Instructions were to not get there before 4.00pm on Thursday, so we thought we had timed it pretty well by arriving at 3.52pm. Loads already had tents up. Some had been there since Wednesday. Tent up quickly (next to Rhythmic Raymond and Carol) , leftover tins of Amber Nectar from Blind Cat Fest ready and waiting.
Thursday. First on are Astro Al. Male/female duo who started out with the female singing and strumming a song about Joe Meek. Both the ‘…ings’ seemed to be slightly inaccurate and I turned to Her Ladyship and said ‘What the f**k can I write about this?’. She said ‘Exactly that’. Then her male companion launched into what appeared to be an audition for the B52s. But, very soon, we got it!! Songs about Joe Meek, Nik Turner, Sharkgator and a homage to Hammer Horror Films. Completely and blissfully bonkers…but very cleverly and deliberately done. I later heard one of Losers Inc (those friendless saddoes who try to latch onto you) that anyone who liked them must be stupid. If I could quote Count Robot’s (ie the male half) blog ‘Welcome to the blog about the band Astro Al. Journey into the mystery and stupidity that is Astro Al the B horror/sci-fi band that exists for no reason.’ So purely by default the afore-mentioned saddo was very shrewd? No, just a tw*t. And, even better, another slot from them on Sunday when I would duly wear my ‘Plan 9 From Outer Space’ T shirt for Count Robot and DNA Girl to feast upon.
Zub Zub. Another duo, but playing the sort of acid house rave stuff I believe DJ’s get paid 5-figure sums to play for 5-figure crowds. There were a couple of dozen colostomy baggers grooving here, so Zub Zub’s fee was probably proportionate. The guitarist was mysteriously at the bar while he ‘seemed’ to be playing a number.
A short but always welcome early start to the weekend. And the backdrops are always wonderful..
Friday. First up is Cliff Underdog . Seemingly a one-time member of a Groundhogs tribute act. His mission was to play some more unusual cover songs in alphabetical order. Starting with Syd’s ‘Bike’ and Ian’s ‘Billericay Dickie’ , he sadly fell foul of sound issues and finished somewhat abruptly on ‘L’ (Rory’s ‘Laundromat’). But an interesting start to proceedings.
Chasing The Dark. A solo performer. Bald, black glasses and long black coat plus a magic finger which produced lots of sounds, Once of Metropolis, I couldn’t help thinking how much better it would have looked with 4 dolly birds swaying and miming with instruments behind him like a Robert Palmer 80s video. It just didn’t work (for me).
Superheads. Power trio, second song veered dangerously towards that awful ‘R’ word (Reggae). Overall, sounded totally acceptable from our vantage point in the sunshine outside.
Distance From Zero were a no show. ‘Van Broken Down’. It must have been Eddie and the Hot Rods’ one from the 90s which mysteriously broke down when anyone said ‘Yorkshire, this way’ to it. So Captain Roswell and the Lost Alien Tribe. Four humans and two aliens (possibly), starting with ‘Sign of the Times’. Definite regulars! Love ’em.
Dr Hasbeen. Featuring some remarkably familiar faces, including DNA Girl and Count Robot too. Two bass line-up, half of Captain R and chums might as well have stopped on stage. Song about Ukraine and, of course, ‘Little Green Men’.
Ozric Tentacles Electronic Much-hyped cosmic veterans, they have been to the Stoke Prior Space Port before, but not our cup of Saurian Brandy. ‘Over and out Scotty’
Saturday. I forgot to mention that Jim Beerman has returned as compere, he took over from the sadly-departed Kozmic Ken last year. And, also sadly, subjected us to a barrage of effing and jeffing, plus his naff stand-up routine. Thankfully it seems as though he has been ‘requested’ to tone things down this year. But he still bellowed into his mic as if he were in front of 80,000 at Download, not 9 at SRS.
Mark Needham. Young man with 6 string electric and FX. Nearly all instrumental numbers, with layers recorded and built up. ‘Albatross’ I thought was clunky but HL liked it. Seemed to drag on too long.
Sloth Metropolis. 6-piece masked and robed combo. Some spoken word, some ‘singing’. Sadly, couldn’t catch a lot of horror-based words, but an interesting concept. Much changing of costumes, and a lot of work obviously gone into it. Seemed much shorter than previous set. Would gladly have them back to the Space Port.
Deepshade. Another power trio. Most memorable aspect seemed to be changes of pace and gaps in songs
Lacertilia Taff-Rock quintet. Powerful lead vocalist. HL and Formerly Purple Annie both liked them. Jim Boorman now telling jokes that not a single person was listening to. (Sorry, bar himself).
Silas and Saskia. More from the extended Ozric Tentacles family. Kate Bush-esque vocals. HL went for a long walk, in the rain
Lords of Form. Lengthy donning of white boiler suits provided an embarrassing period of silence for the compere. Their soundcheck had been quite Metallica-ish, but they started out more akin to Tangerine Dream. No encore. Another trio I would happily watch again next year.
Krankschaft. Now this is a bit weird. We like Krankschaft and were looking forward to this. And the following morning I remarked to Rhythmic Raymond and Carol (long-term fans) that I thought that they had seemed ‘not quite at the races’ until the last two songs when they seemed to ‘krank’ up to a different group. And Ray showed me main man Steve Pond’s online comment, apologising to all for being so awful up until ‘Moon’, and playing as if they had never met each other for first part! I felt so bloody relieved. And Steve’s experiences getting there really fired him high in my estimation. Lesser (and younger!) mortals would have played the ‘Van Broken Down’ card and pulled out. Top blokes.
