Reading 2010 will certainly go down as being a defining and legendary moment in the rich tapestry of festival history, not an unusual accolade for Reading festival as it's steeped in tradition and has, throughout the years brought many defining moments to the festival circuit. Myth, magic, mayhem, laughter, tears and legend, it's all laid out bare and raw as the legends that surround Reading grow and morph, each successive year adding to the growing fable that countless generations of music festival lovers will pass onto new generations, who in turn will be part of generating new tales of festival mayhem and magic.
2010 morphed into a shockingly good event that had everything a quality rock and roll fest should have; slightly dangerous, a bit of controversy, achingly good performances, a touch of anarchy and some brilliant organisation that couldn't detract from the anarchic festival vibe that always has and always will rumble away in the background at this event. Will it or won't it kick off? Who will get all the praise and who will get bottled off stage?
Reading won't be seen simply following the herd or adopting the latest so called 'cool' trend, it's more likely to be seen carving its own path for others to follow or not as they please. This is rock and roll writ big, emblazoned, emboldened, cocky as you like and it envelopes that extra special edge that won't be defined, categorised, dumbed down or tamed. Reading says a great big 'fuck you' and gives the finger to those who try and limit it. Rock and roll has no boundaries, no limits and Reading is to rock and roll what air is to lungs, a marriage made in festival heaven, an essential experience.
2010 was the year that saw The Libertines reform for the festival, with Carl and Pete having quite the 'love in' right there on stage, Axl Rose and Co committed musical suicide live in front of the world when they could and should have made the biggest come back of the century. Cypress Hill were seen smoking spliffs right there on stage and the crowd responded with like for like as they proudly waved their own splits in the afternoon sunshine. Weezer brought a surprisingly upbeat, jaw dropping and utterly mad performance to Reading (who knew eh?) He even fell face down in the mud! Arcade Fire's achingly beautiful set brought a tear to the eye, while Limp Bizkit drew one of the liveliest and dodgiest crowds to the Main Stage. Serj Tankian delivered something a bit different with a set that brought a touch of class with a classical influence to the NME stage. Hadouken! gave out the performance of their lives to the Radio 1 / NME Stage, a stage that seemed to own the festival this year.
Despite all the news grabbing headlines, jaw dropping performances, the will it or won't it turn into a mud fest, along with all the other classic touches that define this festival, Reading is underpinned with a genuine rock and roll pedigree that simply makes it an awesome spectacle. Love it or loath it, Reading has depth and meaning and has provided that essential 'rite of passage' for generations. It's a bit gladiatorial really, rock stars will be rock stars, fans will misbehave, crowd surfing and moshing are carried out with complete abandon and security do their best to police the unpolicable, you never quite know what will happen at Reading and there's always that small but dangerous edge in evidence - it's rock and roll Jim - but not as we know it.
Reading's pedigree dates back to the 1960s but really came into its own in 1971 when it settled in Reading - believe me, in those days festivals were very new and as unbelievable as it sounds now, they were very shocking. These were events that the establishment didn't want, yet these were events that rock and rollers demanded. No attempts to ban, disrupt, challenge or change Reading festival would succeed, Reading was, and is, a classic UK rock festival and despite its occasional forays into many different genres of music its heart and soul remains as deeply steeped in rock as its always been.
There's a great comfort in knowing that Reading has as much power to shock in 2010 as it did way back then, that's true rock and roll for you. It will never be compromised, you may think it has been tamed but the reality is that it's just taking a little chill before it comes back with a bang, it's that essence of uncertainty that pervades and envelopes Reading that gives it an edge that the others don't have. Couple that with the young demographic and you have the perfect recipe for a festival soufflé - some may soar and some may flop a little but what they will all ultimately be is memorable, a lasting memory that becomes even better with the passage of time.
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