My house mate was discussing where we might see Noel Gallagher live. Good idea right? We found this festival in Belgium, a small village near Luven holds the Rock Werchter festival where Noel was playing. I have been to Reading a good few times but for me, four nights camping is enough. This was five nights camping for a festival lasting by four days. Let me tell you now that whether you’re a camping fan or not… worth it.
Here are my highlights.
Firstly, the arena itself is a highlight. The festival feel and arena set up was very similar to Reading’s so I felt right at home, in fact we all kept forgetting we were abroad. Having only three stages is ideal, you don’t trek all over the place and rush to catch an act. The natural feature of the trees growing attractively in the middle of the site was so pleasing to see on entry, and they were a saviour in the heat.
The first band on the main stage were The Marmozets from West Yorkshire. I had never heard much of their music, but for a bunch if teenagers rocking out on stage these guys were awesome. They had great presence and character leaving an impression on us which never normally happens with the typical alternative (whatever that really means) rock band. Needless to say they made a hell of a start to the weekend.
Years & Years
We went to watch Years & Years afterward. They great thing about being at a festival with a good group means there are different acts everyone wants to see. I would never have watched Years & Years if I wasn’t with people who would, and they were fantastic. They are one of those artists whose music you recognise and think “ah that’s by them!” They were for me anyway. Singer of the group Olly Alexander is also one of those guys who looks like 10 different people you know. King would be the only song of theirs I did know going in and it was a great close to a very entertaining set.
Florence + the Machine
One of our group favourites was Florence + the Machine. This was an interesting one as I used to be a massive fan until her performance at Reading 2012. She acted more odd than I imagined during that show and the music played was pretty bad. It’s fair to say she completely made up for it at Rock Werchter. Florence’s vocals were insane and the band complete with a brass section had such a big sound. Hearing songs from the new album was great… I need to buy that.
KWABs, or K-WABs as we decided for some reason, are not for me. The singer and musicians were certainly talented, but when you go in to hear one song from FIFA which turns out not so great then you know it wasn’t worth it. The group did play a cover of ‘Do I Wanna Know’ by Arctic Monkeys. This was the strangest cover and style for an AC song I have heard. All credit to them for playing what is in essence a great song by a band I would never imagine they have an interest in.
Mumford and Sons
Mumford and Sons delivered to the standard I’ve always imagined. I have seen live videos of them plenty of times and in each one they are on form. It seems that they put in their all and love every show they play and this really carried in their energetic set. I like what I have heard of the new album albeit a slight change in style. They have dropped the banjo and are leaning more on the rocky side which worried me to be honest, but they played everything prior just as they always have. The perfect live band.
The man with the golden voice, golden hands and golden everything else. Pharrell Williams.
This man. Where do you start. He’s got it all hasn’t he? He is not 42. The great thing about Pharrell’s set is how most songs are collaborations with different artists, it was like a live mix tape of hits. He certainly likes his women. The dancers that join him on stage were equally entertaining! When we got to ‘Happy’ there was minion expectation to some extent. Instead, lots of kids with dB reducing headphones were brought into the stage. It was so cool and unexpected, Pharrell put on a great show for the audience and you could tell the kids were genuinely excited. I never saw Pharrell as a main stage headline act, but he closed Friday perfectly.
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds
Saturday night at Rock Werchter was as Bilbo stated on his 111th birthday, a night to remember. The chief himself played my favourite set of the weekend. As Noel Gallagher entered the stage I felt the butterflies I used to feel when first hearing his guitar solos in Live Forever and Slide Away. After many a year of worshiping this man he was finally a matter of feet away. I had taken my GoPro to capture the best bits of the festival, but space was saved for this whole set. Noel may not have known what festival he had bothered to turn up at or what day of it he was playing, but he knew how to please his audience. Along with some Oasis classics such as Whatever and Don’t look Back in Anger, the High Flying Birds played hits from their first album and a large amount of Chasing Yesterday. The live set introduced a new take on some of these new songs. The opening ‘na’s of ‘In the Heat of the Moment’ were replaced very nicely by a small brass ensemble. I could list every song the band played and how magic it was… but I’ll move on else this will become an essay rather than a post.
The hype of the evening escalated quickly. This began when we caught last four songs of Lenny Kravitz’ set. Fuelled by a sensible amount of beer, we joined the crowd in singing his his such as ‘Fly Away’ and ‘Are you Going to go my Way’. With the end of the set came the start of the final push of the night. We found or way through the front barriers and gained a spot near the front facing mid stage for the Prodigy. Personally, I don’t like their music, but their set was one of the most fun we went to. It’s all about the mosh pits… No, it’s all about the size of the most pits. Proud moment, we split two circle pits during the end of the set into one. They started opening either side, it only seemed right. I feel like we’re owed a place in the Guinness book of records.
A band whose name I do not care for but music I have come to like a lot are Catfish and the Bottlemen. Seeing a band you don’t know much of is great and with a name like that, you don’t expect much going in. All I’m going to say here is check them out if you haven’t. There was much I loved about the last day. The Script pleasantly surprised me, Danny is a great performer. Coming into the crowd right in front of us helped but still, a very good set by them. Kasabian put on a perfect show as usual. This was my third time seeing them and was just as good as the times previous. There were plenty of Leicester City flags and shirts on show. It was strange seeing so much of that abroad what with us being from De Montfort University.
But it all came down to Muse that night. I had seen them before at Reading 2011 when they played a load of Origins of Symmetry for the album’s anniversary. They were fantastic then but I was so far back I was going psycho (see what I did there) to see them from the front of the crowd. I’m so happy with ‘Drones’. It is a great album, it’s classic Muse. I took a while to come around to some of 2nd Law, but Drones just completely makes up for whatever they were doing there. They stormed the stage with Psycho to open, which was followed by the best line up of Muse songs I could have thought of. Reapers was more insane live then I imagined, while Mercy was just a pleasure to hear especially with the explosion of confetti covering the sky. Matt’s vocal and guitar playing was top notch as per usual, Chris’ bass playing was incredible and Dominic was the Machine he always is on a drum kit. The set perfectly ended with Chris’ harmonica solo building into Knights of Cyndonia. Not only this, but a fantastic fireworks display over the main stage gave a satisfying end to the festival. Good job Rock Werchter.
So, after all of that I conclude… Rock Werchter is fantastic. Thank you for reading. If you would like to keep up with my posts you can also see updates through my Twitter feed @AJMatulewicz