Move Festival - Old Trafford Cricket Ground - 10.7.02
Bowie, Suede, The Divine Comedy and guests

It's been hailed as Britain's largest Urban Festival and with time this idea might just catch on as the best thing to happen to the festival circuit since......well, I can't think of anything right now but you get the idea. Imagine the joy of having the best night of your life and then being able to have a shower and rest in the comfort of your own bed instead of having a leaking tent and a bottle of Febreeze to clear the stench. It's what the Move Festival is about and after relaxing in the relatively comfortable surroundings of the Old Trafford Cricket Ground you can take an equally relaxing journey home on Virgin Trains providing they turn up on time of course (Oh, how I jest Mr Branson).

Making history as the first band to play the Move Festival are The Real People, who have tunes by the bucket load and are indirectly responsible for the world-wide success of Oasis. For those of you who don't know, Oasis were just a shambolic Stone Roses tribute act called Rain before a certain Noel Gallagher chanced upon the Real People and the rest as they say is history. You can make what you want from that, but as the opening act of the day they certainly fair better than the Electric Soft Parade whose desperate lack of personality masquerades the genius of their debut album "Holes In The Wall". If they had just played their trump card of Kylie's "Can't get You Outta My Head" they may just have rescued their 30 minute slot, but unfortunately it's a bog standard run through the album with a token new song sounding not unlike an old Boo Radley's b-side. Note to self - Must try harder!!!

The Divine Comedy on the other hand could make the sanest person turn into a raving schizophrenic within an hour. Deciding that we'd had enough of "that noisy rock and roll" and choosing to mellow us out with "some cute tunes" in a stripped down Divine Comedy goes lo-fi kind of way. Now solo, Neil Hannon has the freedom to experiment a little more, which given the state of affairs when a democracy ruled the band and they went depressingly indie it's no bad thing, and it's the freedom that at times can sound a little too Hank Marvin and the Shadows yet still sounds deliciously twee with a sole accordion replacing the full overblown orchestra. In a moment of beautiful synchronicity the first real moment of summer shows through the ever present clouds as the slow burning "The Summerhouse" draws in. Beautiful and awkward as always - what more did we expect from Irelands greatest living crooner!!!

Suede are a band who have always stuck out on the musical radar like a sore thumb, but tonight supporting Bowie the timing of their comeback couldn't have been better. As Coldplay and Starsailor try to retain that sense of ordinariness, Suede have always reached for the stars despite that fact they live in the sleaze of the gutter with the trash and the beautiful losers by their side. With Neil Codling out of the pack due to his recent problems with M.E, and the once fresh faced young pup Richard Oakes looking a little on the bloated side, all eyes are back on frontman Brett Anderson who despite the years of abuse ravaging him is still looking like the snaked hip god of sleaze. Running through a set which takes in everything from "Animal Nitrate" through to the set's closer "She's In Fashion" by way of "Trash" and "The Wild Ones" it takes the prime tracks from each of the bands four albums. But if you thought this was just a exercise in running through former glories the likes of "Beautiful Loser", the harmonica driven "Karma Obsession" and forthcoming single "Positivity" all shine through as future Suede classics despite battling through the rain for the audiences attention.

Last time Bowie played Manchester it was an intimate gig at the Manchester Academy for fans of his drum & bass phase, but with him re-discovering the beauty of the electric guitar and an album "Heathen", which honestly sees Bowie returning to form despite the fact that each new album is heralded with the same overblown hype, it seems that we might just get our prayers answered. Dressed in a loosely elegant black suit and rebellious open tie Bowie truly is a man who despite the rock & roll wear and tear looks half his age and even when he calls for a rain dance to clear the sky still looks like the epitome of cool rather than that embarrassing uncle which visits once a year. From the opening bars of "Life On Mars" to the closing "Ziggy Stardust", a song he once said he would never play live again, it really is Bowie in playful form with the actor in him hamming it up for the cameras. The back catalogue is fully explored with "Ashes To Ashes", "Starman", China Girl, "Changes", "Fame" and "Let's Dance" splicing up the highlights from "Heathen" such as "Everyone Says Hi" and his cover of the Pixies "Cactus".

