The closest NZ and Oz can come to a Reading or a V festival, the BDO is eagerly anticipated and usually pulls at least one massive band, having attracted (I believe) Metallica and Red Hot Chili Peppers amongst others, in the past. It all takes place in a rugby stadium in the middle of an industrial estate, so it doesn’t have a great deal going for it in the ambience stakes. It’s hardly Hylands Park or Worthy Farm, but it was a lovely sunny day, so… Having been inside 10 minutes though, I realized just
how far it was from Reading or V, when I attempted to purchase a nice cold beer. I like to drink beer at gigs. I especially like to drink beer at outdoor gigs in the middle of summer. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to get tanked and throw cups of warm urine at the stage or dance naked in the mud, but I do like to be able to get a cold alcoholic beverage and watch the bands I’ve paid a not inconsiderable amount to see. Whilst I consume my drink. Not going to happen at Big Day Out though. No, no, no, no, no. In order to prevent anyone getting in the slightest bit intoxicated, and to avoid the possibility of any under-18s having to put up with the horrifying sight of adults drinking beer, the organisers concocted the most complicated and time consuming assault course which potential drinkers must negotiate before quenching their thirsts. I queued 5 separate times, collecting various wristbands, tokens and stamps and magic passwords along the way, before I was able to drink my 4 small plastic bottles of slightly below room temperature gnat’s piss (marketed under the name Lion Red), in a fenced off enclosure, in earshot, but only just in view of, the stage. Waste of fucking time if you ask me. Anyway, rant over. Now bands come.
We wandered between the Other Stage and the twin main stage and because it was a rugby stadium and not a farmer’s field, it was relatively easy to move about. Kasabian?
Brilliant. Bloody brilliant. They had two albums out at this point, and basically played the best 4 off each. Really great live. My Chemical Romance? Utter shite, emo teenpop Bebo bollocks with eyeliner. Scribe? Please god, make it stop. The Vines? Not bad, not bad. Didn’t hear the one track I remembered, but a decent enough racket nevertheless. The Streets? Doesn’t really work on a big stage in a big tent, not for me anyway. Saw bits and pieces of things as we wandered around, but manoeuvered ourselves nice and early into a good vantage point from which to see The Killers, and then push on from there to get a prime spot for Muse right afterwards. The Killers were very disappointing, very disappointing indeed. They just lacked the oomph that made them so good the previous times I’d send them, and the new album (Sam’s Town) seemed to be 95% filler so after they’d done ‘Somebody Told Me’ and ‘Mr Brightside’, which they knocked off very early in the set, it went most definitely downhill. Anyway, the rest of crowd seemed to love it, and before the end of the set we had wriggled and squirmed our way to the crash barriers in front of Muse’s stage. Not THE crash barriers, just the crash barriers around the ‘Exclusive’ zone, which we couldn’t be arsed to queue for.
Anyway, the anticipation, as the sun went down over Mt Smart Stadium, was pretty much unbearable. I had wanted to see Muse since seeing their triumphant 2002 Glastonbury performance on TV. They really brought something different to rock music, well, to be fair, they brought several well established facets together in a new and exciting way. What really grabbed me was the virtuoso musicianship, and the sheer noise that 3 people could bash out. So, like I said, I was well up for this. With the roadies safely out of sight and the interval music faded out, the show was about to start. The Wagnerian opening bars of ‘Knights of Cydonia’ crashed out of the PA and the three skinny runts from a quaint holiday town in Devon wandered on to rapturous cheers. Matt Bellamy’s falsetto warble intro seemed even more falsetto than on record, and they dragged out the intro to tortuous lengths. I personally don’t particularly go for the self-indulgent warbling nonsense or the Sparky’s Magic Piano or the John Williams movie score elements to their music, but it does provide an efficient foil to the thunderously good rock bits. Anyway, that’s undoubtedly what sets them apart from most of the rest. In actual fact, I like less than half of their recorded output – none of their albums has more than 3 or 4 truly excellent tracks on in my humbliest of humble opinions. Anyway, the self-indulgent warbling nonsense at the beginning of ‘Knights…’ was finally at an end, and like a barrel tipping over the falls, the guitars came crashing in for the rocky bit. Always the best bit of any gig* , this intro was a particularly fine example. It’s like Queen suddenly goes all Iron Maiden. The crowd was jumping in unison, chanting along to the riff. What an entrance. As it was just an hour set, they played just the major sluggers and pretty much none of the filler stuff. ‘Plug In Baby’, ‘New Born’, ‘Supermassive Blackhole’, ‘Starlight’ etc etc. Fucking, fucking, fucking brilliant. This gig went straight into the top 5 gigs of all time, with immediate effect, but always on the proviso that it would be re-adjudged in a year’s time, in the cold light of day, so to speak. Three years down the line though, it’s still up there, and will be hard to dislodge now.
Tool was actually the headline act that day, but we were so rocked out by Muse that there was no way they could come even close, hence we made an early dash for the gates and the train home.
*see Metallica Dec 88