|August 24-26, 1990|
|For the first (and only) time we decided to meet at Wiggs 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 Kevs motor. Rush-hour traffic, however, meant we got separated before wed 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 wasnt capable of such speeds merely prompted Kev to go even faster. Needless to say, we didnt catch them up, as they were always way behind.
Still, wed made a plan to rendezvous by the main camp-site entrance sometime after lunch, which we did. It turned out we werent camped too far apart.
In the evening some moon-faced goon latches onto us, even though we have no idea who he is. Hes here for Saturdays headliners the Inspiral Carpets, which doesnt 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 days drinking, which goes on until the traditional catching of the first band on in this case Mega City Four, who are mates of Dans 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. Ive waited ages for the chance to see them, and they certainly dont disappoint. Then, for some reason, the sound gets turned down before The Cramps come on, and I fall asleep while theyre playing, despite the fact that they sound excellent, if rather quiet. Cider may have been involved
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 - theyre 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, theres 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, hes 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, its a good world when a band as uncompromising as Mark E Smiths crew can get themselves second on the bill at the countrys best festival. Somehow cant imagine that happening these days. The Pixies close the festival with a magnificent show, as youd expect, and we return to the tents very happy indeed.
Come Monday morning, Kevs 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.
Its been a good year all round, with a fine crop of bands.