Review: Day Four @ Rock Werchter 2017

Line dancing and beer swigging are some of the first things on the agenda on the closing day of Rock Werchter. With their shanty rock sing alongs, Dropkick Murphys energise and engage, not leaving the stage until the entire field is stood arm in arm. Performing rock and roll at its rawest, The Kills are electric and magnetic. Fusing garage punk with addictive hooks, the band are larger than life and as loud as they come.

You won’t find a more adoring crowd than the one that stands before Benjamin Clementine as he takes to the stage. He of the mighty voice spellbinds from where he sits at his piano, a backing band and choir bringing his songs to an ethereal dimension of life. A performance of ‘Condolence’ incites a rousing sing along that rings crystal clear for near ten minutes, while the applause that follows each song extends into gleeful foot stomps of appreciation. Teaching his lyrics and conducting his crowd, the musician basks in the moment as much as the gathered bask in the melodies. Ending with a second rendition of recent single ‘Phantom Of Aleppoville’, the time he spends on stage is nothing short of magic.

For a band to let loose to, there’s none better than The Avalanches. Their sample heavy, groove laden sound brings the enthusiasm and frenzied dance moves out the woodwork. Bounding their way around the stage with an impossibly infectious energy, their performance is all about feeling good – and that’s exactly what every person present is treated to. From the addictive chorus of ‘Frankie Sinatra’ to the euphoria of classic hit ‘Since I Left You’, it might have taken the band a long time to get back to this, but they’ve never sounded better.

When it comes to headlining a festival, there are few that master the art quite as well as Foo Fighters. Playing up to the hype, each band member introducing themselves with minute long covers, drawing out their songs with extended refrains, the stadium giants know just how to appease their crowd. Dave Grohl is every bit the rock star, chatting away to the audience between songs, inviting The Kills’ Alison Mosshart on stage for a song, playing a guitar signed by fans, and throwing himself into every refrain he plays.

Singing their hearts out to every song – and there’s a lot of them – the adoration in the crowd is as instantaneous and ceaseless as the riffs that echo from the stage. The music speaks for itself. ‘Times Like These’ into ‘Learn To Fly’ get things off to an anthemic start, while songs like ‘My Hero’, ‘Monkey Wrench’, and ‘Best Of You’ incite sing alongs so loud they practically take on a lease of life of their own. There’s no encore (“because it wastes time”) and no frills, just straight up rock and roll, solid bangers, and a good time. With chorus chants continuing late into the night, you don’t get festival sets bigger than this.

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