Blind Cat Festival. nr Caistor. 11-13.8.2017

Our second visit to Blind Cat. We enjoyed last year and decided it was well worth a second look.  Her Ladyship has got tent erection down to a fine art so we had plenty of time for pre-fest scoops.

Friday.     Electric Cake Salad.  Unfortunately for us, the one mob that we had really come to see were up first, with the audience numbering less than ten to start with.   So the Throberama started, with a new Telecaster?! What happened to the green machine centre stage?  Anyway, it was a mixture of new and oldies such as ‘1408’ and ‘Baby Firefly’.  ‘NIB’ got a rousing singalong with Her Ladyship well up in the mix.  The brilliant ‘Absinthe’ ended a hard act to follow.                                  Road Trip.  Guitar/vocals plus some percussive assistance. An early version of Floyd’s ‘Breathe’ was pretty impressive for a duo {with some invisible sonic help).  There was a definite hint of that 1967 Floyd ‘pulse’ at times.  ‘3rd Stone from the Sun’ seems to be used by a lot of people nowadays, ‘Comfortably Numb’ was different enough to be interesting.  A decent show.                              Magic Bus.  Much hyped last year when they played.  They are not short of self-esteem, and still are reminiscent of very early Caravan.  Plenty watching but a bit soporific for me. Big applause but nowhere near last year’s interest in the merch stall.                         Dubbal.  Watched a few seconds last year, watched even less this year.   Bed time. Not a bad start.

Saturday.                Tanglemist.  ‘Why is the Sky so High’ pretty much summed them up. ‘Goblin King and the Fairy Nymph’ kicked any doubt into touch.                      Went to the other stage for Not On.  Tried to count how many on stage. There was at least one ‘not on’. Thought there were eight, but after a few recounts I decided it was eleven!  Very long, cosmic songs, only to be expected.                                 Spaced Ogs .   Only seven on stage, looked deserted! Long instrumentals , with a drummer whose style looked more suitable to Aerosmith than aerospace.    We got a semi-spoken vocal number, Her Ladyship likes them.  Good act for those who have had a hard week at work and want to chill out.              Caught end of Deviant Amps on the other stage but we needed a few tactical zeds, and just made it back to the tent before the heavens opened.                        Sendelica. If their first number wasn’t called ‘Careful with that sax Eugene’, it should have been!   They also lift heavily Floyd’s ‘Set the Controls…’  Her Ladyship got into serious groove mode, but even she thought the all instrumental set was too long.                 Psi Gong. I am sure Rhythmic Raymond wasn’t the first to say he may ‘miss Psi Gong’ !!   Again, early Floyd sound, with a funk/disco ingredient, Quite a few in, we got some lasers to supplement the aural display. A few had left by the end.                     Litmus. Last on, 4-piece from Brighton.  A more regulation line-up, there were vocals!  But , sadly, the vocals were awful to start with.   The songs were familiar to a fair few in the audience, and one song had an intro similar to ‘Highway Star’.   Went down well.      A pretty good day, musically.

Sunday.                 Gregg and Kev. A lot of people appear more than once on stage, none more than Kev!    A gentle easing in to Sunday, much better than some premature ejaculant shouting ‘Make some f**kin noise’ at this juncture. ‘Hurry on Sundown’ was almost riotous, with its ‘Gloria’ riff.  Lots of jolly banter, with a slab of Neil Young to finish.   Went to take advantage of the currant bun, taking time to cremate Her Ladyship’s broken sandals.  Nipped into Caistor for money and sustenance (see later comments).                       Her Ladyship wanted to check out Silver Trees.  I remember them, so it wasn’t my dying wish.                         Went off to the other stage for Devora. Blend of Deviant Amps and Aurora, I caught them in the middle of a ‘Sister Ray’-like marathon. Is it really almost fifty years since the Velvets unleashed it on an unappreciative world?   There was a number which sounded like a cross between the Floyd’s ‘Eugene’ and ‘Embryo’. Fine by me.   There was much Floyd referencing over the whole weekend.                             Peyote Guru. Another fluctuating line-up, we went outside to listen their doodlings from a short distance.                    Phaselock.  Man with unusual electric guitar with a chum on additional gadgetry. I think I can confidently state that the guitarist played more notes  than the number of times that Ozzy Osbourne has said the word ‘f**kin’ in his entire life. That is a f**kin hell of a f**kin lot!   Pretty good though.                        Shankara Andy Bole/Motoric 3. Starting solo, the first number was reminiscent of Page’s ‘White Summer’.  There was seemingly a Blind Willie Johnson number  which Ry Cooder ‘stole’…so Led Zeppelin weren’t alone on the burglary antics!     Good use of ‘loops’ . The on-stage numbers gradually increased, and although there were no vocals, it was quite compulsive.  What started out like ‘Interstellar Overdive’ brought the weekend to quite a low key finish.

