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

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