‘The Perfect Summer Sunday’ is how Citadel bills itself. The ultimate day basking and rolling in sunshine, catching some bloody ace bands and trying not to be pulled too close to the cocktail bar (I mean, once or twice is alright though?). Over the past few years, Citadel has found its groove in that regard, putting on some of the defining sets of summer festival season – all nicely tucked in one of London’s hallowed parks. Wait, it’s where this year? Ahhh that’s alright, we need the exercise anyway.
It may be early, the sun may be baking, but Sea Girls are causing a splash. With the sort of anthems born for festival season, today is another memorable proving of the potential they have – with the lightning rods of ‘Lost’, ‘Call Me Out’ and ‘Heavenly War’ causing big moves and a fevered response. New song ‘Forever’ feels like their most anthemic moment yet, for a band whose ambition and hunger for more is only going to take them to the stars.
Today is Joji Malani, guitarist of Gang Of Youths’ birthday, and for a band who have a house just around the corner (even if they’re from Down Under), today means something special. Wearing their hearts firmly on their sleeves, they blister through a set of life-changing music – pulling from their critically beloved second album ‘Go Farther In Lightness’. Dave may just be the uptime frontman, one who pulls everyone into hands in the air euphoria that fills a packed out tent – with people peeping in from outside. A band made for huge arena moments, the singalong screams and bow-down hysteria make this feels like a band who have crossed that line to something undeniably meaningful. Expect to see Gang Of Youths making that step to Main Stage favourites in a matter of months.
Shame are the best live band going. It’s a sentence said over and over, but that’s because it’s true – and Main Stages are where they belong. Mid-afternoon but in full throttle, they rocket through a powerful set that drags any late stragglers firmly into the day – full of visceral fury and immediate power. ‘Songs Of Praise’ remains one of the best albums of the year so far, and live it becomes a beast – with ‘The Lick’ seeing frontman Charlie Steen dive into the crowd, and the likes of ‘Tasteless’, ‘Lampoon’ and ‘One Rizla’ sounding bigger than ever. No matter how big the stage, or what time of day it is – Shame bring everything close, showing why they are the most vital band in the country right now.
From one to another, Matt Maltese is holding court in the Koppaberg Garden, going down smoother than any cider knocking about in it. Playful yet tight, he’s grown in stage presence since the release of his debut album, and it shows in a shimmering and colourful trip through its many turns. Tracks like ‘Misery’ and ‘Bad Contestant’ sound like vintage jolts on a summer day, with the ultimate crooner himself setting up shop for a warm and inviting moment.
The Horrors feel like they’re at a pivotal moment in their career, one where they’re pushing the boundaries with their latest album ‘V’ but with an eye and an acknowledgement of the path they’ve lead. Today mirrors both, with a set that feels exciting and dangerous at the same time – weaving unsettling electronics with potent hooks galore. ‘Still Life’ remains an unstoppable classic, while new numbers ‘Machine’ and ‘Something To Remember Me By’ are as effortless as they are vital for here and now. It’s a quickfire sample of their moreish delights, but even when frontman Faris mistakes which London park to head to – the result is the same. The Horrors win, and they’ve proved themselves as an influential part of British music.
If you’re Ten Tonnes, then this summer is well and truly his. Every set, them sweet indie hooks get better and today is no exception – with queues spilling out of the ‘old cider garden, and there’s fair reason why. His carefree and hooky style is infectious, and by the end of the set, everyone is in no doubt that by this time next year, he’ll be a pretty big deal. Summertime 2019 here comes Ten Tonnes. Right now, in 2018, Isaac Gracie fills his set with soaring anthems, ones that take flight in a live setting and make him a bonafide favourite of the festival. From morphing into a cover of ‘Creep’ to an emphatic ‘The Death Of You And I’, the results are a crowd-waving delight.
