Rock and Bike Fest. 13-15.7.2017. South Normanton.

Our first visit to this festival, although we went to a similar fest near here some years ago, before I started my review site.

Thursday. Gates opened at 12.00, apparently, so we got there about 12.15pm. Place was packed, I only expected a few hundred!  Took us a while to find the beer tent.        The Mockinjays. Opened proceedings at 4.00pm.  An almost Brit-pop 90s sound, unusual for this event?  We got a Black Keys cover and ‘My Generation’.           Next up were The Fawn. They are from Plymouth and were due to play another day but put in a brief ‘filler’ set before the next scheduled  outfit. Very, very Nirvana-influenced. Original stuff, ended with a Nirvana cover.                 Verbal Warning. Ramones and Green Day to start with.  A mixture of originals plus Jilted John, Motorhead, AC/DC and the usual pub punk covers.                Crazy Diamond. Surely not a Pink Floyd copy act? There is one due later! No, they were more reminiscent of Kiss.  Covers of Deep Purple, Thin Lizzy, Kansas (!), Cars, Aerosmith and others. Another group you could see in a pub for free without having to come here but some unusual covers.                        Dr Feelgood.  We have been watching the Feelgoods for more than forty years, and this line-up has been stable for about the last seventeen.    Stupidity/I Can Tell/No Mo Do Yakamo ( One of Her Ladyship’s favourites)/Milk and Alcohol/Baby Jane/Rollin’ and Tumblin’/Back in the Night/Roxette/If My Baby Quits Me/She Does It Right/Going Back Home/Down at the Doctors/One More Shot/Route 66.  And , for the first time since 2000, no elongated Down By The Jetty Blues! Keep it locked away please lads. Short but sweet.  A huge class above what had gone before.            Floyd in the Flesh. Is there a Floyd copy group anywhere that doesn’t start with Shine on you Crazy Diamond!? Followed by On the Turning Away and Time, I couldn’t see to write any more . They were no better or worse than any other Floyd copy.   Not a bad day though, all in all.

Friday. The graveyard opening slot belonged to Real to Reel , a Marillion copy act. Other than the Fish-fronted singles, I don’t know anything about them, apart from seeing them way down the bill at a Nostell Priory festival headlined by Jethro Tull in the eighties. Late coming on, my attention wandered… and didn’t bother coming back. Lots of cheering though.         Exhibit A  got our vote next over a Thin Lizzy copy, but they soundchecked with Rosalie, which many think is a Thin Lizzy original.     Big pompous Omen-like intro, and into Motorhead and the Sex Pistols.  A pub group. Metallica appropriately  gave us the incentive to have a kip, even though it wasn’t quite ‘exit light’. Heard the singer from afar claiming the dubious award for saying ‘f*ckin’  in every sentence of his banter. The sounds of  the Thin Lizzy-alike drowned them out, we woke up two hours later.          Soap Girls. Two exotic girls plus a sensible-looking male drummer. Not really all that brilliant but at least not a copy act or a pub covers group. From Capetown, they put in a good stint at the merch table too.              The other tent was packed for an AC/DC copy, AC/DC UK.  We stopped to watch Girlslchool, as anyone interested in the concept of making original music should have.  Big sound problems to start with, but like true pros they soldiered on. They finished with Race with the Devil and Emergency and called it a day after a quick encore. By now, it was raining so those outside the other tent who had been watching Acka Dacka Ucka had come in.    A decent day to be fair.

Saturday. Poizon. Another copy act, I only know Poison from their big hit single.  I don’t know anyone who was a fan originally, but plenty there were singing along. We got their cover of the Loggins and Messina hit, plus Every Rose Has Its Thorn, of course. I never knew Poison had a song Nothing But a Good F*ckin Time .  They went down well.                       On the Brink  Much exhortation to come and jump abaht to what was a ten-a-penny pub covers outfit, I didn’t bother wasting any ink.   I presume they have day jobs.                    Surreal Panther. We witnessed the baffling pre-gig meeting the fans and posing for photos…by a bloody copy group!  From a few miles away!   Plenty in the tent, who were all familiar with Steel Panther. I have to say, there was nothing I heard which has prompted me to check them out. The banter was ‘f*cking’ embarrassing , and the American accents were a revelation.                     Oliver Dawson Saxon. Mssrs O and D have , to their credit,  kept the Saxon flag flying, although their former lead singer seems to have belatedly laid claim to the name.  Plenty of South Yorkshire banter, with plenty of ‘effin’. Wheels of Steel, 747 and Denim and Leather always go down well and they got a well-deserved good reception.              Quireboys. About thirty minutes late coming on, seemingly the sound people again to blame. (I have to say that the Quireboys have ‘form’ regarding punctuality though). So we only got about thirty minutes, with the show split between some new songs and their old hit singles.   Not the best way to end the event, regrettably. and lessons should be learned. Her Ladyship, a lifelong fan, felt short-changed.

