Monthly Archives: August 2012

Upton Music Festival. Upton upon Severn. 24-26.8.12

The third Upton Fest and our second. We ended up here last year after a change in the Rhythm Fest details, and decided to give it another go. It is in a lovely little village,and  seeing Ted Turner appear with Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash last year prompted us to return. The Blues Band were advertised, encouraging our buying early tickets.

Friday. Pitched tent, with help from our festival virgin friends, and went into site. Almost immediately became a candidate for intensive care when I spotted beer price. £4.00 a pint!! Disgraceful! And, of course, own drinks not allowed in! Food prices also extortionate, and (surprisingly?) , own food not allowed in either. BUT (unlike other fests), this one is only yards from the village…and a load of (open) pubs. First pub had bitter at £2.40! So we were set. Started lashing down around 8.00pm, so it was either go to watch a load of chancers billed on the flyer as ‘Union Gap’ (see review of 60s  Skeggy Fest as to their legitimacy), drinking overpriced piss out of a plastic glass, or go to the Star to watch a 4 piece doing 12 bar stuff eg Hoochie Coochie Man, Hi Heel Sneakers, drinking stuff that started with a 2 not a 4. No contest. Went back for final act, Fabulous Boogie Boys (who sounded not unlike the opening act , Jive Aces, whom we heard on arrival.) Decent, swing-type stuff eg Caledonia…am I the only person who bought the Van Morrison single? So Friday not exactly in our Top Ten Festival Nights of the Decade.

Saturday. First up, Baraka. African rhythms, and only about 10 minutes before a drum/bongo solo. (No thank you). No idea what they were singing about, got some Caribbean and reggae stuff too. Then came another black mark for the event. Sitting outside, we got assaulted in our left lug hole by Angel Up Front, with some woman doing a Vic Reeves Club Singer attack on Alannah Miles, on Stage 2, while Main Stage was still playing in our right lughole. Why do organisers do this?! Well done to eg Acoustic Fest who stagger the performances. Angel U.F. then slaughtered one of my all time fave singles. ‘Go your own way’, followed by ’99 Red Balloons’. I’ve heard nicer noises coming from an abattoir. Pub ‘not very good’ rock, summed up by her Ladyship as ‘These are crap’. So, readers, it’s not just me! We had a temporary overlap with the Main Stage from The Strange Doors. I was never a big Doors fan, but anything rather than our chums in Stage 2 disembowelling ‘ Sweet Child of Mine’. And when Stage 2 finished, we got some juvenile DJ on?! Why? Let us listen to the Main Stage! Stage 2 resumed with Foreign Quarter, who started with ‘Boys are back in town’. Great! Driven 170 miles to hear crap I could have heard in Castleford for nowt. Next up on Main Stage were The Move. A real 60s favourite of mine, but very disappointing at Acoustic Festival (see earlier review). Glad to report they were heaps better today (which doesn’t say much!). Started out , again, with 3 hit singles then 3 from their ‘Marquee’ EP. But this time we didn’t go into ‘clubland’ as much. Got, after a couple of false starts, ‘Tonight’, then the brilliant ‘I can hear the grass grow’. OK, nothing like the single, but a great song. ‘California Man’, ‘Blackberry Way’ too, and although we still got a bit of Beatles and Spencer Davis, it was The Move playing The Move.  They just finished, Bev had gotten back in his helicopter and it totally bucketed down. Went back to tent and, again, only heard Tygers of Pang Tang from a distance…they sounded okay. So, back for ‘The Mindbenders’. In inverted commas, as they fall into the Union Gap, Easybeats category of seeming identity fraud. Some time ago I discovered on the web that The Salford Jets and The Mindbenders were at one time the exact same group!! And 2 of these alleged Mindbenders were simultaneously 2 Swinging Blue Jeans too!! Absolutely no conscience whatsoever!  So here they are churning out 60s pop stuff, plus stuff the original Mindbenders played on. And we get this, ‘Our old friends Wayne Fontana,  The Hollies,The Kinks…’ The Kinks played their last gig in 1995 and given your drummer is about bloody 17, how are the Kinks his ‘old mates’? Mr Mindbender, I reckon I was about as close to The Kinks as you were, for me it was about 50 yards away in 1972 at the back of the Leeds University Refectory Hall.  Coincidentally, I had Ray Davies’ cd ‘See My Friends’ on in the car, featuring eg Metallica  singing Kinks classics. I assume Mr Davies must have been really cheesed off when he rang his mates, The Mindbenders, to join him and they weren’t in, so he had to settle for Bruce Springsteen instead.  (About 15 years ago, we went to a charity do in Pudsey, £7.00, supposedly featuring the original line-up of The Mindbenders. We got another load of fraudsters, with Eric Stewart nowhere in sight, so it’s not a new scam by any means!). These type of people are as guilty as someone who clones your credit card. Right, need to calm down. We next get Mr Zip, seemingly from a reality show who raps about losing his phone and keys. Total nonsense, of course, but the genuine article! Enjoy your 10 minute slot mate (does same number twice), take the money while you can.  Next we get some more 80s metal from Oliver/Dawson Saxon, who like the Wishbone Ashes, Barclay James Harvests, Foghats, Drifters, Searchers of this world have to compete with similarly-named groups. Straight away , you can tell they have all been swotting up on their copies of The Heavy Metal Handbook, and have had to come on stage halfway during the letter ‘P’, so we are straight into Pointing, Posing and Posturing. Basic blue collar metal.but good luck to Mssrs Oliver and Dawson for keeping their flag flying (even though they have succumbed to a bit of Mindbendery by, I think, simultaneously playing in T.Rex!). And ‘Wheels of Steel’ is a classic of the genre. It got cold, went for some cheap(er) beer in the Plough. Things were running late, missed The Selecter, got back when The Beat were on. Now led by one-time bit player Ranking Roger (and his son), They have been here every year and are very popular. Not for me, but not objectionable. Too late for Beatles copy act, which was billed, but show had overrun . The loss of a ‘copy’ group , to me, is like the loss of a dose of venereal disease. By this time it was VERY muddy. Abandoned cars, we splodged back to the tent, few cans, lowering of crania (heads down).

