PINKPOP 2012 – 26-27-28 May – Landgraaf, The Netherlands

This edition of Pinkpop was held in Landgraaf for the 25 th time. As you probably know the “original” Pinkpopfestival was always in Geleen, but that ended in 1986 (with The Cure on the programme). The weather was excellent for the whole three days this year; however the programme was not that good. Especially the traditional Pinkpop Monday was a complete disappointment, at least for me as I do not really like the music of Bruce Springsteen, who headlined and ended Pinkpop 2012. But let me start at the beginning; Saturday 26 May.

The first band on the main stage was Kyuss Lives, the legendary stoner rock band from the nineties which was called Kyuss then. The band has been together again since a year or so and they played a really dark, heavy and melancholic set on this sunny day. The voice of front man and singer John Garcia is still very impressive and especially the songs from their legendary album “And the circus leaves town” are still great stoner rock songs. But the audience is not awake yet and the people who are really listening do not really appreciate the music of Kyuss Lives; that is a pity as I think that the band really convinced me with this performance. Next up in the tent is another band that decided to give it another try: the grunge rockers of The Afghan Whigs hit the stage after a stop of ten years! I still like to hear their songs What Jail Is Like, Debonair or Gentlemen, which stand the test of time without any doubt. They end their great set with Faded which later evolves into Purple Rain of Prince. Back to the main stage where Anouk gives her fifth performance on Pinkpop and her set is rather well-known without any surprises actually. So, the young ones can enjoy Three Days In A Row, Lost, Girl and Hail among others. Her voice is still okay and probably the best female rock voice of The Netherlands ever, but it still seems that the band and Anouk play on another stage as there is no real chemistry between her and the musicians of the band. I wonder how long she can keep this up without offending the fans…. The headliner of day one is The Cure, the famous and notorious band around Robert Smith, who already played on Pinkpop way back in 1986. Robert still looks the same, with his make up and very recognizable hair cut and he starts the set with Lullaby and everybody can hear that their sound is still very distinctive and original. Other songs that are worth mentioning are Love Song, and A Forrest (of course), which is a highlight for a lot of people. As extra songs we are treated to Love Cats, Let’s Go To Bed and Boys Don’t Cry; a good but not really spectacular performance that ends day one.

Sunday, the second day is the best day of the Pinkpopfestival 2012 with bands like Mastodon, Keane, Soundgarden and Linkin Park. The day starts for me with a performance of The Bosshoss, a German band that mostly play country covers and try to entertain the audience with girls, horns and sing-along tunes like for example Word Up. The audience is rather reluctant and I leave after 20 minutes to get something to eat and drink. At 16:00 sharp it is Mastodon time and the band really play their ass off, but it seems that the audience does not give a shit. Maybe this kind of metal is a bit too much for the mainstream audience at Pinkpop, but I really enjoy myself, especially the songs from their latest album The Hunter really sound good in their breathtaking live set. But then it is time for the highlight of this years Pinkpop: Soundgarden. Back on Pinkpop after 20 years the band around Chris Cornell still knows how to rock and grunge, but the response of the audience is rather quiet, slow and weird. Most people do not seem to know these Seattle rockers and that is really a disgrace! Their magical album Badmotorfinger is a classic grunge album and luckily they play two of the best songs from that album, namely Jesus Christ Pose and Rusty Cage. These classic tracks still sound amazing, but also their more “recent” work like Black Hole Sun, Fell On Black Days or the breathtaking Spoonman from the album Superunknown are real live kick ass songs; although a lot of people cannot appreciate Soundgarden at all, which is something I really cannot understand. But, there is no account for taste, so… For me this was the best performance of Pinkpop 2012. Next up on the 3FM Stage were Keane, the new Spandau Ballet of this decade. Their music can be described as melodic pop music with dominating piano passages and melodies. Their new album Strangeland really has nothing new to offer, but the fans love it. Of course everybody sang along to their festival hit Is It Any Wonder and their other well known favourite This Is The Last Time. I got really bored after a while and left for the main stage to hear/watch the headliner on day 2 : Linkin Park, the legendary American nu metal band, that sold more than 50 million albums worldwide! Chester Benningon and Co. mostly played “hits”, like Given Up, Faint, With You or Runaway to which the audience could sing-along to. It is not really my cup of tea but the crowd love it and that is what counts, although I later heard that some of the songs were play backed by the guys…..

Day three, the Pinkpop Monday is normally the best day of the festival with the best bands programmed for that day. However on this edition it was one of the worst Pinkpop Mondays ever as there was not one band that I was looking forward to…. Bands like The Hives, The Specials or Mumford & Sons (is this the new Kelly Family) were so boring and predictable that I really did not understand why they were programmed for the Monday. Sea Sick Steve made a promising start but after 15 minutes the surprise was gone and the set just dragged on and on. Headliner Bruce Springsteen & The E-Street Band gave a show of more than 2 hours but I never cared for or liked the music of The Boss as it is too American for me. However many people, Bruce fans I suppose, said that his set was the absolute highlight of Pinkpop 2012; I really beg to differ and I hope that Pinkpop 2013 will be better than this rather mediocre 2012 edition. So, see you all next year?

Review by Martien Koolen
Photos by Joss Voncken

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