Hawk Eyes got Sunday off to a flyer with a raw and powerful set that surely knocked out any tiredness or remnants of hangovers. After headlining the Introducing Stage last year, the Leeds rockers have gone from strength to strength and the live show has evolved considerably too. Heavy but melodic, the band even managed to conjure up a mosh pit in the Rock Tent this early in the day, while singer Paul Astick also got involved by jumping into the crowd at various intervals. Stoner rockers Wavves delivered a set of short and sweet chillwave indie over in the Radio 1 Stage before a pumped-up Villagers blasted through a 35-minute set that seemed all too short. With Conor O’Brien’s vocals in sensational form and piercing through the air, whether he had a microphone or not, the likes of ‘Nothing Arrived’, ‘Ship of Promises’ and ‘Becoming A Jackal’ were all delivered in sensational style, while the more experimental tones of ‘The Waves’ also gained a positive reaction.
Over in the Rock Stage, And So I Watch You From Afar pummelled their way through a high-octane set that delivered intense moshpits, a relentless assault on all the senses with a band that seemed genuinely touched by their reception. With an effort and enthusiasm that put so many of the more hyped bands on the bill to shame, this was a triumph and hopefully bodes well for more experimental, math and post-rock bands to fill the stages next year. Devon’s Big Wave played to a decent-sized crowd on the BBC Introducing stage and their sunshine-infused pop sensibilities complemented the early evening sun perfectly. Sounding like a cross between Belle and Sebastian’s indiest moments and The Pipettes alluring charisma, they also have enough gusto in their sound to mark them as ones to watch. Another band who has worked hard over the past few years and have now become major festival regulars is Dog is Dead, and their Introducing headline slot may have been short and sweet but still contained the likes of ‘Teenage Daughter’ and ‘Glockenspiel Song’, both of which contain splendid harmonies and melodies you will be humming for days after seeing them. Next album, they’ll be hitting the big stages for sure…
When it came to the final night’s headliner, there was a difficult choice to be made between Phoenix and Biffy Clyro, and while the French act have released one of the albums of the year in ‘Bankrupt!’, Biffy not only started half an hour before them but have also now played at seven of the 14 Readings I’ve been too. It was hard not to pass up the chance to see them finally make the step up to main stage headliners. Working their way through the stages, and with memories of their early West End Centre shows still fresh in the memory, this was a testament to the hard work and constant effort bands like Biffy put in to their livelihood. Opening with ‘Different People’ before blasting through some of the stadium-sized tracks (‘That Golden Rule’, ‘Who’s Got a Match?’, ‘Sounds Like Balloons’), Simon Neil then brought out an acoustic guitar (this wouldn’t have happened in 2001!) but it was an unexpected delight to hear a stripped-back and shortened-down version of ‘Questions and Answers’, while ‘Glitter and Trauma’ was also played earlier into the set while the three members fittingly played with strobe lights. With the line-up expanded by two former members of Oceansize, Biffy’s live show now sounds massive and they can get away with audience interaction, flames, pyrotechnics and fireworks. All things that seemed a world away in the early days. As they played ‘Blackened Sky’ favourite ‘57’, it was an exceptionally proud moment for all involved and it was a delight to see a band has grown in sound and stature over the years prove they can now comfortably headline the country’s biggest festivals. But, lads, next time play ‘There’s No Such Thing as a Jaggy Snake’, yeah?