Friday, 2 September 2011

That's Entertainment

Reading Festival is over once again and even the BBC have given up the pretense of covering Leeds festival!

When I saw the original line-up I admit that I was slightly disappointed. I was already seeing Pulp in Hyde Park and Muse aside, it didn't look to be a classic. However, unlike last year, it exceeded expectations. The Strokes were good but they suffered from following on from Pulp who played more of an MFP Greatest Hits set than they did in July and so were hard to compete against. I watched the Horrors and White Lies instead of My Chemical Romance, but from the BBC3 coverage it looked like they put in a good set.

My personal highlights were Muse, Pulp, Interpol, The Horrors, White Lies and Warpaint.

As usual we got the annual sanctimonious claptrap about "freebies" from the Greens. The tickets are not free. Geddit? No, they don't. They have no resale value, cannot be passed on and as local councillors we would normally have the right to ask to be able to monitor an event on such a scale in our town. What's Rob's proposal? That only wealthy councillors get in to monitor the festival? That councillors should get free admission and sign a waiver promising to not enjoy any of the bands? The lack of visibility by councillors had to be a major factor in the council's decision to stop the festival for several years which led to the rise of that travesty called Glastonbury becoming so big.

In fact it is more essential than ever that councillors, whether they like the music or not, attend. I was critical of the "Them Crooked Vultures" tunnel and the positioning of the NME/Radio1 stage, the vast amounts of combustable material left lying around at previous festivals and the monitoring of the campsite area.  These have all been addressed and you don't get that sort of detail sitting on your arse at home. Not everyone likes the mosh-pit so different views are essential to make an event (that councillors are ultimately responsible for) which generates a huge amount of cash and puts the town on the global map be as successful as it is. This year crime was down and the layout of the festival better than ever, and that was in part down to councillors inputing their observations into the mix.

However, it sounds more like Rob didn't want to dip his hands into his pockets and shell out the compulsory charity donation. Think of the trees, won't somebody think of the trees?

I met up with my friend Sharon who works for Universal Records but missed my friend John who was mixing Cults in the Festival Republic tent... he had to hot foot it to Leeds thanks to the split day line-up. They were both at Portsmouth Poly with me on the Entertainment Committee. Sharon was Ents Officer during 1987-88 and 'Punky' John mostly did sound engineering, although he also played for a local punk band called Ad-Nauseum. I was sound engineer for his spin-off band Sod Noz on their world tour (which consisted of just the one gig, although they did make up tour tee shirts!)

Ad-Nauseum - John's playing bass
That was my 16th Reading Festival out of 25. The first was in 1987 on a guest pass from Entec who were a major sound and lighting company which also owned the Marquee. Reading therefore always brings up "what if" thoughts as John was not the only person from PortEnts to go on to work in the music business. In the end I decided not to go to New York to take up a job as a lighting engineer but I did learn a lot doing gigs which has come in useful later on.

Like when the committee voted to buy an 'ESP Interface' after the techies presented a motion saying that it would allow them to mix bands from the bar on the opposite side of the building! In fact the techies pulling a fast one on the rest of the committee seems to be a recurring theme and a valuable lesson...
Never get yourself into a situation where you rely entirely on consultants for advice!
We also prided us on fast get outs at Pompey Guildhall, so when the Cocteau Twins played we were left twiddling our thumbs during the get out and we weren't sure what the next item of gear to load was, our stage manager Paul the Bastard asked their road manager:

"What's the next flight case?"
"Cable nose."
Puzzled looks from Paul. again: "What's next?"
"Cable nose."
More puzzled looks: "What's that?"
"Ask Cable. Cable knows."

That's what happens when you don't factor in a Dutch road crew to your calculations. Cue next Ents meeting when a motion was put forward for Paul to order 144 Cable Noses!

There's plenty more where they came from. I may just write them all down one day.
Ents Outing Summer 1984 - play spot the Was

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