ROCK WERCHTER 2012 – Live Review

Werchter,  29th June – 01st July 

Rock Werchter 2012 in a word was simply epic. The line-up was promising and we had never been there before, so it was the right time to come.

Just a couple of lines about the organization: two things were particularly good, the main stage was closed by gates, so a limited number of people could come in to see gigs closer to the stage, avoiding pushing and wild moshpits.

The other good thing was that I noticed a lot of disabled people enjoying the event, that means that it was well organized to host them, both in the festival area and into campsites. Very well done.

And now let’s talk about music!

 

FRIDAY HIGHLIGHTS

Jack White was the first performance welcoming us on Friday, we got there on time to pass through the gates, so we watched his show with a good view, It was the best performance of the whole festival together with Kasabian and Red Hot Chili Peppers , all of them made marvellous performance for different reasons.

Jack White deserve a 5 star review, first of all because his roadies were dressed with black suits and because his band was technically superior to anyone else.

He played a career-spanning set, mixing his new album “Blunderbuss”, with songs from The White Stripes, The Dead Weather and The Raconteurs and the audience was quite enthusiastic, that’s very good, since they were from 14 to18 years old and there was just a handful of older people (like me).

The harmony inside the band was surprising, I guess Jack gets along with people soon since he founded three bands, and also this time he interacted with them like they were old schoolmates. For the record, Los Buzzardos were playing along with him, the female band (the Peacocks) was left in the dress room.

He showed once again that he’s a guitar genius, giving life to every song with amazing solos or just interweaving chords with the rest of the band. He can be a soloist and part of the band at the same time.

I must mention Isaiah “Ikey” Owens,  a great piano player and keyboardist, he played back to back with Jack setting the crowd on fire, and Fats Kaplin, who played both the violin and the pedal steel and made every song magic with his touch.

Just to have an idea of the hell they unleashed, I can say that they closed the set with “Sixteen Saltines” and “Seven Nation Army”, but great choices were “I cut like a buffalo”, “Hello operator” and “Steady as she goes”.

The great thing was that they didn’t restrict themselves to play the three-minute song, they carried tracks on for even ten minutes with instrumental parts, like bands were used to do in 70s, singing less words and playing more music.

Lana Del Rey started her show after Jack White at the Barn. Ok, I don’t like her, even if I think her songs are a good example of chamber pop and are well produced, just like a product can be.

She appeared accompanied by a string quartet, she kicked off well with Blue jeans, but she didn’t miss to give the audience wonderful false notes on Video Games, leaving the people to sing-along.

The crowd loved her, she went in front of the crowd holding hands like a diva,  and I admit that it’s a good trick to distract the attention from a poor performance.

dEUS came before Pearl Jam on the main stage. Even if they played a good set, their music and emotional impact didn’t convince me, but people really enjoyed the show.

The Friday night headliner was Pearl Jam and they gave the audience a superb show. Eddie Vedder was in shape and he charmed the crowd pulling a rabbit out of a hat and singing songs from Ten, the ten-million copies debut album, making people shed a tear. “Alive” was absolutely predictable as encore, but it had such a great impact that I found myself singing the refrain again and again after the end of the gig. It’s no accident that some songs remain in the music history forever and it was like they wanted to scream that grunge is still alive.

And they showed it to the audience with “Why Go”, “Jeremy” and “Better Man”, a magnificent trio that rocked the night. People asked for “Black” loudly, but they got no satisfaction. It was not a pity, because the setlist gave a lot of good vibrations, like “Just breathe”,  a moment for romantics.

But the best moment came when Eddie sang a convincing cover of “Rockin’ in the Free World”, it was the best finale they could ever choose, it’s an anthem to every single person who loves music and life, so well done.

Dead Mau5 closed the night with a hour-long set made of techno pumped through loudspeakers, accompanied by amazing visual effects and the usual mouse-masked dj. Friday I’m in love!

 

 

SATURDAY HIGHLIGHTS

It was a great Saturday line-up! The best acts of the day were definitely Kasabian, Mumford & Sons and Editors.

Mumford & Sons new songs are absolutely remarkable, they are a mature band, even if they are going to release only the second album. Three years have passed since “Sigh no more” and it’s clear that the band looked for fresh ideas during their break. The first result is “Below my feet”, a song that seems stolen to Bob Dylan, crossing it with a John Lennon piano style. But it’s just the intro, after a minute the song takes the  Mumford & Sons shape, but taken to the next level.

Songs from the first album are already got into shape, so that they sound as music classics, appreciated by the audience and sung-along with passion, Belgian people are definitely in love them.

The second new song came after “Roll Away Your Stone”, and it is called “Lover of the light”. It’s a good song with no surprises but  the real revelation was “Ghosts That We Knew”, an aching ballad, ready to be a successful single. There are just Mumford’s vocals and the gentle company of a guitar to create a magic atmosphere.

The rest of the setlist was made of songs from the first album and the band is great performing live. “The cave” and “Little lion man” were amazing, the sound is richer than the studio version and it’s stronger, really involving people and going straight to the heart. It was a huge emotion indeed.

An emotion completely different from the one unleashed by Kasabian, who played before them. Kasabian showed that rock is safe and alive and they are carrying on the heritage taken from the big band existed in 60s – 70s, like The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin. They compose songs like they want to find out how those band would have been in the noughties and the result is a mix of rock influenced by electronic sounds, but they give room also to pop, writing beautiful ballads like Goodbye Kiss, missing from the setlist this time.

