|August 23-25, 1991|
|Unbelievably, I wasnt going to Reading in 1991. I cant even remember why, though Wigg wasnt either, and Kev hadnt expressed any great desire to. I wasnt in regular contact with Dan, so didnt know his plans. Then, about a week before the festival, I had a moment of clarity and realised that I just HAD to go. So I talked Kev into getting a few days off work so he could do the driving and phoned around for tickets (the festival didnt sell out months in advance back then). Unfortunately the normal outlets HAD sold out and the rip-off ticket agencies in the back of NME were charging double face value.
A call to Mean Fiddler brought the encouraging news that there would be weekend tickets available on the gate on the Friday morning from 8am. So Kev and I hatched a plan to drive down late Thursday night and be first in the queue. We set off at about 11pm on Thursday and, the roads being clear, got there at about 1.30am.
We drove to the entrance and asked a security bloke where it would be OK to park so we could queue in the morning. No need, he said. Ive got weekend tickets for sale anyway. And he had. So we paid the man, drove in, found a spot down near the Rivermead Leisure Centre, pitched the tents by car headlights and cracked open the lagers to celebrate our good fortune.
Kev had a huge stash of Stella in the boot of his car and made a small profit when people noticed and asked if he was selling it. He soon was.
As we wandered to the arena on the Friday morning we passed a large canvas tent in the campsite with a band playing in it the last time Ive ever seen this ar Reading and a reminder of the days when that sort of thing went on all over the campsite after the arena closed.
In the arena we stood around enjoying the first cider of the weekend and idly wondered if Dan had come down for the weekend. With that, I looked to my left, and there he was, not 30 yards away. Result! We walked over and were introduced to a curious-looking fellow in German army boots (with no laces), a trilby hat and a dubiously-stained labcoat. It was our first encounter with the legend that is Quayley.
In the afternoon were sitting around near the stage while some band called Nirvana thrash fairly aimlessly. In all honesty they dont sound like theyll amount to much and theyre below indie shoe-gazers Chapterhouse on the bill. Dinosaur Jr follow the shoe-gazers, but poor sound means that I only recognise one song in the whole set.
Don't remember much about rest of the evening, which suggests that Sonic Youth and Iggy Pop weren't exactly on form that night, though I do seem to recall seeing some of Frank Sidebottom's set in the comedy tent.
Its a cold-ish day, and we catch a bit of Flowered Up, followed by the excellent Teenage Fanclub and a less than brilliant Blur.
As evening arrives Kev and I set off around the arena in search of stuff to burn. Soon weve picked up literally hundreds of the paper cups the beer comes in. These burn spectacularly well, and in no time we have a huge fire, which nicely distracts us from Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine and James on the main stage. Really, The Fall (third on the bill) should have headlined. No, trust me on that I really do know best in these matters.
The fire has drawn rather a lot of people and quite a few of them decide they want to come back to where were camped. This, it turns out, is because they dont have any beer, and want to drink ours. Er, I think well pass on that kind offer, so as soon as we can, Kev and I leg it out of their sight to drink the beer ourselves. Result!
Listening to the festival radio station we are amazed to hear the new single by Dans band Drive on the airwaves. Apparently its been played on the main stage PA, too. Truly we are in the presence of greatness.
Sunday involves a tremendous quantity of cider, which in turn brings about an earthquake. No, really. I find myself lying on the ground clinging on for dear life as the earth tilts to near vertical. Funnily enough this doesnt appear to affect the others, who remain standing upright pouring the dregs of their lagers on me. Bastards.
A sort of soberness comes in due course and I discover that drunkeness has meant missing Captain Sensible. Bugger. But then some bloke comes round in the arena flogging skunk. And for once, its not a rip-off merchant - its quality stuff.
All I remember about the middle order of the main satge is that Gang Starr were one of the worst acts ever to perform at Reading - a horrible rap cacophony with no redeeming qualities at all.
We set about building another huge fire to keep warm, and again are joined by a whole load of people, including Jo and Jen from Oxford. We're still in touch with Jen to this day.
The Sisters of Mercy play a career-spanning set, but most of the crowd seem indifferent to the earlier numbers (ie those before they had hits). Like Temple of Love and Alice. Still, I enjoyed them.
When we come to leave the arena, Kev discovers his (borrowed) denim jacket is missing. And with it his car keys. This is very bad news. One of the people round the fire has nicked it. We really dont know what to do, until Quayleys knowledge of the criminal mind comes to the fore. He suggests that the thief will have handed in the keys at lost property and claim they found them on the ground. We dont believe this for a moment, but Kev goes to check it out while the rest of us head back to Dans van for a quiet lager. About an hour later, Kev turns up and, amazingly, he has the keys. When he got to the lost property tent, there were loads of bunches of keys, and he was invited to look for his among them. This cheers us up no end. Needless to say after a weekend of listening to the radio in Kevs car, it refuses to start, and we have to push it to get it going.
Not a classic year by any means, but all in all, good enough!