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Updated Feb 2021

The Reading Festival.

Richfield Avenue. 
August 24-26th 1990.

Heavily retouched but still crap quality main stage ad- anyone got a better version ?

   The second year under the Mean Fiddler banner offered a bit more of the same as 1989,( five acts from that year making a comeback on the main stage and a couple on the Mean Fiddler stage ), but the festival also saw some new blood in the form of up and coming grunge band Mudhoney . Relatively old blood was represented by The Fall , The Cramps and The Buzzcocks. There was perhaps a heavier feel to the main stage in 1990. Faith No More and Janes Addiction were there to satisfy the headbangers ( although Janes did not perform as Perry lost his voice) and Living Colour returned after their successful appearance in 1989.

    It was also interesting to see amongst the support bands, elements of funk, trip hop and industrial/Kraut rock emerging in bands such as Tack>>Head, Stereo MC's ,Psychic TV , The Young Gods and The Telescopes.Bands such as this would have most likely been bottled at the old Reading festival.

   The headliners might not inspire much joy in todays context, but at the time Inspiral Carpets were riding high in the charts in the UK . Both the Pixies and the Cramps had very strong UK followings, both bands being far more popular abroad than they were in their home country .

   Attendance figues bandied about are supposed to have been around 40,000, about right for Reading at the time, which was not a gigantic festival. Compared to Glastonbury in 1990, it was still relatively minor league .

   The Mean Fiddler stage was now becoming quite varied in its programming with a lot of folky acts such as Luka Bloom and the Oyster band mingling with Tom Robinson , weird acoustic band The Lost T Shirts of Atlantis (who played a bath tub as an instrument) and other long lost alt bands such as Furniture .


Telescopes fans at Reading 1990

used under creative commons licence by permission of Diegos Sideburns



alternative advert with Pere Ubu on the bill.

Images courtesy Benno

Main stage .

Friday 24th Aug.

In order of appearance on the bill

Sat 25th Aug

In order of appearance on the bill

Sunday 26th Aug

In order of appearance on the bill

  • Mega City Four
  • An Emotional Fish
  • Janes Addiction *
  • Mudhoney
  • Gary Clail
  • Nick Cave and the
    Bad Seeds
  • Faith No More
  • The Cramps

* Did not perform

  • Neds Atomic Dustbin *
  • Psychic TV
  • Wire *
  • The Young Gods
  • Ride
  • Billy Bragg
  • Buzzcocks
  • The Wedding Present
  • Inspiral Carpets

*Replaced Pere Ubu and The Chills ?

  • Senseless Things
  • Thee Hypnotics
  • The Telescopes
  • Stereo MCs
  • Living Colour
  • Loop
  • Tackhead
  • Jesus Jones
  • The Fall
  • The Pixies

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 ?

Mean Fiddler stage

Friday 24th Aug.

In order of appearance on the bill

Sat 25th Aug

In order of appearance on the bill

Sunday 26th Aug

In order of appearance on the bill

  • Lost T-Shirts of
  • Keziah Jones
  • Duncan McCowan
  • James Varda
  • Dr Miller
  • Frank Tovey
  • Skint Video
  • Half man Half Biscuit
  • Luka Bloom
  • McCavity's Cat
  • Tom Robinson Band
  • Jinski
  • The Penny Candles
  • Friends of Harvey
  • Shawn Colvin
  • Peter Blegvad
  • The Liberties
  • Trashcan Sinatras
  • Railway Children
  • Milltown Brothers
  • Fatima Mansions
  • Man From Delmonte
  • Furniture
  • Martin Stephenson
    and the Daintees

  • Dave Robb
  • Pat Orchard
  • Keith Hancock
  • McDermott's Two Hours
  • Fat and Frantic
  • The Katydids
  • Summerhill
  • Bridewell Taxis
  • Boiled in Lead
  • Ruby Blue
  • Band of Holy Joy
  • Oyster Band
  • Johnathon Richman


Didn’t go for the whole weekend. These were the days when the reading festival was really on its knees, It was trying to reinvent itself I think – and appeal to a more Indie based crowd. We just turned up on the Friday to see Janes Addiction and Faith No More , who I had seen not so long ago at the marquee club in London . We paid around £30.00 I think for the day ticket if my memory serves me well ,only to find out Jane’s Addiction had cancelled at a moments notice ( great ) .

Brought some really dodgy hash which didn’t work , Some girl asked to use my 6ft 5 frame to sit on my shoulders so she could see Faith No More .Not a bad day . Woke up Saturday morning at home with chicken pox . so not a bad start to my festival life don’t u think ..

