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New Order charm the wet Indie hordes- Friday night Reading 1989

The Reading Festival. Richfield Avenue. 
August 25-27th 1989.


Main stage 1989 Jesus Jones onstage © Gavin Wilby

Campsite and other Photos ; updated Jan 2011

Early advert for the festival.

   Its oddly symbolic that the first band to headline the revamped Reading festival under the direction of Mean Fiddler , was New Order . No doubt this is just a coincidence, but it really did indicate just how much the festival had changed . After the disastrous 1988 festival, where bottling of acts had reached almost epic proportions and attendance had halved due to some very dicey choices of bands on the Saturday and Sundays sessions , something had to change , or the festival would have died .

   The Mean Fiddler organisation had basically decided that Donington catered for the headbangers , but there was room for another festival that modeled itself along the lines of Glastonbury. They looked at what worked at Glasto , determined what wasn't needed in the context of Reading ( the green elements , the travellers field etc ) and launched a new look Reading onto the UK festival world .

   Regardless of what the old guard who attended Reading thought ( Fat Reg a longtime Reading punter, regarded the new lineup as mostly "sad indie shite "), it worked ! Attendance in 1989 doubled over 1988 and the festival was a sellout for the first time in years. There were a few nods in the direction of previous years, with the goth orientated act The Mission headlining on Sunday night , but apart from that there wasn't much left over musically from the old formula . According to Mean Fiddler, they cleaned up the toilets, provided beter quality food and got rid of most of the bottle throwing . One thing they could NOT do however, was ensure good weather . It pissed it down for some of the time -mostly on Friday night , but the punters seemed to enjoy themselves and the stage was set for a more impressive lineup in 1990.

    So who did the new lineup attract to the reclaimed rubbish tip that formed the festival site ? Well, probably some of the people who attended festies such as the Elephant Fayre and Glastonbury , although Reading was minus most of the world music elements which featured at Glastonbury and overall there was probably a slightly harder edge to the whole thing . Living Colour would have added a heavier tone to Sunday's procedings and there were some truly loopy acts such as Gaye Bykers On Acid to liven things up and drive the traditionalists up the wall .

      There was also another leaf taken from the Glastonbury book (and a return to an old National Jazz festival tradition ), which had also been tried in 1988 .Instead of just two big stages side by side , a second venue was established called the Mean Fiddler stage, There lesser known acts were allowed to strut their stuff. A place where one could chill out if you were overwhelmed by the pressure of the main stage , or just simply wanted to grok on the minor acts .....

Pop Will Eat Itself .Reading 1989 © Gavin Wilby

      If Friday was the Indie night then Saturday was the night of fun and politics, with the fun being provided by the Pogues and the politics via Billy Bragg and New Model Army . Mary Coughlan would have given good value with her feisty blues and the Bhundu Boys would have delivered an uptempo set of danceable African music. These guys would have been the first black artists to take to the Reading stage since Phil Lynott was there in 1983 with Thin Lizzy . The last black act , Inner Circle, had played the festival (and received a good reception ) way back in 1979 .

      For many in the crowd Sundays highlight was the manic set by the Butthole Surfers, which ended in a storm of feedback, smashed guitars and general lunacy .The Mission finished off the festival in fine Gothic style, their third appearance at Reading and their second headlining gig . They may have been filmed as they were creating a documentary of their tour , but so far we haven't been able to find out if any of the Reading set was included in the final production.

      Reading 89 saw the festival set on a new course which would last for the next three years until control of the festival was taken from Vince Power , The transformation into an Indie event proved it was possible to revitalise the festival , but of course there were new musical trends on the horizon which would once again see the festival mutate into yet another sort of beast ......

The final lineup- image courtesy Jan

Main stage.

Friday 25th Aug.


Sat 26th Aug


Sunday 27th Aug


  • Gaye Bykers On Acid
  • Spacemen 3 ( link to interview backstage )
  • My Bloody Valentine
  • That Petrol Emotion
  • Tack>>head
  • Swans
  • The House Of Love
  • The Sugarcubes
  • New Order
  • Something Happens
  • Bhundu Boys
  • Les Negresses Vertes
  • The Men They Couldn't Hang
  • Mary Coghlan
  • Green On Red
  • Billy Bragg
  • New Model Army
  • The Pogues
  • World Domination Enterprises
  • Head Of David
  • Loop
  • Jesus Jones
  • The Mighty Lemon Drops *
  • Crazyhead
  • Pop Will Eat Itself
  • Voice Of The Beehive
  • Butthole Surfers
  • The Wonderstuff
  • The Mission

*Did not appear, replaced by Crazyhead .

NB : Acts are listed in order of appearance as far as we can ascertain. There also MUST have been some changes in the eventual line-up, can anyone supply details ?