So how was it overall?  The over-riding feeling is that it was very good value for money. Yes, really! It was only thirty quid each, plus a fiver for car parking.  Yes, there were loads of copy acts, but most biker fests have that sort of bill. Filled out with pub covers outfits, who basically give the crowd what they want. ( More ‘names’ would presumably increase the ticket price, so reducing the attendance.)    Originals like Dr Feelgood, Quireboys and Girlschool would probably command a ticket price of twenty quid in their own right.

Toilets? A weekend with portaloos. Her Ladyship didn’t have any problems but I had more than one Close Encounter of the Turd Kind!  And as for the rule of choosing a cubicle that a woman has just come out of? Forget it!   We were woken by the portaloos being emptied at 7.00 am, but they seemed to fill up very quickly. Regular long queues too, hinting at the need for more units.

Noise?  We try to be quiet late at night and when getting up on the morning, but no chance of others being so considerate, But we knew it wound be like that, and fortunately were given some good earplugs.

Litter?  The arena was strewn with pizza boxes and cans. And there was supposed to be no alcohol brought through the gate!  Sheer bloody laziness.

Bar? A ‘club-like’ system with an airport check-in way of queueing. Actually worked well. Prices ok. A quid deposit on the pot resulted in a young boy taking pots that had been left unattended for a even few seconds. Someone should tell him it is like being a pickpocket. i.e. theft.

We would both go again, especially if the ticket price remains so decent.

 

Linton Festival. Alma Inn. 7-9.07.2017

Our second visit to this small festival.  It was good last year so here we are again. Good weather, tent pitched, 4 hours in the company of Lidl lager and B&M wine before gates open.

Friday. Wille and the Bandits. Seen them a few times at festivals and each time there is an annoying part of the blurb which likens them to Cream, and now Jimi Hendrix Experience. How? Why? They are a trio, yes, so were Bros and the bloody Bachelors!  Wille and Co are NOT ‘a classic blues-rock trio’ . So please get rid of it!  BUT, their popularity has really shot up of late. I have never been that taken with them, but they seem to have ‘rocked things up’ a bit. Still got ‘Black Magic Woman’ a la Santana in the set plus a couple ofbass solos. One song had an interesting African feel , and they drifted into Spin Doctors mode occasionally.  Fans of West, Bruce and Laing will recognise the ‘Play with Fire’ descending chord sequence towards the end. A more regulation rocker as an encore, I will admit to maybe warming to them now.                     Band of Friends. Has there been a Linton Festival without the words ‘Rory’ and ‘Gallagher’ being uttered?   Drummer Ted McKenna got a belated Blues award.  I have to own up to being in a minority, as a member of the Just Don’t Get Rory Gallagher Club. Saw him at Leeds Univ in the 70s, bought lps. cassettes, cds but he does nothing for me…and I have tried!  Like Wille and Co, BOF are festival regulars, and they sounded much ‘beefier’ today. Her Ladyship was impressed by both opening acts, and the inevitable ‘Bullfrog Blues’ finished things off.                   Billy Walton Band. Interesting that they are now given headline status, having been in the small print on earlier T-shirts. Has their status risen that much?   Big band blues, but not headliners , for me. Cruiseliner stuff.      But not a bad nightall in all.

