6 Music festival review – a triumphant celebration of the left-field

Various venues, Tyne and Wear
A welcome return for Sleater-Kinney and a deafening performance from Mogwai were among the highlights of the eclectic bill

After the problems with the sound and organisation of last year’s inaugural event in Salford, the second 6 Music festival was a triumph. It also matched the radio station’s identity as a celebration of the slightly left-field. On one side of the Tyne, the often sedate Gateshead Sage was stuffed with fairy lights, liberated of seating and turned into a giant party; across the river, a colourful brass band blew up a gale in the Ouseburn streets. Roxy Music’s Wearside-raised Bryan Ferry was suavely wrapped up for a rare live interview, capturing the party atmosphere with a quip that his ears were “still ringing” from the night before.

He might not have been joking, as Friday’s opening salvo in Newcastle’s Academy was particularly strong. Revered riot-grrrl band Sleater-Kinney played their first UK gig in a decade; widescreen rockers the War on Drugs blew the roof off; Interpol were in bleakly stellar form, while Mogwai’s beautifully tinnitus-inducing instrumentals were surely the culprits behind Ferry’s eardrum buzz.

An eclectic bill of talks and performances meant post-punk icons (the Pop Group, John Cooper Clark) nestled alongside regional heroes (Nadine Shah, Maximo Park) and buzzy electronic types. To see everything would have required cloning. Father John Misty clashed with the Fall, whose surprisingly huge audience saw Mark E Smith wage sonic attack on the live broadcast, handing his microphone to both his drummers before finally sticking it in the bass drum. Crowds flocked to Hot Chip and the Charlatans, but this was a party at which anything could happen. Gaz Coombes’ melancholy electronica was invaded by a fearsome noise that turned out to be Wire playing a brilliant set in the Sage’s concourse. Genre-busting groove machine Django Django got the Hall 2 audience sitting down then leaping up in unison. The same room hosted Ibibio Sound Machine, whose enormous afro-funk bangers, African robes and pork pie hats felt like the find of a fantastic festival.


Dave Simpson

The GuardianTramp

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