With the Olympics winding down, Creamfields head honcho, James Barton seems to be in the mood to feed off the frenzy it created by arranging for a relay of high profile, hard-hitting and groove inducing acts over an extended two days. Queuing revellers have also caught the Olympic bug, as news filters through that the strategy of last year to confiscate all pre-purchased alcohol is continuing into this year.
This means that panic sets in and weird and wonderful containers of beer, vodka and most other spirits are being passed around like a relay baton. You couldn’t script it, but as a scary looking concoction of vodka, red bull and few unknown ingredients is swiftly passed to a Californian, who is here to check out the legend of Ian Brown. The container falls out of his hand and the contents disappear, becoming absorbed in the combination of mud and water quicker than you can say “the Americans have dropped the baton again!”.
The Presets shake up those towards the front of the main-stage area, who have gathered early in order to be in the mix for Fatboy Slim. Creaky, slow building tunes are crafted by the friendly Aussie duo of Julian Hamilton and Kim Moyes. The low-key pearl ‘Girl and the Sea’, basks in the main-stage profile, giving off a chilled out, mildly lazy and thoughtful vibe. The main difficulty for The Presets, seems to be in the fact that their versatile, genre skipping approach has allowed them to tour with the likes of 2ManyDJs and The Rapture, but it means that their sound is usually moulded to fit in with the needs of the main act crowd. Today, their more pop-friendly side comes out for their Main-Stage billing. It is time for this pair to be given free-range to explore their eclectic approach on their own terms.
Seedy 90’s dance resurrecting stompers,Simian Mobile Disco use their off-kilter digitalism to draw at first, perplexed looks and then to inspire some quirky gyrating that hasn’t been seen since the auditions for Hairspray. Jas Shaw & James Ford manage to use enough cheekiness and flashes of controlled feistiness, to earn themselves the tag of being a male Salt N‘ Peppa, at times. Intrigued? You should be! Having built up a reputation in his home country of Argentina for his blistering, futuristic dance sets during his residency at Pacha, Buenos Aires, DJ Hernan Cattaneo uses his ability to work up a crowd. He does so with a climax of swirling stings to make full use of the stunning strobe-lights. This has the impact of getting the glow sticks soaring and bodies swaying.
Of course, if you are going to remain an icon for your lifetime and beyond it, you need a lot of help. Films like 24 Hour Party People, has aided the profile of the Madchester era. For many gathered to watch Ian Brown, his Stone Roses legendary status was what drew them here, not his politically nudged, world-music slanting new material. However, ‘Sister Rose’ one of the funkier new tracks, finds favour for its distorted guitar approach and the fact that Brown sings quite well on it. Creamfields is certainly full of surprises. A rising run through Roses’ classic ‘Waterfall’, is just what the nostalgic doctor ordered and feeling is put into it. Brownie has certainly exorcised demons of Roses past and it helps give his set variety and authenticity.
For many, the main disappointment of the last two years of this event, was in the below par showings from the headline acts; Prodigy and Chemical Brothers. This year, it is down to Fatboy Slim to restore the faith. His more universal appeal helps and when he kicks into a fuzzed out, elongated mix of House Of Pain’s ‘Jump Around’, the spasms of euphoria that certain sections of the crowd are sent into is justification enough. With Festivals waning this year through expectation and the disappointment of cancellations from some of the star turns, Creamfields has stepped it up a notch.