So, scores on the doors?

  1. Music.  Accent firmly on space rock.  Maybe lacking a bona fide headliner? I have been critical at other fests of all-instrumental sets, but there were plenty here! But it seems to work ok.
  2. Security. Hardly any there, but more importantly not needed.
  3. Bar. £3.00 a pint , which is very good, But like last year, they ran out of beer regularly. There must be room for improvement surely!
  4. Toilets.  ‘Swanky’ falls spectacularly short as an adjective. Not only amazing, but a good reflection on the customers that they were kept pristine too.
  5. Sound. Good, as it was last time.
  6. Food. The REAL problem. Only one savoury food outlet. Poor  choice, poor/average quality, not particularly cheap…and apparently can open and shut when they please. There was a drinks/sweet crepes van which was fine and a hut which served up some pretty poor breakfast fare , we were told. Seemingly Facebook has some  adverse comments about the food situation. We had to go into Caistor for food supplies and some beer cans for when the bar ran out …again. They almost ran out of pint pots too.

A lovely weekend in a lovely setting.  Such a shame to end on a negative, but the food situation is a serious concern.

Photos…   Apologies to E.C.S. theirs didn’t come out very well focussed.( Must be because I was too busy jumping about)  H.L

 

Cambridge Rock Festival. Horseheath Lodge. 3-6 August. 2017

We went to the very first CRF at a nearby racecourse and have been to most, but not all, since. A new venue, we decided to give it a shot.  Well off the beaten track, and a 4 day event so had to take extra provisions.

Thursday.  Nice touch from organiser Dave Roberts to greet everybody at the gate.               First on the AOR stage were The Room. A 5-piece outfit that had a hint of Marillion.  Inoffensive  stuff, certainly preferable to the Thin Lizzy copy group on the Tribute Stage.   They got a good reception, it helped when the side of the tent was opened up and we could hear better.                              Searching Grey.  Young quartet from Cambridge , with original songs. They had a lot of fans singing along.                                   Moritz.   A 6-piece, they started off with a soundcheck that was very Kiss-like.    A very NWOBHM  (look it up if you don’t know) sound, a bit sub-Foreigner.                                  Voodoo Blood.  A late replacement for the headliner , who called off.  Scantily-clad female fronting a 4-piece. definitely not AOR!   Went off to bed.  Had managed to avoid the Bruce and Bowie copies, we had to walk past a T.Rex copy act.  I imagined being a painter/decorator and forming a T. Rex  tribute act…R.Tex!! You saw it here first! Her Ladyship had been talking to a man in an Iron Maiden t-shirt, and promised to check out his lad’s group tomorrow, so…

