“The British ones are best. Reading’s amazing” Jack White, The White Stripes & The Raconteurs
“To come here and have the audience react like that especially to the new tracks is really heartwarming. We’ve been out to the States for most of this year so to come back to our original fans and to have them reacting to our songs like that is unbelievable.” Billy, The Subways
The Reading Festival, where do I begin…………?
My love of the festival began in 1983 when I attended for the first time; the weekend also being my first festival of any kind, ever.
The standout moments for me of that weekend were the camaraderie in the campsite; the way that so my people with a similar taste in music could meet up for a weekend, once a year and have such great time. We made friends with people in the nearby tents and being a ‘rock’ crowd, there was no trouble or anger of any kind, just a lot of like minded people having great fun at what would be the highlight of their year!
The bands that year were mostly Rock and Metal, but for me the stand out performance was by Hanoi Rocks, at the time, a little known band from Finland, who put in the show of the day on the Friday and gradually built a following after this gig. If they hadn’t imploded in the late 80’s they would have been as big as Guns ‘n’ Roses, who have cited them as a major influence. They are still playing today, who knows maybe they will grace one of the stages of the festival in the future? (This year is the 25th anniversary of their last performance).
As the years have flown by, many performances have stood out, Wonderstuff in ’88, Nirvana in ’91 & ’92, Fishbone in ’93, Ben Folds Five in ’96, Metallica in ’97 & ’03 and My Chemical Romance in ’05. But, of all the bands I have seen and all the comedians I have watched, it all boils down to one thing…… It’s just an amazing weekend, dedicated to great entertainment and developed by a ‘spot on’ team of organisers. The festival doesn’t follow trends, it sometimes sets them, it doesn’t follow the latest fashions, it skirts around them and collects styles and types of music from all over the world. Where else could you watch Metallica on the mainstage and Asian Dub Foundation in a tent at the same festival? Reading that’s where!!!
It was after 21 years that I decided to write the Official History of the festival (someone had to) and it has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my career so far. Now, halfway through the second volume of the book, I am meeting up with bands and artists who didn’t make the first volume (for whatever reason), from Travis to The Twang, from Saxon to Seasick Steve and many hundreds of others, all keen to talk to me about their experiences at the greatest outdoor show of the summer.