Roskilde Festival is where I left it the last time I was here, six years ago. Unlike last time it’s not raining, and I feel that increased age has made me less willing to wander around as much as I once would have. That means checking out fewer bands and getting into fewer shenanigans, which suits me fine. These days I go for the safer option, which may not be the ideal way of going to a festival, but it works for me.
Arriving by train to the Red Entrance, the obligatory walk through some of the camp area is completed, and all I can think is, Thank God I’m not staying here for the night. We enter through the Main Entrance to the festival site and immediately test the toilet facilities. Verdict: Clean but smelly. As the guy in the booth next to mine exclaims: “It smells of old shit in here.” Safely out of the shit-pit, we stroll around, taking in that atmosphere you really can’t find anywhere else than at a festival this size.
We aim for the first gig of the day; Pigs, Pigs, Pigs, Pigs, Pigs, Pigs, Pigs, who play at the Gloria stage. As I recall it, the Gloria stage used to be in a tent, like the more prominent, nearby Arena stage. But now it’s a covered ‘venue’, I guess, to give it a more intimate small-club type feel. It works fine. It’s dark, unlike any of the other outdoor stages, and at the back of the venue, they’ve built a staircase where people can stand and watch the gig from an elevated viewpoint, which is handy for short people like me. Pigs x 7 is a punkish, metal band whose name is more fun than the music, so we leave after a few songs.
We get drinks and sit under a tree to look through the festival schedule for the day. As is customary for a festival, we are in mobile contact with a friend who catches up with us for a drink before he’s heading to another concert. On the other hand, we head for another drink – a watery version of Pina Colada. Not worth the 85 DKK, but this is a festival after all, so what can you do?
Then it’s time to move. We walk past the main Orange Stage as the opening act, Danish band Saveus, belt out their songs from somewhere up there. They sound fine but not enough to make us want to stop in our tracks, so we continue past the Mojito Bus (more about that later). We check out a bit of Slaves on the Pavilion stage. The tent is packed, and I can’t see much from the outside, but they sound great.
A message on Messenger pulls us back to the Mojito Bus, where a couple of friends are drinking what doesn’t exactly look like their first Mojito of the day.
From the Mojito Bus, we can hear the rest of Slaves’ set and then it’s off to check out a bit of Clutch at the Avalon stage, who isn’t my thing. Still, we do spot the long, anti-capitalist snake that’s making its way around the festival site, and there’s the first sighting of the cow-sodomising alien that has become a fixture at the festival over the last 20 years. Oh, the things you see and accept as acceptable within the confines of a rock festival.
We see people queuing up by the Orange Stage for the Eminem gig, which will begin in about five hours. We don’t join the queue, but later I catch myself thinking that those who did, without a doubt, had a better Eminem experience than I did, which leads us to the main concert of the day.
I don’t recall having been to a concert where I was so far away from the stage as I am tonight. The distance between the giver and receiver significantly affects the concert experience. It’s hard to feel part of the concert when you have trouble seeing what happens on the two screens on both sides of the stage. From where I stand, I can’t even be sure it actually is Eminem, AKA Marshall Mathers, but I have to assume it is. The sound is too low and strangely slippy for the first third of the concert. But once the sound is sorted out, at least the show sounds good from then on.
We get all the hits, from Stan to My Name Is, Sing For The Moment to Without Me, etc. I would have liked to have heard Mosh, but it doesn’t matter. I can listen to it at home instead. It does feel like a bit of a cop-out that several songs are cut shorter than the recorded versions. I wonder how many verses of songs didn’t make it into the set tonight. But I guess it’s a way of playing as many of the songs that people want to hear as possible. Eminem is quite chatty between songs, but there is a limit to how many times you want to listen to the performing artist shout, ‘What’s up Roskilde?’ But at least it’s better than not acknowledging the crowd at all.
As Eminem leaves the stage without performing Lose Yourself, we all know he’ll be back. Indeed, there he comes. He finishes up strong with his anthem about going for what you want to do in life, and to work hard at it, to make it happen. Indeed a sentiment everyone can relate to, and a perfect song to ensure that the concert ends on a high.
The size of this concert is more extensive than I appreciate, yet I still leave with that feeling I always get when I’ve attended a show that was a little bit better than usual, not least of all thanks to the words of the final song:
‘Lose yourself in the music, the moment, you own it, you better never let it go, you only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow, this opportunity comes once in a lifetime.’
Life-affirming lyrics don’t come better than this. Thank you, Mr Mathers.
1. Medicine Man (Dr. Dre cover)
2. Won’t Back Down
4. Square Dance
5. Kill You
6. White America
7. Rap God
8. Sing For the Moment
9. Like Toy Soldiers
10. Forever (Drake cover)
11. Just Don’t Give a Fuck
14. The Way I Am
15. Walk on Water
17. Love the Way You Lie
19. ‘Till I Collapse
20. Cinderella Man
21. Fast Lane (Bad Meets Evil song)
23. The Monster
24. My Name Is
25. The Real Slim Shady
26. Without Me
27. Not Afraid
28. Lose Yourself