Friday.    Maverick on at 11.00 am.  Four young local lads, and I mean ‘lads’!  Dave Roberts has always given local youngsters a shot, which is good. (OK, also free!) .   Original stuff, they went down well.                          4th Labyrinth. CRF regulars, started out with ‘Black Night’.  Very distinctive dreadlocked female bassist.                                    We went to the Blues/Rock Stage for Chris Bevington Organisation.  Big blues band line-up.  Pretty regulation blues fare, they gave us a good ‘I Don’t Need  No Doctor’,  as has been covered by NRPS and Humble Pie. ‘ Five Long Years’ was an early sixties staple for most of the British Blues Boom, I seem to remember another Organisation (Graham Bond) doing it?   Interesting question…has Stevie Ray Vaughan only recorded one bloody song?!  As soon as his name is mentioned it is time for, yes, ‘Pride and Joy’.    They were encouraged to play on, seemingly another act had been delayed.   Lots of Clapton on the PA.                Catfish.  Seen them recently, they gave ‘So Many Roads’, title track of their cd, an early airing.  Did some BB King too. Warning of some imminent ‘funk’ got at least two dissenting voices.   Guitarist had a walk into the audience with guitar for a while. ‘Make it rain’ had some awful Enrique Iglesias-type vocals and went on for ever and ever. But very popular on the blues circuit.                                    Blacktop Deluxe. Finally got there.    Thought we would give them a go rather than Chantel McGregor. ‘Crank it up’ was a promising start.  Not long before ‘Hoochie Coochie Man; and Willie Dixon’s ‘Seventh Son’  made an appearance.                                 Tez had been up to see Ms McGregor and reckoned she was pretty good so we went for a Dr Hook.  The giggly girl guitarist guise has gone…I must stop listening to CSN’s ‘Helplessly Hoping’!   An elongated slow song dragged on a bit and the next song had an ‘Immigrant Song ‘ riff.  I still can’t see the Stevie Nicks comparison in the blurb.          Bumped into John and Karen. They went to see Paul Rodgers twice on his recent tour, I gave them my 2cd version from the Newcastle gig (see earlier review).                    Tygers of Pan Tang . North Eastern metal merchants, last time we saw them in Skeggy it wasn’t brilliant but the sound was awful then.   I was a bt too old for them first time around , but credit to them for still treading the boards.  Intro was Tom Jones’ ‘What’s New Pussycat’ then a mixture of old and new songs. Finished with ‘Tush’ and ‘Love Potion No 9’.                            FM. Another big recorded intro and into ‘Diggin’ up the Dirt’.  Followed by ‘I Belong to the Night’, they are of a similar era to the Tygers and also still have a loyal following. Again, we were flagging, and had to succumb. Had the misfortune to pass Jason and the Skagonauts in the Blues/Rock Stage. (?)  Yes, makes no sense to me either . Predictable pub ska sh*te.  Goodnight John  Boy.  Heard Malcolm Bruce doing ‘Politician’ from the  (allegedly) Acoustic Tent while horizontal.  Weather, like Thursday, had been ‘mixed’.

Saturday. To us, and others, it looked the best day.                        Kinky Wizzards.  I overheard the MC utter the dreaded word ‘jazz-rock’.   An instrumental trio, you either find this stuff clever or tedious.  I went back to the tent to pull my toe-nails out with some rusty pliers, it was less painful than staying there.                       JFK Blue. 4-piece playing original stuff. Her Ladyship detected an early Spin Doctors sound, the second number was less funky.  There was a snatch of ‘3rd Stone from the Sun’ (which the Rainbreakers also featured on the other stage)  and a number similar to Thin Lizzy’s ‘The Rocker’.                      Headline Maniac. Hot Rods’ rhythm section plus on/off Rods’ guitarist Chris Taylor in a side project power trio.  Songs from their recent release plus ‘Suffragette City’, ‘The Rocker’, ‘War Pigs’ and ‘Born to be Wild’ . Dipster and Simon both have a decent set of pipes and the unit stands up well.                      Last Great Dreamers.  Rhythmic Raymond recommended we check them out. The intro as a cross between Green Day and T.Rex was surprisingly accurate. They sounded more like the latter than Thursday night’s copy group.  Her Ladyship liked them (she says ‘Thanks for the cd Ray’).                         John Otway Big Band. Still some Otway virgins about, if you are one get him on your bucket list.  Usual start, there was a definite accent on girls’ names tonight…Josephine, Louisa, Cheryl, Delilah.   Her Ladyship had been to Aldi for some flowers, I had to fight off Julie who tried to pinch mine!   ‘Ineffable’ is a good word for the man.                               Son of Man .   Featuring George Jones and  Bob Richards from the post 2000 Man, they have now put out a cd in their own right. Unfortunately they have decided to fill almost all of the opening hour of the set with it  and nearly all the Man stuff was left to the end. We both thought it would have been more sensible to put the likes of ‘Ride and the View’ , ‘7171 551’ and ‘Romain” at regular intervals earlier. Obviously keep ‘Bananas’ and ‘Spunk Rock’ for the end.  And their fan base is Man fans, is it not?  So a touch disappointing for us.                             But the best was to come.  Eddie and the Hot Rods .  The usual set list, starting with one of my favourites ‘Get Across to You’ and finishing the main set with my all-time favourite ‘Beginning of the End’.     If the encore had been ‘Get out of Denver’ instead of ‘Born to be Wild’ it would have been a perfect 10, but Barrie Masters would probably have  ended up in an iron lung!   Have seen them dozens of times , this one was up there with the best .  Chris Taylor back with them tonight on second guitar  .    Had to pass pub rock outfit Buster James churning out ‘Tush’ and ‘Rockin’ in the Free World’  but went to bed smiling .