Sunday. Bravo Boys on in the distance. Rockabilly equivalent of Hayseed Dixie’s bluegrass , with versions of ‘Ace of Spades’, ‘Rock and Roll’, ‘Whole lotta Rosie’ . ‘Tainted Love’. Sounded entertaining. Got chairs down and waited for Mungo Jerry. A few 12 bar boogie numbers to start with, with Mr Dorset plugging their DVD. We then got ‘Alright, Alright, Alright’, ‘Long-legged woman…’ and ‘Lady Rose’. They got a bit bogged down then (thankfully only metaphorically), before closing with ‘In the Summertime’ and (without THAT riff), ‘Baby Jump’. Even her Ladyship, a lifelong fan, thought the ‘call and response’ stuff was a bit excessive, but Mr D showed how Mungo Jerry took the festival scene by storm in 1970, and he’s wearing well! So, back to tent while Dr and the Medics were on. Basically, an average pub rock outfit, with a bloke in a silly costume who has had a fluke N0. 1 hit . He’s got a girl singer to deflect from his own deficiencies but he camps it up accordingly. Next it is , says the website, ‘Ray Lewis’s Drifters’. In his favour, he actually never does the ‘ this is a song WE recorded’, as did (yes you’ve guessed), The Mindbenders, but does a mixture of soul standards and Drifters stuff, backed by3 blokes and a karaoke cd. Basically someone making a living off the name of a group he has been in for about 6 minutes. There have probably been as many blokes in a thing called The Drifters as there have been blokes in a thing called Katie Price. I think the name ‘The Drifters’ is actually legally in the possession of the family of a one-time manager, not even a member? And all this about his being a legend by being on the same label as Michael Jackson?! The Buggles were on the same label as Free! In the absence of The Blues Band, I was looking forward to Los Pacaminos, with Paul Young, doing some Tex-Mex stuff. Give Mr Young his due, he was quite willing to share the vocal duties, (is it the same Robbie Mackintosh from The Pretenders?), but in all honesty it wasn’t as interesting as I’d hoped it would be. By the time a Jim Reeves number was announced, I was off back for some grub. Went into town for a drink, put ‘Nantucket Sleighride’ and Neil and Crazy’s ‘ Going Home’ on the jukebox in preference to festival perennial Hazel O’Connor on Stage 1.  Went back for Alvin Stardust, and it shows what the rest of the fare was like when I say he was probably the best of the weekend. Covers of Queen, Tom Robinson mixed in with all of his hits (except Mike Batts’ ‘Feel like Buddy Holly’, sadly). Good voice, his own hair, and probably the oldest person there! Final act was Racey. Couple of middle-aged bald blokes playing what may have been ‘their’ hits with a couple of young ‘uns , plus a load of clubland covers. A pretty dismal end on what should be the stage for the main festival act.

