Manchester’s Move may not be the biggest of the festivals this summer, but it managed to get three of the most sought after festival acts of the year to perform across three of its four days. Thursday’s headliners Madness can pull in a crowd, but the Cure, the Pixies and Morrissey are all acts in the middle of a
big comeback. The Cure and Morrissey, Friday’s and Sunday’s headliners respectively, have re-launched their careers by releasing their best albums in ages. It’s Saturday and the Pixies, however, which has caused the biggest stir and, criminally, they weren’t even headlining. After twelve years apart, the band finally gave into pressure and reformed for a tour this year. The
excitement around this was immense – tickets for most gigs sold out as soon as they went on sale – everyone wanted to get a chance to see the Pixies, just in case they never toured again.

Friday was definitely a time for the nation’s Goths to get excited however, as Friday’s mediocre bill was hugely overshadowed by the Cure. Due to a train journey that was riddled with every problem under the sun (including sheep on the tracks), when we arrive at Manchester cricket ground, Keane are most of the way through their set. Their songs are played well and aren’t terrible, but at the same time, aren’t particularly interesting either. We spend the remainder of their set in the festival bar.

Next up are Elbow, who have a similar problem. Their yawn-inducing hour long set is competent but same-y – most of the crowd end up walking away from the stage to find somewhere to sit down.

This was always going to be the Cure’s day. The legions of Goths that are swarming all over the Move site is proof of that. As Robert Smith comes onto the stage, the crowd, who’ve been subdued all day, suddenly come to life. Opening with ‘Plainsong’, the first track off their classic ‘Disintegration’ album, the Cure are on top form throughout their set, choosing to play more of the darker side of their repertoire rather than the poppier songs.

The majority of the set is lifted from ‘Disintegration’ and new album ‘the Cure’ but classic Cure songs like ‘Just Like Heaven’, ‘In Between days’ and ‘A Gorest’ also make appearances. Current single ‘End of the World’ sounds great live, as do new songs ‘alt. end’, ‘The Promise’ and ‘Before Three’. In fact, every song sounds fantastic, as The Cure gracefully brings the day to a close. Finally finishing with the wonderful ‘Boys Don’t Cry’, they leave the crowd with the feeling that it was worth paying for a ticket after all.

The next day’s line-up is better, but still not brilliant, especially with the organiser’s decision to put the unbelievably dull Stereophonics headlining above the Pixies. The crowd seem to feel the same – custom T-shirts with things like ‘Stereo who? We’re here to see THE PIXIES’ are everywhere. It’s rather sad, but at least it gets their message across.

Tim Booth is the first act that we catch. Although not mind-blowing, Booth’s set is still pretty good, and his music perfectly fits summery, festival-type shows. Tim’s ‘special’ dancing is also pretty entertaining.

Goldfrapp take the stage soon afterwards. As Alison Goldfrapp comes on stage in what appears to be a coat, a long T-shirt and her knickers, I can’t help wondering why she feels the need to dress like that. She has an amazing voice, and yet recently she seems to rely on blatant exhibitionism to promote her band. Goldfrapp itself has gone downhill since their first album ‘Felt Mountain’. Second album ‘Black Cherry’ was a more electro album and despite having one or two good tracks, is pretty soulless and uninteresting. It is perhaps the weakness of that latter album's songs that drives Alison Goldfrapp to coming out onstage in her pants in front of about 20,000 people on a day that’s not particularly warm (it was raining on and off all day). It is still a shame though. The songs off ‘Felt Mountain’ still sound excellent, however. Here’s hoping that Goldfrapp sort themselves out on their next album.

Next up, the band that everyone was waiting for. I’m going to have to make this more personal to be able to review this properly, so here goes. The anticipation of the Pixies playing live had given the festival a great atmosphere on the Saturday, and just before the band took to the stage, the crowd was throbbing with positive energy. This increased about ten times more once the Pixies had actually come onstage. Taking their entire set from their first three albums, ‘Come on Pilgrim’, ‘Surfer Rosa’ and ‘Doolittle’, the Pixies can’t put a foot wrong. The crowd sings along to every song and the band tears through as many songs as possible.

That’s the one sore point of the Pixies’ set. It’s obvious that they don’t get on as well as they used to, there is little interaction between the members of the band, they’re just there to play their songs. It is a very slight flaw, however, as they play those songs brilliantly. Songs like ‘Debaser’, ‘Gigantic’ and ‘Hey’ sound even better once you’ve heard them played live, and a slow version of ‘Wave of Mutilation’ is a welcome surprise to the thousands of fans who know the Pixies’ songs inside out.

In the middle of the Pixies’ set, I realise it’s raining. I turn to my girlfriend and say “It’s raining! I didn’t notice.” Suddenly it dawns on me that that’s practically the same line that Andie Macdowell says when she’s kissing Hugh Grant in the rain at the cheesy ending of ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’. Inside I kick myself. Hard.

The Pixies end their set perfectly, with the classic ‘Where is my Mind’, which allows them to just pip the Cure to the title of best band of the weekend. As half the crowd leave the festival en masse before the Stereophonics take to the stage, you have to wonder whether the Jones brothers were sitting backstage, desperately thinking of a way to follow the Pixies without coming across as a talentless heap of dross. Although it would take a miracle for the Stereophonics not to come off sounding like that anyway, if they did pull it off, there was no one around to hear it.


The photographs that accompany this article originally appeared on the website www.virtual-festivals.com

















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