Weller himself struts out next, taking his rightful place as the elder statesman of angry young English folks. At 55, his music is far more potent and deliciously nasty than you’d expect from a man of his age. Fierce guitar swipes slice through the English sunset as his hands flail over his Telecaster. After opening with “Sunflower,” he launches into “Wake Up The Nation,” spouting and stammering furious graffiti from the walls of Thatcher’s London. His 13-song set illustrated just how much he has changed with the times. He played “That’s Entertainment” and “Start” from his biting and politically-minded first band, the Jam. Then he launched into “My Ever Changing Moods” from his blissfully poppy ’80s group Style Council, which as the name suggests, was a little more style over substance. He closed with the US radio hit, “Town Called Malice,” and the crowd pup-pogo’d in appreciation as the sun’s evening rays exploded in the distance.
It was dark when English indie headliners Kasabian took to the stage. We were lucky enough to catch the some of the set from high above the world in the aforementioned hot air balloon, but even from that altitude we could feel the adoration from the crowd. It was hard to miss! Not content with merely crowd surfing, many audience members participated in the seemingly dangerous “crowd standing” as the local boys kicked into their new cut, “Days Are Forgotten.” Even lead guitarist Sergio Pizzorno seemed blown away by the reception. “I’m buzzing my tits off!” he said. We’ll take that as a good thing.
Kasabian weren’t alone onstage, as they were also had quartet called the Dirty Pretty Strings to give their songs an orchestral edge. It’s rare to see a band rock so hard with violins at their back, but these guys smashed it. On top of hits like “Club Foot,” “Fire”, and “L.S.F.,” they mixed things up with an unexpected covers of Fatboy Slim‘s “Praise You”, the Korgis‘ “Everybody’s Got To Learn Sometime,” and the theme Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange. Whoa now.
But they also made sure to include tributes to HRC artist of the past. They played snatches of “I Wanna Be Your Dog,” from last year’s performer Iggy Pop, and dedicated “Empire” to Paul Weller. But perhaps the most intriguing moment came at the very end of their encore, when lead singer Tom Meighan stood alone on the foot of the stage and belted some familar lyrics at the top of his lungs. “You think you’ve lost your love, well I saw her yesterday-ay. It’s you she’s thinkin’ of, and she told me what to say-ay.” Yes, he was doing an acapella version of the Beatles‘ “She Loves You.” Is this a hint of what’s to come tomorrow? Will we have a surprise visit from Sir Paul, our favorite knight of the turntable? We’ll have to see…
But for now, we’ve been rocked so hard that it doesn’t matter. The slew of stellar sets ensures that we sleep easy, excited for Day Two!
[Photo: Getty Images]