Saturday.  Half Deaf Clatch. Grizzled one-man blueser from Hull. A great voice, it is as if he has just drunk a yard of whisky mixed with a pound of gravel. Mixture of old blues classics and original stuff.  ‘Baby Please Don’t Go’, ‘You Gotta Move/Amazing Grace’ plus the almost essential Robert Johnson. Good applause after an extended opening slot.                        Rainbreakers. Saw them  in Sheffield supporting Corky Laing , with a crowd of about two dozen. Four young men with sunglasses , playing blues with a touch of funk.  Like all the previous acts, a regular festival itinerary has seen their popularity rise.  They have a song that features the riff that Cozy Powell lifted from Jimi Hendrix.  Went down well.                           Mama Martin Band. They have lost the irritating guitarist from last year, and have a new drummer too.   I couldn’t really see why they were deemed so special last year…or this.  A Club group? Her Ladyship commented that they had no memorable songs, although they had a Quo-esque encore.                  Henrik Freischlader.   Mr F has a recent release showing his regard for Gary Moore (someone else whose wonderfulness has passed me by).  BB King’s ubiquitous ‘You Upset Me Baby’ got an early airing, followed by ‘Oh Pretty Woman’.  Peter Green’s ‘Another Woman’ went down well, but there followed an elongated  blues-out which had all the fret-w*nk aficionados in delirium, but for me descended into a yawnfest . A Roy Buchanan  marathon to finish, there was plenty of vinyl sold at £25 a shot.                   Slim Chance.   Geraint Watkins on keyboards, Brendan O’Neill on drums (BOF’s Gerry McAvoy’s longtime rhythm partner) and songwriter Billy Nicholls are teamed up with three of Ronnie Lane’s former cohorts.   The vocals are widely shared out, although none are particularly strong. A blend of their own more recent stuff and the obvious Ronnie Lane classics such as ‘How Come’, ‘The Poacher’ (I bought that single!) and ‘Debris’.  Theirs is a definite feelgood factor and , yes,they had the odd ‘senior’ moment but we really like them. The die-hard bluesers were sulking , but I would rather have this than another hour of Teutonic Tedium.  ‘C’est la Vie’ to finish, is it the best two chord song ever?                 Bernie Marsden Band. He possibly possesses the smiliest face in rock, and has a book and new cd to plug.  Quite a few blues standards that had been adapted by Cream, namely ‘Born Under A Bad Sign’, ‘Sitting on Top of the World’ and ‘Crossroads’. The obvious Whitesnake songs were featured , as was ‘Walk in my Shadow’ and ‘Hoochie Coochie Man’.  Gary Moore and Rory Gallagher too, is it in the bloody contract?!  A good blast of Peter Green era Fleetwood Mac is always popular though.   As withFriday, a pretty decent night overall.

Sunday. Slowburner.  Starting out with the obscure Le Zeppelin version of ‘We’re Gonna Groove’ , they followed up with a more regulation, less funky, 12-bar .  Very good lead vocals, and the drummer’s pipes are good too. Robert Johnson’s ‘Stop Breaking Down’ had a good ‘Honky Tonk Woman’ style and ‘Politician’ didn’t have the classic bass line.  ‘Walk in my Shadow’ got another airing and ‘King Bee’ closed a very good start to the day.                       Pierce Brothers      Identical twins from Oz, multi-instrumentalists…including a didgeridoo! Some early sound problems but they battered their way through in a fascinating way.  Just a bit bloody different and just a bit bloody good too.  Possibly the biggest  reception of the event so far and well-deserved.                   Bernie Marsden. A solo acoustic slot, ideal for a mid -Sunday afternoon breather after the previous lads.  Songs from ‘Trouble’, ‘Come and Get It’ and ‘Ready and Willing ‘ were all well-received.  Some repeated stuff from last night, interspersed with anecdotes  and more from Fleetwood Mac.  ‘Key to the Highway’ is on a lot of people’s setlist, as is ‘Need Your Love So Bad’.  He finished up with some Beatles, and he has a pretty decent voice too.                            Grainne Duffy. Another returner from last year, her style is a mixture of slow blues and funky songs. An early namecheck for Gregg Allman was appreciated.  Got the first weekend’s hint of reggae, thankfully it was also the last.  It was interesting that she said that they don’t do many covers, then did ‘I’d rather Go Blind’, ‘The Shape I’m In’, ‘I Shall Be Released’, ‘Happy’ and ‘Wild Horses’!   The last-mentioned had her going into Mariah Carey mode, I just wish that once in a while people would sing the pure note, like Mick Jagger and Gram P did.   But they are popular.                     Hayseed Dixie. Back in 2001 Her Ladyship bought me a banjo. I worked out ‘Wish You Were Here’ and ‘Smoke on the Water’ and thought I could make a go of it. Then I found that HD had beaten me by about ten minutes!   They are  definitely a Marmite outfit, you either like them or hate them, although there are still those who just don’t get it.  AC/DC, Sabbath, CCR, Motorhead plus loads more are given the Rockgrass treatment. We think they are great, although maybe not quite as good as when the Reno brothers were in tow.  We took an executive decision to head for the pub after an hour to get a seat, but they were still playing to an appreciative crowd an hour later. A very good finale to a very good weekend.

Toilets? All portaloos , but all clean. And if your nearest and dearest tells you to read Stephen King’s ‘A Very Tight Place’  before your next festival, he/she too is plain evil!  A great little fest, no aggro, indeed no problems at all. Hope it continues next year, although the word on the street was that the camping field will be lying fallow for a year.

 

 

Enforced hiatus

Our computer at home is very poorly, I think euthanasia is imminent. Screen has lots of vertical coloured lines and now the keyboard has become unresponsive.

So any reports will be courtesy of local library facilities, and photos from Her Ladyship will be even more awkward to download.

So please bear with us, we will still be commenting on our upcoming festivals and gigs…eventually

Sonic Rock Solstice. Stoke Prior. 16-18. 6. 2017

Our first SRS festival, although we have been to its little sister fest, Onboard the Craft, and have also been at the venue for Beermageddon. On with the review…

Friday.

Missed first act, having fallen asleep in my chair, Habu came on at 8.00pm. The punctuality was  pretty good all weekend. It helps enormously. T-shirts and cds in abundance. 3-piece outfit, with a Bruce Foxton-like Rickenbacker bass very prominent in the mix.  Bassist doubled up on keyboards too.Played some stuff from latest lp ‘Infinite’ such as ‘Dead Weight’. Back drop featured a woman doing some gyrations similar to Her Ladyship at Zumba.  Guitarist tended to be heavy on the 100 notes per second solos. ‘SR 71’ from first lp had American newscast intro.  A good start for us.                         Next on stage are Sister Sandwich. Fans of the Bar Steward Sons of Val Doonican will be familiar with the concept. Only turned up to 11. Great parodies of classic songs, with (like the Doonicans), the punchline in the title. Mainly on a food-based theme.  ‘Sandwich Filler’ (Talking Heads), ‘Eat some Trifle’ (The Jam), ‘Egg and Bacon Sarnie’ (White Stripes), ‘I love sausage rolls’ (Joan Jett), ‘Fresh Baked Flan’ (ZZ Top). Hopefully you have got the hang of it! Some Donald Trump-based stuff too  ‘Trump it up’ (Elvis Costello). Might it have been ‘Crumpet up’ before last year?.  Great fun.

Electric Cake Salad.  Rhythmic Raymond introduced us to this crispy green delight some years ago. Starting out with ‘Baby Firefly’, they blasted their way through older and newer stuff with barely a breath to spare. Finishing with the ever-popular ‘Absinthe’ they were great, as always.                     Before I mention the next lot…  anybody in the north of England will know that the No 1 place for hen/stag  nights is Whitley Bay. And having been, I can tell you that you wake up on Sunday morning to find out there is nothing to do here on Sunday. Absolutely sweet F.A.  So you go to nearby Blyth, score some very dodgy LSD, drop a tab, and walk round the corner and, f*ck me, straight into Ant and Dec! (See first photo in the gallery). Which brings me nicely onto Captain Roswell and the Lost Alien Tribe.  Interplanetary throbathon of the first order.                          Followed closely by Dr Hasbeen. ‘Little Green Men’ had much nodding of heads in the audience, and the backdrops were great, as they always are. Our plan was to stop up to see the headliners. Heavy Metal Kids, but we had been up since 5.00 am and were both totally Donald Ducked. Went back to the tent and were asleep  within seconds.  A good first day.

Saturday.   First on are The King Bains.  Unusual heavy duo, with drums and guitar/vocals but no visible bassist.  Definitely a ‘kill or cure’ session for a lot of the audience.                     Sloth Metropolis  are next. Another non-stereotypical line -up, this time a 4-piece with a vocalist/violinist, but no 6-string guitar. Opening number had a spoken intro then a song reminiscent of J. Geil’s ‘Centrefold’. Next one had spoken intro plus an early Caravan – like song.  Then some more talking followed by Black Sabbathish song.  The same format followed with a hint of Wetton-era King Crimson. I was outside, so didn’t see one or two blokes doing their ‘interpreting’ in front. Seemingly it was some complete multi-media performance.  Not sure how they would have gone down in the Lion in Castleford, they didn’t play Thin Lizzy or ‘All Right Now’! Her Ladyship thought they were good, but then again she thought Meat Loaf was too (until she saw him the other year).  Not for me, but after all I am a fully paid up member of Philistines Inc, apparently.   No point putting Culture Dub Orchestra in bold/italics. Definitely not for me.                 Tiny Rockets. Another spoken intro, but a 3-piece . Bit more acceptable to my ears, White Zombie t-shirt in evidence.  Got an instrumental tribute to The Tornadoes.  Unusual stuff from 3 bearded young men.                                  DJ played ‘In Memory of Elizabeth Reed’ from the Allmans, before Ethan and the Reformation. Quartet from Manchester, with twin guitars. More regulation rock than before. A slow number brought to mind early Fleetwood Mac and Stan Webb.  They had to get back home quickly, but squeezed in an encore. Original songs,  they went down well. A bloke in the pub on Sunday thought, like me, they had that ‘Manc’ sound.                           Genghis Grimes.     Very interesting visually. Guitarist with Steam Punk appearance.  Singer like that black and white bloke (s)  in a classic Star Trek episode.   First song had a hint of ”Welcome to the Jungle’ but overall they were more like Iron Maiden vocally. Strangely strange…  Got ‘Bananas’ from Man during the break.                    Pink Diamond Revue. If last lot were ‘strangely strange’ then I am now lost for words. Could have been an ominous name for a life-long Pink Floyd fan!    Man with guitar abusing a centre-stage mannequin while playing and singing. Not sure if it is an arrestable offence. Some electronic help too.  Enjoyable and unique.                     Had to go for a 30 minute powernap, so missed start of Litmus.  Frenetic 4-piece with Hawkwind undertones, plenty in who provided much applause.                        Underground Zero  . Much – vaunted 80s proggers on the comeback trail.   Everybody seemed to think they were great. Well, not quite everybody. One person definitely thought they were bloody awful. The same person thought the best part of the set was those five magic words (‘This is our last song’).                     Finally, Dr and the Medics. Unashamedly camp and cheesy, the doctor has defiantly made a career based on a cover version hit single. They were plugging a new lp, which has no pretence of being the next ‘DSOTM’. First actual ‘covers’ of the weekend, if you discount Sister Sandwich.   Perfect for people who had been drinking for 11 hours, although the gratuitous swearing did grate on Her Ladyship.  Encored with The Cult and Sham 69.   Another good day.

