Wolf Alice stake their claim as Arctic Monkeys, Bring Me The Horizon and more mark a big second day at Reading 2022

As Arctic Monkeys return to their indie throne, it's all going off for the Saturday of Reading 2022.

An ominous, ethereal haze clouds the dance tent as Gus Dapperton prepares to walk onstage on the second day of Reading 2022, and his music only bolsters this absorbing, dreamlike state of mind. Curating a charmingly alternative space, he embraces the opportunity to dance in his own unique way, letting his physicality do most of the talking. Taking the time to introduce his five-piece live outfit, Gus’ band effortless ooze suave vibes; relaxed positivity channelled through every note as the gang are led through an escapist show by silky lead vocals. ‘My Favourite Fish’ tones things down and proves Dapperton’s groove unavoidable, while ‘Ditch’ blasts synths across the muggy tent before rich guitar solos drive the set towards his hits like ‘First Aid’. (FH)

“What’s up, Reading?” Sloan Struble calmly asks after briefly covering ‘Funkytown’ as his opening statement, all while working a pink pinstripe shirt. With his first UK festival performance, Dayglow has firmly set the tone. The 23-year-old has come a long way from his bedroom studio, but, a million miles from his home in Texas, his optimistic attitude fits right into the Saturday afternoon sunshine. Not only is Sloan a top-tier producer, he’s now making his mark as an excellent live presence. Bringing a wealth of tunes with him, he’s developed the confidence to back his gleeful discography. The human personification of a warm hug, joy seeps out of every pore as Dayglow bounces from his debut record – the addictive and lo-fi ‘Can I Call You Tonight?’ and the euphoria of ‘False Direction’ are two highlights here – to last year’s ‘Harmony House’, and even a few moments from his upcoming third record for good measure. Having already accomplished a lot in his few active years, it’s yet to be seen what heights Dayglow will achieve off the back of his unbridled passion for spreading smiles. (FH)

Up against a hungover, barely awake 2pm crowd, De’Wayne does a grand job of working them. Small but mighty, there’s already crowdsurfing and a sign asking if he enjoyed his cake in London, presumably from a fan who’d attended his headline show there earlier this week. 

Making his proper UK festival debut (on Main Stage West, no less), he effortlessly proves why he’s there. Looking iconic in a black leather corset with an Adam Ant-inspired streak of gold makeup from his eye to his hairline, he gyrates around the stage while covering “I Wanna Be Your Dog”, and he’s every bit the superstar. (AF)

Reading sometimes underestimates its pop bookings. It’s 3pm on Saturday, and Madison Beer is packing out a particularly sweaty Radio 1 Dance Stage. Bringing her ‘Life Support’ tour to the festival circuit, she’s barely visible behind a veil of smoke (and all the phones trying to document it against the lack of signal), but her voice cuts through as she belts her way through ‘Baby’.

The sad girl wave is prominent on ‘Selfish’, which prompts a stan chorus Olivia Rodrigo would be proud of, as does latest single ‘Reckless’. The album doesn’t call for much dancing, so she brings out Jax Jones and Martin Solveig collaboration ‘All Day and Night’ to up the energy.

Much like PinkPantheress yesterday, Madison can’t believe she’s pulled such a crowd and thanks them repeatedly, but for a social media superstar (and a bloody talented vocalist) who can call the Biebs a fan, she shouldn’t have expected less. (AF)

The ‘Reading Secret Set’ has become a bit of a tradition, with that knowing sense that anyone could roll through at any given moment. Following in the wake of the likes of Green Day, Bring Me The Horizon, Jamie T and more, it’s Loyle Carner’s turn to stop Reading in its tracks. “It was supposed to be a secret”, he cracks, as the BBC Introducing stage sees a crowd stretching far and wide to catch a glimpse at a voice who’s become a bit of a National treasure across two beloved studio albums. Screaming fans, people on shoulders and hit after hit follow – ‘You Don’t Know’ and ‘Ain’t Nothing Changed’ just a sip of the perfect summer Saturday vibe, showcasing why he’s become a very big deal indeed. With new music fitting nicely across a set that feels like an ‘I was there’ moment, if Loyle was nervous about how people would react to his return, Reading proves he’s nestled amongst the very best right now. (JM)

Fresh from coming on stage with Dave last night, AJ Tracey is determined to get a very hot and sweaty crowd jumping. He needn’t have worried, with a sea of gun fingers and mosh pits greeting him as he reels out a collection of party bangers which are the perfect pick-me-up for people that may have gone a little too hard last night. ‘Fashion Week’ has everybody singing along, with AJ using the pre-recorded guest verses as an opportunity to hype up the crowd. 

