Main Stage, July 24 2010

If you’re still unaware of The Union then listen up: this band will be one of the biggest noises to come out of the UK rock scene for some time come the end of 2010.

An achingly cool collaboration between Thunder’s Luke Morley and Winterville’s Pete Shoulder, they trade in old school blues rock with an Americana feel and their knack for a good tune is refreshing to say the least. Not quite the big hit that fellow main stage openers the Quireboys were 24 hours later, The Union nevertheless took on the toughest of challenges and came through victorious to celebrate their major festival debut in some style. With no more than an EP and an album’s worth of material to fall back on – and most of those songs still to see the light of day as far as Joe Public is concerned – this was an exercise in gentle persuasion and an attempt at earning begrudging respect. By the time a short set had run its course even the Down and Black Label Society fans dotted across the dusty Victoria Park wastes were tapping their feet in appreciation: the classic rock fans gathered in front of the main stage were already on their way to buy T-shirts and order CDs.

They’d be disappointed to learn that The Union’s limited edition run of 100 extras-packed versions of their self-titled debut – costing a cool £49.99 – have already sold out. That album is due for general release on August 23 but we can tell you that this is music best enjoyed live.

Tracks like Easy Street patently fail to reach their full potential on the band’s Payola Records promo which, bearing in mind Morley’s production experience, is somewhat baffling. But then that’s for another day.

On a balmy summer afternoon The Union sounded like the best new band you’ve always wanted to hear – Shoulder’s wonderful vocals and Morley’s made-for-radio riffs juxtaposed in perfect harmony. The singer has paid his dues during the last decade and, given a genuine stab at rock superstardom, is on a mission to make it third time lucky.

Black Monday is already a Union standard but Come Rain Or Shine, with its Americana groove and homage to The Thorns (whatever happened to them?) has the quality to become the band’s best-loved live track.

As the hot afternoon sun burst through again Morely and Shoulder belted out Watch The River Flow and, for a moment, the dust-strewn Victoria Park site was moved to the banks of the Mississippi where a blues-soaked party ensued.

This is a band with imagination and capable of sparking the imagination: don’t be fooled by a debut album which, sound-wise, leaves a lot to be desired. The Union deserve to be judged live. And there will only be one verdict – outstanding.