Punktastic’s Reading 2012 kicked off – and rightly so – with the raucously noisy Future of The Left. Anthemic and weird in equal measure; their noise rock seemed to boggle some of the punters in the NME/ BBC Radio 1 tent, who we can only assume were awaiting the likes of Spector. However, with the natural charisma of Andy Falkous and songs as good as ‘beneath the waves an ocean’ Future of The Left soon found themselves playing to a decent crowd, bringing along a taste of idiosyncrasy.
Next up at the BBC introducing stage were newcomers We Were Frontiers. Taking their cues from the likes of Chuck Ragan and Uncle Tupelo, these lads brought along a bit of country twang to the Richfield farm. Their whiskey soaked vocals and moody atmospherics didn’t seem to put off the large crowd which had gathered to watch in the early morning sunshine.
Over at the Lock Up stage, the crowd were eagerly awaiting ska stalwarts Random Hand and they were greeted like returning heroes. Singalongs and mosh pits a plenty, they produced one of the most lively sets of the day.
It was only just gone midday at this point, and Reading festival had already produced a crop of great sets, so it was up to The Hives in the NME/BBC Radio 1 tent to really steal the crown. The tent was jam-packed with a few thousand more watching outside on big screens. The band themselves seem baffled by the incredibly warm welcome they received and the frenzied madness of ‘Hate To Say I Told You So’ will go down as a truly pivotal moment, not only for the band themselves but for those at Reading who can now loftily proclaim “I was there”.
Destroying the Lock Up stage next was Touché Amore, who after their debut Reading set have proven themselves a band not to miss for anyone. Their set was searingly cathartic and genuinely moving. They performed two new songs, and both slotted in naturally. Even minor technical difficulties couldn’t detract from a set that was incredibly impressive.
As evening set in, many began to flock to the main stage in order to catch a glimpse at the reincarnated Paramore. There’s always fair bit of hype around, but today’s set was especially interesting as they’d now had time to get used to playing without the Farro Brothers, along with the fact they’d refused when asked if their set could be recorded – questions were also being asked about whether some new material would be getting a debut. What actually happened however was an hour long set that was consummate if rather boring. No new songs were played, and the set heavily focused on songs from Brand New Eyes and Riot!. If you have seen them play before, then you know the drill. Nothing out of the ordinary, but not particularly dire either.
Finally, it was time for the most eagerly awaited band of the night – The Cure. Their set was a mammoth 2 and half hours long, chat was kept to a minimum as the songs took pride of place. For the more casual fan it was probably a bit of a hard slog, particularly when The Cure played lesser known tracks from their extensive back catalogue. A good few people abandoned the cause in order to stumble back to their tents after ‘Friday I’m In Love’ but even so, the euphoria the big tracks created confirmed what we all knew, that Robert Smith is one of the best songwriters of the last 50 years and that The Cure truly deserved to be right up there headlining one of the UK’s biggest festival stages.