Sunday            Had a bit of a chuckle looking at old t-shirts featuring the much-heralded but much-sh*te Bubblegum Screw and the master conman Leon Hendrix.                                               A Twisted State of Mind.   Young lads from Oxford.  Being told to ‘Make some noise!’ at 11.00 am on Sunday by some teenager had me thinking what Captain Mainwaring would be saying to him.  I was worn out just watching them. Four boys with a combined age of my cricket bat but well done for  making their own music and not taking the easy option of being in a tribute act.                     Kyrbgrinder were a late change on the other stage. CRF regulars , I had found an early cd in a charity shop. A good grungey guitar sound but the songs didn’t stick in my mind.        Had no interest in Deborah Namedropper Bonham or Mostly Awful (but there are plenty who have) so camped at the Blues/Rock Stage.                      Big River.     Rocky 4-piece with a hyperactive bassist. Very riff-laden stuff, with surprisingly decent versions of ‘Trouble on Double Time’, ‘Fire and Water’, ‘Deal with the Peacher’ and’Rock Steady’ for any Rodgers and Kirke aficionados. Thankfully avoided the pub Free and Bad Co standards.                    London Blusion    Early slappy bass solo wasn’t encouraging.  Booker T-like line-up, early stuff was very MOR late night listening.  But a really good ‘Crazy Mama’ signalled an increase in energy.  During a lapse in sound I could hear Led Zeppelin’s ‘Whole Lotta Love’, which has been belatedly credited to Willie Dixon and some British Blues Burglars, from the other stage.  Some more Hendrixy stuff and it ended on a high.     High up above , that Apache Chief Billy Black Cloud was threatening to empty himself, but without success this time .                 Laurence Jones . Another young guitar slinger who has left us unmoved, and an early sarcastic  ‘It’s called a soundcheck mate’ didn’t have a positive effect on me  (maybe it wasn’t him).  There was a song with ‘All along the Watchtower’ chords and he finished with ‘Every day I have the Blues/Sweet Home Chicago’.                           Red Butler. Not seen them before, seemingly their female singer has left.  Heavy blues-rock quartet,  ‘Shakin all over’ was a bit strangulated but different. An early slow blues was very 60s Fleetwood Mac and Her Ladyship sensed a touch of Free’s ‘Moonshine’.   Stevie Ray Vaughan appeared via…yes, you know.  Whitesnake’s version of ‘Ain’t no love…’ seems to be a blues-rock standard nowadays but they get a point deducted for finishing with Thin Lizzy.                         Magenta. We went up to the other stage to sit on the Big Magic Roundabout (which doesn’t go round).   The CRF prog template , 5-piece with girl singer, started up.  To me, it sounded like a Tesco shop assistant with 4 Yes wannabees who will neverbees. But others obviously had a different opinion.                                Atomic Rooster.    The 70s veterans finished the weekend.  The singles ‘Tomorrow Night’ and ‘Devil’s Answer’ both made surprisingly early appearances.    But the weekend had taken its toll, so we headed  off for our final kip.