New Model Army Reading 1989

Mean Fiddler stage

All Because the Lady Loves ,Ancient Beat Box ,Andrew Cunningham ,Andy Pawlak ,Barely Works, Clive Gregson and Christine Collister ,The Cropdusters, The Dinner Ladies, Edward II & The Red Hot Polkas, Evon Brenon ,Frank Sidebottom ,God's Little Monkeys ,Gutter Brothers, Hank Wangford , The Jack Rubies, John Wesley Harding , Joolz -,Kevin Kennedy & A Bunch of Thieves ,King Pleasure & The Biscuit Boys ,Los Pistoleros, McCavity's Cat , Orchestre Jazira ,Peter Jagger, The River Detectives, Sally Timms ,The Senators, Shanty Dam ,Sons of the Desert ,Stephen Fearing, Ted Hawkins, To Hell with Burgundy ,Tom Robinson.

NB : Acts are listed in alphabetical order. There also MUST have been some changes in the eventual line-up, can anyone supply details and when the acts appeared ?


The crowd for Voice of The Beehive Reading 1989 © Martin Brett

I did the main stage in 88 & 89, the Big Top stage in 1990 - Think Vince Power bought his own crew in for the Main in 1990. Have to admit it's all a bit blurry in terms of what happened when, but then again we'd been there for 6 days by the sunday night each year and didn't get a lot of sleep - weekenders are lightweights :) . Backstage was a very different (and much more civilized) world to that out front! We had our own 'pound' made up of cars, vans, bikes and two caravans backstage. Also two large fridges of beer! Eight in the crew, four to each caravan, tents for visits from the ladies (ours!) when the festival was on. Food tent, frsh cooked food/sarrnies/tea/coffee on the go 24/7, and a barrel of beer int he corner - strangely, no-one ever took the piss with the free beer, couple of pints with dinner and out of there. One of the many unwritten backstage laws I guess. Shared crew shower + toilet blocks. Was delighted to walk into the showers one day to find that the backing singers from Les Negresse Vert were using them, not realizing they were crew blocks. You wouldn't believe how many people 'accidently' walked in on them once word got round. Shocking behaviour :).

Our pound was behind the stage right speaker tower - we put them up, put the desks in the mixer tower and the speakers in the delay towers. The mixer tower was a bitch to put up, but was heaven if you had the right laminate - we used to work 6 hours out of 8 on a rota, so got a couple of hours off each night and could watch a coulpe of bands. Top floor of the mixer tower only had two follow spotlights in there, but it also mysteriously used to sprout a sofa on the friday morning.

Watched NMA and the Pogues from there, big fat stogie and a four pack of beer, watching the rain sheet across the rest of the crowd. Sound was perfect there too - the mixing deck was about 10 feet below my arse, so the PA sweet spot was basically the front of the tower. Nice - no toilet tho' . We used to just piss out the back of the tower if it was raining. Sorry about that to all you people sheltering round the back.

The bottlings were rarely less then utterly hilarous even when we were on the receiving end - the Yank crews really didn't get it, which made it doubly funny. We weren't averse to chucking a few ourselves while out front on a break.

In the days of the two stages, we had a curtain across the stage we were working on while a band played on the other. Crowd used to be impatient if the was a delay between bands and we'd usually get a botting while opening the drape. Was doing it one day when Jem (my crew-buddy) got a full one square in the knackers and just dropped. Probably got the biggest cheer of the weekend, apart from when Deacon Blue stomped off in a huff :)


RIght: Martin Brett of Voice of the Beehive © Martin Brett

You get a basic mental bottle tracking system in your head after a while. Empty ones just kinda flop or spin realy fast, half full ones do a sort of slow loopy spin and full ones go up dead straight, fast and don't spin, and you can guess where they're going if you see them coming. We were stood in the middle of the stage watching a band when a then well-known TV presenter (shade of purply-pink)(dead fat American Transvestite actor/singer) pushed past us, despite not having the right pass. She took a few photos and then stood there. We were looking at each other to decide who wanted the honour of lobbing her out when I clocked a full one going up high and realized where it was heading and shouted 'incoming'. We scattered, she stood there looking slighty bemused and it landed, hitting a scaffolding pole two inches above her head and bursting. She got the full two litres over her, and it took her a few seconds to understand why it was warm, in fact, about body temperature. She screamed and ran off and apparently disappeared straight out the arena in her car. Dunno who threw that bottle, but whoever you are, I''d still like to buy you a pint sometime.



Section of audience on the Sunday , Reading 1989. Where have all the big haircuts gone ? © Gavin Wilby

Things changed in 1989 when Reading ditched the "ROCK" part from the festival and the Mean Fiddler took over from the Marquee as the promoter. They added another stage, and attracted a generally younger and more mellow crowd, except for a few malicious meatheads from New Model Army's Militia. It also attracted a few stnand-up comedians such as Joolz and Frank Sidebottom for the first time,.
As for the weather, it hammered down for most of the weekend.


