This review is of Roskilde Festival 2018, based on the two days I attended – Day 1 and Day 3, emphasising the two main gigs I saw; Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and Eminem.
Friday afternoon, I arrive back at the festival site early in the afternoon. I want to watch Dead Cross with Mike Patton (Faith No More), Dave Lombardo (Slayer), Justin Pearson and Michael Crain (both from Retox) at 3 pm.
But first I watch a bit of English band, The Hunna, on the Pavilion stage, which I’d never heard of before but was a pleasant experience with catchy songs and a very chatty frontman. Everyone around me seemed to enjoy it, and so did I.
I can hear some country-esque music from the Avalon stage, so I head over there to find New Zealand singer-songwriter Marlon Williams. Williams channels a bit of Johnny Cash, a bit of Roy Orbison, and does it well. What a beautiful voice. I don’t know any of his songs, but I’ll make sure to get to know them better. This is what festivals are about; stumbling upon a singer or band you’ve never heard of and realising how much you dig them. For the limited time I’m at the festival this year, I’m glad I got one of those ’stumbling’ moments.
Dead Cross delivers a chaotic and confrontational noise, tumbling down from the stage and weirdly tempered by Patton’s impeccable vocals – screaming and shouting his lungs out but never straying too far from his trademark croon. Patton does his customary ‘squatting’-pose before the beginning of each song as if he’s getting in position to attack the song (or take a shit, frankly). His juvenile frat-boy humour (“Do you do anal?”) goes well with his Hawaiian-shirt-wearing-surf-punk-attire, but it’s also a bit ‘Doh’. Though it’s fun to see Mike Patton up close on stage, Dead Cross doesn’t excite me like Patton’s other bands, Faith No More and Mr Bungle do. Still, when Patton invites three audience members on stage for a dance competition, the silliness of it all is quite entertaining and endearing.
Then it’s time to meet up with my Mojito Bus-friends for more Mojitos and to sit down for a while. A few Mojitos later, we venture into the camp area in which none of us is staying. Still, it’s fun in a truly disgusting way to see the dry, dusty garbage-strewn camp areas – bottles and cartons and plastic containers and half-eaten food and pools of vomit and streams of piss. Every camp seems to blast its own choice of music, creating a kind of mash-up of noise, and the heat (and Mojitos) make everything seem a bit twisted and surreal. Are we extras in a Mad Max film all of a sudden?
I’m glad to leave the campsite behind and return to the festival site. This is how I attended the festival in my youth. But those days are gone. My tolerance of walking through piles of garbage and the stench of vomit has decreased significantly.
Back at the festival site, the Danish band, The Minds of 99, is playing on Orange Stage, and even though we don’t actually see them, we hear enough of them to know that we like what we hear.
Nick Cave ranks high on my list, and since I haven’t seen him play live before, I’m especially keen to claim my spot in one of the pits in front of the stage and wait one hour for Cave and his Bad Seeds to enter the stage. The waiting game for a concert to begin is never fun, so I’m going to skip right to the show.
Though I have a pretty decent view of the stage, I’m standing in the pit just behind the ‘front-pit’, separated by a ‘work-area’ where the Roskilde Festival crew watch the audience and hand out water. One orange-clad crew member keeps walking into my view, and though he’s only doing his job, he becomes a bit of irritation because I almost see more of him than I see of Nick Cave. Meanwhile, up on stage, Nick Cave is not wearing orange; he is dressed mainly in black.
Cave is such a charismatic stage presence, and even if he weren’t a great singer, it would be fun to watch him. Luckily, of course, he sings great too, and the band is LIT!
After the concert, I read that some reviewers thought the gig was disappointing. This is a surprise to me. I thought the gig was brilliant. But I can’t compare it to other gigs as I’ve never seen Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds live before. And that’s another thing about concerts. One person might have a great experience because they stood in a good spot where the view and sound were just right, or they’re happy that the band played their favourite songs. Someone else might have an obstructed view of the stage or have already seen the band several times before and don’t think this time is one of the better ones.
Nick Cave truly is an enigmatic performer, and with his fabulous deep voice, backed by a group of magnificent musicians, this concert, for me, was the highlight of this year’s festival.
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds setlist
1. Jesus Alone
3. Do You Love Me?
4. From Her To Eternity
6. Red Right Hand
7. Into My Arms
8. Girl in Amber
10. Jubilee Street
11. The Weeping Song
12. Stagger Lee
13. Push the Sky Away
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