A pair of River Island sunglasses the richer, I caught the train to Hemel Hempstead which on the way up filled to overflowing with squeeing fangirls en route to the Take That concert in Milton Keynes, and my thoughts turned to anonypooh and love_by_137 who I knew would also be going, and hoping they'd have a fantastic time as I now know they have had -- check out anonypooh's post on the matter complete with pictures and video!
bogwitch came to meet me at the station, and it was just so lovely to see her again, I just couldn't shut up. We spent the rest of the afternoon and evening chilling and chatting and watching Doctor Who, before she drove us a to lovely little pub in Waters End for our dinner. My first choice of a cheesy mushroom and spinach bake, unfortunately, had already sold out and the dish I settled on wasn't as good as I had hoped (too much grisle in the steak), but when we mentioned this to the staff, they were kind enough to take our drinks off the bill in recompense. Back to the flat and some more pre-squee until bogwitch noticed I got a bit slurry with fatigue and sent me off to bed. True to form, I woke up at 5 and kept myself very quiet, sipping coffee and watching people walk their dogs on the green behind her flat, until I deemed a sufficient enough time had elapsed for my hostess to catch up on her beauty sleep and dragged her out to make me some toast at half 8. That gave her plenty of time to get ready too, as we had arranged to meet freakspawn and _mysteria_ at the hotel sometime between 11 and 11:30am. We got to King's Cross without any problems, but then found that neither of us had thought to look up the address before setting out (and the confirmation e-mail I had with me strangely didn't list it). We drove around in circles for a bit hoping to spot it, and finally, we did...after having passed it 3 times at least without noticing! ;-)
freakspawn and _mysteria_ had already checked in and were waiting for us on the pavement, and after we had checked in as well we hit the street again in search of something to eat and a few bottles of water, since we weren't sure what fare could be had at the festival. Then, on we went to Hyde Park Corner, where much to my relief, I found my ticket waiting for me at the box office just as Ticketmaster had promised. Since we had some time to kill before the gates would open at 2pm, we found ourselves a comfortable spot in the shade and watched the people go by on their Sunday afternoon stroll through the park. In my case, people watching often takes the form of shoe watching, and I saw some awful crimes against footwear being committed, though nobody else seemed to notice...Am I weird this way, do you think? It just makes me sad to see so many women mistreat their heels. If you've never learned how to walk in heels properly, then don't! You can be dressed up to the nines, but if your shoes are ruined as a result of you not dividing your weight evenly, the whole effect is lost.</rant>
We got into the festival site quickly and without too much fuss, even though _mysteria_ had the misfortune of coming up against the one security guard that insisted on bags being turned inside out, and I must congratulate the organisers on their care and management of the place. There were stalls selling all kinds of refreshments and foods, plenty of entertainment (people on stilts, dodgems, carousels and those kind of creepy whizz-you-upside-down-through-the-air-at-b
We managed to snag us a fantastic spot to the side of the main stage and staked our claim there with the pink blanket that bogwitch had brought, and settled down to enjoy the day's music and a constant stream of frozen margaritas from the stand not too far away.
The first band onto the main stage were OK Go, who had played a venue in Madrid the night before and hadn't slept, but who gave an electrifying performance and closed off their set with a choreographed dance of the video for their latest single A Million Ways, which went down a treat with the audience. They're a fantastic band live and I've now added them to my favourite artists list.
Next up were The Fratellis, a Glaswegian post-grunge band; quite interesting, though I think a smaller venue would do them more justice. As it was, they sort of got drowned out in a lot of white noise.
Then, the biggest surprise of the festival: Thomas Dolby, resurrected. I didn't recognise him immediately, but when he took off the goggles, the years just melted away. 14 Years he's been away from the music business and the charts, in which time he's set up home in California with wife and 3 kids (who up until a few months ago never knew their dad had ever been a 'rockstar', or so he told us) and eked out a living making film scores...but now he's back, touring the UK again. If you get a chance to see him, do. He's funny, modest, entertaining and still just brimming with talent. Though some of his material may be a bit dated, with the new arrangements and intros the songs are still well worth listening to, and the video projections are great, too. He closed his set with Hyperactive!, never one of my favourites, but in the new version it just won't leave me alone. Pity I only have the old one here...
I didn't care much for the next two acts: The Dears and The Mystery Jets, and I'm hard-pressed to explain their apparent popularity. I found them dull and uninteresting, and mystified as to why they'd had such prominent billing. Still, they seemed to have brought their own crowd, who did enjoy them.
Goldfrapp were on next, and I was pleased to see Alison Goldfrapp has excellent taste in shoes! She also has an amazing voice, esp. for one so tiny as she...Although the PA let them down on occasion, esp. the bass getting far too much emphasis (or perhaps that was just from where I was standing), they gave an outstanding performance, with dancers!
Finally then, the headline act, the one I'd really come to see, even though I'd only just seen them 2 months ago in Birmingham: Depeche Mode. Prior to the show, I'd stated that what I would most like to hear them do, was Martin sing Shake The Disease, my favourite DM-song at the moment, and as with 2 months ago, when it had been Leave In Silence, I got my wish. The set list wasn't radically different from the other Playing The Angel-tour ones, and not even noticeably that much shorter, although there was a predominance of greatest hits, which is to be expected for a festival gig. freakspawn's listed all the songs in her write-up, so I'm not going to here; suffice to say that as usual, DM rocked, and I'm quite sure that as supergroups go, theirs is one of the most super shows around.
We got back to the hotel around midnight, had a post-squee drink in the bar (minus bogwitch, who preferred a shower) and then watched highlights of the show again on Channel 4. And the first thing I did when I got home late last night, is log on and order my limited edition live-cd of Sunday's concert, which -fingers crossed- will be here in 28 days.
When Monday dawned, grey and wet, bogwitch and I were up early, had a croissant for breakfast, and knocked up Lorna and Jo who were still abed at 9am! Lisa left while I nagged the others into getting washed and dressed, and then the three of us checked out and went for an early lunch (for me)/breakfast (them) in a trendy café in Islington. We had such a good time that we forgot the ticking of the clock, and Jo and Lorna missed their coach by 10 minutes as a result. They didn't seem to mind too much though; new arrangements were made quickly, and we said goodbye on the tube as they went to catch the train to Coventry, and I went on to catch mine to the airport. Where I had to kick my heels for 4 hours because my plane was delayed, giving me ample time to pick and choose a new pair of shoes at Kurt Geiger, duty free.
But guess what? We've made plans to meet up again in August, to go see Beneva, and Guys and Dolls starring Patrick Swayze!