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Tusind tak.

July 12, 2012

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As ever, it’s been a busy few weeks and I’ve not had a great deal of time to write any blogs. Parents going on holiday and one of my best friends leaving the country for a few months meant a bit less photography and a bit more me time before going to Denmark for Roskilde Festival 2012.

 

Anyone who really know me knows how much I love Denmark. It’s an obsession that goes back to watching the 1986 World Cup in Mexico where the Danish team (and fans) left a massive imprint on my 8 year old heart. From the time I started buying the NME in the mid 90s and hearing about Roskilde I wanted to go, then reading about the tragic events during the Pearl Jam set of 2000 just drew me in further.

Finally I went with some friends in 2005 (some photos here for anyone interested  http://www.flickr.com/photos/simonayre/sets/72157600079110511/) and returned every year until 2008. After that, a combination of losing my job and not really having anyone else who wanted to go meant I stayed home, until this year I finally got to go back.

We got there on the Wednesday evening with tents already pitched for us, with the main arena opening and bands starting on the Thursday. My plan was to not take any photos of bands at all, but slowly my plans went a bit awry. I didn’t take the right lenses for it and didn’t have any photo pit access and I was doing really well to not think about taking photos, but then on the Saturday night we got into the pit for Bruce Springsteen. By this I don’t mean the photo pit; Roskilde has an excellent pit system where if you really want to see a band you have to queue up in advance to get into the pit which holds a few thousand people. Rather like the “Golden Circle” you often see at bigger stadium shows, only done out of health and safety concerns rather than financial gain.

The stewards at the festival are fantastic, often dancing along to the music and handing out never ending cups of water to the grateful crowds, and always smiling. The contrast between Roskilde and the bigger British Festivals is quite something, but I guess it actually comes down to the mentality of the people that populate Denmark. It’s not weird for people to come and talk to you, it’s the norm for people to check if someone lying on the floor in a drunken stupor is okay. There’s no sense of threat or discomfort like I’ve felt at British festivals. I spoke to a stall holder who happened to be English who was in his 16th year (I believe) working at the festival who said in all his time there he has never had one incident in his shop, while at British festivals you can expect a few over each weekend. British people could learn a lot from the Danish. Everyone could.

Anyway,  my plan was to photograph the goings on at the festival, but arriving on the Wednesday didn’t leave any time as the bands all started on Thursday, so I just grabbed a few chances as and when I could. After all, I was paying to see bands, not take photos!

The bands started with Django Django whose album I’d heard once and quite liked but not enough to buy, but I was well impressed with their live set. Great harmonies, great songs, terrible t shirts. Great reaction when the singer said he went to Uni in er… I’ve forgotten where, but somewhere nearby. After they finished I wandered around to where the Shins were, but it was pretty ful so I carried on in a circle until I got back to see Clock Opera, a band I’d heard of but didn’t know anything about. A great surprise. I didn’t know what to expect but thought it might be a bit too twee. Totally wrong, so I was. I shall be investigating further.

After a few appearances at European festivals over the last few years I’ve heard a few people have not a lot of great things to say about watching the Cure. I’ve always quite liked them (as in never bought their albums until I bought that one I never listened to a few years ago) so was cautiously willing to give them a try, hoping that my expectations wouldn’t be too high. Well all you naysayers… maybe you were unlucky, but I thought they were bloody brilliant. For 3 whole hours. Yes, they did a few songs I didn’t know (I was surprised how many I did actually know) and they probably could have chopped their set down a bit, but it was well worth staying for. I might listen to them now, actually, if I can find my one album.

I ran over to see Janelle Monae but couldn’t get in the tent because she was busting tunes like a one woman Outkast. Brilliant performance from what I could see from outside, but I had to get back to the Orange Stage for Apparatjik.