So, to sum up. The total lack of people at the food stalls, plus the disgraceful beer price tells me the organiser is charging too much, for the vendors to be levying these prices, or the vendors are plain greedy. And is totally crass when sensible prices are a stone’s throw away. Poor positioning of the stages meant too much overlap of sound. The communication has been poor on the website re changes in acts and even on the flyers in town. What would have happened if I had booked a weekend ticket on the basis of seeing The Blues Band, China Crisis, Doz(e)y Beaky Mick and Tich, Kings ov Leon, Eban Brown(Stylistics) , as per the flyers in town, and got in to find none of them were on the bill now ?! ‘Sorry, mate, you’ve paid for the EVENT, not a particular act’.  The music was VERY ordinary, in general. OK, it is pushed as a family festival, and to be fair has a mixture of 60s, 70s and 80s stuff but sadly I don’t think it is ‘for us’ anymore.  But they do let in dogs…bloody loads of ’em.

Bakewell Music Festival. 10-12.8.2012

The third BMF and our first. We were looking for an alternative to Cropredy, and found this. We did Croppers in 2009 and 2010. First time was to test the water, but we found it (amongst other irritants) to be a bit too big. But when we saw that in 2010 Little Feat (faves of mine) and Status Quo (faves of Her Ladyship) were on, we gave it another try. And again, the same fat, ugly, bearded individuals in badly-fitting 1997 Cropredy T-shirts, this time moaning about how THEIR festival had been spoilt by Quo and their rough following. Stuck-up tosspots! And their husbands weren’t much better. Cowboy hats, shorts, walking boots, calf-length black socks, even older Cropredy t-shirts, engraved pint pots on belt, real ale bores! Telling their similarly attiredcompanions how they were talking to Peggy…yawn, yawn. As Seth Lakeman was on at BMF, and it was £50 all in, I went for it.

Friday. Pitched tent, went into Bakewell for what we thought would be a cheaper pint than festival prices. First pub £6.55 for 2 pints! (Remember, this isn’t Covent Garden). Went next door…£7.05!! Went to festival before we spent our weekend’s allowance.  Caught end of Roberts and McMasters doing ‘Rocking in the Free World/ Don’t fear the Reaper’ medley…sounded decent.

Next up Miss 600 (seemingly a major coup). For me, sounded like cruise liner swing/jazz wallpaper music.     Her Ladyship went off to see Harp and a Monkey, came back to say they were better than this ( mind you, Joe Dolce would be). Miss 600 were proficient enough but , well, not for us. And please note, at least 50% didn’t want to stand up and clap their hands!     We then got Steve Papa Edwards. Seeing the Bakewell Acoustic Festival sign, I was struggling tocomprehend why were were getting this discofunkbollox, but it does advertise jazz, funk, country,bluegrass, blues. folk. Where do these people actually play, apart from early afternoon at a festival? Even worse, we had some skinny knob in a Ramones T-shirt grooving away to this tosh. I thought Her Ladyship was going to nut him.     Fortunately, to the rescue came the Everly Pregnant Brothers. Silly and brilliant South Yorkshire takes on the likes of Johnny Cashand Radiohead, and when I say they mutated Bob Marley into ‘No Oven, No Pie’ and Kings of Leon into ‘Me chip pan’s on Fire’, you’ll get the message. A must see.     Then we were back to funk dross with Montuno, and people were soon stampeding out of the tent.     Caught some of Old Nick Trading Company in the Acoustic Tent, good old fashioned (proper, not American) R’n’B.  This was followed by a TOTALLY acoustic set by DH Lawrence and his Skiffle lot (?!) .

Very good , miles better than the majority of the stuff in the main tent. A good end to the night.

