decoded_ Something for your mind… Something for your mind…

March 31, 2008

V-Festival 08 – Sydney : 29.03.2008

Filed under: Clubbing & Gigs,Music — decoded_ @ 1:24 pm

V-Festival 08

V-Festival 08…

It seems odd calling all these events festivals when they are a short single day/night affair, with only a few areas/stages. Nothing like the multi-day festivals OS.

There’s lots of room to grow the V-Festival if Richard Branson is happy to keep throwing $ at it. I can’t see it ever getting bigger than The Big Day Out, probably a good thing.

There were not many acts playing that I was that interested in and desperate to see, but I went along anyway to check it out, my first V-Festival, always nice to hang with friends.

This is the first time I’ve been to a big music event in Centennial Park, yes… really. It’s a nice location, very green, lots of lush grass. There’s not much shade though with the area/space they used, I mention this because I’m not a fan of ‘fun in the sun’, that’s my idea of hell. Actually that’s one of the reasons I don’t go to many of these big event/festivals. Plus they usually don’t feature much if any of the type of sounds/music I’m into, yeah, I’m hard to please. I much prefer smaller/intimate gigs and side-shows these days anyway. You get a better performance.

We got to V-Festival late, around 5.30pm, not being that keen to see anyone who played earlier. Jesus & The Mary Chain were rocking out as we entered the venue, sounded good but I’m not a fan, and only really know that ‘Head On’ song/single. V-Festival is a very well organised event, no complaints about wait times or lines for entry, toilets, food and drink, it was all quick and easy. Very different situation from the year before I’m told. The crowd seemed chill and friendly, good range of ages, no fluro, certainly not a munt-fest, nice.

The stage setups were impressive, good light shows. There was a nice natural light show happening in the clouds, with a distant thunder storm all night too. Concert sound was big and clear, could have been louder though I felt. I didn’t need my ear-plugs, and had no ringing/deafness afterwards, so probably means the sound was ideal. Some of the sound engineering at times was far from attentive though, with channels coming up late, or not on at all, which lost small details during Air, and with both Air and Duran Duran the main vocals seemed to be lost in the mix. I don’t think they had a centre array of suspended speakers for the vocals, like I’ve seen at other concerts. For the first 1/4 of Duran Duran the guitar level was way too loud, pushing the bass and keyboards too far back in the mix, both being upfront is a key to Duran Duran’s early sound, I notice the Klaxons do the same with their sound, works well.

I was quite happy with our position in the crowd for Air and Duran Duran, being just left of centre, and about 10-15 people back from the front of the stage/barrier when closest. People around seemed friendly, fun, music focused and respectful, which was excellent, makes for a nice change.

Air : I only really know their music from movie soundtracks “The Virgin Suicides” and “Lost In Translation”, and their single ‘Sexy Boy’. They put on a good live show. Great musicians, tight drummer. Lots of tasty old-school synths and electric piano keyboards up on stage in use. They even had a roadie changing patch cables and knobs on an old analogue Korg or Moog mono synth between songs, a human patch changer if you will. Music was very lounge/chill, very French, with that retro-electro vibe. Nice sounds for a sun-set, thankfully a few drops of rain didn’t turn into a shower. They ended their set with a rocking intensity complete with strobe light mayhem, awesome. The kids love those vocoded vocals, or ‘Daft Punk’ robot vocals as they call them, never heard screams and cheers for just a vocal effect before. The kids didn’t seem to have the attention span for a whole set of those down-beat sounds, too much else to see as well. I noticed about 1/2 the crowd left after they played ‘Sexy Boy’, clever of them to have it 3/4 into the set. If you left early you missed the best part of their set, the last 3 tracks were excellent, lots of intensity.

Nick Rhodes : Duran Duran
Nick Rhodes : Duran Duran : Photo by Joanne Spiteri, more here.

Duran Duran : Not a group I was much of a fan of during the 80s, my best friend Paul Armour was though. I’ve developed more of an appreciation for them and their music over the years through Joanne, who was, and still is a MASSIVE fan. She paid $400 for a VIP (2nd row) ticket to see them the night before as well. Check out her photos here. She’s had a non stop grin on her face since, and is in her Duran Duran obsessed state currently, glued to YouTube watching everything and anything Duran Duran.

