To those familiar with more traditionally laid out festivals, Gathering may have seemed like it had been over-ambitiously named. Surely a few sets at a few venues in Cowley on a rainy winter’s evening couldn’t live up to the name of ‘festival’?
After a brief foray into the early bands, most headed for the O2 queue. Once the doors were opened Clock Opera took to the stage, the night instantly had an air of magic about it.
Their spell-binding performance was followed by a set from Bastille which was exactly as cleverly put together as you’d expect from a band whose EP, Bad Blood, is an interactive murder mystery. Dan Smith has always been a reluctant frontman, and he was visibly (and adorably) still finding his success difficult to believe.
Great as the two previous acts had been, the main event was still to come. As Dry The River took to the stage, the roar that filled the O2’s main room easily topped the noise made at the band’s set in Reading’s NME tent two months previously. If there had been any doubt, it had now been banished. This was a festival, filled with the party atmosphere and furious enjoyment that there had never been a better night in the history of fun.
Though Peter Liddle cut something of a tragic figure as he attempted to sing ‘Demons’ three feet from the microphone while Scott Miller, the heavily-bearded, unofficial face of the band, silently begged the crowd, in vain, to be quiet, the band were soon feeding off the incredible energy of the crowd.
Finally, they produced the moment of the festival as they pulled out their party trick, making their way into the crowd to perform ‘Shaker Hymns’ acoustically. The audience immediately around the band stood in hushed awe as Liddle’s haunting voice cut through the air, with no microphone or amplifiers in the way. We were definitely experiencing live music at its very best.
But disappointment came in an organisational form, as anyone who was near the front of Dry The River was turned away from a full O2 Academy 2, where for reasons known only to the organisers, Spector had been placed while the venue’s weekly indie club night, Propaganda was given priority in the main room.
Yet the many depressed Spector fans wandering through the streets found solace in an almost unbearably cute set from Lucy Rose at the Community Centre, followed by Peace, who catered well to the drunken state of a 1am audience. The evening ended as the audience joined the rest of the revels at Propaganda, and danced the night away like it was still festival season after all.