Saturday. Time to air a couple of comments re the set-up. Dorchester-style comfort toilets, but not enough of them! The organiser did announce there would be some more coming, as he wasn’t expecting so many people. ( By the time we left on Monday, I had to assume that these extra toilets had come fitted with a Romulan Cloaking Device.). Also, the bar had a huge queue, whichresulted in disgruntled drinkers smuggling in their own drinks. Fair does, extra staff did seem to be added for the other days. Also, the two stages were far too near to each other, Impossible to sit outside without listening to two simultaneous acts…really irritating.     I sat and listened( but not for long) to two blokes trying to be Steve Earle. one in each ear.  Went for a walk and came back to a similar twin attack of ‘Wish you were here’ and ‘Pride and Joy’. Notlooking good! At least the sound system started  playing lots of Caravan in the Main Tent.     DH Lawrence etc came onto the Main Stage for a ‘proper’ set. and a decent slot saw ‘The Weight’, ‘Hit the Road Jack’ and ‘These Boots are made for walking’ amongst other covers.      Next on was Jake Morley. Unusual percussive/guitar style, using Jeff Healey laptop technique. Good songs and good voice too. Changed to regular guitar playing with addition of extra instrumentalist. Got a good reception from obviously knowledgeable fans.     We then got Planet Ukelele’s answer to Wishbone Ash, the Re-entrants. Uke-based versions of Motorhead, Spandau Ballet etc. Always go down well, especially at the end of the day when people have been, er, ‘marginally overserved’.      Neon Railroad were next. Local 4-piece, melodic rock (to me, U2-ish). Covers included ‘Knockin’ on heaven’s door’ and the Buzzcocks one that everyone does.     Back to a folky feel with Flight Brigade. 7-piece, variety of instruments but I couldn’t get really excited by them. Her Ladyship warmed to them eventually but I found them a bit one-paced.      We then got the much -vaunted Gipsy Fire. Very fast instrumental neo-classical/Latin stuff. Undeniably talented, but I am of the ‘slicker is quicker, but more is a bore’ faction. Take me back to the 70s to witness Robin Trower doing ‘Daydream’ or Free doing ‘Mr Big’ at a hundredth of Gipsy Fire’s speed.     And then it was Seth Lakeman. We saw him last at Skeggy ButFolk and were disappointed at the poor pacing of his set. However, to take a leaf  out of Andrew ‘Mr Metaphor’ Strauss’s book (oops!), he hit the stage running with all guns blazing. A couple of songs in before we got any of his slower stuff from’Tales from the Barrelhouse’ and then we were back to ‘Freedom Fields’ songs. A class act, bed-time.

Sunday. First bit of rain. Ryan Lauder on first. Good voice, joined by a violinist. Chunky guitar work, reminiscent of Mike Scott, bit heavy on the reverb. Any one who mentions The Byrds, Sweethearts of the Radio and Gram Parsons in one breath gets 3 marks straight away.      Cara Sebastian is on next, Her Ladyship thought very Alanis Morrissette, the first song was an Anni de Franco song. One problem with it being a family fest is there are lots of kidsrunning around and lots of chatter (sorry, that’s TWO things!). So if you are a folk club saddo who demands silence (and not the Spanish Inquisition!), not for you.     Quickly lost interest, went to briefly sit in the maelstrom outside, before going into Acoustic tent to see the 9 year old Little Elvis!! Good on yer, son. I’d rather listen to you than the wishy-washy sub-Joni warblings that keep popping up.     Main tent gave us String Driven Thing. 70s refugees, good to see men my age on stage giving it some! Not too loud or frantic, but good, honestrock stuff. OK, it wouldn’t have made much of a dent in the ribs of Deep Purple or Led Zeppelin in the 70s ( didn’t they have a female singer then?), but I enjoyed them.     Bo Walton, from Wales, on next. Another 4-piece, reminiscent of the Dave Edmunds/Nick Lowe late 70s style.  (It this point, I was thinking that Friday had been jazz, Saturday was folk and today was rock, so where is the country, bluegrass or blues?) Then Bo and chums got a bit countrified, finishing with a bit of 50s Elvis.     From Spain, next was Juan Zelada. Easy listening but not too cheesy. 5-piece line-up, but again I wondered where they get a gig. Weddings, ferries, nightclubs?  So, the fest almost over and on the podium I had Seth taking gold, the Everly Pregnant Brothers with silver and Jake Morley taking bronze, with String Driven Thing being edged into fourth place. And then, a complete power failure!!     Just before Phantom Limb who had come from Bristol, had time to soundcheck. And please, Mr Organiser, can I suggest that one of the most annoying aspects at any fest is lack of communication! OK, so no microphones but tell us the score.  So Phantom Limb came on, no mics or amps , battery lighting and completely blew away the afore-mentioned medals placings. The man on Telecaster appeared to maybe have a practice amp and a car battery , but their ‘country/soul’ brought the house down (great version of Little Feat’s ‘Willin’). Ironically, they probably went down better because of the circumstances, but the whole event ended undeniably acoustically. Strange, no farewell speech from the organiser but he was probably trying to fix the generator.

