5. Muse vs. Monkey Mania (2006)
We just wrote a big feature about this Reading, so we won’t bore you with the details – for the full low down click here – but Reading topped off a stellar Saturday line up by perfectly managing a nightmare situation. The hottest band in the world right or a headliner with huge potential struggling to find their feet, who get’s to headline? Reading bucked the trend. Arctic Monkeys got their big moment, and Muse stole the show with their mammoth stage show. A job well done.
4. Something For Everyone: Arcade Fire, The Libertines & Pendulum (2010)
If 2006 was tough, then 2010 was even tougher. Reading had a fragile headliner in terms of popularity who happened to be (arguably) the best live band in the world. They also had a huge reunion of a legendarily flakely outfit with limited material, and they had one of the biggest populist acts who were dominating Radio One at the time. Pengelly placed The Libertines in the sub slot. They drew a huge crowd and smashed it terms of emotion and energy (even if their performance was shakey). Reading and the band had their moment in front of the biggest audience possible – don’t forget that great early evening timeslot of BBC3.
Arcade Fire and Pendulum went head to head in the headline slot. Pendulum drew a huge crowd, Arcade Fire a small(ish) audience, think Pixies and Franz not The Cure or Razorlight, and it worked out perfectly. Arcade Fire delivered an incredible set in front of a passionate crowd, winning over a host of new fans, and Pendulum got the big energy rush audience that their sets need. Don’t forget, they might have been robbed of that crowd if they’d faced The Libs – another brilliant balancing act.
3. Blur’s farewell and Full Metal Mayhem (2003)
What an event! Reading 2003 was a stunning event highlight by three sensational sets. While other festivals turned their back on Blur as the band embraced more artistic leanings, Reading allowed Damon Albarn, Graham Coxon, Alex James, and Dave Roundtree to say goodbye on the biggest stage. The new songs were harrowing (“Trimm Trabb”) and the old hits got everyone bouncing (“Song 2”). Oddly, it was an newie that provided the finest moment, the soothing “Out Of Time” was stunning.
Sunday was anything but soothing. System Of A Down and Metallica back to back – fuck yes! Both bands were brutal and brilliant, even some iffy Metallica material couldn’t undermine one of Reading’s greatest double headers. 50,000 fans were left soaked in sweat and utterly out of breath. Reading was changing, and this might just be the last time Metal truly held court at Reading.
2. Reconciling Reading’s Past And Present (2005)
Friday night at Reading 2005 was masterfully booked. The Pixies were making their long awaited return, but for a lot of younger Reading goers they were complete unknowns. Reading was split between the old legends with great albums and the new stars ridding high on the back of big singles. Reading managed the situation perfectly. Queens Of The Stone Age a habitual crowd pleaser brought both audiences together, before The Killers did their thing drawing a biggish crowd and inciting mass sing-alongs (and some awkward moments during some dodgy album tracks).
Rather than leaving The Pixies with a crowd of disinterested fans, FR had placed Kasabian on the NME Stage. The indie fans drifted off to have a great crowd-pleasing evening in a packed tent, and the Pixies got a loving crowd who Frank and Kim could joke around with. There was lovely calm atmosphere, everyone was having fun – it’s wasn’t indie vs. alt, fans of both sounds enjoyed music together with plenty of crossover. The Pixies delivered one of the great Reading sets, and Kasabain enjoyed a star making jump start.
1. Rage Against The Machine (2008)
Does this one need explaining? Rage Against The Machine came out of retirement at Coachella in 2007, and everyone and their mother wanted to see them hop the pond and land in blighty. We knew they were coming, but everyone wanted them. Download would have killed to have them, the band could have picked any field or arena and sold out in a matter of seconds – but Reading landed them. The crowd was giant, the field was fervent, Rage were great, and Reading 2008 has gone down in history as a “you had to be there” event.