Now… a super group containing members of a-ha, Coldplay and Mew may not be considered “super” by many hep cats, but I had to see them. A-ha are one of my favourite bands of all time and I only got to see them twice, and I love Mew too, and I’m not bothered by Coldplay – I really don’t like their last album but the stuff before I didn’t mind if I’m honest. So it all started with some screens and some shadows of the band members playing and it was okay. Nothing amazing but I was glad to see them. I recommended them to everyone in our group and they went to see them for ten minutes and decided they were rubbish and went back to their tents. LOSERS. What followed was amazing. The band went off and the lights went down, nobody knew what was going on, then this DJ pops up in the middle of the big speakers in the field by the sound desk in this brightly lit up box and started playing this pumping dance music for 15- 20 minutes, while loads of characters came out from under the DJ box (from what I could see as there was quite a big crowd in my way) and wandered through the security pit. After this, all eyes and ears were back to the stage for a nice solo song from someone who had a great voice but I have no idea who she was, then the band came back on, then the guitarist came back on riding a big metal reindeer, then all the crowd chanted with the band, then all the funny ceatures were on stage dancing, then there was a massive explosion of confetti/ ticker tape, then I realised THIS IS IT! THIS IS MY FISCHERSPOONER AT COACHELLA MOMENT! It was like a mixture of Super Furry Animals, Flaming lips and a Fischerspooner gig all rolled into one. BLOODY BRILLIANT.  Then I went to bed and loads of bits of paper were everywhere in my tent. And my camera bag, my pocket, my passport is still full of them- I even had some stuck in my 35mm lens after taking this photo.

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As is always the way with festivals, we all got up the next day recalling what we’d seen separately the night before then went to get some food. The food stalls at Roskilde offer fantastic choice with the quality of food being of a very high standard, and with all establishments required to have at least one vegetarian dish it’s nice to know that wherever you go you are well catered for.

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There are all sorts of things going on all over the site, whether that be the themed camp sites or inside the main arena. There are demonstrations and attractions everywhere you look, none more stranger this year than the big house tent thing that was being suspended high up in the air by a crane. We couldn’t really see what it was all about, but hey, whatever. Obviously I had to take a photo of it.

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After seeing Jack White on the Orange stage we went for a wander around and ended up underneath the house tent thing… what a brilliant sight.

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Projecting light onto the white blocks underneath where people were sitting and/ or dancing depending on who you were looking at, it was one of my favourite experiences of the festival, along with seeing Jack White with his all female band. His drummer is absolutely amazing to watch. The whole band were amazing, as you’d expect from him, but I just couldn’t take my eyes off the drummer! Amazing.

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I left my friends to Niki and the Dove while I went to watch Daughter play to a packed out Gloria stage. I had the pleasure (and luck) to photograph her/ them do a short acoustic set at Swn at an even held by Bethan Elfyn and Adam Walton last year, so to see them play a full set in a packed out arena of roughly 1000 people going nuts for them was undoubtedly a highlight. I expected the tent to be fairly quiet, as it appeared so did they! It was lovely to see their reaction to the crowd’s reaction to them- it looked like it may have been pretty surreal to them. After Daughter I headed over to see Spleen United who I was particularly looking forward to, and they didn’t disappoint. Playing songs mainly off their new album with a sprinkling of older songs off their previous two albums, they came off stage at around 4 in the morning to rapturous applause.

There wasn’t a massive amount on the Saturday I was bothered about seeing, so I headed out to see Cerebral Ballzy to blow a few of the cobwebs away. They played a pretty raucous set of bratty punk before I spent the next few hours doing nothing! Alriiight!

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I then went to catch First Aid Kit who were absolutely lovely, but I was feeling pretty rough as the lack of sleep was catching up with me, so I got out from the outskirts of the hot tent and the massive crowd to have a wander around where I could still hear them, then went for a sit down for another couple of hours. I should have gone to see the Roots really, as I’ve always wanted to see them, but I went for some food and more rest before heading off to see the Low Anthem, who were excellent.

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We then went to get some food, having decided to miss out M83 in favour of seeing Bruce Springsteen from the pit. The queue was huge, but somehow we still managed to get in with plenty of time and room to spare. We got talking to two lovely people in the pit who were there just for the day, specifically to see the Boss. We also saw someone who previously asked who the people in the long queue were waiting for, and seemed totally oblivious to the fact Springsteen was even on the bill, judging by her reaction. Amazing, given his name was pretty much at the top of the poster AND IT WAS BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN.