It was proper rock list indeed, including songs from the new album “Velociraptor!” and great classics such as “LSF”, “Club Foot” and “Fire”. Tom Meighan is the best and cheekiest front-man of our times and together with the guitarist Sergio Pizzorno aroused the crowd with a good dose of great music.

The best moment was on “Fire”, when Pizzorno asked the audience to sit down and then jump on the refrain and we made it! But the show was not over, Tom remained on the stage to sing a drunken rendition of The Beatles’ classic ‘She Loves You’ , greeted with a massive sing-along (for the first time) and applause.

Just an advice to people: try to learn lyrics, it’s nice when you sing-along, especially if the best British band (awarded by NME) plays at6pm. But I’m sure that after the gig a lot of young guys ran home to learn them by heart.

The headliners were Editors on the main stage and Incubus at the Barn. The first band celebrated the 10th anniversary of their career with fireworks at the end of the show, and it was a nice surprise. The gig was hang in the balance between drama and romanticism rattling songs off their three album,  the sad “Smokers Outside the Door Hospital”  and the popular “Blood” reverberated with  Smith’s booming vocals. The indie rockers powered through all their most popular anthems, with ‘Munich’ and ‘The End has a Start’ taking top honours.

After “Nothing” the band left the stage, just to come back two minutes later to give the encore:

“No Sound But The Wind” was followed by the new track ‘Two Hearted Spider’” and. obviously, by the dark song “Papillon”.

As if it couldn’t get any better, Drum and Bass duo Chase & Status then took to the stage and produced a terrific hour-long set. ‘No Problem’, ‘Eastern Jam’ and ‘Hypest Hype’ got the gig off to an unbelievable start, and it just never let up. What a day.

 

SUNDAY HIGHLIGHTS

 

On Sunday the weather gave us a fresh shower around 2pm, but the sun came out the clouds just on time to see  The Vaccines.

Those guys are promising, the debut album was a great success and they gave a beautiful show to the audience, full of energy, indie rock and no breaks. Moreover they showcased a couple of new songs from the upcoming sophomore album, like “Teenage Icon” and “No hope”. Both of them are the natural prosecution of the first album, good rock songs, with the usual vein of melancholy and I think they should and could do more.

We were delighted by the afternoon sun, laid down on the grass in front of the Pyramid Marquee, enjoying Kitty, Daisy & Lewis, a country- r&b trio, rooted in the old tradition where songs and music are handed down, played and enjoyed at gatherings of family and friends.

It was a relaxing, but inspiring hour of music, where divine vocals were intertwined with catchy old melodies, that sounded of 60s andSouth USA, you were able to imagine theNew Orleansstreets crowded with old people playing their music.

One of the most surreal moments of the entire weekend came when BelgianManchesterCitycaptain Vincent Kompany took to the stage to introduce City fan Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds.

Noel wrote a very good solo album, full of catchy and brilliant singles such as ‘If I had a Gun’ and ‘AKA What a Life’ and his performance was straight, technically perfect, the band is great indeed, but he lacks of emotions. Liam was a superb counterpart, so the longest shiver I felt was on the Oasis classic ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’, even if I wiped a tear also on ‘Little by Little’ and ‘Talk Tonight’.

After the end of the show I ran to the Barn to see Ed Sheeran for the first time, and I realized that he’s very famous inBelgium. They put him on the wrong stage, because crowd populated the whole area outside the big tent.

Ed played alone with his guitar, but he’s fucking brilliant, he used the loop pedal and changed lyrics making “You need me, I don’t need you” a 10-minute song, a great finale for his show!

Other little pearls were “Lego House” and “Small Bump”, what a pity I missed “A-Team”.

I sreturned on the main stage to watch the phenomenon that is Florence + The Machine, and the dreamy redhead didn’t disappoint. Despite some glaring song omissions (leaving out her big breakthrough single ‘You’ve Got the Love’ was a crass faux pas) her set is consistently powerful and packed with several stand-out moments that totally vindicate her enormous success. She floats around the stage as if in a dream, and the audience can’t help but be swept along with her. This is a headline- quality hour, and it won’t be long before she’s topping the bill here. Stunning, stunning stuff.

Irish rockers Snow Patrol announced early on that the band were merely the ‘warm-up’ for the night’s headliners Red Hot Chili Peppers, and their performance, unfortunately, showed why. Lightbody’s haunting vocals send shivers down the spine, and some moments, like a tear-jerking rendition of ‘Run’ were just incredible – but it always felt like Snow Patrol were content to keep this very restrained. TheBelfast group have the rare power to move a crowd in a way very few others can.

Closing Rock Werchter 2012 were the Red Hot Chili Peppers, bringing their funky brand of rock back to Werchter after three years away. We had the chance to see them live for the first time and we didn’t have great expectations because we knew that the singer sometimes doesn’t perform perfectly, but this time he was amazing!

The band has a tank full of energy which bursts into flames on the rockest songs such as ‘Can’t Stop’, or the encore

‘Give it Away’, or they release it slowly, as on the mellow ‘Under the Bridge’. Red Hot Chili Peppers are modern music legends, and they deserve this name.

The best moment: a big mass hug on “Scar tissue”, simply touching, in moment like that you feel that humans could live in peace if they wanted to.

Authors: Roberta Capuano & Sara Cicchella