Section of audience on the Sunday , Reading 1989.

Seemingly much less....errr..... pissed, than the old lot , but perhaps "seemingly" only in word and not in deed....

© Gavin Wilby

The soundboard and center PA © Gavin Wilby

Thanks for your photos, I was at the Reading Festival in 1988 and 1989. Unfortunately I don’t think any of us even owned a camera.

I mostly remember the rain with the heat rising through the crowd and of course the mad bottle throwing. Long runways were made in the crowd to get a good run up before the launch. We all got soaked by beer or toilet juice, who knows.

Thanks for the website.

Craig Barnard

© Chris

Some friends and I devised a way to get through the crowds more easily… (toilet roll and ketchup)

" Make way, injured people coming through …"

The friend of ours with the crutch had it stolen one night and we found remnants of it in a fire. People were burning anything and everything. We had to help him get around after that!

Chris. (3rd from left in pic)

Campsite and other Photos ; updated Jan 2011

Setlists and recordings

It seems the BBC did not- yet again , record any acts at Reading 1989.

However, with the change of direction came a new surge of audience recordings and many of them are possibly of better quality due to less bottle throwing :-)

However, it appears that Indie and Goth fans don't produce as many boot covers as do Metal afficionados , so if you have any cover art send it along and we will add it here....

Venue is the main stage unless stated. Dates in US format as I've got used to it for far too long to change now .....sorry :-)


Spacemen 3. 8-25-89

  • Rollercoaster
  • Transparent Radiation
  • Things'll Never Be The Same
  • Take Me To The Other Side
  • Mary Anne
  • Starship
  • Revolution

Audience source 31 minutes approx

looking for artwork


Tack>>head 8-25-89

   Audience source

looking for artwork and setlist


Swans 8-25-89

45 minute video recording exists of the set shot from the pit

Audience source

looking for artwork and setlist

The House Of Love 8-25-89

  • Se Dest
  • Christine
  • In A Room
  • Nothing To Me
  • The Beatles And The Stones
  • Shine On
  • 32nd Floor
  • Love In A Car
  • I Don't Know Why I Love You
  • Salome/Destroy The Heart
  • Man To Child


Audience source

looking for artwork

New Order 8-25-89

    • Round & Round
    • Dream Attack
    • All The Way
    • Ceremony
    • True Faith
    • Mr Disco
    • Every Little Counts
    • Your Silent Face
    • Vanishing Point
    • Temptation
    • Bizarre Love Triangle
    • The Perfect Kiss
    • Blue Monday
    • Fine Time

Audience source

Courtesy Coops


Joolz 8-26-89

  • The Game
  • Whited Sepulchres
  • The List
  • The Wait
  • Vendetta
  • Nemesis

    Source: Audience

    Venue : Mean Fiddler Tent

    Setlist courtesy of Nigel

Billy Bragg 8-26-89

    • This Guitar Says Sorry
    • Greetings To The New Brunette
    • Between The Wars
    • A Miner's Life Is Like A Sailor's
    • Levi Stubbs' Tears
    • The Saturday Boy
    • North Sea Bubble
    • Walk Away Renee (version)
    • Tank Park Salute
    • To Have And To Have Not
    • A New England
    • Life With The Lions
    • Waiting For The Great Leap Forward
    • The Times They Are A Changing
    • Chile Your Waters Run Red

Audience source 56 mins

looking for artwork

Crazyhead 8-27-89

  • What Gives You the Idea That You're so Amazing Baby
  • Down on You
  • Train
  • Out on a Limb
  • I Don't Want That Kind of Love
  • Jack the Scissor Man
  • Baby Turpentine
  • I Can do Anything
  • Rags to Riches
  • Tower of Fire
  • In the Sun
  • Time Has Taken its Toll on You
  • Have Love Will Travel


Not on the flyers,probably a late addition to the bill .

Billy Bragg 8-26-89

    • This Guitar Says Sorry
    • Greetings To The New Brunette
    • Between The Wars
    • A Miner's Life Is Like A Sailor's
    • Levi Stubbs' Tears
    • The Saturday Boy
    • North Sea Bubble
    • Walk Away Renee (version)
    • Tank Park Salute
    • To Have And To Have Not
    • A New England
    • Life With The Lions
    • Waiting For The Great Leap Forward
    • The Times They Are A Changing
    • Chile Your Waters Run Red

Audience source 56 mins

looking for artwork

New Model Army 8-26-89

  • Vengeance
  • Stupid Questions
  • 225
  • Inheritance
  • Waiting
  • Green and Grey
  • I Love The World
  • Ballad
  • Vagabonds
  • Young Gifted & Skint
  • Love Songs
  • No Rest
  • 51st State
  • Smalltown England
  • Poison Street
  • Whitecoats
  • Betcha