After 3 hours, we pretty much all decided that we’d just seen one of the best sets we are ever likely to see. I didn’t even like Bruce Springsteen 10 years ago. I didn’t get him at all until the Rising came out and I suddenly decided I liked him, but admittedly I was close to tears a few times on Saturday night, particularly during 10th Avenue Freeze Out when the song stopped for a beautiful montage of footage of Clarence Clemons. It’s still hard to believe the big man’s no longer with us, but his shoes have been filled by his nephew, Jake, who fitted in just perfectly. It’s nice to see him take as much of the spotlight as any of the other members, rather than blending into the shadows.

Particular highlights for me were Because the Night, Tenth Avenue Freeze Out, Born to Run, Born in the USA, Dancin’ in the Dark, Spirit in the Night, E Street Shuffle (featuring the Roots who played earlier in the day).. Ah hell, ALL of it was a highlight.

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I was particularly looking froward to seeing Mew again, but how could they possibly follow the set by Bruce Springsteen? Well, I’m glad I stayed out, because they were fantastic. It’s nice seeing bands that are little known over here but massive in Denmark. Mew are one of those bands, who, apart from supporting Nine Inch Nails a few years ago I’ve only really seen them advertised playing in Cardiff Barfly, which I massively regret not going to TWICE! Being surrounded by Danish people singing every word was an absolute joy, and another night ended on a high at 3am.  

Sunday was another day where I wasn’t bothered about who or what I saw. I started the day with a bit of Dr John, who was exactly as I expected (ie I used to really like him about 15 years ago but my tastes have since changed) but I’m glad I can tick him off my list, then I lost my programme and couldn’t remember who I wanted to see and where. I knew R Stevie Moore was playing somewhere but I couldn’t find his name on any of the stages, so I assumed I missed him. Little did I know I was sat right next to the stage he played on while he was playing. Then it was on for Friendly Fires who were great when they eventually came on after a few techinical hitches, followed by Santigold who was highly entertaining. Not someone I’m massively bothered with on record, I like some of her stuff and dislike some of her stuff in equal measure- a bit like I used to feel about Radiohead. Her dancers were utterly brilliant, and I’d highly recommend seeing her should you be of that musical persuasion.

Following Santigold was an announcement that it had been raining quite heavily during her set, so we went back to the tents to get some jackets which we didn’t end up needing before heading back in to catch Bjork. I find Bjork fascinating. I have a lot of respect for her while not being that into her music, but she was brilliant live and an amazing way to end the festival, along with the curry I had from Thai Lanna. All cooked freshly, it was one of the tastiest meals I’ll have this year. It’s not often you get to say that at a festival.

So, after packing everything away the next morning we headed into Copenhagen for a couple of nights to celebrate Andy’s Big Dirty Thirty as he was calling his birthday, and went to see some sights. We ate in a really nice burger and cocktails place called Cock’s and Cows, where we devoured probably a bit more than we should have, much to the amusement of the lovely waitress. Copenhagen is a lovely place, and despite this being my 5th visit, I’ve never really seen much of it. We recitfied this by going on an hour long boat trip, going to a little coffee shop, visiting the design museum (I think it was a museum anyway!) and a whistle stop tour of the History Museum. I also decided to try to take some street photos using a technique I’d never tried before, which basically involved not looking at what I was doing. I didn’t do a great job.

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The design museum is probably the best museum I’ve been to (genuinely accidental nod to Carlsberg ads there- possibly related to it being the drink of choice in the pubs we went to)- it’s amazing seeing what people are coming up with. And the history museum involved a massive silver cauldron, a couple of dead bodies found in bogs, a chariot thing, some weapons and some coins…. I really wish I had plenty of time to walk around there and take it all in, but we only had about 40 minutes before it closed. We ended the day with a trip to Tivoli Gardens and a pizza before getting up early the next day to fly back to disappointing old Britain.  Can I have a Groundhog Week please?

I’d better start saving for next year I guess.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Laura permalink
    July 12, 2012 8:28 pm

    Excellent blog simon x

    • July 14, 2012 4:42 pm

      Thanks Laura. It always amazes me that anyone would bother sitting through it all!x

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