So, unless someone really good at Cropredy, we’ll come again. Get the stages further apart though please.

Quote of the weekend, from String Driven Thing. ‘The past is another  country. They do things differently there.’  In fact, the opening line of the book (and the film) ‘The Go-Between’ by L.P. Hartley.

Cambridge Rock Festival. 2-5 August 2012

This was the 9th festival, run by Dave Roberts, and we have been to 7. A four day fest, nowadays starting on Thursday with a mainly ‘copy’ group night. Not good for me and her Ladyship, as we don’t like what the ‘tribute’ industry has become, but it is effectively free for full ticket holders  so …

Thursday. First up are You-Two. Apparently ‘From the right instruments and authentic sounds to the right outfits and on-stage presence, we are truly a look-alike and sound-alike band’. Obviously a blurb penned by themselves, I tended to lean towards her Ladyship’s slightly less verbose summary…’These are crap’,  Went to watch Tu Amore, along with what seemed to be their parents and friends. Haven’t got the space to repeat their preposterous statement from the programme, but it would go down well in Pseuds Corner in Private Eye. Caught 20 minutes of the Cattle Barons, including playful renditions of ’20 Flight Rock’ and ‘Nadine’ , before  checking out 925s. They seemed to be playing Foo Fighters B-sides.  Went back to Main Stage for the much-lauded Buster James Band. Seemed to be original blues-rock fare, competently played, but why do we have to put our hands in the air and sing to every bloody song (which we don’t know!). It’s YOUR job , mate, get on with it! And, of course, we get bloody ‘Wishing Well’!  Then it’s the Ultimate Eagles. Don’t look like or really sound like the Eagles, but the notes seem to be in the right order. (Wow!! How impressive!)  Last up are ZZ Tops, who I will concede were good!! Great look, excellent take-off of Billy Gibbons verbals, silly names and a pretty decent rendition of their songs. A decent end to the night but I am left wondering who would want to buy a ZZ Tops or Ultimate Eagles cd, when you can buy the originals !? (More cheaply nowadays). And there were their t-shirts around the site, plus Illegal Eagles, Aussie Floyd and (the ultimate nightmare for me), Rhodes Rock. All the way to Rhodes for a weekend of copy groups! Oh well, we can’t all like the same stuff.