With an audience including John Lydon, Hooky from New Order, members of Suede and the Manchester Northern Quarter scenesters its safe to say that if the move festival goes downhill from here it still would have been worth it for Bowie alone. A man who really did break musical and cultural barriers, can play the old classics as a thankyou to fans and yet still recieve ecstatic reactions for his new material when other artists (Ed: hello McCartney, Jackson, Gallagher et all) simply rely on former glories as a meal ticket. Best Show of the Year so far - without a shadow of a doubt!!!

Alex McCann

Move Festival - Old Trafford Cricket Ground - 11.7.02
Green Day, No Doubt plus guests

As I make my journey through the hoards of kids fresh out of school I realize just how out of touch I am with youth culture. At the pensionable age of 24 I still can't get my head round the fact that the 2nd day of the Move Festival featuring Green Day, No Doubt, Less Than Jake, A, Rival Schools and Hoobastank has sold more tickets than the respective days for Bowie, Weller and New Order. I start to accept my place in society as one of those old people and hence try and get down with this youth thang going on, but give up when I realize I've left my obligatory Nu-Metal T-Shirt and Boots Punk Hair Dye at home. I did decide to be a transvestite for the day but the idea of walking round with a pierced lip and T-Shirt with "Bitch" written across it didn't appeal.

Still I must persevere and for the plain and simple fact of not looking like a sad old man I head down to the pit for Hoobastank, one of the few bands on today's bill that have the passion and fire of old skool rock albeit processed through a Nu-Metal blender and hence contributing to the continual evolution of the genre. Straight out of Cali they tell a tale of lost love and the typical fragile male ego, but deliver it with such passion that you can't help be drawn in. Melodies sore before the crunch of the chorus and a pit is all moshed out. But it's not until they deliver the kiss of "Crawling In The Dark" that the more, shall we say fashionistas amongst us, start to realize that they just missed one of the bands who names they unwittingly write on their school books each week. Hoobastank are a band who define rock music in the year 2002 and yet will survive long after the kids have found a new genre to champion.

In order to preserve my sanity I skip the depressing rock of emo head boys Rival Schools and return to my British roots with A. Surprisingly with British rock music at an all time high, thanks to the likes of Lost Prophets and Hundred Reasons, A are the sole UK rockers representing and it's with this knowledge that they set out to "destroy the pitch, so they can never play cricket on it again". It's a short-lived success as apart from recent singles "Nothing" and "Starbucks" they fail to really win over the crowd despite the leads singers attempt at Thunderbirds gone rock dance manoeuvres. Less Than Jake can't fail to win over the crowd with their blend of ska-rock despite that fact that like A they seem to have a set of forgetable set of greatest misses.

Breaking out the post Tank Girl feminism rally is No Doubt's Gwen Stefani towering above us in bringing out a chant of "I'm just a girl in Manchester". On one hand a little girl lost and a voice to melt the hardest of hearts for "Don't Speak". And on the other hand the only white girl to chill with Eve and have a crafty left hook to boot. With a set that the Glastonbury crowd got to experience just over 2 weeks ago they work on the idea that if it's not broken, why fix it? And what better philosophy to work with when you mixing up old classics like "Sunday Morning" through "Hey Baby" and onto the next single "Underneath It All" which despite sounding like Peter Andre's "Mysterious Girl" is a return to the old ska roots of old and leaves the electro R&B as just a indiscreet diversion.

For me Green Day lost the plot the day they picked up acoustic guitars, but still killers on the live circuit they work their way through classic album "Dookie" with "Welcome To Paradise", "Basketcase" and then resuscitate "Minority" from it's recorded whimper by way of Lulu's "Shout". The anyone can do it with 3 chord punk spirit is still alive when the band take a back seat for three members of the audience out to take over the drums, bass and guitar respectively. After a few lazy fumbles and the ritual humiliation of losing the plot in front of an audience of thousands an unknown walks away with Billie Joe's guitar and the punk spirit lives on when he does the same thing 10 years down the line in his band.

After an hour and thirty the band leave the stage. I look behind me and find and empty pavilion where us media types are supposed to stand. I guess it says more about us that while an audience of thousands get down on the scene we are still that out of touch we don't know what's going on in real life. Certainly true for some and they are conspicuous by their absence, but we just saw the past 10 years of rock pass us by and while Green Day must certainly be on their last legs we saw the future of rock - they are called Hoobastank!!!

