Sunday, 6 April 2008

V Festival

Royal Melbourne Showgrounds, Flemington.

Last year's V Festival in Melbourne was a truncated affair, being simply two longish concerts over two evenings at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl.

It was good, featuring Pixies, Phoenix and Jarvis Cocker (among others) but kind of anti-climactic.

It must have been something of a success though, because this year Mr Branson has deigned to give Melbourne the whole shebang, with a full day on four stages at the Showgrounds.

Kate and I had a difference of opinion as to the acts worthy of our time, so after watching Roisin Murphy (late of pop act Moloko) we split up. Kate to see Air (again), Duran Duran and The Presets, and me to see The Jesus and Mary Chain, Queens of the Stone Age and The Smashing Pumpkins.

I think I made the right choice. Although Kate assures me Duran Duran were awesome.

The Jesus and Mary Chain were suitably dour, although not so much as back in the day. They did actually speak to the audience a bit.

Brothers Jim and William are starting to look their age, but can still rock as well as anyone. And their particular brand of noisewall was very well received.

The crowd then swelled for Queens of the Stone Age. And the crowd went off. The energy only dipped briefly at one point when they went into some of the old-school first album, but it came back to end on a rip-snorting version of No One Knows.

Another short break and the crowd swelled yet again for The Smashing Pumpkins. This was the one I'd been waiting for.

It's been a while since the Pumpkins toured Australia, and the anticipation was palpable. Thankfully, we were treated to a nice broad cross-section of their history, as well as the sort of antics that only someone with the self-assuredness of Billy Corgan could successfully pull off.

Examples:
(a) Standing in Christ-pose on the foldbacks, shrouded in a spotlight;
(b) Introducing the band by announcing "In the beginning, there were . . . drums!" (and bass! and guitar!) followed by the announcement "let there be rock!";
(c) And finally, spending ten minutes (before the encores) seeing how much feedback he could generate by bashing his guitar against the amps. A lot, it turns out.

And none of this was done ironically. It was all ridiculously overblown, unashamedly pretentious, oh-so-1990s, and I loved every second of it.

The thing that carried it though was the extraordinary musicianship that Corgan brings. Every single number was arranged to within an inch of its life.

From the bombastic orchestrals of Tonight, Tonight, to a beautiful solo acoustic version of 1979, to the gothic punk of Bullet with Butterfly Wings, at no point did it feel like anything was there just as filler.

It was a great festival, and hopefully the powers that be will be bringing it back again next year.

9 comments:

Gayle said...

Sounds like a great day. I would have loved to have seen Smashing Pumpkins. Nice to see them back together Billy Corgan's somewhat dubious solo career, although didn't mind that one semi-hit single that Kwan had.

Hungry Wolf said...

Okay. . .'Liza and I so saw QOTSA as well (and yes they rocked it - Safety Dance and Feel Good Hit of the Summer - BANG!). As if I would miss the Frenchies again (mmm Dreamy Boys) and yes Duran Duran did rock it! I also feel that Mr. Pendlebury will support me in my 'Smashing Pumpkins are the Wankiest Wankers in Wankerdom' quest. . .They are seriously wrongtown. Emo Inciters and that says it all. So agree with Gayle, only time Corgan is bearable is when he's giving fat and happy music! Mosh on. . .x

Ty said...

Worst.Silver Skirt.Ever.

Two (skirted) legs bad.
Four legs good.

Is anybody hung-gryyyyyyy??????

Spoon said...

Budge referred to Q0TSA as "Things of the Stone Age the other day. So I was just wondering it they did a version of Happy Birthday Helen?

Spoon said...

And this is just a test ...

Matt said...

Sadly, no. Although they did do a bit of The Safety Dance.

Spoon said...

Men Without Hats Safety Dance?

"We cna dance, we can dance, everybody look at your pants"?

Matt said...

Yep. Only for about 30 seconds or so. The "we can dance if we want to . . . " bit.

Chaurita said...

hahahaha. . .silver skirt. Billy the bogan really has to move past 1992...you funny lady.