The opening bars of ‘rain’, his turbobanger with Aitch, cause screams so loud they temporarily drown him out. He basks momentarily in the adulation, before heading straight into ‘West Ten’. It’s hard not to keep the energy high when you’ve got this many smash hits to draw on. (JH)

Walk-on music by The Doors blasts out of the main stage speakers as Fontaines D.C. stride out for their set, blasting straight into a punishing wall of sound which causes mosh pits to erupt within seconds. By the time the opening notes of ‘Sha Sha Sha’ ring out, a sea of people are screaming along. It’s been a meteoric rise for the band, who were playing pub rooms and support slots just a few years ago, but they’ve evolved as a live act with remarkable ease. Grian paces the stage, slamming his mic stand on the ground as he belts out cuts from across their three albums. 

Debut ‘Dogrel’ gets surprisingly little attention, with the set leaning heavily on new album ‘Skinty Fia’. It proves that they’re a band only just hitting their stride, with ‘Jackie Down The Line’ greeted with the hysteria normally reserved for a big breakthrough single. One first album cut that does get an airing is ‘Boys in the Better Land’. Pulling a crowd member up to play guitar is a risky decision that plays off handsomely. As the grinning new addition, Dexter, walks off stage at the end of the song, Grian turns to the crowd and says, “he’s only 16!” with complete disbelief.

Final track ‘I Love You’ prompts a mass singalong, with a sea of people on each other’s shoulders as the band wave goodbye. An early evening slot when everyone is waiting for Arctic Monkeys could easily fall flat, but Fontaines turn it into a triumph. (JH)

Last time Arctic Monkeys headlined Reading, Wolf Alice were on the Festival Republic stage. This time around they’re playing right before them, staking their claim as the next in line. 

Playing off their Glastonbury arrival chaos (where they almost didn’t make their Pyramid Stage performance thanks to cancelled flights), they open with a skit about waking up late for their show but making it in time by arriving on choppers.

But make no mistake, they’re not fucking around. They’ve spent this album cycle warming up to a moment like this, with Theo referring to the Saturday sub-headline slot as sacred ground. Throwing themselves straight in with ‘Smile’, the pacing is fantastic, and slower tracks like ‘How Can I Make It Ok?’ are received just as well as the roaring ‘Greatest Hits’.  

It’s fair to say no band deserves this reception more than Wolf Alice. They’re (hopefully) a shoe-in for a headline slot in the near future and have spent the last few years making themselves unmissable on any bill. As ‘Don’t Delete The Kisses’ swells as the final track, it’s an emotional and euphoric ending for a band at the best they’ve ever been. (AF)

With a very fancy stage show and an A-list guest star (Ed Sheeran, for a snarling ‘Bad Habits’), Bring Me The Horizon are stepping up to headline Reading Festival in fine form. Yup, after threatening to make the leap for close to a decade, the once-scrappy MySpace Emos finally take their place amongst the legends and heroes of the festival’s long-standing rock history. But it’s not to appease the old-school moshers.

Tonight is a very big deal. Not only for the Sheffield mob, who’ve been writing arena-sized metal bangers for yonks now, but rock in general. Guitar music is going through a resurgence, and this show is proof that the genre can be successful. If you think vocalist Oli Sykes is going to be in his best, BBC-friendly behaviour, though, think again.

An introductory video sees an AI encouraging mosh pits, it takes him less than two songs to demand the crowd “push it the fuck back”, and before the punishing breakdown of ‘Dear Diary’, he tells them they can “shove it up their arses”. Moments before “big tune” ‘Kingslayer’, he exclaims that “even if you haven’t dropped a Gary (a moment’s pause while we allow some readers to check urban dictionary), you’ll be gurning your tits off for this one.” The hyperpoppy-hardcore track does go, as well.

Bring Me The Horizon know they’re a larger-than-life group and their neon stage show leans into that bold, colourful world. Musically as well, tonight is more than heavy metal. Sure, ‘Shadow Moses’ and ‘Mantra’ are exactly what we’ve come to expect from Bring Me, but ‘Strangers’ is a huge, brooding emo anthem “written with this show in mind” while the glitching ‘Die 4 U’ is a polished, alt-pop banger. Elsewhere a stripped down ‘Follow You’ provides possibly the quietest moment in a headline set since Paramore blew the power back in 2014.