It feels like a lifetime since the Fat White Family were about, but a lot has happened in between. There have been side-projects of towering success but all everyone wanted to know was what was next for the Fat Whites. That ramshackle casino-spitting sound that sounded like a giant flag in the midst of guitar music has now become a heralded influence (you can only look at Shame and Goat Girl today for proof). The time since has elevated them, and their return sounds nothing short of captivating – hypnotic and drawling in an all-encompassing cloud of swagger. I Am Mark E Smith sounds almost like royalty, and the rest of their set mirrors that – with frontman Lias prowling the stage and a wall of sound backing him up. It’s ramshackle, and it’s uncompromising – it’s 100% what the Fat White Family need to be in 2018. Now they’re back, they’re ready to take over, and Citadel is just the proof needed that the biggest stages are now ready for them. Because they bloody weren’t before.
To call a set warm on a day like this is a bit of a piss take – but it’s the best way to describe Honne’s slot on the Communion stage. As the sun begins to falter in the sky, they bring an air of stylish cool to proceedings, with the sort of sharp licks and easy charm that has a packed crowd in their pocket in a matter of seconds. It’s a refreshing glimpse at the future, with their anticipated new album teased with ‘Day 1’ (dedicated to singers fiancé after proposing the night before) and ‘Me And You’. It’s confirmation of their beloved status that shouts loudest, with ‘Good Together’ seeing stacked crowds on shoulders and a mass singalong to ‘Someone Who Loves You’ and ‘Warm On A Cold Night. What Honne manage to do is make their set a true calypso moment of beats and effortless electro-jazz-pop swing, something that would soothe even the hardest of hearts. It’s easy to see why when they return to London, Brixton will be rammed in bliss.
Watching CHVRCHES evolve over the years, that knowing sense that they’re here for huge moments was clear. To a packed out Main Stage, they prove now why they’re ready to go even bigger – with the sort of mass euphoria that needs to be blared full volume out of every speaker ever. With Lauren Mayberry leading the way, tonight is a coronation – with their latest album ‘Never Say Die’ leading the charge with the sort of live setting it was born for. ‘Get Out’, ‘Graffiti’, and ‘Miracle’ are mammoth, basking the thousands in front of them with electro-pop goodness. It’s a through what makes them so great – ‘Leave A Trace’, ‘Bury It’, ‘We Sink’ and ‘Recover’ is met with joyous release (yes, we see you Henry from Sea Girls on shoulders for the latter). Lovebox may have been over the past few days, but ‘Clearest Blue’ has the biggest drop of the weekend and when ‘The Mother We Share’ rings out with arms aloft it’s clear. CHVRCHES have stepped up to their rightful place, on big stages with big crowds. Scottish summers have never sounded so great.
When you look at it on paper, Tame Impala standing atop a bill and headlining a huge night in our nation’s capital may not look like one that clicks together immediately – but that’ll only be if you’ve never seen Kevin Parker & Co before. It seems like they’ve been on a never-ending tour off the back of latest album ‘Currents’, but it’s understandable why. After critically acclaimed records and an emergence as the leaders of a whole new wave of thrilling psych-laden pop boomers, ‘Currents’ was their flare in the night. Their reach for the big leagues – and as soon as they step on stage at Gunnersbury Park, it’s clear why they’re head and shoulders above a whole load of bands doing it right now.
Welcomed with a cloud of confetti to ‘Let It Happen’, Tame Impala’s headline moment is an unfiltered and undeniable success from start to finish – a band dancing in the technicolour world they’ve created and continuing to soar and soar without looking back down to earth. Trippy sights ring across the big screens, as their uncompromising set weaves across their dazzling repertoire. ‘Sundown Syndrome’ rips and purrs with swagger, while ‘Keep On Lying’ and ‘Mind Mischief’ really take the lead with people on shoulders and a dazzling light show to boot. As lasers burst across the field to ‘Elephant’ and thousands upon thousands scream along to ‘Yes I’m Changing’, ‘The Less I Know The Better’ and ‘Eventually, there’s no doubt that Tame Impala have redefined what a headline set can be, what a headline band can be and what’s exciting and vibrant in 2018. It makes them the perfect band to round out Citadel, and an exciting realisation for a band who’ve stuck to their guns – headlining on their own terms.
Jubilant, carefree and oozing with kaleidoscope colours. Tame Impala are needed right about now.