So, let’s have a bit of a breakdown of the weekend

  1. Venue and layout.  A new site but the layout very much familiar. And the same area of concern. The two main stages are too close together. You could throw a cricket ball from one to the other. Sitting outside you can always hear both. And if you sit in front of the annoying Radio Caroline van, even more! And that is without the Acoustic Stage.  Really needs looking at, especially when the acts starting times are simultaneous. Stagger them perhaps?
  2. Chairs in tents. Not allowed, so when the bloody MC tells those sitting outside to come on and watch the acts…we can’t because we are too bloody old to stand up for 12 hours!  And when is a tent not a tent? Seemingly when it is an Acoustic Tent!  Why can people take chairs in there!? The whole council by- law argument doesn’t wash
  3. MCs. The female ( ‘Did I tell you I have a show on the BBC?’) mentioned( more than once)  that we were at the Cambridge FOLK Festival ! A real pro!!  Also keep the crowd a bit better informed of changes/delays please.
  4. Traders . 4 food stalls, 1 cd stall and 1 hippy-dippy stall. Not much to wander round really. Food quality and prices were as per most festivals but possibly the first we have been to with no chilli anywhere!  More than one trader at other festivals has told me that they don’t go to CRF because the charge is too much. Believe me, you WOULDN’T believe me if you knew what the ice-cream van had to pay!  Which links to…
  5. No Camp Shop.  Again the money wanted is apparently too much. But it should be a SERVICE!  On a par with toilets and bar. It is a 4-day weekend, miles from anywhere. Milk, bacon etc won’t keep for that long and it needs a grocer’s, even if only to buy a newspaper
  6. Security. Seemingly there were illegal aliens coming in, including people who only paid for camping. Hence wristbands being checked.  So don’t sell camping tickets without festival tickets!     Sadly, there were beer token forgeries but even paper tokens can be taken home and scanned if someone feels the need. The staff were very relaxed, sadly I saw one bloke smuggle a full bottle of Jack Daniels in.
  7. Toilets. Well maintained and promptly  relocated when necessary.
  8. Stewards. Friendly and helpful as always.
  9. Bar .  £4.00 a pint? A bit steep, especially for us northerners!  And £2.00 for a receptacle isn’t ‘nominal’. I have taught kids whose mother would have fought Tyson Fury blindfolded for that.
  10. Music.  On the whole, pretty much as it has been in recent years. The emphasis on prog and bluesy rock stuff. Some better than others but generally of a good standard.
  11. Sound systems.  Very good on both main stages. Vocals always audible.
  12. Disabled area. Previous years have had a raised area at the back for wheelchairs. I assume the tent layout with bars at the rear has made this not possible.

Overall, it was a good weekend.  All aspects of the staffing were first class. The arena was constantly kept clean by a squad of volunteers and the festival goers on the campsite were equally fastidious. Maybe it is an age thing?  OK, a lot of the music wasn’t great for me , but it obviously was for the vast majority there.  Hopefully some of the points raised above will at least be considered.  Was it worth £125 each? The jury is out but with a few bits of tinkering the decision would be a thumbs up.  Hopefully the owner’s generosity wasn’t abused ecologically,  the camp site looked decent when we left (couldn’t find a skip for our rubbish bag though). There was a feedback form available, I wonder what other reactions were.

Swampcandy, Jed Thomas. Duck and Drake. 31.07.2017

A late addition to the schedule, not even listed. Main man Andy suggested we come, then changed it to an order!    Jed Thomas did a 20 min solo opening act, featuring the likes of Muddy Waters, Tony Joe White and Leadbelly.

The duo of Ruben and Joey that is Swampcandy started 9.30-ish, we could instantly see why Andy recommended them.  Originals such as ‘Baseball Bats and Bear Traps’, ‘Positive Drinking’ and ‘Drink Whisky with Me’ mixed with the likes of Son House.  Big sound from two blokes, due in no small part to a tremendous one-man rhythm section. Sadly we had to go after a brilliant first set.

Audience of less than twenty got a real treat.  If they are announced for the Upton Blues Festival next year we will be there (and f*ck the Plough…see recent review of the festival.)

Due back soon at The Grove in Leeds, miss them at your peril! Check them out on Youtube…now!

Upton Blues Festival. Upton upon Severn. 21-23.07.2017

 

Weather forecast for the weekend was so grim we were in two minds whether or not to go, despite our £60 campsite payment. We bit the bullet and arrived noon-ish.  A terrible job trying to put the tent up, due to the wind. For those of you who had the privilege of watching the late , great batsman Colin Milburn in the sixties…imagine you are looking at him after he had run a three. It was blowing that hard!     Managed eventually and settled down for a couple of post-erection drinks ( did they say that in Carry on Camping!?).

Friday. Called into a few pubs, I will leave the details to the end.  Attempted to go up to the Meadow Stage for the Folly Bros  but it was lashing down so went around the back of the Star to see Maz Mitrenko under cover. They decided to move up into the function room.  Starting with Going Down, it wasn’t long before a certain R.Gallagher Esq featured via Calling Card and Messin’ with the Kid.  Some Hendrix, BB King and Muddy Waters all featured too in a good first set. Second set had Copperhead Road and some more Rory. Third set had more Hendrix, some Dylan and a very good Bridge of Sighs. Inevitable Bullfrog Blues finished off an enjoyable performance.