Audience source



Cover courtesy of Nigel

The Pogues 8-26-89

  • Streams Of Whiskey
  • Boat Train
  • Cotton Fields
  • Young Ned Of The Hill
  • The Broad Majestic Shannon
  • Sligo Referee
  • Repeal Of The Licensing Laws
  • London You're A Lady
  • Johnny Come Lately
  • USA
  • The Body Of An American
  • If I Should Fall From Grace With God
  • Lullaby Of London
  • Boys From The County Hell
  • Greenland Whale Fisheries
  • Gridlock
  • Thousands Are Sailing


  • Down All The Days
  • White City
  • Gartloney Rats
  • Bottle Of Smoke
  • Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah
  • The Sick Bed Of Cuchulainn
  • Misty Morning, Albert Bridge
  • Fiesta
  • Star Of The County Down
  • A Rainy Night In Soho
  • The Irish Rover
  • The Band Played Waltzing Matilda
  • Honky Tonk Women

122 mins

Audience -both video and audio , but from different sources

looking for artwork


Loop 8-27-89

  • Vapour
  • Breathe Into Me
  • Fever Knife
  • The Nail Will Burn
  • Pulse
  • Collision Time
  • Burning World


Audience source

looking for artwork

Voice Of The Beehive bassist Martin Brett entertaining the troops Reading 89 © Martin Brett


Voice Of The Beehive 8-27-89

  • Intro - Things You Don't See When You Have Your Gun
  • The Beat of Love
  • It's Just Like You
  • Sorrow Floats
  • Trust Me
  • Independence Day
  • Just a City
  • What You Have is Enough
  • Look at Me
  • Only If You Want To
  • I Say Nothing
  • Barbarian in The Back of My Car
  • I Walk The Earth
Audience source
looking for artwork


Jesus Jones 8-27-89

    • Move Mountains
    • One For The Money
    • Info Freako
    • Song 13
    • All The Answers
    • Bring It On Down
    • Broken Bones
    • Never Enough

Audience source

looking for artwork

The Butthole Surfers 8-27-89

  • The Shah Sleeps In Lee Harvey's Grave
  • Blindman
  • Ricky
  • Rocky
  • Hey
  • Edgar
  • Booze, Tobacco, Dope, Pussy, Cars
  • To Parter
  • Psychedelic Jam
  • Gary Floyd
  • 1401
  • Helicopter
  • Graveyard
  • X-Ray
  • Sweat Loaf
  • Concubine

    105 min. Video B+, audio B. 3 or 4 different video sources exist.

Oops there goes another geetar !- Texas maniacs The Butthole Surfers have fun trashing their equipment at Reading during "Concubine"

The Wonderstuff 8-27-89

  • Goodbye Fatman
  • A Wish Away
  • Astley In The Noose
  • Lets Be Other People
  • The Animals And Me
  • It Was Me
  • Unbearable
  • No, For The 13th Time
  • Golden Green
  • Cartoon Boyfriend
  • Unfaithful
  • Don't Let Me Down, Gently
  • Ruby Horse
  • Give Give Give Me More More More
  • 10 Trenches Deep
  • ?????
  • Gimmie Some Truth
  • Good Night Though

    Source: Audience video

The Mission 8-27-89

  • Intro
  • Beyond The Pale
  • Wasteland
  • Like A Hurricane
  • Butterfly On A Wheel
  • Serpents Kiss
  • Severina
  • Into The Blue
  • Belief
  • Bird Of Passage
  • Deliverance
  • Tower Of Strength
  • Sacrilege
  • 1969
  • The Crystal Ocean
  • Mr Pleasant
  • Amelia
  • Blood Brother
  • Pretty Vacant (with Clint Mansell from PWEI on vocals)
  • Rain (The Cult cover version)
  • Shelter From The Storm
  • Source: Audience . Thanks to Nigel for the info

    We think theres bits of the set also on the DVD "Waves Upon The Sand "- can anyone confirm ?


Can we get a witness ?

We need more info on this and Reading festivals 1986-1990, we are now in the curious situation of having better documentation on some of the earlier festivals, so c'mon goths and Indie fans , get yer photos out and fire up whats left of the aging brain cells .Send your recollections and scans to us NOW ! !! Contact us

External Links

Reading in the 80s to date- Fat Regs excellent site covers Reading from 1982 onwards .

Photos of Reading in the 80s at the Reading Musuem.

The early festivals.

You can find out the complete line ups of the first festivals if you follow the links below .

Festivals 1965-1990

Most of these have fairly complete documentation .But new contributions of any sort are always welcome regarding any of the festivals.
Richmond 1965
Windsor 1966
 Windsor 1967
Sunbury 1968
Plumpton 1969
Plumpton 1970
Reading 1971
Reading 1972
Reading 1973
Reading 1974


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