The Specials / Public Image Ltd. / Echo & The Bunnymen & Luc Van Acker Lokeren Lokerse Festival 9 Aug 20112
Lokeren is a small town in the heart of Belgium & is famous for its horse sausages, which are on sale at the festival, which runs for 10 evenings.
Tonightâs bill is possibly an odd one by English standards, but appeals greatly to me, First up is Luc Van Acker, who I donât know too much about other than what my Belgian friends tell me. They have one of The Revolting Cocks on keyboards and drag out the former singer of Hooverphonic to sing an Anna Domino song.
He has a big band including backing singers, strings and extra percussion. His latest album, âThe Shipâ, is that old fogey, a concept album. Indeed the stage is decked out like a ship, clever eh? The songs played tonight sit between The Talking heads and 80âs mutant funksters Shriekback, and theyâre pretty good.
A reasonable proportion of the audience seem to know the stuff. Echo & The Bunnymen come on in bright sunshine, but Mac still has an er.. mac on! They still managed a little dry ice too. Itâs straight into âRescueâ but itâs missing the bass due to technical difficulties, but itâs soon sorted out to reveal possibly the best festival sound Iâve ever heard. In fact itâs great for all the bands tonight. The Bunnymen fire through the hits to the appreciative Belgians, âSeven Seasâ gets a sing-along & âBring On The Dancing Horsesâ goes down particularly well. Early on in the set Will Sergeant pays homage to Joy Division by stealing the riff of âSheâs Lost Controlâ & placing it into a fantastic version of âDo It Cleanâ.
Mac is looking quite cheerful tonight in a bill made up from some of the most curmudgeonly British singers ever, all we need now is Mark E. Smith! Of the obscurities we get âThe Diseaseâ & âAll That Jazzâ before a long drawn out âNothing Lasts Foreverâ that mutates into âA Walk On The Wild sideâ, this is the best received part of the set, even the security down the front are singing along! Crowd pleasers âThe Cutterâ & âLips Like Sugarâ end an entertaining hours set.
Next up its PIL, promoting their well received new album. First song up is a long jammed out âAlbatrossâ, indeed all the songs in the set are long drawn out versions, but donât suffer from it. John Lydon seems pleased to be in Belgium, must be the strong Belgian beers available that cheers everyone up! âDeeper Waterâ, the best new song sounds great, as do oldies âWarriorâ & âDeath Discoâ, unfortunately the sound wavers very slightly during their set when the electronics kick in.
The audience by now has a few spiky haired punks down the front, & and overzealous security guard tries to stop one kid from pogoing. Lydon is prowling the stage and even makes a trip onto the pier at the front of the stage. Again itâs a good set that only falters for me during the over long âChantâ but soon recovers for âRiseâ and a version of Leftfields âOpen Upâ. The latter sounds odd as Lydon complains about too much electronica, which is then silenced.
They end on âOpen Upâ and donât bother with an encore, even though they could quite easily have got one. After many years of gigging this is the first time Iâve seen PIL, & I wasnât disappointed.
Next up, The Specials, who stroll on 10 minutes early and catch out most of the photographers who arenât ready for them, & as the songs are short, get about 5 minutes to photograph them. Most of them miss a fine version of âGangstersâ. Finally we can rely on Terry Hall to be miserable, after the third song he berates his band with âThe first person to go down there is a cunt!â whilst gesturing to the front of stage pier. Roddy Radiation promptly ignores him, playing a mean guitar solo on his bended knees.
Terry further complains that one song was âfucking shitâ and pulls the band up on another for a restart. This was one of his cheerful gigs though. The band are nattily dressed in sharp suits and all bound around the stage like madmen. Thereâs still no new songs (promised last year), but theyâre great, âRat Raceâ is fantastic, & by âStereotypesâ theyâve added a 3 piece string section that adds new depths to the songs. âGhost Townâ is fantastic & dubby.The crowd for The Specials has changed totally, thereâs a few punks around, but the largely middle aged audience has been replaced by kids from 6 years old dancing furiously along with their parents alongside cool rude boys. Itâs hard to stand still during their set as the audience dance wildly. Unfortunately thereâs a small fight during, ironically, âDoesnât Make It Alrightâ, but it soon fizzles out. Theyâll go down a storm in Hyde Park on Sunday, but I reckon this will be better, as its more a celebration than a violent pogoing celebration. Maybe Iâm getting too old! Again we get no encore, but itâs a good 75 minute set that ends at nearly 1a.m. Fantastic stuff in front of 20,000 or so pleased Belgians.