Sunday. Missed the first few acts , having gone to watch the ‘ull v Cas rugby league cup quarter final on tv.  (No more about  that sadly! )                    BB Blackdog. Regulars at Stoke Prior.  3-piece steampunkers with some extras on stage. ‘When I met you’ had a ‘White Rabbit’ intro, then took off.    ‘Gimp’ had two surprise guests on stage. No, not Ant and Dec, but Fanny and Johnny Cradock! In very playful mode, I think they are caught ‘ in camera’.   A bouncing balloon destroyed Her Ladyship’s pint, the only negative of the set.                         Sonic Gypsy. Sitting outside, heard the sound of some Canned Heat-style boogie. Went in to check out SG (aka Micky Banks).   Great, proper music!   Some Bo Diddley followed, then a slow blues that had some tuning problems.    Next song had a ‘Smokestack Lightning’ riff, with a hint of ‘Sympathy for the Devil’.    Finished with ‘Backyard stomp no. 1’, it was a great Canned Heat-style set  with a touch of The Doors sound. One of the best so far.                          Silver Trees.  Came on to a wave of spontaneous indifference. I remembered them from Onboard the Craft, is this classed as ‘Ambient’?  Definitely not Sonic Gypsy, they were inoffensive… but so was Des O’ Connor!   Sorry,  bad analogy, he wasn’t inoffensive!                      Demons of Old Metal.  Does  the name have  an intentional acronym?  Anyway, the spirit of Metallica is alive and well and close to Bromsgrove. Or maybe not, was it their final show?   Lots of ‘effing, ‘ the amazing ‘a-f**king-pplause’  must be the best ever splitting of a word.   Her Ladyship liked them , AC/DC to finish.                      Night of the Hawks. Featuring not too surprising ‘special guest’ Nik Turner, seemingly a very ad hoc line-up. Obvious Hawkwind style with a dash of punk, perhaps. Obligatory gyrating females of course.  ‘Waiting for the Man’ was much better than John Cale’s recent attempt in Liverpool.

And that was it.   A very good weekend. Good natured, good entertainment.  I was a bit disappointed to see a crushed Strongbow tin on top of the urinals, how bloody idle and ignorant.            Wazoo Muffin Research Utility Kitchen deserves a mention in dispatches. The only caterers, could have easily been a rip-off, but not so. Her Ladyship got a great veggie wrap for £3.50, try doing that at other events!       Lots of dogs, only one child all weekend, should those factors affect your judgement. Hope it keeps going.

 

 

A Band of Gypsies. Lion , Castleford. 10.6.2017

I was intrigued by the name , having the Hendrix lp, so we decided to give them a go.

Opening with ‘Purple Haze’ and ‘Fire’, the singer / guitarist gave us some hyperbolic Hendrixisms. Then , much to our surprise, Johnny Cash’s ‘Folsom Prison Blues’, followed by some JJ Cale. So they aren’t just a Hendrix tribute act.

Some Floyd was next, and when someone asks ‘Are there any Gary Moore fans in?, you know it is going to be ‘You know I love you…da da da da da’ (written by Jimmy Rodgers though).   A good version of Robert Johnson’s ‘Crossroads’, a la Cream.  They were the best covers groups we had seen for a long time, so decided to stay until the last bus.

Then we got bloody ‘Wishing Well’! We had missed our usual bus by then. A very good Floyd medley of ‘Breathe’, ‘Comfortably Numb’ and ‘Money’ brought the first set to a close.

And we never got to see any of the second set anyway, they still hadn’t come back on by the time we had to leave.

Recommended.

Acoustic Beatles.

Having seen them at The Acoustic Festival, I was reminded of the conspiracy theory about Paul McCartney. Loads of posts on Youtube about how Paul died in a  car crash in November 1966 and was replaced by a lookalike. They dubbed him Faul.

Lots of evidence based on details of his physical being, but seemingly none based on audio voice recognition. Yes, there was a recent case where someone’s twin brother successfully impersonated him, but even ‘Mission Impossible’, decades ago, used it? And surely software is just a little more sophisticated now?

No DNA has been provided…how totally unreasonable, but I have the obvious proof. Get Sir Paul/Faul to drop his pants. If he has only one dick, he is an impostor! The real Paul had two dicks.  The conspiracy theorists will say that there are no photos around showing the pre-Pepper Paul with one dick so it must be true. Voila!

Acoustic Festival of Britain. Uttoxeter. 2-4. 6.2017

We gave last year a miss, having been a touch disappointed with the previous year. Some of the announcements looked promising, so we gave it another shot. So, review time… (And, OK, it’s not strictly ‘acoustic’, but most of the guitars are acoustic , with pick-ups).

Friday. Bit drizzly putting the tent up, but managed to get in to catch some of Lost Tuesday Society.  Not sure I could match up what I could see and hear with the programme notes, but they were pleasant enough. Never easy to have the opening slot (OK Status Quo did well at Live Aid!). Her Ladyship liked them but she had to go for a walk as some Morris dancers were sitting too near (New Zealand would have been too near).        Gaz Brookfield Regular festival goers all over will be familiar with him. Opening song about diabetes set the tone and the tempo.  For me, the latter is a problem. He has pithy lyrics, but every song is a fast strum. Could you maybe think about having a go at some slow finger picking occasionally?  He had a new record to plug. Her Ladyship liked his ‘observational’ words. Back to the tent for my insulin, ironically!          Wee Bag Band.  Came back as they were Irish roving. Plenty of Irish themes but I couldn’t detect any Irish accents.  Sea shanties too.  An instrumental ‘Hey Jude’ started slowly and prettily but speeded up to jigglydiggly pace and ended up at thrash metal level.  Her Ladyship liked the sound of Cartoon Food in the nearby tent and went to check them out.                             Just as The Men They Couldn’t Hang  were due on, it started to rain. We went inside to get a good spot for Martin Turner. The front of the programme said’ Martin Turners Wishbone Ash’, the schedule inside it said’ Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash’ and the notes said ‘Wishbone Ash by Martin Turner’.  I believe he is now, officially, Martin Turner ex Wishbone Ash. So we went in to see all four groups!  Anyway, the acoustic-ish line-up launched into ‘Time Was’, the opening song from what was to be an unusual rendition of the complete’ Argus’.   It was rearranged slightly to feature ‘Blowin’ Free’ at the end, as was the re-recorded ‘Argus Through the Looking Glass’ by Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash…bugger that’s now five  groups! ‘Jailbait’ from ‘Pilgrimage’ finished the set, it would have been great to have ‘No Easy Road’ too. Did it work? Definitely. A great performance, Her Ladyship led the obligatory jumping up and down to the outro of ‘Blowin’ Free’. And that was it for us. I wondered is it a coincidence that ‘being old’ rhymes with ‘being  cold’? Can’t be.

