August 24-26, 1990
For the first (and only) time we decided to meet at Wigg’s house in Birmingham, which was convenient for Dan, travelling from Liverpool in his battered Transit van. So Kev collected me and we all got together for a few pre-festie beers in Brum on the Wednesday night. Come the morning, the plan was to travel down to Reading in convoy, with Dan leading the way, as the Transit was slower than Kev’s motor. Rush-hour traffic, however, meant we got separated before we’d even left the city. For some reason, Kev decided that Dan and Wigg must be ahead of us, and set off down the motorway at 100mph. Pointing out that the Transit wasn’t capable of such speeds merely prompted Kev to go even faster. Needless to say, we didn’t catch them up, as they were always way behind.

Still, we’d made a plan to rendezvous by the main camp-site entrance sometime after lunch, which we did. It turned out we weren’t camped too far apart.

In the evening some moon-faced goon latches onto us, even though we have no idea who he is. He’s here for Saturday’s headliners the Inspiral Carpets, which doesn’t make him any more acceptable. But we shake him off eventually.

After breakfasting in British Home Stores, we repair to the Duke to start the day’s drinking, which goes on until the traditional catching of the first band on – in this case Mega City Four, who are mates of Dan’s but suffer from being on the main stage, when their indie-hardcore is much more suited to being indoors. Time for more cider, then...

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds give a typically brilliant performance. I’ve waited ages for the chance to see them, and they certainly don’t disappoint. Then, for some reason, the sound gets turned down before The Cramps come on, and I fall asleep while they’re playing, despite the fact that they sound excellent, if rather quiet. Cider may have been involved…
A very colourful, meaningless programme cover in 1990...
Good things about Reading 1990
• Cider
• No rain
Bad things about Reading 1990
• Missing Half Man Half Biscuit
Top acts of Reading 1990
• Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
• The Pixies
• The Fall
• Inspiral Carpets
• Buzzcocks
• Billy Bragg
• The Cramps
Quotes of Reading 1990
I can't remember a single quote... well it was over a decade ago
Wigg and Dan have a kip. Quayley tries his hardest to look interested in the band on stage... I didn't think I'd met Quayley until 1991. What an impression he must have made in 1990! Dan's lovely Transit. It took his band, Drive, all over the country for several years. Note Kev apparently puking just on right of picture...
Dan was the thinking indie girl's pin-up back in 1990
Friday Saturday Sunday
The Cramps
Faith No More
Nick Cave and the
Bad Seeds
Gary Clail
Jane's Addiction
An Emotional Fish
Mega City Four
Inspiral Carpets
The Wedding Present
Billy Bragg
The Young Gods
Psychic TV
Neds Atomic Dustbin
The Pixies
The Fall
Jesus Jones
Living Colour
Stereo MCs
The Telescopes
Thee Hypnotics
Senseless Things
Friday Saturday Sunday
Tom Robinson Band
McCavity's Cat
Luka Bloom
Half man Half Biscuit
Skint Video
Frank Tovey
Dr Miller
James Varda
Duncan McCowan
Keziah Jones
Lost T-Shirts of
Martin Stephenson
and the Daintees
Man From Delmonte
Fatima Mansions
Milltown Brothers
Railway Children
Trashcan Sinatras
The Liberties
Peter Blegvad
Shawn Colvin
Friends of Harvey
The Penny Candles
Johnathon Richman
Oyster Band
Band of Holy Joy
Ruby Blue
Boiled in Lead
Bridewell Taxis
The Katydids
Fat and Frantic
McDermott's Two Hours
Keith Hancock
Pat Orchard
Dave Robb
The sun shines and Billy Bragg plays a suitably rabble-rousing set before the recently-reformed Buzzcocks stride onto the stage and open with “What Do I Get”, “Love You More” and “Promises” – three songs I grew up with and, never having seen them live in their heyday, these actually bring a lump to my throat.

The Wedding Present are unnaturally high on the bill, but play a great set for those who are familiar with their material, which doesn't seem to be that many in the crowd.

The Inspiral Carpets turn out to be the real surprise of the weekend - they’re fantastic. A rare example of a band with just one album being able to play a headlining show. Perhaps our moon-faced acquaintance was onto something after all…

Back in the campsite, there’s a chill in the air, so we make a fire. Kev wraps himself up in a load of blankets by the campfire and falls asleep. Like a tramp, he’s still there in the morning, damp with dew. He confesses to having been too lazy to crawl into his tent when he woke in the night, too.

Living Colour
play terrific versions of stuff of their first two albums and Loop do what they always do, which is immense riffs and moodiness. Fantastic stuff, but would have worked bettr in a tent.

The mighty
Fall (they were Reading regulars at one point, you know) play a glorious set (as ever). Truly, it’s a good world when a band as uncompromising as Mark E Smith’s crew can get themselves second on the bill at the country’s best festival. Somehow can’t imagine that happening these days. The Pixies close the festival with a magnificent show, as you’d expect, and we return to the tents very happy indeed.

Come Monday morning, Kev’s gasping for a fag, but has none left – or any tobacco. So he pics little bits of unburnt tobacco from the fag butts in his car ashtray to make a roll-up. Sadly, the Rizlas have got damp and are stuck together, but the ever-resourceful Kev finds some Co-op stamps and sticks these round the outside of the papers. He then smokes the vile creation like the desperate man he is.

It’s been a good year all round, with a fine crop of bands.