I thought Duran Duran played great at V-Festival. They put on a kick-arse live show, and still have lots of energy, impressive at their age and after all the years of 80s excess. They played lots of hits, and there was much crowd love and singing along. It’s great to see they still have that big concert venue/event attraction after all these years. It makes me angry to hear/read people say Duran Duran were hillarious, a parody of themselves, too old, they should give it up, trying to be something their not, blah, blah, blah. Where’s the respect? There are so many other reformed successful 80s groups, only able to play tiny pubs, RSL and casino cabaret shows these days, that’s when you’re a shadow of your former self. Unlike many of the ‘pretty boy’ bands that followed on from Duran Duran’s success, Duran Duran write all their own (damn catchy) songs, play their own instruments, and play them very well. Their own extended/night-versions of songs were a great concept too.

Simon Le Bon’s vocals are still spot on, he’s a great front man, puts on a good show, not bad for a guy around 50 years of age. He still gets the girls (well 30+ year old women) screaming. The new guitarist Dominic Brown is very good, and importantly knows when not to play, unlike original guitarist Andy Taylor (yes I know all their names) who rocked out with non stop, self-indulgent riffs through almost every song, killing them, last time I saw them about 4 years ago. I don’t think he was on the same page musically anymore, sad when an original member leaves a band though.

I was dissapointed not to hear ‘The Reflex’ and my faves ‘A View To A Kill’ and ‘Ordinary World’ probably the songs of theirs I like most. Joanne said they played them all the night before, during their 2 & 1/2 hour concert. I’m not enough of a fan to want to see them twice in a row. Their ‘White Lines’ cover sounded great, I’d forgotten all about that song, woo Grandmaster Flash! One of the new Timbaland/Timberlake co-productions ‘Nite-Runner’ sounded great, very infectious vocals, with a nice big phat 808 kick boom amongst the programmed R’N’B style. It’s scary to say but I don’t mind a few of the songs on their new ‘Red Carpet Massacre’ album. ‘The Chauffeur’ sounded great too, love how it starts off with Nicks strange, haunting synth sounds with just Simon’s vocal, and then the rest of the band joins in much later, taking it to a new level. New song ‘Tempted’ sounded very nu-rave with John Taylor doing his best to look comfortable playing a synth instead of pounding the 4 strings. Having a session backing singer (sexy black chic in black latex), and a saxophonist (awesome musician) doing the sax parts/solos really completed and complimented the sound, it was missing last time I saw them.

All in all a very impressive live show, not much has changed apart from their age. There was much love in the crowd. Duran Duran looked like they enjoyed every second of their performance, nice to see they still have that passion and energy for performing songs they must have played 1000s of times over. A little technical trouble at the start, but once past that it was rocking. Nice one! I’m not that much of a fan… honest.

The Presets : I don’t mind their singles ‘I Go Hard, I Go Home’ and ‘Are You The One?’ but not much of a fan of the rest of their music/albums. We popped over to see a bit of these guys after Duran Duran finished. Watching and eating some hot chips, corn on the cob, and drinking fresh lemonade, whilst hanging at the back. From where we were it didn’t look or sound like a very exciting live show, it might have been different up closer, maybe. Until the last couple of songs, it was all a bit err… boring really. The masses love that new ‘My People’ single, first I’ve actually heard it, it didn’t do much for me. I got to hear ‘I Go Hard, I Go Home’ which they played last, and it sounded great. Laurent Garnier actually played that when he was last in Sydney, a fun train-spotting fact for you there kids, thanks grand-pa, hehe.

I didn’t bother seeing Queens Of The Stone Age, or Smashing Pumpkins not being the type of music/sounds I’m into. Plus they were playing at the same time as Air and Duran Duran at a stage right over the other side of the area/space. I was comfortable where I was with friends. I can imagine there being a much rougher agro/drunk crowd over there anyway.

I was surprised there were not more people on the mass exodus at the end of the event. I later learnt that the stage’s endings were staggered 15 minutes apart, with the furthest stage from the entrance/exit (where we were) finishing last, that’s good organisation.

After a very long walk (with sore feet) to our friend’s car in Bondi Junction (thanks for the lift home Charles & Rowena) via tiger eating at Harry’s Cafe De Wheels our night was over, and over way before midnight, which is unusual.

It’s a great, well run event, if there’s a better line-up next year, I’d be happy to attend again. Depeche Mode and/or Tears For Fears please Rich!

1 Comment »

  1. Babe, Simon Le Bon will be 50 this October 27th 🙂

    I totally agree on the new guitarist. He’s great. I’ve seen Duran Duran 5 times now and have to say that I like his playing much more than Andy’s.

    I wanna go see them again – hmmm, Melbourne and Adelaide are coming up!!! Just joking!!! 🙂

    Comment by Joanne — March 31, 2008 @ 2:42 pm

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