For all their chaotic carnival antics, there are plenty of moments of genuine sincerity from Sykes though. “You guys have saved my life so many times, you don’t even know,” he declares. Minutes later, he’s down on the barrier, hugging fans and sharing the microphone for a soaring ‘Drown’. It’s spine-tingling stuff. 

Through ‘Bad Habits’ (not a single bottle is thrown at Sheeran), a Yungblud-less ‘Obey’ and the closing ‘Throne’, Bring Me The Horizon prove exactly why they’re the most exciting, most progressive heavy band to come out of Britain in a long, long while. Their ethos the same as the number one rule at their show: “If you stand still, you’re a knobhead”. (AS)

When something is historic, you just know. Reading Festival is synonymous with those sorts of moments. Scattered throughout its history are the biggest artists of their time putting on the defining shows of their era. The list is endless – Nirvana, My Chemical Romance, Paramore, The 1975. We can go on for days.

Yet Arctic Monkeys feel like a band intrinsically linked with these fields. From that early set in the smallest tent (that everyone will say they were at, but definitely weren’t) to massive Main Stage moments, headline turns and more – their very DNA can be traced through this festival’s lineups across the years. There’s a reason why it’s their name that’s so often the first to pop up every year when lineups are teased. This is home turf, and a stage they command. It’s why on a Saturday night in 2022, as their anticipated new chapter begins, their set is the talk of the weekend. To put it bluntly, THIS is what Reading is all about.

Keeping their cards close to their chest after a run of shows in Europe, tonight is their grandstand return to UK stages. They remain a band whose shape-shifting sense of mystery blends perfectly with their soaring tales and anthems that not only capture modern life but define it. There are few, if any, bands that can come close – and as the lights fall and the moment arrives, Arctic Monkeys silence the rest of the musical world for a night that will rank high in the history books of defining Reading moments.

From the opening kick drum of ‘Do I Wanna Know?’, lights filling the Reading field and flares billowing – it feels every bit as momentous as their famed turn at Glastonbury in 2013. Fizzing with purpose, a scorching early run of ‘Brianstorm’, ‘Snap Out Of It’, ‘Crying Lightning’, ‘Teddy Picker’… actually, it doesn’t stop. Hit after hit follows, a greatest hits that, when levelled up against almost any other band, would make said band feel mellow. A crooning ‘Cornerstone’, an electric ‘The View From The Afternoon’, a rare outing for scene-stealing ‘Suck It And See’ closer ‘That’s Where You’re Wrong’, the grooving ‘Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High’ and a spellbinding ‘Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino’ may jump between styles, but all fit effortlessly together.

There’s a reason why Arctic Monkeys have remained at the forefront of alternative culture without falling into traps of obscurity or nostalgia. It’s because they beat firmly to the sound of their own drum, blocking out the opinions and suggestions from a world that revels in being kept firmly on its toes. You can hear that in the only taste of upcoming new album ‘The Car’, ‘I Ain’t Quite Where I Think I Am’. Dressed in 70s style, it leaves Reading wanting more as another move that rails against boring and the expected.

It’s all carried by this undefinable aura that Arctic Monkeys have conjured since the very beginning. With Alex Turner prowling the stage, a frankly ridiculous ‘From The Ritz To The Rubble’ leads the way to a powerhouse ending. Mosh pits clatter all over the shop to ‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor’, riffs punch and bounce for ‘Knee Socks’, and the sheer release of ‘505’ threatens to quake the ground everyone is standing on. ‘One Point Perspective, ‘Arabella’ and ‘R U Mine?’ close out a night that doesn’t trade in ifs, buts or maybes – just absolutes. It’s all just in a night’s work when you’re Arctic Monkeys.

Tonight isn’t really about a new era or a new chapter. It’s wiping the board clean and setting the record clear. It’s them reminding us that, when it comes to the biggest bands, there are few who can compare. Remember us, they ask? Reading says yes. Arctic Monkeys are setting the agenda once again. Like they ever weren’t… (JM)

Words: Abigail Firth, Ali Shutler, Finlay Holden, Jake Hawkes, Jamie Muir
Photos: Frances Beach, Patrick Gunning

  • cover
    Dork Radio
Peace offer up a five-star evening of rock star swagger in London
Empire State Bastard have released a new single, 'Stutter'
Tove Lo has shared her new single, 'I Like U'