I bought this year's ticket for 2 main reasons: The Cure and Hank Williams III. The Cure's performances at Roskilde in 1995 and 2001 were magical for me and both of them created a fantastic feeling in the crowd in front of the Orange stage. I saw Hank III live at Copenhagen's Vega in 2009 and he has been very highly placed on my playlist ever since, I love his music and he is incredible live. Bruce Springsteen was just an added bonus for me.
The Cure: (2/6)
I spent more than 3 hours in the pit queue area waiting for The Cure mainly because I didn't have any better plans and because it was fun chatting with the other die-hard fans there. I even ended up being interviewed by Danish television and even if I didn't make much sense with by babble, they did manage to edit it into something not too embarrassing.
Unfortunately it didn't turn out to be a magical evening listening to The Cure at Roskilde 2012 for 3 hours. The sound quality was rather bad especially in the beginning and the volume was ridiculously low. The crowd consisted of way too many 16-17 year old who apparently knew nothing of The Cure's back-catalogue and seemed to only be there for pop-hits like Lullaby, Friday I'm In Love, Boys Don't Cry. They clearly lost all patience and babbled away during the darker songs and even a song like Play For Today - that would normally have a The Cure crowd singing loudly - only received a reluctant response.
The Cure and especially front-man Robert Smith is not a man for kick-starting a party with insane stage tricks. He has never been that. It requires a dedicated crowd to create magic at a The Cure gig. While the crowd obviously failed big time, the band could have done better too. I think they sounded a bit unfocused, without enough punch and completely disconnected from the audience. After disappointing 2 hours in the first pit I decided to hear the rest of the gig from further behind. It turned out that the sound was a lot better, but the volume was still way too low and the crowd was just as dead out there.
It seems that The Cure is now too old for Roskilde or that the Roskilde audience is now too young for The Cure. That feels a bit sad for one who actually loves The Cure to death.
Hank III: (6/6)
Hank III did what I knew he would do and played one hell of a gig together with his awesome The Damn band. I arrived very early to the tent and heard the entire soundcheck where Hank worked for 40 minutes to get the voice and everything twisted to perfection. It paid off and when the gig started the sound quality was very good and the volume just right.
The tent filled completely and the crowd loved the country set to death. We got classics like Trashville, Rebel Within, Crazed Country Rebel, Country Heroes, Dick In Dixie. This is simply music you can't stand still to and lyrics you can't listen to without laughing. A few newer songs from the Gutter Town / Ghost To A Ghost albums fit in well.
Obviously this was not enough for Hank. After the first hour of country, things changed completely in the last 30 minutes of the gig. He played a song called Make A Fall from his metal album Attention Deficit Domination. Even if it was a complete change from country, this was still not enough for Hank. He had to separate the pussies from the hardcore, so the last songs where from his 3 Bar Ranch Cattle Callin album which mixes metal, punk and cattle calling. Certainly not an easy digest for many, and I think the tent ended up with only half the crowd when the concert ended. That's just another laugh at a Hank III gig. To watch the horror on people's faces when they first experience the skips between country, hellbilly and metal is really priceless.
This is easily one of the best gigs I have ever seen at Roskilde and it took many hours to wipe off the smile from my face.
Bruce Springsteen: (5/6)
Like Prince 2 years ago Bruce Springsteen is one of those acts you never thought Roskilde would be able to book. A true legend booked for this years line-up and certainly something of a must-see on the Orange stage. Bruce didn't let the crowd down, he played a 3 hours gig and the band managed to unite the crowd thru all ages. A lot of older people had come to Roskilde this day to enjoy this Springsteen gig and I haven't seen so many people in front of the Orange stage for many years and certainly not of such different ages. Again the sound volume was ridiculously low, but I had teamed up with an old mate who knew and sang all the songs out loud, so I had my own speaker :)
Beside the gigs above, I only saw bits and pieces of other gigs (or I chose to forget I ever saw them) for many different reasons: too crowded, too drunk, too busy elsewhere, disappointing performances, gigs having overlapping time-slots, gigs scheduled on bloody Sunday, music just not to my taste.
This was my 16th visit to Roskilde Festival since 1994. Are the few musical highlights really worth the pain, the discomfort and the ticket price anymore? I am not so sure. I am not saying that this was my last Roskilde Festival ever, but I may be a lot more selective in the future. As a festival experience, Copenhell is just a lot more fun for a dude like me.