Photo Credit: © BBC
Catfish and The Bottlemen – Ben Leslie
Catfish and the Bottlemen have burst onto the British indie-rock scene in the past few years, with their rise to success taking them from the local pub-circuit to sell out shows around the UK. They have played Big Weekend for three years in a row now, starting on the Introducing Stage two years ago in Glasgow, and earning their place on the Main Stage this year in Exeter.
The four swaggered out onto the stage at Powderham Castle and opened with a bang, playing Homesick and Kathleen with the crowd singing every lyric back at them. Frontman Van McCann is comparable to a younger Alex Turner, with a confidence bordering on arrogance and a swagger about the stage, he sings about girls, gigs and booze, and it’s absolutely working for him. Catfish played a mix of fresh, new singles such as Soundcheck and Twice, as well as a banger from their first album, Pacifier, before finishing the set with a pumping rendition of Cocoon. Everyone seemed mesmerised with their sound, from the hard-core fans going crazy at the front all the way to the crowd at the back, and even if Catfish do not yet receive the critical acclaim they deserve, their fan base is certainly ever growing.
The 1975 – Daisy Nikoloska
The 1975 made such a strong impression on Sunday’s Big Weekend crowd that as they rounded off their half-hour set, disgruntled murmurs rumbled throughout the audience. You can either take or leave Matt Healy, but when he stomped across the stage entirely clad in black with platform boots and demanded that everyone jump on the count of four, no one dared disobey. They managed to pack in old favourites, like Girls and Chocolate, but still propelled themselves forward with material from this year’s release I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet unaware of it. Even the reproachful ballad A Change of Heart (their current single and not my personal favourite) was eaten up. Healy’s apparent contempt for the BBC made their performance weirder, but not necessarily better or worse. The mic drop before walking off stage seemed less like a finger up to the industry and more like a reprise of his apt lyric from The Sound. “It’s all about me,” Healy crooned. Unfortunately, I think he might be right.
The Last Shadow Puppets – Ellie Turner
Having bagged myself a spot at the very front against the barrier, I basically morphed back into my 13 year old fangirling self the instant The Last Shadow Puppets (Alex Turner and Miles Kane) stepped out on stage – and I wasn’t alone. The middle-aged man next to me joined in with my jumping around and incessant screaming, and the whole of the fully packed In New Music We Trust tent also displayed the same childish (but definitely justified) reaction.
Always ones to play it cool, Turner and Kane ignored the screams and swaggered about on stage oozing their authentic arrogance. Bad Habits kicked off the set, with Kane’s opening shrieks of “ooh” setting the scene perfectly for the whole of their over-confident but mesmerising performance. Playing a mixture of tracks from their latest release and their debut album, the band’s vocals and smooth guitar playing never once faltered, even when Alex Turner took to lying on the floor and singing. Whilst some may understandably find their bravado and arrogance annoying, it undeniably adds an extra layer of excitement and makes their gigs truly impressive. Knowing how to successfully manipulate your own image and use it to work the audience is nearly unheard of nowadays, but it’s something Turner and Kane have proven they are extremely good at.
Coldplay – Weihan Tang
Slogging through the 25,000 strong crowds on feet that were getting sorer by the minute was entirely worth it for the headline act for the Sunday edition of Big Weekend. This was of course Coldplay, a group that many across the globe reserve a special place in their hearts for. Anthemic, bubbling, and ethereal don’t even begin to describe them as they jammed through a repertoire of songs from their latest album, as well as a few older hits like Sky Full of Stars. The darkening sky was a perfect opportunity to show off, with an excellent lighting and pyrotechnic display set to classics like Yellow, which saw the stage flooded in gold, as well as Hymn for the Weekend during which a million different hues of laser lighting were showcased. But perhaps the most impressive part of this whole performance was the consistent liveliness of those in the audience, hands raised and singing along to every familiar song, and enthusiastically cheering to ones they didn’t know. Chris Martin’s return to his home county alongside Berryman, Buckland and Champion was undeniably a fitting end to such an electrified weekend, one which Exeter won’t be forgetting anytime soon.