"Shaking their bits to the hits" rings true as Suede and Happy Mondays bring legendary tracks to PennFest with lively performances from the pair alongside notable sets from Pete Doherty and Miles Kane.
Miles Kane struts out on stage to ‘Young Hearts Run Free’ wearing a white suit jacket paired with a leopard print shirt and glittery silver stripes under his eyes - all of which are becoming more and more of a foundation to Kane's increasingly extravagant persona. Blitzing through a fairly similar setlist to other recent performances, Kane and the band put on a consistently strong show as usual. Unfortunately they are met by mixed responses from the audience, as those who know Kane loved the show, while those who don't are too brought down by the weather to get properly into it. The set predominantly focuses on last year's Coup De Grace, however doesn't neglect Kane's first two albums and still manages to fit in recent singles ‘LA Five Four (309)’ and ‘Can You See Me Now’. Kane gets the crowd dancing with a cover of Donna Summer's ‘Hot Stuff’, which makes the audience forget about the weather for four minutes as they lose themselves to this disco rock classic.
In almost a polar opposite to Kane, Peter Doherty appears on stage in a polo and tracksuit bottoms with a massive grin on his face. With his third solo album being released in April complete with new band, The Puta Madres, Doherty has a fair amount of solo material to compile a set from. Doherty and guitarist Jack Jones share some intimate moments, much alike to those of Doherty and Carl Barat in The Libertines, but this is far from the garage rock of The Libs. Doherty's solo material is more gentle and mellow, focusing on his poetic words, making for a softer set. Contrasting this, Doherty throws his guitar across the stage to his guitar tech, which pulls some gasps from the audience. The weather starts to get worse and disappointingly the crowd seemed to expect a set full of Libertines tracks, with many of which talking quite loudly over the set. While the weather fits the mood perfectly, it is hard not to feel that the Puta Madres would be much better suited to a venue as opposed to a festival. 'Someone Else To Be', an interesting mashup of The Velvet Underground and Oasis, pricks up a few ears with a verse from 'Don't Look Back In Anger' and is met with a few smiles. The set closes with a version of 'Fuck Forever' by another of Doherty's bands, Babyshambles. The track really highlights the Doherty fans within the crowd, as phones are whipped out and a singalong begins within the crowd at the middle barrier.
Headiners Suede draw a large and lively crowd, waiting patiently for them to take the stage. Finding fame within the Britpop era as one of the Big Four, Suede now have eight studio albums under their belt and a loyal following of fans. The stage goes black and the band appear, playing The Blue Hour's dark opening track 'As One', with Brett Anderson nowhere to be seen. Thick smoke engulfs the band and the stage, with Anderson emerging from it to a roar from the crowd. This showmanship is present throughout the set, with the singer gliding across the stage, throwing himself around the floor, and launching himself into the crowd within a blink of an eye. Classic single from Dog Man Star 'We Are The Pigs' is a thunderous force ringing throughout the grounds of PennFest, with the unsettling single backdrop behind Anderson as he and the crowd belt out, ”We are the pigs, we are the swine" in unison.
The set is certainly a crowd pleaser, with two thirds of the tracks performed being classics and fan favourites from the first three albums. Anderson's energy is infectious, with his ability to whip up the crowd through interaction and enthusiasm, showcasing what a class frontman he is and how much he loves being on stage performing. 'Killing of a Flash Boy', the B-Side to 'We Are The Pigs', has Anderson prowling around the stage and is one of the highlights of the set, proving why the song became such a staple piece to Suede's live shows and starts the hit-laden end to the set. The intro riff to the anthemic 'Trash' sets the crowd alight, and the crowd-wide cries of "We're trash you and me” has the crowd truly united for the first time this evening. Suede's first top 10 single 'Animal Nitrate' follows this, with Anderson beating frontmen half his age as he continues to deliver an insane amount of energy this late into the set.
As 'Animal Nitrate' finishes, the rest of the band depart the stage, leaving Anderson screaming at the crowd asking if they want more. An acoustic guitar is presented to the singer, with which he performs a stripped back rendition of 'The Wild Ones' much to the delight of a fair few by the barrier and is dedicated to everyone in the crowd who had stuck it out through the rain to see Suede. The band come together for one final track, 'Beautiful Ones', and is met by an eruption of screams and singing from the crowd.
Saturday presents a set from the legendary Happy Mondays. Starting off with Rowetta singing and getting the crowd going, parading across the stage. Shaun Ryder and Bez then walk out to the sounds of 'Hallelujah' and a loud masculine cheer from the crowd. Bez immediately launches into his signature maraca shaking and dancing, darting from side to side of the stage and ensures each and every crowd member gets just as much attention as the next. 'Hallelujah' is followed up by 'Kinky Afro' and 'God's Cop', making for a very strong hit-centred start to the set.
Ryder takes the time to introduce the band, announcing Bez as "being on everything...guitar, bass, drums" which gathers laughter from the crowd, to which Bez responds "I'm just old fashioned”. The psychedelic acid house sounds of the Mondays still holds up, with a large crowd of varying ages all dancing and shouting along, and shows that even long after the acid house days of the early 90s the Mondays can still thoroughly captivate an audience.
See our gallery from PennFest below: