Live Review

Reading 2012: At The Drive-In, NME/Radio 1 Stage

We definitely leave feeling a little dazed and confused and we’re just not sure how to feel about that.

Almost a whole twelve hours after Green Day first set the tone of the day on the NME/Radio 1 stage, and it’s finally time for our headliners. We’ve waited a whole day for this set, but that feels like nothing in comparison to how long we’ve waited to see this band back together again. Because, after all, when they were confirmed to reunite for Coachella all the way back at the start of this year, there was an unfathomable excitement for what could be in store for us now that they’re truly back in their stride.

Emerging onstage clutching a broom, and shouting, ‘What are you doing here?! We’re here to clean up!’, we’re greeted with the ever-so-slightly larger than life (or at least his hair is) frontman that is Cedric Bixler-Zavala, as he introduces At The Drive In’s first UK appearance in well over a decade.

And to begin with, things are pretty damn good. Opening with the first two tracks from their tremendous album ‘Relationship of Command’, the crowd is quickly riled up and ready to go. We’re treated to the likes of ‘Arcarsenal’ and ‘Pattern Against User’, and it’s all fairly special. The songs explode in all the right places, Bixler-Zavala is just the right combination of ridiculous but genius as he throws himself around the stage, and there’s an expert edge to the guitars and drums that could only ever come from a band as great as this one.

However, it’s as we enter the midway point of the set that the momentum begins to slow. You begin to notice that, whilst guitarist Omar Rodriguez Lopez is almost perfect in his performance, he barely moves on stage. There’s a real sense of detachment surrounding him that, at times, is almost unsetting, and once noticed, breaks the spell.

In fact, the rest of the band seem to interact more with the strangely placed onstage kettle more than they do with Rodriguez-Lopez himself. Clearly they fancy a cuppa more than him.

Granted though, the performance itself is nothing to slate. Finishing the set with their huge track ‘One Armed Scissor’ is enough to ignite a flame within the hearts of every fan inside of the huge tent, but as the band make their exit, we definitely leave feeling a little dazed and confused and we’re just not sure how to feel about that.

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