My first visit to this powerhouse rock festival saw a typically strong, if somewhat nostalgic, line-up featuring some of the finest acts in the music industry today (and indeed the early/mid 2000s). The 2014 edition was typically rock dominated - headlined by Queens of the Stone Age & Paramore on the Friday, Arctic Monkeys on the Saturday and closed by Blink-182, supplemented through considerable dance, indie and heavy metal representation.

Friday was kicked off in loud and energetic fashion with the pairing of Hacktivist and Crossfaith, both of whom brought their brands of fusion metal to the Main Stage following popular sets on the Rock Stage in 2013. In the meantime both had built up a strong hard-core of fans and expanded outside of Japan and Milton Keynes respectively (the similarities had to end somewhere).

The next band I saw represented a clear shift away from high-octane metal-core in the form of well-established Norfolk alternative rock six-piece Deaf Havana. The band was supporting their excellent 2013 album ‘Old Souls’, the three singles of which were extremely well received.

Friday evening saw the intriguing and, in my opinion, very successful pairing of Enter Shikari and Vampire Weekend. Both festival regulars, the contrasting styles of the two bands complemented each other effectively as Shikari’s heavy and experimental electronic style was combined with the rising indie pop four-piece who provided almost a cool down for fans whilst showcasing their most rounded and mature album yet in the form of ‘Modern Vampires of the City’.

Queens of the Stone Age, despite vast success spanning well over a decade were seemingly the least talked-about headline act, however, in my opinion, were the most impressive. The performance had very much of a stadium rock feel, with anthems old – ‘No One Knows’ & ‘Go With The Flow’, and new – ‘I Sat By The Ocean’, were coupled with impressive staging and lighting and a highly receptive crowd.

Other highlights of Friday included Aussie dance group RÜFÜS, popular Londoners Metronomy and another mid 2000s hang-over in the form of the solo debut of Gerard Way (formerly of My Chemical Romance).

Saturday was kicked off in similar fashion to the day before with Brighton punk outfit Gnarwolves charged with blowing away hang-overs in the afternoon sun, a challenge they seemed genuinely honoured to take on. Like many of the heavier bands at Reading this Gnarwolves brought a strong hard-core of fans built from perpetual touring and may well have one a few more from Reading.

One of the most talked about acts at Reading held a mid-afternoon slot away of the main stage, namely Royal Blood who, despite their debut album not yet having been released, had received significant media coverage as the ‘next big thing’ and were therefore met with huge attention and expectation. This weight certainly did not seem to hinder them as they played out an extremely accomplished set with heavy riffs, sing-alongs to rival any at the festival and phenomenal stage presence for a two-piece.

Another band who entered the festival with little back-catalogue and one of my personal favourites were Lesser Key who held their own in ‘The Pit’, curated by Daniel P Carter and played by many of the heaviest bands appearing across the weekend. The band play a dreamy and atmospheric form of experimental rock and were showcasing their outstanding, self-titled, debut album.

For the rest of my evening I remained at this stage to see two more rising (within their scenes) British bands in the form of While She Sleeps and Architects; the first of whom produced one of the strongest performances I saw and the second drew the most intense and energetic crowd of any set, large or small, at the festival. Both of these were aided by the compact and intimate feel of the stage resembling a club show in contrast with the vast Main Stage.

Following the apparently underwhelming Foster the People and Imagine Dragons and the much more impressive Jake Bugg were the main event, Arctic Monkeys. Alex Turner & co. played a hit-filled set to a massive crowd, but like Paramore on Friday were let down by the sound system, meaning that many fans were left disappointed.

Sunday saw the least impressive line-up for me, at least on the Main Stage, meaning a chance to explore and see some different bands. Some of the highlights of this included The Hijacked, Jungle and Bondax.

The evening then began with a quick trip to see the antics of A Day to Remember frontman Jeremy McKinnon, including zorbing across the Main Stage crowd, before a couple more doses of metal from the Lock-Up Stage. The pick of this line-up for me came in the form of the Every Time I Die/ Letlive. Pairing, both crowd favourites with some outstanding facial hair to boot. This provided my overall highlight of the weekend as the patriotic ETID tore through a mixture of their brilliant new album ‘From Parts Unknown’ and some older songs. The band also engages with the crowd in a way few can with their guitarist even coming down to meet fans after the set. This was followed by the genre-defying Letlive. who combine rock, punk and elements of hip-hop to create a unique and intriguing sound with constant changes in style and tempo.

Finally, all that remained was for American pop-punk pioneers Blink-182 to close the festival. Despite their headline billing, this was never going to be for everyone as indicated by the mixed reception for their casual style and jokes between songs, as well as the crowds drawn by Disclosure and Möngöl Hörde (Frank Turner’s hardcore punk guise) among others. Personally I thought their set was good, if not outstanding, with songs like ‘I Miss You’ and ‘All the Small Things’ particularly enjoyable. However, the undisputed star of the show was drummer Travis Barker who, having made his mark in a number of genres since Blink’s emergence was as impressive as ever in his original role.

Overall, a brilliant weekend which I’ve enjoyed reliving.