What have they done to The Cardigans?
What were the Cardigans doing on the main stage so late? Perhaps it's a European thing and the Cardigans are still big in the EU but it was quite a surprise to see them so far up the bill. It's been a while since The Cardigans have passed by this radar and truth be told, it's been even longer since there was much interest. Even Nina Persson's offshoot project of A-Camp produced something of more interest than the main band has of late but given the time and the lack of competitive rivals at the time, it was decided to check them out and see if they still had it.
With 'Rise and Shine' appearing very early on in the set, the memories came flooding back to a time of a decade ago when the UK was wrapped up in the lovely fluffy world of The Cardigans. Nina was a blonde back then and stereotypically Scandinavian but nowadays she is a brunette and a rock chick who looks as though she would kick your backside. The song shimmied and sparkled and with the busy crowd seemingly having a great time, the signs were promising for an enjoyable set.
Unfortunately, after this the band lapsed into recent material, showcasing a boorish and heavy rock side. Nina is still in fine voice and manages a passable impression of a rock chick but there's something not quite right about it all, at times straining when it all seemed so effortless.
Of course, The Cardigans have always had an element of rock about them, even back in their UK heyday they were known for covering Black Sabbaths 'Iron Man.' This was even done in the days before Ozzy was treated as rock god, so they've always been rock but it's never been their main output until recently, and they just don't do it as good as they used to.
When 'Erase / Rewind' kicks in, some focus comes to the set and it's easy to see where the band is going wrong. This track is heavy but it is in a subtle way, the bass is allowed to take the lead and provides the main force of the song allowing Nina to coo and prowl around the track. On the newer songs, the guitars chug and drive heavily, masking everything else and the sounds becomes fudged along the way. The Cardigans need to get back to the understanding of less is more and stop bludgeoning their way around.
The amount of people moving away from the main stage in droves as the set continued was a sorry sight to see and an indication that a band who were once held in high regard are in danger of ruining all that. There will always be a market for a band such as The Cardigans in mainland Europe but that's not really a market a band should be proudly aiming for.