Freddie Thorne

Pixies Reading '90 headline as the most memorable festival headliners I've had the pleasure to see.
That night was made even more remarkable, as they were preceded by bands playing sets that I thought couldn't be topped, only for the band following them to promptly blow them out of the water! The Fall and a phenomenal pre-Extricate set (I'll never forget the mesmerising version of 'Zagreb' they played)...then finally Pixies, on that post-Doolittle pre-Bossa Nova cusp, playing an incandescent greatest hits set. A phenomenal evening's entertainment.

Letter O

Reading 90

Most famous thing about this year was that Jane's Addiction didn't play but turned up and got the idea for Lollapoloza IIRC.

Mudhoney were the main draw for us on the Friday – billed as there last ever gig (grunge taking off put paid to that) and they drew a big crowd. Did a furious set and a lot of handstands (see photo). Nick Cave was good, Faith No More were fun only caught a few songs by the Cramps and didn't get it at the time.

Saturday had OK sets from Ride and Billy Bragg (who wasn't as good as in '89). Buzzcocks were great (with Mike Joyce from The Smiths on drums). Wedding Present again were not as good as the year before and had problems with the bass. Though they did an intense What Have I Said Now a recording of which ended up as a B-Side, danced down the front in the mosh-pit with Steve Turner from Mudhoney, lots of laddish hugging and yelling “they fucking rock” in my ear.

Inspiral Carpets got a lot of grief before in the press for only having 1 album and headlining. In fact a lot of the crowd had started filing out when huge searchlights beamed out and a pantomime cow started dancing across the stage! When they started playing with a massive firework display in sync with the music people started filling back in on mass. By the time a full majorette squad performed with them they had totally won the crowd over. We met them the next day (lovely lads and a nice roadie who went onto better things) they told us they'd ploughed all of their fee into the show.

Only saw the last two acts on Sunday. The Fall were the highlight, Mark E Smith coming on with a carrier bag with his lyrics and singing behind a lectern. They did a version of the hymn Jerusalem with the sun setting as if on queue behind them which was magical.

Pixies weren't as good, admitted by Kim Deal as they started “weren't The Fall great.” They didn't get going until about half the way through but from then on were fantastic. Biggest crowd for a head-liner, with Nirvana in '92 that I've ever seen at Reading.

Paul Troy


© Dave Ingham

Faith No More





The Cramps


Mega City Four

An Emotional Fish

Setlists and recordings

Once again the BBC was conspicuous in their absence, bah humbug !

However, tapers responded to the call and produced an absolute plethora of audience recordings .....

They have not however, managed to produce much in the way of cover art , so if you have know of any send it along and we will add it here....


Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds


  • The Mercy Seat
  • The Witness Song
  • I'm Gonna Kill That Woman
  • The Weeping Song
  • Foi Na Cruz
  • Deanna
  • The Carny
  • The Ship Song
  • The Good Son
  • City Of Refuge
  • From Her To Eternity
  • Black Betty
  • Tupelo
  • Cindy Cindy

Audience source

looking for artwork

Good photo of Nick Cave at Reading 1990 here


Faith No More 8-24-90

    • From Out Of Nowhere
    • Falling To Pieces
    • Introduce Yourself
    • The Real Thing
    • Underwater Love
    • As The Worm Turns
    • The Crab Song
    • Edge Of The World
    • Chinese Arithmetic
    • We Care A Lot
    • Sweet Dreams (Nestles)
    • Surprise! You're Dead!
    • Epic
    • Woodpecker From Mars
    • Easy
    • War Pigs

Soundboard source

looking for artwork

The Cramps 8-24-90

Lux Interior at Reading 1990 © Dave Ingham


    • Mule Skinner Blues
    • Chicken
    • Creature From the Black leather lagoon
    • Bop Pills
    • What's inside a Girl?
    • Everything Goes
    • Mama ooh Pow Pow
    • Daisies up Your Butterfly
    • God Damn Rock n Roll
    • Primitive
    • Goo Goo Muck
    • Her Love Rubbed Off,


  • Journey to the Centre of a Girl
  • Mystery Plane
  • Hot Pearl Snatch
  • Saddle Up A Buzz Buzz
  • The Most Exaulted Potentate of Love
  • You've Got Good Taste
  • Bikini Girls With Machine Guns
  • Psychotic Reaction
  • Shortnin' Bread