Saturday. Overheard a huge slab of Otis via Official Receivers. Good vocalist, they finished with Sweet Soul Music for an appreciative crowd.                            Sons of Eddie were upstairs in the Star.  A good version of Nine Below Zero’s Soft Touch was promising but All Along the Watchtower was ordinary. (Why do people stand and watch an acoustic trio and shout at each other!? One of the negatives about free admission).  AC/DC had some people singing She’s Got The Jap’ (!) . Bill Withers got a hammering, we left.                             Mr Wolf.  Decent pub bluesy outfit, started with Going Back Home, L&N and Let’s Work Together.                                            Weather eased off for Catfish on the Riverside Stage. Mainly original songs , with a good version of So Many Roads too.   Pretty good.                                 Elles Bailey. Big instrumental intro, glowing blurb in the programme, lots of name-dropping.  I would be pleased for her if she is playing big arenas in  five years time, but not holding my breath.    Retired for the evening.

Sunday . Weather hugely improved, decided to decamp to the Meadow Stage.        Rich Somers.  Described as ‘visionary’.   Really?  I went for a wander. I really think Try a Little Tenderness is best left in the hands of Otis R. Songs by Rag and Bone Man and the Rev Gary Davis were mixed in with his originals, as were Stereophonics !  Old Crow Medicine Show to finish. Her Ladyship noticed most of his guitar chords were the G Em C and D progression.                      The Swaps. Seem to be well-regarded, I was looking forward to seeing them. The programme photo was somewhat misleading, it didn’t have the female lead vocalist. Her Ladyship reckoned she seemed, like other young women, to try to sound like Adele.  One song had an intro like the Screaming Blue Messiahs ‘Up’.  Screaming Jay Hawkins got an airing and their original numbers seemed to be all one-word titles, eg Jump, Success. Taj Mahal finished things but I was a bit disappointed overall.                           Stompin’ Dave.   Tap dancing to accompany his 6-string acoustic/ banjo/fiddle antics. Some great ragtime guitar, Hendrix behind-the-head demos and banjo acrobatics. Occasionally swapped to keyboards/harmonica too.  Money Money Money reminded Her Ladyship of The Clap from the Yes Album. Much a-whoopin  and a-hollerin from the audience, he was absolutely great. Best of fest so far.                              Trafficker. Festival regulars, they have a good following. Mainly Tommy Allen original numbers, with a smattering of the likes of Howling Wolf and Robert Johnson.  Some numbers did drag on a bit though.                Babajack. Our main reason for coming, but where was Trevor?! Troy Redfern now on guitar!   Starting with Running Man, the usual mixture of originals eg Back Door and the folk/blues  standard Gallows Pole.  Got Troy’s Salvation too.  But it just wasn’t as good. Verging on heavy blues , Gallows Pole ironically sounded like it had John Bonham on drums.  The totally unique duo that was Babajack is no longer, it seems. Very sad, but, as Becky said. things change. After all, Pink Floyd managed without Syd and Genesis did without Peter.

Beer prices.  We went into the Plough early on Friday. Pint of Pedigree came up £3.50 on the till, Brakspear £2.80 but was quickly changed to £3.50!  Price of Pedigree displayed on the wall was £2.95.  Her Ladyship queried this. Landlady said ‘Festival Prices’!  HL responded that you can’t display one price and charge another! She was told that the brewery told them to do it!’ Rubbish’ was HL’s response. We were told to drink elsewhere if we didn’t like it.We did…never to return. (Although I did go back to have a crap in the sink…not really!). HL contacted the brewery who confirmed they do no such thing. Contact too with Trading Standards and the organiser. Fest organiser says there is nothing he can do.  Second pub we went to short changed me (it was a twenty not a ten!!). Quickly altered.  I remember being similarly shortchanged some years ago at a music festival in a pub in the town of…Upton upon Severn.

Facebook comments seem to be all glowing. Well if you are a local (and pay the regular beer prices), don’t camp and are happy with queueing for everything, it is great and it is free.  Me? Don’t think we will be back, sadly, unless there is somebody really special on. The rudeness, arrogance  and lying from one landlady outweighed everything else.

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