Tentacles of Static. Couldn’t face any more from the Optic Testicles commune, went to bed.
Sunday. Metropolis. Remembered the name from a previous visit, and being impressed. This line-up is 60% different but no less impressive. Black bowlers and waistcoats is , it seems, a giveaway for the genre of ‘steampunk’. Newer songs fitted in well with older stuff. Again, seemed a short set. It always is when you think it is good!
Codex Serafini. First thing I saw was a saxophone, not a good sign! (No sax please, we’re British). Then the sound of what appeared to be a female undergoing an unexpected 45 minute gynaecological exploration. Stayed outside, and grimaced
Astro Al. Our heroes return, complete with woollen little green man given to them by HL. (And thanks for the cd, Count Robot). Got a serious Anne Frank song (featuring some Twilight Zone guitar from DNA Girl) amongst the horror/sci-fi cheese. A Van Der Graaf Generator reference woke some people up. Some repeated songs and a final song which collapsed but so what? Very clever and very underappreciated by people who seemed to be completely baffled. Their loss, not ours.
Bitchin Hour. A 5 piece, seemingly all female, according to Formerly Purple Annie’s investigation. Loud. A young woman was screaming something in a key unknown to me. We stayed outside, Rhythmic Raymond stopped in for a while. He came outside and asked the question ‘Why do they need to tell us they are lesbian?’. Not sure if his use of the trendy annoying plural pronouns was deliberate, I suspect not. My thoughts were that I have 100s of Bob Dylan concert recordings from the last 60 years and I have never heard him tell the audience that he is heterosexual, so Ray has a point. Maybe we should all check out their website…’5 piece bunch of gays and theys from the UK with an attitude problem’ seems to confirm it. The ‘attitude’ certainly doesn’t seem to be ‘modesty’. We sat outside and did a quiz. I had to speak up quite a bit.
Rage DC Old school punk. Right up Rue de Rhythmic Raymond. They get on and do it. Don’t need to say owt else. (Apart from that their set is already on Youtube)
Big Sky Orchestra. Much requested return (by me at least) from Sept 2021. 5 lads whose combined age is a fraction of that of Her Ladyship and me, and whose musical hearts lie much closer to San Francisco than Stoke Prior. They play great renditions of Grateful Dead songs, and ‘Shakedown Street’, ‘Jack Straw’ and Merle Haggard’s ‘Mama Tried’ all got an airing. Like the Dead, they proudly guarantee to never play the same set twice. ‘Manifestation’ and ‘Black Coffee’ now seem to be regular numbers and ‘Southbound Wind’ was tight and just brilliant . As with last year, they finished with a meticulous version of ‘The Weight’. For once I had to agree with Jim B’s over-the-top summary. Bought one of their hastily-pressed CD-Rs from their Bromsgrove Festival gig from previous weekend. They knocked their older fellow performers into a cocked hat.
David Smale. Even RR, a long time Yardbirds fan, had no recollection of this man’s stint with them. Seems he joined in 2009! How old was he, 9!!? Cosmic quartet, definitely no chance of ‘For Your Love’ being in the set. Drummer seemed to want to be John Bonham. Some Kate Bush to finish, the man has a huge vocal range.
Invisible Opera Company of Tibet Sextet, 3 male and 3 female. Seems were formed by Daevid Allen of Gong. According to their website ‘The latest studio album The Bardo of Becoming is a whole journey based on the Tibetan book of the dead’. And they encore with a Chuck Berry medley. (One of the 2 previous statements is not true).They were actually a bit ‘rockier’ than I expected but still too far down the Hippy Highway for HL and me. Looked at the clock, they had only been on for 40 minutes. Exit Stage Left.
So, after a 4 day marathon event and review…
- Music. Mainly space-rock but Big Sky Orchestra got joint gold medal position for us. With the wonderful Astro Al
- Venue. Just about the right size
- Bar.I would be surprised if the regulars pay as much as we do. Got charged differently too many times for me to be happy. Once is a mistake, twice is a coincidence but thrice is a trend.The 2 lads are going, so won’t be at future fests. All in all, those two did pretty well over the years. Still under £4.00 a pint
- Sound. Quite a few problems, unusually.
- Light Show. Brilliant.
- Camping. No problems
- Dogs. One is too many for me, but DOGS=DOSH so I am f**ked.
- Clientele. Always friendly. Mr Bare Feet Man was actually cleaning the portaloos, top bloke. (He was later seen wearing sandals though!)
- Food. Burger shed and falafelly stall. Enough for the size of the crowd
- Security. Only really noticed them on Saturday night. Wristbands never checked.
- Ticket Value. Still good.
Occasional precipitation didn’t spoil a good weekend. It always is.
And not only is that the end of this review, it is the end of all reviews. The bunternet is now actually full, so after more than a decade, that is it. There are still lots of photos which Her Ladyship needs to put on, but from now on, no more note-taking and subsequent laptop hours for yours truly. Many thanks to all out there for clocking in over the years. (Although Don Henley famously said in 1980 about when would the Eagles reform… ‘When Hell freezes over’. Well it did in 94 apparently and the Eagles are still sliding about on it.)