Live Reviews

FESTIVAL REVIEW: Reading Festival 2023 – Sunday

Whilst it’s Saturday’s Reading acts gracing Leeds, down South Reading is preparing itself for the Billie Eilish frenzy as Leeds played host to on Friday. As soon as arena gates opened fans setting their sights on sitting at barrier all day long at Main Stage West ran in the race of their lives to secure that golden space. Outside of Eilish mania, there was little room for exhaustion as that turned to energy with hometown boys The Amazons opening Main Stage West and Bedford boys Don Broco back to set Reading ablaze. This is Sunday at Reading Festival. 

Sunday’s proceedings started with indie rockers The Amazons. The awakening level of fuzzy rock’n’roll needed to liven up your senses on an early Sunday afternoon and it being a hometown festival show for the Reading boys, The Amazons amped up the energy even more.

Taking moments to reminisce on their growth and evolution at a festival they can safely call home, vocalist Matt Thompson remembers “We first played here when we was 16 years old on the BBC Music Introducing Stage.” and much like the calibre of bands Reading Festival has bred into becoming main stage acts throughout the years, The Amazons are one of their proudest protégés, their unison as a band tighter and their flair for free styling guitar solos even better that those 16 years olds who stepped onto that Introducing Stage all those years ago. Blazing through bangers In My Mind, Mother and closer Black Magic, to which The ‘Zons triumphantly come out proudly wearing Reading FC scarves and flags, this was a home run The Amazons hit to perfection. 10/10

On the same stage before them it was no Scotland, no party time for West Lothian’s finest The Snuts. There to “kill your hangovers or start tomorrows” The Snuts provided the perfect breather of indie tunes. 8/10

However, it was Don Broco who brought the true definition of party to Main Stage East. The crowd is littered with rainbow tie dye tees adorning a bum bag wearing dinosaur, ice cream eating fans and a sea of party hats as the Broco boys bounded on stage ready to destroy things up in Richfield Ave. 

Frontman Rob Damiani sports a vintage looking garish Rocky number, with the swagger of a young 80’s looking Tyson Fury ready to knock the Reading crowd for six. “This is our festival” Damiani declares and he isn’t playing around and mid set song Pretty would back that statement up. “Bedford, where’s Bedford” the song asks in its opening statement in fact it’s just up the road from Richfield.

“Reading is the best festival in the entire world. We snuck up onto that very stage when we camped at this festival years ago” Damiani says pointing across to Main Stage West “we wanted to play Reading’s main stage, so we started a band and we are here now”. For these Bedford boys there Reading dreams keep coming true having performed on various stages, pulled surprise slot stunts that turned out to be real and staged, Broco ripped through meatier brothers of songs like Gumshield and Bruce Willis, pyro not in short supply before pulling a Skindred and getting the crowd to do the old transitional t-shirt helicopter for ironically their song called T-Shirt Song. Even the dinosaurs in the circle pit had a banging time to Broco as always. 10/10

Into the last few acts on Main Stage West before Billie Eilish, dorky singer-songwriter Declan McKenna provided all the good vibes and all the good times. “It’s great to be back in my spiritual home” says Declan, but it was a mixture of seagulls and singalongs to his pop infused indie tunes and the occasional automated voice that asked the crowd to open up a mosh pit the size of a five a side football pitch that as the sun was setting over Richfield Avenue during that golden hour period made McKenna’s set all the more glorious. Beautiful Faces and Brazil earned screams that would make a scream-o-metre shoot off the Richter scale and that includes the moment during set closer British Bombs, where McKenna ran topless with just a tie covering his top half down the split of the main stage crowd into a frenzy. 10/10

Now however, it was the crowning moment those Eilish diehards have been waiting for ever since they sprinted towards Main State West barrier. Shooting out of a tiny box, Eilish was as cool as a cucumber, staring out at her screaming fans with a sneaky smile plastered across her face. The last time Eilish was at Reading And Leeds, she was upgraded to a mid-afternoon slot on the main stage and attracted one of the biggest day time main stage crowds Reading has probably ever witnessed in its lifetime. 

And the story of Eilish’s stratospheric rise is no different this time around. Back then though, Eilish was only on her debut album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? and could have easily headlined, but like Sam Fender they patiently waited their return and with a sophomore under her belt with Happier Than Ever, Eilish cemented her place as a truly deserved headliner in this very moment. From launching into opener Bury A Friend, to having some sibling time with Finneas to set closer Happier Than Ever, Eilish constantly oozed gratitude, radiated positivity and captured the attention of the people who adore her the most. This isn’t the only time Eilish will headline Reading And Leeds. Mark our words. 10/10

Written By: Katie Conway-Flood

Katie Conway-Flood
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