Friday Five – Thoughts on iTunes Festival 2012

The month of September was filled with a nightly music extravaganza courtesy of the iTunes Festival 2012. Each evening, one or more warm-up acts introduced a bigger name, and it was all streamed live on the internet, available as a catchup replay afterwards as well. Mr C watched all of them, I saw some of the main ones, and these are some of my findings.

1) There were a variety of different genres throughout the 30 days, and most musical tastes were covered in some capacity. My personal favourite of the lot was Pink. She hadn’t performed for two or three years, and was rusty – forgetting some words here and there. That made the show a little bit more personal. She was chatty, cared about the fans (particularly one who fainted), and did lots of songs that I had forgotten I like and own. Many plus points for Pink. I was also suitably impressed with Alicia Keys, who I thought was going to be a great performer but a bit aloof with the audience. She warmed to it, I think.

2) Now, I’ve always taken a bit of a shine to Noel Gallagher, particularly when compared to his brother, but I’ve not really had any reason one way or the other. I’ve heard him in a few interviews and he’s funny and articulate. However, in his set, he was just a joy to watch. He must have incredible hearing because he was holding conversations with people in the front row, to the exclusion of everyone else. It was weird to see just one side of a conversation but also completely compelling. There was also the Liam-Liam chanting moment, that I quite enjoyed, wherein he bemoaned his own one-syllable name being hard to chant, and a certain sibling’s name being slightly better.

3) On the flip side, I had expected to like Ed Sheeran’s set a lot more than I did. He expected far too much of the crowd, and told lengthy stories that didn’t seem to have much to do with anything. He also went on far too long with “you need me but I don’t need you” to the point where I thought I was being brainwashed. The duet with Gary Snow Patrol was awesome, though. Jessie J was another one who I thought would be better. I’m not her biggest fan, but I like a couple of the songs and she belts them out. Unfortunately, she changed her shoes to big red clumpy things so that she looked like a clown, talked endlessly about how grateful she was, and broke the momentum of the gig to sit down and read an extract from her book. I don’t go to (m)any gigs but this seemed odd, and I gave up watching halfway through.

4) I was epically disappointed that The Killers gig wasn’t available to replay. What happened and who pulled it? Every single other show was available in some form – although I noticed that Muse’s setlist featured Time is Running Out (my favourite) and the iTunes replay did not. Mr C was gutted when he missed The Killers, and the replay did not appear. It made him determined to watch everything else live so as not to miss out, until some kind soul started putting stuff on YouTube. In the end, it was just The Killers that were missing, and I am curious to know why.

5) There were two artists I sat through where I didn’t know much of the music. The aforementioned Muse took twenty minutes to get to a song I recognised, although once they got going, I felt on more familiar territory. Matchbox Twenty were another where I’m not even sure I recognised any. They are one of those bands with the unique ability to have few standout songs, it all sounds mostly the same, but equally it doesn’t get boring. The Calling are another example of this. The support act for Matchbox Twenty were One Republic, who I really, really liked as well. That was a good iTunes day.

(This video also shows off, to an epic degree, my complaints about how sweaty all the artists were getting. Sort it out, Roundhouse!)

Overall, it was a musical education. I don’t think it was as spectacular as I had imagined – the Sheeran/Snow Patrol duet was really the only big moment, whereas I thought there might be more artists playing about and inviting others on. Nevertheless, there were plenty of gems, I learnt an awful lot, I’ve discovered some new music, and it was all for free. What’s not to like?

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