90 mins


looking for artwork


Neds Atomic Dustbin 8-25-89

  • Terminally Groovie
  • That's nice
  • Plug Me In
  • Until you find out
  • Sentence
  • Flexible Head
  • Nothing Like
  • Aim
  • Grey cells Green
  • Cut up
  • Kill your television
  • You
  • What gives my son?
Wire 8-25-89
    • What Do You See? (Welcome)
    • Kidney Bingos
    • Eardrum Buzz
    • Small Black Reptile
    • Ahead
    • Patterns Of Behaviour
    • 1-2 Drill U
    • An Advantage In Height
    • Underwater Experiences

Audience source

looking for artwork

The Young Gods 8-25-90

  • Salomon Song
  • Speak Low
  • Jimmy
  • La Fille de la Mort
  • September Song
  • Crier des Chiens
  • L'Eau Rouge
  • Pas Mal
  • Rue des Tempetes
  • L'Amourir

Audience source

looking for artwork

Half Man Half Biscuit 8-25-90

  • Fuckin' 'Ell, it's Fred Titmus
  • A Lilac Harry Quinn
  • Albert Hammond Bootleg
  • All I Want For Christmas
  • Our Tune
  • Venus in Flares
  • Let's Not
  • I Hate Nerys Hughes
  • Ordinary to Enschede
  • The Bastard Son of Dean Friedman
  • Pragvec at the Melkweg
  • Trumpton Riots
  • Time Flies By
  • No Regrets (fades out)

    Audience source

    looking for artwork

Billy Bragg 8-25-90

  • A New England
  • She's Got A New Spell
  • The Few
  • Island Of No Return
  • Help Save The Youth Of America
  • The Warmest Room
  • Accident Waiting To Happen
  • The Marching Song Of The Covert Battalions
  • Levi Stubbs' Tears
  • Little Time Bomb
  • Like Soldiers Do
  • Tank Park Salute
  • Life With The Lions
  • Waiting For The Great Leap Forwards
  • A13

Audience source 58 mins excellent quality



Ride 8-25-90

  • Polar bear
  • Seagull
  • Taste
  • Dreams Burn Down
  • Like A Daydream
  • Drive Blind
  • Vapour Trail
  • Perfect Time
  • Chelsea Girl

    Audience source

    looking for artwork




The Buzzcocks 8-25-90

  • Wallpaper World
  • Never gonna give it up
  • Autonomy
  • Nothing Left
  • Successful street
  • Everybody's Happy Nowadays
  • Harmony in my Head
  • Ever Fallen in love
  • I believe
  • Orgasm addict
  • Mad Mad Judy
  • Boredom
video source



Loop 8-26-90

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




Audience source

looking for artwork

Jesus Jones 8-26-90

  • Move Mountains
  • Whats Going On
  • Never Enough
  • Right Here Right Now
  • Barry D
  • Broken Bones
  • Song 13
  • Nothing To Hold Me
  • Bring It On Down
  • The Real World
  • Info Freako
  • What Would You Know ?


Audience source

looking for artwork

The Fall 8-26-90

  • You Haven't Found It Yet
  • Arms Control Poseur
  • Blood Outta Stone
  • Black Monk Theme
  • Hilary
  • Hit the North
  • Bill Is Dead
  • Wrong Place, Right Time
  • Big New Prinz
  • Zagreb
  • Life Just Bounces
  • Bombast
  • White Lightning
  • British People In Hot Weather
  • Jerusalem

45 mins Audience


Audience source

looking for artwork

The Pixies 8-26-90

Pixies in London 1988


    • Cecilia Ann
    • Levitate Me
    • Debaser
    • Rock Music
    • Hangwire
    • Dead
    • Gigantic
    • Gouge Away
    • Caribou
    • Hey
    • Isla De Encanta
    • I Bleed
    • Monkey
    • Gone To Heaven
    • Wave Of Mutilation
    • There Goes My Gun
    • Dig For Fire


  • River Euphrates
  • Crackity Jones
  • Dancing The Manta Ray
  • Here Comes Your Man
  • Is She Weird
  • The Happening
  • Allison
  • All Over The. World
  • Into The White
  • Broken Face
  • Tame
  • Something Against You
  • Vamos
  • Tony's Theme
  • Stormy Weather
  • Where Is My Mind?

90 mins

Audience -both video and audio , but from different sources

looking for artwork

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 alt fiends , get yer photos out and fire up whats left of the aging brain cells .Send your recollections , scans of tickets, posters, crowd and band photos to us NOW ! !!Contact us

we are also going to cover the festival until 1995 as we want to cover the grunge years, so if you have any info that will help us cover those years, please send it along ....

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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