Back in 2005, I went to my first ever Reading festival. I remember it vividly, I was 18, and Pixies, Foo Fighters and Iron Maiden headlined.
With one exception, (2010, a friends wedding I couldn’t miss) I have returned to Reading or Leeds every year which makes this coming weekend almost my 12th consecutive year of watching landmark performances, getting drunk, getting sunburnt, falling over, crying, laughing, and, erm, running in a circle around a pole.
It’s impossible to whittle these life-affirming moments down to a top 10, but I’ve given it a good go!
1. Foo Fighters, Main Stage, Reading 2005
Everyone remembers their first Reading/Leeds as something special, and this has gone down in memory as one of the best experiences of my adult life. The Foos opened with In Your Honour before launching headfirst into All My Life, Times Like These, My Hero and Best of You, in that order. Just wow.
2. Rage Against The Machine, Main Stage, Leeds 2008
Their first UK shows since 2000. No further statements, your honour.
3. Biffy Clyro, Radio 1/NME Tent, 2007
An exceptional performance just after the release of Puzzle including a rare outing for Folding Stars, a track they only ever play on special occasions. They’d never play a UK festival stage this small again.
4. Nine Inch Nails, Main Stage, Reading 2007
I remember thinking, ‘how on earth can The Smashing Pumpkins follow this?!’ With great difficulty, as it turns out, as Trent Reznor delivers a headliner-worthy performance that would blow anyone off the stage.
5. Manic Street Preachers, Radio 1/NME Tent, Leeds 2008
At this point, the Manics were enjoying something of a resurgence following 2007’s spectacular Send Away The Tigers. The title track, and single Your Love Alone Is Not Enough sat alongside a greatest hits set for everyone not interested in watching The Killers.
6. Architects, The Pit, Reading 2014
Within the first 15 minutes, vocalist Sam Carter declared this as the best gig of the band’s career so far. It’s difficult to argue against this, as the band ignore the majority of their previous output to play almost all of their instant classic Lost Forever // Lost Together.
7. Frank Turner, Main Stage, Reading 2011
Having played almost every other stage at the festival, in 2011 he finally made his way to the big one. Glorious sunshine greeted Frank and his Sleeping Souls on Reading’s main stage as they played standout tracks from his third album England Keep My Bones.
8. At The Drive-In, ‘NME/Radio 1 Tent’ Leeds 2012
Having missed them the first time round, I’d waited a long time for this. As a huge circle pit erupted around us for opener Arcarsenal, it felt like a lot of people were in the same boat.
9. Rise Against, Lock Up Tent, Leeds 2008
I got quite involved in the mosh pit on this one and managed to lose my wallet during an epic The Good Left Undone. Luckily, the kind people at Leeds fest found it and send it me in the post!
10. Queens of the Stone Age, Main Stage, Reading 2005
For reasons I’ve never fully understood, particularly as I’ve never been a huge fan of this band, this set was RIDICULOUS amounts of fun.