Tuesday, September 3, 2013

"Bands I've Seen Live When I Was Much Younger And Still Pretty As A Picture": # 2: The Pukkelpop Festival

Hello dear friends,

today we go to Belgium of all places, yes, because if where I live has one advantage, then it is the fact that within five minutes you are as well in Belgium as in Holland.

Hechtel's Pukkelpop-festival has a very long tradition, it started on the local football ground in 1985 with 2.500 visitors, last year 190.000 people were there ... quite a difference, right?

But back in 1990 some 10.000 people came to see an astonishing line-up (as shown above) on an old abandoned aerofield, the Sanicole in Hechtel: it really was a great day, incredibly hot and there was no chance whatsoever to hide somewhere in the shadow. People lay along the huge fence that bordered the venue, struck down by beer and heat.

All bands were fantastic, although I don't remember Faith No More and not all too much of what Nick Cave did, I must admit. I think beforehand I was most looking forward to see Mudhoney, because by then Peel had played their stuff for nearly two years, they really were the "Gods of Grunge" to me ... and no, they didn't disappoint me at all.

It is hard to tell whether Henry Rollins' or The Cramps' set was more energetic: if you have ever seen video footage featuring Rollins, you can tell that this guy gives sheer energy a new definition. Then again you can tell the same about The Cramps' Lux Interior, and in fact both bands were bloody awesome ... an unforgettable experience really!

The Buzzcocks of course are old heroes, old in a sense that I am too young to having had the chance to see any of those legendary '77/'78/'79 punk combos when they were still active. Pukkelpop changed that, at least for The Buzzcocks ... and it felt brilliant to have them hammering out the old favourites from yesteryear!

The highlight of the day though was seeing Billy Bragg for the first time (I went to see him quite often in the years to come): he simply was unbelievable! The whole performance was great, not only the music, but being able to witness how funny this man is was astonishing. I mean, if you ever have seen him playing live in a smaller venue, you will be able to confirm that he spends quite some time on chatting with the audience inbetween the tunes, he'd tell little stories with a certain tendency to digress (nothing wrong with that at all). But it was real fun to see him doing the very same in front of like 10.000 people, he talked without end all the time, between each and every number. I remember he interrupted one song to take the piss out of some poor drunken bloke who decided to take a leak against the aforementioned fence, quite some distance away from the stage. Bragg followed every move the guy made and informed the audience accordingly. Just imagine you really have to piss, can't hold it to the next plastic lavatory and the next thing happening to you are ten thousand people staring at you whilst one guy with a microphone is recommending that you turn around a little bit so that the wind won't wetten your trousers etc. pp ...

All in all it was a fantastic event and I don't think I have later seen many festivals as good as this one. And it was just 38,- Deutschmarks at the door, today this would be some 19,- Euros ...

Girl - factor, in case you should be wondering? Loads of them, but it was way too hot to concentrate on anything else but the music ...

And finally here's some of exactly that for you, my beauties:

Henry Rollins - 'There's A Man Outside' ('87)
Mudhoney - 'Touch Me I'm Sick' ('88)
Billy Bragg - 'A Lover Sings' (live King's College '01)
Buzzcocks - 'You Say You Don't Love Me' ('79)
Cramps - 'Surfin' Dead' ('85)
Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds - 'Slowly Goes The Night' ('88)

Take good care,



TheRobster said...

Billy Bragg is a great storyteller, in song and in speech. Wouldn't it be just great if you could take him out for a beer one night and get him talking?

I attended a few very very hot Glastonburys in the early 90s. Agreed about the girls - there were beauties in abundance but it was waaaay to hot to concentrate on such things!

Brian said...

Sorry, Dirk, I don't have any kim kardashian bikini butt pics to share, but I wanted to let you know I'm another in a long list of your real fans happy to see you posting again. I just made the discovery a few moments ago, and it has made my Friday.

Nice lineup at this gig. OK, I could do without Faith No More, but I'm sure it was quite a day. Buzzcocks would have been about three years away from making a solid comeback album in Trade Test Transmissions. Check it out if you haven't heard that one. Not quite as good as the old days... but not as far behind as you might think.

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