Saturday. Thankfully, the toilets had been cleaned and soap/toilet paper replenished. How many times have your eyes watered when confronted by the contents after the first night!?               Rumblestrutters. One of organiser Mike Stephens’ favourites,  they are a jug band…with an actual jug.  Originals mixed with the likes of Skip James, Robert Johnson, Leadbelly and Tampa Red. A decent start to the day.        Acoustic Beatles. Oh dear.  Programme mentioned a duo with two voices and two acoustic guitars. (Incorrect on all three). And, Mike, are they your words about a version of ‘Eleanor Rigby’ that surpasses the original?! I know we are entitled to an opinion but …) We waited with bated breath for the song.  What we got was a Working Man’s Club/ wedding reception copy group. Of course, everyone knows the words and everyone sings along ( not everyone). Her Ladyship was not impressed that they missed out part of ‘A Little Help from my Friends’.  In case you are thinking I have also missed out part of the title, the word’ With’ was not in the original title on the lp. Find an original  copy and check it out.  Her Ladyship, of course, went ‘Aah, I love this one’ to every song.   I went for a walk but couldn’t escape. Sadly, I predict there will be more people wanting them back than anyone else (see also Counterfeit Stones and T. Rexstacy. That’s why live music venues put on bloody tribute sh*te rather than new music..) And we didn’t get ‘Eleanor Rigby’!  End of rant.   Went back to the tent, had to endure what sounded like the terminally tedious  Big Fibbers from afar. Not going to give them the honour of italics or bold letters.           Her Ladyship went off to see brilliantly inept Ed Tudor Pole, I chose to stay to give Nick Harper another go. I saw him many years ago at the much-lamented Rhythm Festival but it wasn’t to my taste.  I have to say he is nothing if not consistent. Much flashy harmonics, and his  machine head jiggling only served to put his guitar out of tune. His falsetto-ridden second song seemed to impress all around me, as did his OTT version of  ‘Shine on you Crazy Diamond’.  Much whoopin’ ‘n’ hollerin’ greeted the end of his set. I can’t bring myself to give an adjective (I have plenty in mind).    Her Ladyship returned to say that Ed had been great in a packed Big Top.          Chantel McGregor was playing in an acoustic trio on the Main Stage, observed by her army of middle-aged male admirers.    We chose to stay and grab a front row spot for the legend that is…John Otway.  Only an hour set , so impossible to fit everything in.  Starting, of course with the  (what WAS the only) hit, closely followed by the ‘B’ side.  There were some Otway virgins there, and there are still some out there in the big wide world, so I won’t go into the details of ‘Blockbuster’, ‘Cheryl…’, ‘Louisa…’,  and the rest. A few newies thrown in, but he really is a must-see. Her Ladyship was still laughing at what she has heard dozens of times. Roadie Deadly has more of a part as his ‘stoodge’ now.              Charge outside for Fairport Convention. It seems like everyone here has a new record to plug, but we still get classics such as ‘Genesis Hall’, ‘Who knows where the time goes’, ‘Sir Patrick Spens’, ‘Fotheringay’, ‘Hiring Fair’ and of course, ‘Matty Groves’ and ‘Meet on the Ledge’. But a bloody percussion solo!? Come on lads, just tell the crowd to count to 300 while you have a cup of tea.                 Charge back into the tent for the Bar Steward Sons of Val Doonican.    As with Otway, it would spoil the show if gave away too many details, you really need to see them. And as with Otway, there were a lot of Doonican First-timers too.  Basically, they mercilessly lampoon the like of the Police, Chris de Burgh, Rainbow, Marc Cohn with some brilliant versions of their hits, with deceptively good instrumental ability.  Sometimes the lyrics can get lost in the general festival (and rude) ‘chat’, and the accents and the distance to the back can be a problem, but they are very, very funny.   Amazing crowd surf as a finale. By this time, Her Ladyship was marginally ‘Old’ but hugely ‘Peculiered’, so the trip back to the tent was an expedition  which wore out two pairs of shoes.   A great day.

