set, but showed their gratitude for the rabid reactions with a series of appreciate nods and salutes. Highlights included the sea of swaying arms brought on by Waterfall, and a 10-minute extended version of Fools Gold. Before Man United walk-on anthem This Is The One, bassist Gary ‘Mani’ Mounfield flipped his guitar to reveal the club’s emblem, before flipping a playful middle finger in response to the crowd’s good-natured boos. The Roses ended in their usual style with I Am The Resurrection and no encore, skilfully leaving fans satisfied but forever wanting more.
The beauty and humbleness of Florence And The Machine (Bestival, September 7th 2012)
Dubbed one of the best 2012 festival performances, Florence And The Machine treated Bestival to a perfectly crafted and visually stunning headline set on Friday, September 7th. Leading lady Florence Welch arriving onto a stage indulgently adorned with mirror balls and bursts of foliage that eventually merged into stained glass windows. Opening with Only If For A Night and What The Water Gave Me, Welch cut an elegant figure in a long green tunic and floral headdress. The huge production also impressed on a musical level, of course, with the usual suspects flanked by backing singers and a mini orchestra. The pinnacle was perhaps during Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up), when Welch jumped off stage to sing among the fans straining against the barrier. The front-woman also acknowledged Bestival’s role in the making of the band, saying "We started in such a small way." She added that it’s an “honour” to headline the event’s Main Stage.
Elbow’s Latitude Festival love (July 14th 2012)
Elbow topped off the Saturday night entertainment at Latitude Festival in style this year with an epic 90-minute set spanning the band’s 15-year career. Halfway through the show, which was kicked off with The Bones Of You, the Mancunian rockers formed a huddle in the middle of the stage. Suited-up lead singer Guy Garvey announced, "at this point in the evening we like to find something to celebrate. It's a good excuse to get some drinks," before he toasted his band mates and fans. After a sensational closing rendition of One Day Like This, Garvey told the roaring crowd, "Latitude, we have gratitude for your platitudes," before joining the band in a flamboyant sweeping bow.
Stevie Wonder’s explosive end to the festival season (Bestival, September 9th 2012)
One of the undisputed 2012 festival highlights was Stevie Wonder’s two-hour, hit-packed set that marked an end of both Bestival and the major UK festival calendar as a whole for another year. Dressed to impress in a snappy red and black ensemble, Mr Motown opened the show with a ringing endorsement of US President Barack Obama. In a message of peace and unity that prompted cheers from the loved-up festival revellers, Wonder declared, "Without him [Obama] we can't move forward. When I hear 'bout racism it makes me freakin' sick to the stomach! We are all creations of the Almighty." Another religious reference was made later in the show when Wonder asked God to bless the family of late friend Michael Jackson, before launching into a The Way You Make Me Feel tribute. However, even militant atheists had nothing but praise for this star of divine proportions. Kicking off with How Sweet It Is and Master Blaster (Jammin’), Wonder continued to roll out his upbeat back catalogue with Signed, Sealed Delivered, I’m Yours, My Cherie Amour and a medley featuring For Once in My Life and Everything’s Alright. He also covered What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye, and the Beatles’ She Loves You and Imagine, the latter of which Wonder said is, "still as relevant as when [Lennon] wrote it". Finally, Bestival was put to bed with Superstition and a Happy Birthday encore, a standing ovation and the festival’s magical closing fireworks display.
Creamfields washout (August 26th 2012)
In perhaps the biggest weather-related disappointment of a decidedly soggy UK festival season, dance-lovers were left high and (not so) dry when Creamfields was cancelled on the final day of the Cheshire event due to heavy rainfall and flooding. The “world’s leading dance music festival” came to an abrupt end when organisers and local police made a joint decision to evacuate the site completely in the interests of health and safety. Mother Nature robbed revellers of the likes of deadmau5, Axwell , Calvin Harris, Sub Focus and Tiësto, although festival organisers did issue full refunds to those with redundant Sunday tickets, half refunds for those signed up for the whole weekend, and a discount for next year’s event.
Cher Loyd pee pelting (V Festival, August 19th 2012)
Everyone is entitled to an opinion when it comes to music, but slinging pee is rarely seen as the most constructive form of criticism. Unfortunately, that was the response granted to former X Factor contestant Cher Loyd when she appeared at V Festival on August 19th. The Swagger Jagger star left the stage at Hylands Park, Chelmsford, in tears after being struck by a bottle two songs into her set. The shaken teenager later returned to face her demons, telling the crowd: “It's hard enough being up here, but it's not nice having bottles of p**s chucked at you.” Taking via Twitter after the incident, however, Loyd showed she was bruised but not beaten by posting, "Thank you so much for all the nice messages, shame that a couple of people had to ruin it. Unfortunately a glass bottle got thrown at me on stage. Tomorrow is another day, big love to my brats!!!"
Inappropriate Odd Future antics (Leeds Festival, August 26th 2012)
LA rap collective Odd Future courted controversy at this year’s Leeds Festival, beginning with the systematic abuse of a gagged and bound blow-up doll named Kimberly. The distressed damsel was punched, drop-kicked and body-slammed before finally having her head popped by the foot of Jasper Dolphin. Yonkers and Sandwitches were well received as usual, but things took a turn for the distasteful again when Left Brian and frontman Tyler tangled with security while trying to reach the crowd. After a brief tussle that did not see the rappers come out on top, the trio got their own back in the best way they knew how - by miming sexual positions behind the heads of the pit team.
Moaning Minaj (T in The Park, July 8th 2012 / V Festival, August 19th 2012)
According to reports, American rapper/singer Nicki Minaj got her UK festival tour off to a very diva-ish start after throwing a “complete strop” at T in The Park because the grass outside her dressing room was not compatible with her sky-high heels. According to The Sun: "Nicki went off on one about the grass around her area, saying it was far too long for her to walk on. She threw a complete strop, pouting and pointing and asking someone to get a lawnmower to sort it out." Later on in the summer, the bootilicious bombshell proved again that she’s not one to pull her punches after telling fans to “eat s**t and die” when she was criticised for cancelling an appearance at V Festival. Minaj also pulled out of a gig at Dublins Olympia Theatre after she took ill on a flight, but the star was clearly well enough to keep up to date with her Twitter account. "I am so thankful to my true fans who understand WHY I couldn't play #VFestival & why I can't play Dublin. Absolutely gutted," she posted. “However, if u have anything negative to say to me, please #EatS**tAndDie - I am human.” She went on: "I will not let you people make me feel horrible for a f**king health issue! That's what got me in this mess! I should have listened to the doctor! Like people are hitting me telling me I should've mimed. No! Then you would have made a f**king story out of that too! #killyaf**kingself."
A view to the 2013 festival season...
As all festival fanatics, we know there can be no fun without at least a little fallout, and that the ability to roll with the punches is essential for festival survival. As ever though, we’ve had another knock-out season, so why not join us next year and make some magical memories of your own.