Alex McCann

Move Festival - Old Trafford Cricket Ground - 12.7.02
Paul Weller, Ian Brown, Joe Strummer plus guests

For the first time in the three days of Move so far the gremlins get in the system and sadly much of Haven's set is a series of splats and splutters gurgling out of the speakers. It's not the best way to start of the day and when you have a band like Haven whose intricate melodies require a certain degree of delicacy to really display the best qualities. Just beneath the muddy mix of the drum and bass you can make out Nat's insistent melodies and Gary Briggs stadium sized operatics, but sadly it doesn't rescue the likes of "Say Something", "Stay Tonight" and "Beautiful Thing" from the realms of festival hell. It's a pity because what could have been a great opportunity to reach outside the insular Northern Quarter scene was squandered by a technical disaster behind the scenes.

Shed 7 do what they do best and bring on the hits, yet still suffer with the same problems as Haven. The difference being is that Rick Witter is a seasoned profession and with years of these sort of problems behind him he does what he does best and appeals to the crowd through a seasoned sing along of "Chasing Rainbows". Add in "Getting Better", "Speak Easy" and an abridged version of "Disco Down" and you have a winning combination which marks the Shed's above any of the Britpop comeback failures such as the Bluetones.

As we said last time we saw Joe Strummer and the Mescaloros - he say's more in one song than the Manic Street Preachers have said in their whole career. And unlike fellow Move performers Weller and Brown his contemporary material basques in its own other worldly genius where punk and reggae hold hands as they should rather than prancing around like Less Than Jake. With the fist in the air call to arms that is "I fought The Law", the laid back reggae of "Rudi Gonna Fail" through to a new song "Get Down Moses" which has world music written all over it yet never gets too close to Andy Kershaw to really offend. The Clash were always the thinking mans punk band and while John Lydon has just become rent-a-gob for a few shoddy award shows, Joe Strummer can sleep easy that he's still producing music more relevant than 90% of the kids today.

While the Stone Roses were icons for a generation you can't help but wish that someone would take Ian Brown out, shoot him and put us all out of our misery. Back in the Roses he had Squire, Mani and Reni backing him up and providing the musical template around what at the time in comparison seems like the voice of an angel. In 2002 he has guitar genius Aziz co-writing everything from "My Star" to "Corpses" and yet put him out there on his own with his foghorn vocals and you're left with man chasing his own shadow. Teasing us with the intro to "Fools Gold" before launching into "Love Like A Fountain" it seems like even he's coming round to the fact that the only way he regain any degree of respect is by reforming the Roses - just let's hope he does it sooner rather than later for our sakes!

As Brown passes the baton over to Paul Weller the only real hope is that he brings a bit of that punk spirit of the Jam to Manchester rather than sending us comatose with his solo material. Our hopes sadly are dashed when we realize that Weller is simply indulging his own ego by playing a set pulled almost entirely from his recent "Heavy Soul" album and all the while Ocean Colour Scene's Steve Craddock has come along for a ride to play fiddle to his musical hero. Just one run through "That's Entertainment" or "A Town Called Malice" would have rescued us, god damn even a few Style Council tunes", but instead we get to whimper along with "Wild Wood" and "Peacock Soup". When he introduces new song "A Bullet For Everyone," which with it's title could me mistaken for a slight return to form, only to dive head first into a messy dirge. Friday Nights used to be for fighting and now we've got the choice between the televisual equivalent of watching paint dry in Big Brother or the musical equivalent of paint drying with Weller - what's the world coming too!!!

All in all a day screaming out adult entertainment. But we should have known better, we knew what we were getting into and yet still despite the rest of the bill it was worth it for Strummer alone.

Alex McCann

Move Festival - Old Trafford Cricket Ground - 13.7.02
New Order, Doves, Echo & The Bunnymen plus guests

With the announcement just over a week previous that Shaun Ryder's solo project SWR will not be appearing due to delays recording the album in Australia there was a temporary blip before it was announced that Liverpool's greatest Echo & The Bunnymen will be invading the Manchester day of Move in a show of solidarity between the two Northern Cities. Even as recently as 2 years ago this simply wouldn't have been possible, but over the past 12 months relationships Liverpool and Manchester have come together against the one common enemy - those poxy Southern Cockney wide boys!!!

