James Brown, Sporty Spice, Happy Mondays Play V99

Gomez, Faithless, Manic Street Preachers, Suede also perform at two-day, two-location English festival that included more than 60 acts.

STAFFORDSHIRE, England — With the Madchester sound of the

Happy Mondays, the dance-club grooves of Faithless, the soul stylings of

James Brown and a punk cover by Spice Girl Melanie C, last weekend's V99

festival had something to satisfy virtually any musical craving.

This year's edition of the Virgin Entertainment–sponsored UK summer

concert series featured two locations, four stages and more than 60 acts.

The northern site, at Weston Park here, and the southern site, at Hylands

Park in Chelmsford, offered a huge number of bands, attractions and

overlapping stage lineups, making it impossible to see everything.

Bluesy-rockers Gomez delighted fans midafternoon Saturday with a lively

50-minute set that featured tracks from their forthcoming second album,

Liquid Skin, including the first public performance of "Las Vegas

Deal." They also played crowd favorites from last year's Bring It On,

such as "Whippin' Piccadilly" (RealAudio

excerpt) and the gorgeous "Tijuana Lady" (RealAudio


The crowd went berserk as the Happy Mondays took the main stage just

after 6 p.m. and led fans on a journey through their biggest hits,

including "Kinky Afro" and "Hallelujah" (RealAudio


But Hayley Simmons, 20, of London, was slightly disappointed. "They

sounded pretty good, but [singer] Shaun Ryder looked like he was falling

asleep between verses. Now I understand why they need [dancer] Bez

— because Shaun's so boring to watch."

Between the main V Stage and the smaller MTV Stage was the constant

throbbing of the Shock Waves electronica tent, which featured an

impressive lineup of DJs, including Dope Smugglaz, Derrick Carter and

Paul Oakenfold. At the opposite end of the field stood the JJB/Reebok

Arena, boasting an eclectic lineup that included Death in Vegas, Finley

Quaye, Groove Armada, Orbital and former Stone Roses frontman Ian Brown.

For those who wanted more than music, there were carnival rides,

an endless array of food vendors, a tattooing-and-piercing parlor and

booths selling everything from clothes and jewelry to "happy herbs."

Saturday headliners Suede, a.k.a. London Suede, entertained an overstuffed

pit of ardent fans with a set that focused on Coming Up (1996)

and Head Music (1999), including such classics as "Metal Mickey"


excerpt) and "The Wild Ones" for longtime fans.

Among Sunday's highlights were British house quintet Faithless, who

re-created their dance-club sound with the help of two percussionists

and the wizardry of keyboardist/producer Sister Bliss.

Melanie C, a.k.a. Sporty Spice, performed a 20-minute set of solo

material, including her first single, "Going Down."

"You might've heard this one," she said. "It's been on the radio about


Her set had a harder edge than her work with the Spice Girls, but the

audience was lukewarm until she kicked into the Sex Pistols' "Anarchy

in the UK," spitting out the lyrics in true punk fashion and altering

the first verse to say, "I am an Antichrist/ I am a Sporty Spice."

Joanna Craddock, 19, of Cumbria, said, "I think she's good. Indie music

really suits her."

After glam-rock trio Placebo canceled a day before the

festival, mystic-rockers Kula Shaker stepped in and wowed the crowd with

an energetic selection of songs from their latest album, Peasants,

Pigs and Astronauts, as well as several older tracks, including the

Indian-flavored "Govinda" and "Tattva" (RealAudio

excerpt) and their cover of Deep Purple's "Hush."

Sunday evening, James Brown played a 95-minute set. True to form, the

Godfather of Soul wore a red, bell-bottomed suit with a sequined appliqué

on the jacket. He brought along an entourage of two guitarists, two

bassists, two percussionists, a horn section, five female backup singers

and three scantily clad dancers, who wore skimpy red, white and blue

outfits during his 1986 hit "Living in America."

Across the field at the main stage, headliners the Manic Street Preachers

plowed through most of their latest album, This Is My Truth Tell Me

Yours, and delved into their past with 1992's "Motorcycle Emptiness"

and "La Tristesse Durera (Scream to a Sigh)" from 1993.

"There was just so much to see and so many cool bands, it was almost too

much," Janie Smitts, 24, of Camden, said. "I was running around all day,

just trying not to miss anything. The atmosphere was so fun, though, I

can't wait for next year."

(Correspondent Angela Solomon contributed to this report.)