Sunday.   Once again, toilet-cleaning company had been up at the crack of dawn, excellent.    Looked at the programme and had a ‘Clash’ moment…’Should I stay or should I go?’  Not a lot that appealed to us, if the forecast had been crap we would have decamped , but decided to stop.      Two lots of ukulele groups were followed by Boy on a Dolphin. Another of organiser Mike’s favourites, they are indeed all top musicians.  Not a particularly recognisable style, but a pleasing , and sensible, start to the day. I don’t want some silly young man telling me to put my hands in the air and clap at noon on a bloody Sunday!  But by the end there were a dozen or so Dad Dancers up front.             Elvis Fontenot.   Cajun jollity from Stoke.   Squeezebox man and washboard man looked like they had just walked off the set of ‘Breaking Bad’. But they showed good musical versatility. Female guitarist had a sing  on Canned Heat’s  ‘Going up the Country’. We got their version of the Who’s ‘Squeeze Box’.  Tongues firmly in cheeks but deceptively decent.              Gave Nell Bryden a miss on the Main Stage, and waited for Tir Na Nog.  I will own up to seeing them back in 1972 supporting Jethro Tull doing ‘Thick as a Brick’ at Leeds University, but not remembering a bloody thing about them. But by the time an hour had lapsed, I felt embarrassed that I hadn’t given them more attention then . They were really good, with the majority of their set still coming from their first lp.  The recent ‘Ricochet’ had a bit of electronic help but was very impressive.  (The Nick Drake cover was good too. )  An excellent show.     Not bothered about Jenny Belle Star, went back for some warmer clothes.  Mike had recommended we check out the Comedy bar , so we did. Tony Cowards did a good spot, his delivery much based on cringeworthy puns,  choosing to basically ignore the obligatory f*ckwit in the audience.   I think the knob chose to keep somewhat quiter when Scott Bennett came on.  More of a tale-teller, very much based on his observations of his stereotypical Yorkshire father. For some reason Her Ladyship kept looking at me and howling with laughter.  Sorry Tony, she didn’t get a photo.  Maybe next time we will spend more time in here.  Great to see one of the greats of British Blues-Rock, Tony McPhee smiling in there too.                         THE BEAUTIFUL SOUTH from The Beautiful Sound. That is what it said on the poster, with the first part in huge capitals and the second part in minute font. So it was a tribute act, which given that most of the audience were retired and wore spectacles might have come as a surprise. I have to say it, just a bit naughty .  I remember last time they sounded and looked nothing like the original group (or the Housemartins). But, as with the Acoustic  Beatles, I am in a minority. Front of stage packed.                Bluesman Mike Francis.  Seemingly’ Woody Guthrie and Robert Johnson would sound like this guy’.  After two numbers we tended to not to concur and went off to see the Adverts TV Smith.  Post 60, still energetically treading the boards.  Stirring versions of ‘Bored Teenagers’, ‘The Great British Mistake’ and (the hit) ‘Gary Gilmore’s Eyes’ were mixed with newer songs such as the emotive ‘Good Times are Back’.   He got a well-deserved rousing reception.                       Greg Murray and the 7 Wonders.     8-piece, reminiscent of those 70s show bands that were popular in Ireland.    Didn’t seem to be a Main Stage closing act, from where they were switched.   They had seemingly performed also on the pre-festival Thursday. They went down very well, with an obviously lubricated audience, but I couldn’t see the attraction. But plenty could.     Sons of Clogger. The usual jumpy up and downy end to the weekend, by now we had to cadge four matchsticks to keep our eyes open so headed off to lower our crania.  Mike Stephens had made a few comments before they came on. Thanking all for coming, and continuing to come.  He stated that the days of spending lots on eg Joan Armatrading had gone, it doesn’t appreciatively add to the gate.  (He let slip a couple of names to me, who are returning. Her Ladyship got her chequebook out immediately.    BUT, Mike, no room for complacency!)  As a salesman, I was told 1. Keep your customers 2. Get new customers.3. Get back old customers. ( NB. The hardest of the three, is actually no.3.)

A very good weekend, glad we came back on board. OK, not all to our taste, even Mike is realistic and appreciates we can’t like everything. But he tries to give something for everybody.

Negatives? Not many.

The Curse of Cropredy. Loads of people there put bloody tents up in the arena! I had to move my bloody seat four times one year.  And it is quite a steep hill. I noticed one small tent erected here  on Sunday. Don’t care if it is for kids, nip it in the bud Mike before it becomes the norm. Seriously, put it in the T&C’s.

Her Ladyship, who is a veggie, ordered a vegetable Thai noodles takeaway. She had eaten half of it when she looked and found pieces of chicken! She binned it. No good saying ‘inform us of any allergies’ when such unacceptable practice is happening. And it wasn’t only once, the sound girl overheard us and said it had happened to her last night and took hers back.  Therefore they knew about it but chose to ,seemingly, ‘carry on regardless’.Not the organiser’s fault, but I won’t be disappointed if they are not there next year.

Not really a ‘negative’, depending on if you like the particular acts concerned, but there are an awful lot of acts who make more than one appearance. I suppose it is part of the festival finances, namely only one lot of travelling expenses to pay?

We know people who can’t believe we do so many festivals. It’s not difficult to sort!  I reckon every fest-goer knows people who have  ‘Go to a Music Festival’ on their Bucket List.   I can definitely recommend the AFOB as the one to test the water with.   Crowd only a few thousand. Beer/food prices reasonable for a festival. Good mix of music. No w*nkered idiots lurching into you. Space to sit down. Never any huge queues. Good sound systems. Park next to your tent. Camp site next to the arena.  Organiser always approachable (but maybe give him a wide berth if some acts don’t turn up , as seemingly happened with some children’s entertainers! ). No thefts from tents. Toilets very clean. Showers (free!). Security not heavy-handed. Three really good nights’ sleep ( a real +).

If some acts are already pencilled in, this year must have been a financial success, so the earlier the announcements the better. We know a couple of former regulars who found another festival this weekend

No official T-shirts this year?