New York Dolls, Guillemots, Nicole Atkins , The National etc – O2 Wireless Festival London (A review in pictures)

I kicked off my band watching on the second day of London’s O2 Festival by heading to the reasonably small O2 stage to watch Brooklyn’s The National play a “secret” set.
The band were headlining the much larger Sandisk stage later in the evening but had managed to secure an excitable crowd to watch them run through tracks from their “Boxer” album, giving the fans a far more intimate experience.

I work as a photographer for one of the UK’s leading suppliers of music based images so tend to find myself running around like a headless chicken at times during festivals, trying to cover numerous bands within our allocated time period. This means I very rarely have the opportunity of seeing full sets from the acts I’m interested in.
Such was the case with Black Kids set on the Sandisk stage.
I’d enjoyed what I’d previously heard from the band so was happy to catch a handful of songs from their performance.
The band pulled a large crowd that were eager to hear tracks from their debut “Partie Traumatic” so I imagine they’ll be higher up the bill next time round.

Guillemots were one of the acts I had been looking forward to seeing.I’d watched them a few weeks previously in Dundee so was eager for more from the quirky foursome.
The band now have enough material to create a crowd pleasing festival set and started things as they meant to go on with a rowdy “get over it” on the festival’s main stage.
Unfortunatly I had to drag myself away from their excellent set way too early as Dirty Pretty Things were performing their secret set on the O2 stage….

Dirty Pretty Things had played earlier on the main stage but were treating their fans to a repeat performance with a closer view of the action.
There were several photographers assembled for the event but our patience was wearing thin as there was a very lengthy soundcheck taking place potentially knocking running times later in the evening.
I was getting frustrated as I could just hear Guillemots blasting out “Trains to Brazil” in the background , cursing the fact I was missing it!
Eventually Dirty Pretty Things took the stage, I took some pictures and wandered off to find something more interesting!!

I returned to the O2 stage to give my full attention to the act I was most looking forward to seeing – Nicole Atkins And The Sea.
I fell in love with Nicole’s “Neptune City” album at the beginning of the year and have been lucky enough to watch Nicole and her boys play a few times since.
I’ve said previously that Nicole’s output brings to mind the soundtracks of Angelo Badalamenti with a bit of Tarantino twang on top, fronted by a powerful deep voice, one part Orbison one part Piaf and I still stick by that observation.
I felt the band took a couple of songs to completely get to grips with the event as they seemed slightly distracted by the sound leaking from the main stage but by the time “Maybe tonight” came around they were firing on all cylinders.
Highlight of the set was the exquisite rendition of “The way it is’ but all songs on offer brought a smile to my face.
I was disappointed with the omission of the album’s title track but the band did end on a great note with the uplifting “Love surreal”.

After a brief break I headed over to the Tuborg stage to see what Get Cape Wear Cape Fly was up to.
It was a short one song visit, taking in the fact that he seemed loved by the masses as they were singing in unision to one of his tracks from his first album!

I legged it across to the O2 stage just in time for Howling Bells performance.
The band seemed to have vanished off the radar for a while so it was nice to see them back in action.
They have an imminent second album and a host of UK festival dates lined up so I’ll hopefully get to catch a full set from Juanita and her gang somewhere down the line.

I missed the majority of Howling Bells set as I had to head back to the Tuborg stage to capture New York Dolls.
The generally quite photo pit was packed for the US legends, with a wave of excitement spreading throughout the tent.
David Johansen showed no sign of his age performing, strutting around, preening and posing while original guitarist Sylvain Sylvain struck various “Guitar Hero” poses, delivering their sleezy rock to an ecstatic audience.

I was having fun watching the Dolls but wandered off after a while to see what O2 headliner Kristeen Young had to offer.
New York’s Kristeen Young seemed to specialise in melodramatic keyboard laden songs backed by a drummer.
She came across as a bit bonkers but was interesting to watch.

After Kristeen’s set I walked down to the main stage to watch a bit of Morrissey’s performance.
I’m not a great fan of shows on festival main stages, especially at the end of the day as I always feel too far away from the action, even if I’m near the front.I much prefer an intimate environment for my live music experiences.
I lasted about five songs into Morrissey’s set but knocked it on the head, wandering off to the exit, the sound of him whining to his faithful fans about the horrible burger vans fading in the distance…


Updated: Jul 10, 2008

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New York Dolls, Guillemots, Nicole Atkins , The National etc – O2 Wireless Festival London (A review in pictures) | The Digital Fix