Not that it can help Salford's own Hanky Park who without playing a note get the thumbs down from a member of the audience tucked away in the stands. It's a simple chant of "Yer Shit" which after hearing the first two songs we universally nod in agreement and make our way to the bar. Returning for Alfie and Elbow you get the feeling that despite the fact they both have released critically acclaimed albums over the past 12 months they are not destined for sports stadiums. It would all make perfect sense if Elbow were sound tracking a rainy melancholic downpour, but with the Sun shining brightly and the beer flowing they don't half spoil the atmosphere.

At which point Echo & The Bunnymen with the chain smoking cool as f**k Ian McCulloch is brought into to raise the metaphorical roof off. Given a welcome befitting off homecoming heroes the liggers are out on display including Hayley and Fizz from Corrie, Bez, sporting chancer Carl Powers and simply anyone who's anyone in Manchester. Never has the psychedelic guitar grooves seemed more appropriate as they play a selection of old classics such as "Killing Moon" with their 90s comeback hit "Nothing Ever Lasts For Ever". It's a shame that Coldplay's Chris Martin doesn't make an appearance, of what has seemingly become the norm for Bunnymen gigs, but it's his loss at the end of the day.

When a band can reel out songs like "Pounding", "There Goes The Fear" and "Cedar Room" at the beginning of their set and still keep the crowd in the palm of their hands for the rest of the 60 minute set you know you're onto something special. Following a sold out show at the Academy just over 2 months ago, are really the men of the moment and while much of Manchester can at times fail under it's own self-importance - Doves have realized that simply being recognized around the Night & Day is not enough and hence have reached for the stars with an album which even on it's quieter moments such as "M62 Song" still crams more into it that the most bands do in one album. Even album tracks like "Words" and "Satellite" seem like old friends amongst a selection of singles including the aforementioned "There Goes The Fear" and "Catch The Sun".

After sold out shows in Finsbury Park last month New Order make their way home for yet another legendary Manchester show. If that last statement sounds resigned please forgive me as what I'm really trying to say is that New Order have such a back catalogue of classic electro pop songs that even a B-Side set would still seem like the best gig of the year. Deciding to pull out all the stops for this Old Trafford appearance before retreating back into the studio for the next album must have gave them a rediscovered energy with Barney in great spirits whooping and jumping around like an excited kid waiting for a ride at Alton Towers and Hooky seemingly holding his bass lower and lower with each appearance from the opening bars of "Crystal" were back to 24 Hour Party People excess. Even throughout the Joy Division songs such as "Transmission" and "Love Will Tear Us Apart" there's a sense of remembering the good times rather than dwelling on the bad memories, which the 24 Hour Party People movie would have brought back with the disturbing scene of Ian Curtis hanging in the living room.

As soon as Barney introduces Keith Allen just before the encore with "we had to invite him up here because his last football record didn't do anything" we know that despite the fact that the English Football Team went home yet again the greatest ever football song is soon to come. "World In Motion" celebrates everything that is British - from it's multi-culturalism on the notorious John Barnes rap ,which Allen takes over tonight, to losers like Gazza. With the impassioned chant of "En-Ger-Land" it's bringing our national identity back to the people on the streets rather than in the hands of the right-wing neo-fascist parties. If "World In Motion" was all about our English Identity then "Blue Monday" has become all about our adopted Queen of British pop. Were talking about Kylie of course who gets the tribute paid back to here in the form of a sampled "Can't get You Outta My Head" forming the intro and outro to the New Order original.

And with no sense of "Regret" and some "True Faith" the band leave the stage closing the first and possibly the last ever Move Festival in Manchester. With attendance's for the festival reaching ,what at most was, 50% of the Old Trafford Venue after a seemingly endless campaign of magazine adverts and an award winning advert you get the feeling that if Move does return for 2003 it will be somewhat blander and more commercially viable ala V2002. With Robbie Williams selling out 3 dates last year and Oasis doing the same later this year it is with a little tear in your eye that you realize that perhaps those aforementioned artists are more relevant to the 21st Century than David Bowie or Joe Strummer. It's sad but true and the fact is you just can't argue with ticket sales at the end of the day and with that I bid you farewell and hope that if it does return next year the organizers offer a little compromise between artistic integrity and commercial viability.

Alex McCann