Review: Day Two @ Rock Werchter 2017

“It’s very rare that you find a crowd that can clap in time,” Maggie Rogers tells her audience. “You guys are the best clappers I’ve ever been with.” Following the searing sonics of Slowdive on the main stage, it’s a performance riddled with technical issues, but one that the crowd celebrate as much as the artist herself. Flaunting her shimmering glitter tassels as she struts through her songs, Maggie Rogers owns every moment.

Combining dulcet tones with a brutal performance, Future Islands mesmerise from the moment they step onto stage. The motions of frontman Samuel T. Herring are on characteristic form, throwing himself around and knocking himself to the floor as his smooth vocals flood the tent. Over on the Klub C stage, Jain wastes no time capturing the attentions and affections of the audience that awaits her. The French artist combines contagious melodies with bongo rhythms and addictive hooks a plenty, and the crowd hang on to her every movement. Whether it’s the addictive chorus of ‘Come’, the sing-a-long refrains of ‘Dynabeat’, or the swooning sincerity of ‘Paris’ that draws you in, Jain is every bit the pop star you didn’t realise you’d been waiting for.

Charging onto the main stage to find their audience “ready to rock and roll,” Royal Blood combine calamity with class for a set that’s as addictive as it is anarchic. Performing at the festival for the fourth time, the duo are determined to make the moment their own. Drummer Ben Thatcher steps out from the drumkit for long enough to crowdsurf past the stage, helping a kid in a Royal Blood t-shirt stand above the crowd on the way.

Performing before Radiohead will never be an easy task, but it’s one James Blake seems sure to rise to. Taking his place behind his keyboard for a cover of Don McLean’s ‘Vincent (Starry, Starry Night)’, leading into ‘Timeless’ with a bass sound so juddering it shakes your very core, the night sets out to be something special. But as the spaced out synths set in, the magic fades, and it isn’t long before the showcase becomes a waiting game.

And it’s worth it. Opening with ‘A Moon Shaped Pool’ track ‘Daydreaming’, Radiohead were always going to impress – but this goes beyond that. With a twenty-four song set spanning from all across their career, the stadium giants are welcomed as they always have been: as heroes.

Introducing the band with a series of mumbles and shouts of “wazzuuup!” Thom Yorke is ever the erratic and enigmatic frontman – and the crowd lap up every moment he spends in front of them. Warning people of the dangers of drinking too much if they have work on Monday – expressing regret for the amount he drank at Glastonbury – and dancing around the stage in characteristically glitchy fashion, he’s every bit the entertainer.

This is Radiohead at their greatest. Hit after hit after hit echoes from the stage, and the audience sing alongs barely cease for a moment. ‘Identikit’ and ‘Weird Fishes’ provide one of the set’s many break out dance moments, while songs like ‘Let Down’ have the crowd swooning where they’re stood.

As dark as they are delightful, with songs that echo out into the night long after their set ends, this is the kind of band that dreams are made from. A double encore including ‘No Surprises’, ‘Paranoid Android’, ‘My Iron Lung’, and ‘Karma Police’ (with the sound cutting out during the latter just in time to spark an elated sing-a-long), forsaking frills for solid good tunes, whether they played your favourite or not there’s one thing that everyone present will agree on, and that’s that Radiohead have never sounded this good.


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