I must admit, I find it hard to throw myself willingly into the arms of Martha Wainwright. This isn't necessarily anything to do with her song craft -- which is sleek, consummate, and delivered with commendable laser precision. She is, I guess, part of a lineage of perfectly respectable quality singer-songwriters who can find an equilibrium between a more benign, FM Radio 2 friendly audiences and those searching, perhaps, for something that's clearly in tune to profound emotional feelings.
I must admit, I find it hard to throw myself willingly into the arms of Martha Wainwright. This isn’t necessarily anything to do with her song craft — which is sleek, consummate, and delivered with commendable laser precision. She is, I guess, part of a lineage of perfectly respectable quality singer-songwriters who can find an equilibrium between a more benign, FM Radio 2 friendly audiences and those searching, perhaps, for something that’s clearly in tune to profound emotional feelings.
The crowd, then, who pack the UNCUT Arena to the gills, are inevitably older and wiser than our friends who bounced along to Black Kids. They remind me of a certain strata of Stoke Newington folk — I half a expect a farmer’s market to be erected in the middle of the tent, accommodating those seeking, say, celeriac or other seasonable vegetables. What, perhaps, is most interesting — maybe inevitable — is that is pertinently a female event. “I’ve got feelings too,” says Martha, and later, “I spend my time trying to forget you.” So, mothers clutch daughters, some kind of genetic message is passed on, and chaps smoke fags and monitor empty push chairs outside the tent.
Headlining, meanwhile, are Franz Ferdinand, a band I’ve seen and thoroughly enjoyed — particularly at a very messy Benicassim two years hence. I’m also a sucker for anyone who opens with a song whose chorus beckons: “Come and dance with me, Michael…”
Anyway, here they are with a backdrop featuring 1930s style cartoons of each member — arguably more ITMA than indie. In another point of reference, I’m inexplicably drawn to their haircuts, which predominantly resemble Bernard Sumner’s at various points during Joy Division and New Order‘s career. Save for their drummer, Paul Thomson, whose looks like Morrissey sometime in the early Smiths.
There’s also something strangely stiff upper lip about them. I can imagine them going down nobly in a Noel Coward/David Lean film, plucky chaps manning the deck as the ship sinks, all hands lost.
As a slow drizzle begins to fall, they do their best on the main stage. Masters of pacing, they interspace the hits with newer songs, or songs from the second album, You Could Have It So Much Better. So, “Matinee” — dedicated to Death Cab To Cutie — causes much mass pogoing amongst the audience, as does “Take Me Out”. There’s even a cover of Hall & Oates’ “Maneater”, just for the fun of it.
Their precision is faultless, their stagecraft energised.
As I drift away from Franz, I pass the Comedy Arena, where the tent — shut off while the Guilty Pleasures dancers practice their routine — is suddenly bumrushed by the crowd, desperate to shelter from the rain, that’s beginning to come down in what you’d call buckets.
Anyway, off for a gentle beer then, hopefully a rave in the wood…