Move Festival - Old Trafford Cricket Ground - 13.7.03
REM / Badly Drawn Boy / Idlewild plus guests

Last year at Move the final day was passed over to the people of Manchester with New Order, Doves, Alfie, Elbow and Hanky Park representing the city. In the face of criticism from the fans who would have like to see Saturday's bill of the Charlatans, Inspirals and Puressence mixed up with Badly Drawn Boy and Squire on today's bill to keep the Festival true to it's roots, the promoters decided to go for more an international renowned name such as REM to headline the final day and in terms of ticket sales it certainly worked as this was the only day of the Festival completely sold out.

Opening up were Oranger who nobody seems to know nothing about and if their set was anything to go by the general public won't know anything of them following Move Festival. Excruciatingly bland and most likely placed on the bill due to some tenuous connection with the headliners. It took Athlete to really get things going with their unique mockney pop which fuses a love of hip hop with Parklife era Blur and Coldplay's sensitive streak. With the sun out the band seem to have made the leap from the toilet circuit to the big stage with ease. The singles "El Salvador", "Beautiful", "You've Got The Style" and "Westside" turn the conventional rules of pop on their head, while the album tracks "New Project", "Vehicles And Animals" and "Shake Those Windows" display a more straightforward, but none the less exciting, acoustic pop flavour. Despite the early billing Athlete were without any trace of doubt the band of the day.

You can't really mention John Squire without thinking of Ian Brown. Despite the fact that Squire's album "Time Changes Everything" surpasses every single solo release from Brown, when it comes to the old Roses songs played today such as "Made In Stone", "How Do You Sleep?", "Tightrope" and "Fools Gold" it seems wrong with Squire on lead vocals. On his solo tracks "I Miss You", "Satellites" and "Time Changes Everything" the Dylan-esque tones suit the songs perfectly, but without Brown on vocals Squire's vocals are always going to seem like a poor relation. Whether the Roses will reform is one of constant speculation, but it was interesting to note that the only day of Move that Mani wasn't ligging in the backstage area was on the day that Squire performed.

Last time we saw Idlewild it was the first tour following bassist Bob Fairfoull's departure from the band and although they had yet to find full time replacement Gavin Fox the band were on fire. You could say a group of REM fans and ex-Smith members  are the perfect audience as over the years Idlewild have developed from a thrashy punk band into one of Britain's best alternative guitar groups. "You Held The World In Your Arms" and "American English" are probably the bands most well known singles and yet for a long-term fan there's still a joy to be found in a song like "I Am The Message". It was said at Glastonbury that they looked like a band bored and ready to roll over and die, but at Move it couldn't have been further from the truth. Idlewild are a band who can only grow and grow.

I could waste your time and mine by telling you about Badly Drawn Boy and REM, but I respect you too much to gush praise on two artists who really don't deserve it. Since the Comedy Store show a couple of months ago Damon Gough decides to treat us to an hour solo acoustic performance where pop gems such as "About A Boy" are turned in tuneless dirge's. It really is a painful sight to watch and in truth after 20 minutes we line-up at the bar with like-minded people who'd rather compete with George Best in the Alcoholic Olympics than put themselves through anymore pain courtesy of the tea cosy-d singer songwriter.

REM didn't fair much better with only "Losing My Religion" reaching the heights we should expect of a the biggest band in the world. Few people can forget the years where the Brit Awards Best Band In The World would alternate between U2 and REM - the difference is that while Bono always comes out fighting and claiming that were ready to reclaim the title of best band in the world, Michael Stipe along with Peter Buck and Mike Mills seem content to simply slip into cruise mode. With a set built around new songs such as "Animal", "Final Straw" and "Bad Day" alongside "What's The Frequency Kenneth?", "Everybody Hurts" and "The One I Love". By the time they'd left the stage I really did think it was "The End Of The World As We Know It" and in comparison to the previous two days headliners The Charlatans and The Manics the band seriously lacked an energy and urgency.

Move Festival 2003 was an event which mixed veterans with a wealth of new talent such as Kinesis and Athlete. It will be interesting to see whether they continue down the path of bigger acts next year with the idea of filling the whole of Old Trafford or whether they will keep it relatively intimate and focus on a bill which mixes cutting edge talent with established veterans. The addition of a second tent with DJ's was a welcome addition this year and it would certainly be worth expanding this idea next year to feature acoustic performances, new bands and DJ's in-between the acts on the main stage. Here's to Move 2004!!!

Alex McCann

All Photos by Karen McBride -

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