Umbria Rock Festival
added: 18 Aug 2014
// gig date: 18 Aug 2014
reviewer: Alex Butler
We flew out to the beautiful Perugia in Italy for the very first edition of the Umbria Rock Festival. Located about 40 minutes from Perugia, the beautiful town of Massa Martana in Umbria is full of gorgeous rolling hills and breathtaking scenery.
As it was the festival's first year we weren't quite sure what to expect but one thing was for sure, the line-up looked pretty healthy with the likes of Basement Jaxx, Paul Weller and Kaiser Chiefs set to headline over the three days. It was a great shame however that on day one we learnt Basement Jaxx had pulled out from the festival, making way for Peter Hook and the Light to headline instead.
Heading into the festival, the first thing you notice is the incredible backdrop of deep green hills that roll out in front of you. The festival itself on the Friday was unusually quiet, making the vast space look even bigger. The festival feel was certainly lacking but then again, I had just come from the epic Secret Garden Party in Cambridge that was held the weekend before so that may have been the reason for my disappointment at that point.
Regardless of the lack of festival feeling and the very low crowd numbers, we were there for one main reason - to check out the music. Friday proved to suffer on the music front however, with Basement Jaxx's absence very much felt as we listened to their replacement, Peter Hook and the Light. With the legacy of Joy Division on his shoulders, Peter Hook unfortunately couldn't live up to the past as he 'rocked' out in his dad vest.
With day one proving to be somewhat of a disappointment we were still enthusiatic to check out the mod king Paul Weller on day two of Umbria Rock. Umbria is a bit of a hub for the mod scene and we noticed some of the classic mod hairstyles had also arrived at the festival site. Before Weller took to the stage, the Charlatans performed, kicking things off with 'Just When You’re Thinkin’ Things Over'. Tim Burgess looked great on stage with his swathes of blonde locks fooling you into thinking he was still in his twenties!
After a great set from The Charlatans, it was time for Paul Weller. It was quite heartbreaking to see Weller play to such a small crowd - just under 2,000 people in total - a great shame! His set however was absolutely incredible and it was my first ever Weller experience, one which I am glad to have had. A real treat for the crowd came when Tim Burgess joined Weller on stage for an upbeat performance of 'A Town Called Malice' - a real highlight of the weekend!
On Sunday, we headed back to the festival site for the final day of Umbria Rock and lined up to perform were James and headliners Kaiser Chiefs. The crowd shrunk again from Saturday and the festival atmosphere still hadn't managed to arrive even with the mod king leaving his mark on the festival.
James took to the stage as darkness fell and Tim Booth arrived on stage in his billowy trousers busting some very strange dance moves across the stage. Headliners Kaiser Chief were then tasked with closing the festival and Ricky Wilson did his best to hide his shock at the 'intimate' crowd. Performing all their hits including 'Ruby', 'Oh My God' and 'Coming Home', the band did their best to give the audience a good show. In true Ricky Wilson showmanship, during 'I Predict A Riot', the singer ran through the crowd and scaled a tall structure to sing the chorus high above us all.
Umbria Rock in its first ever instalment was disappointing and I found myself constantly cringing at the lack of festival essentials. Having said that, there is a lot of potential for this festival, with its uniquely beautiful setting and ability to secure some incredible music acts, there is certainly room for a great Italian festival here. Just a little more attention to the overall festival would do wonders!
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