Friday. Caught a bit of Sterling‘s anthemic U2-ish stuff, before Paradise 9 assaulted us with some very Hawkwindy numbers. Her Ladyship ‘quite liked them’, good early afternoon entertainment. Then it’s Virgil and the Accelerators, when we seemingly have to ‘prepare to be amazed’. I wasn’t amazed at Skeggy , but gave them another try. Maybe I’ve grown out of the whole ‘fret-thrash’ genre, but not for me. And why is it that because a bloke is young he is somehow wonderful? Free were all teenagers when they made their first LP, and Michael Schenker was in his teens when he joined UFO. Next was Twelve Clay Feet. OK, but can’t really see them being much beyond a Cambridge pub group. (But anything rather than watch Heather Findlay or any of the many groups with Mostly Autumn connections). Then we get the first genuine class act that is OTWAY!  What can you say about him? If you’ve never seen him, it’s difficult to describe, but once seen you won’t forget him! As usual, starting out with ‘the hit’ and the ‘b-side’, it is the usual well-rehearsed chaos. We even get the Hot Rods ‘Do Anything You Wanna Do’, and end up with ‘You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet’. A must-see. Next up are Remus Down Boulevard, featuring Dennis (Iron Maiden) Stratton. We get the perennial Radio Caroline dwarf telling us to come inside. No, idiot, we are sitting outside because chairs are not allowed inside ! And we are too old to stand up for 12 hours!, Straight away I remembered why I wasn’t impressed last year, too funky. Iffy version of ‘Southern Man’ followed and I was nodding off so went to the tent for a tactical kip. So missed most of Tygers of Pang Tang, who definitely sounded a few notches up on RDB. 80s one-hit wonders, the reformed It Bites were on next. Very AOR-ish, well-executed , but would I buy a cd or a concert ticket? That’s 2 x ‘No thanks’.  Had the misfortune to walk past Stage 2 a couple of times, where Winter in Eden were doing their ‘Tonight Matthew, we are going to be Mostly Autumn’ act, in front of lots of sad men ogling the female singer. This distracts them from the music, which is crap. So we took a punt on Pearl Handled Revolver. A decent acoustic set from this well-regarded 5-piece, which was so popular that Dave Roberts told them to carry on with their electric set. Interference from nearby Stage 2 was annoying, with Kyrbgrinder’s very ‘self-confident’ drummer/vocalist seemingly thinking he was playing for people in Peterborough. However, PHR gave us what her Ladyship and I agreed to be the ‘best at fest’ so far, with some at times Creedence- type riffs. So only caught last 10 minutes of Focus. Thijs now looking like some boffin from Time Team, but a very energetic ‘Hocus Pocus’ went down well.

Saturday. Her Ladyship went off to watch the QuireBoys-influenced Silverjet, I gave Will Johns a go. Pleasant bluesy stuff, but Will, I am not ready to bloody ‘party’! It’s 11.27am , and I, like most near me. am 60 years old! Anyway, the heavens opened, so took refuge in Stage 3, where Rich Young‘s  acoustic stuff was definitely more appropriate. In between showers, caught a glimpse of Stolen Earth (ex MA), a glimpse was enough. Stage 2 had the Fat Penguins. ‘Tore Down’, ‘I can tell’ and other R N B standards from a good quality pub group. Sidewinder were on next, and I didn’t mind their playing Robin Trower as Mr T didn’t feature at Durham Blues. Rory Gallagher stuff too. I was never a Rory Fan, but can listen to it as long as no one tries to convert me. Didn’t last long with Panic Room, they might as well have been Stolen Earth. But soon it was to be Stray. Stalwarts of CRF (and other fests), Del Bromham always puts on a decent show. Sadly, I missed most of it as I seemed to have a ‘hypo’ and came round with her Ladyship plying me with a sugary drink! Honest! So sorry Del for missing you.  I’d come round enough for Chantelle McGregor, another CRF favourite. She seemed to play more of her own numbers this year , along with ‘Voodoo Chile’. Very good guitarist, vocals maybe not her strong point. Got a good reception.  X-UFO were next on the Main Stage, and seemed to do pretty much what it says on the can. Not long before we got ‘Only you can rock me’, and we got some new stuff as well as ‘Lights Out’, ‘Rock Bottom’ and ‘Doctor Doctor’. UFO passed me by in the 70s, they seemed to be in that bunch of groups (like Focus, Stray,Mott and Caravan) who never quite made the big jump into the top flight. Don’t know if Mssrs Way and Mogg have given their approval, but I have no problem with their airing their body of work.  Mott’s Verden Allen, with Soft Ground, were on next. Like many my age, my knowledge of MTH in the early 70s was down to the Island Record samplers, and Verden Allen didn’t last long after their free transfer to CBS. (My mate Bob thinks he went to work at Bulmer’s). Current group very much dominated by Allen’s Hammond and vocals, Her Ladyship wasn’t the only one to think them a bit bland. (Better than being told to put my bloody hands in the air!). Eventually got ‘All the young dudes’ and ‘Roll away the stone’ (didn’t that one come out long after he’d left?!). ‘Rock and Roll Queen’ dedicated to Mick Ralphs, and it was over. OK, but not memorable. Had a go with Bonafide, high-energy young Swedes with good reviews , but a bit too young for me. Checked out Del Bromham’s Blues Devils, who looked remarkably similar to Stray! ‘Rambling on my Mind’, followed by basic blues stuff. Give Del his due, he always seems enthusiastic. So then tonight’s headliners, Caravan , were on. Starting with a couple from ‘Girls who grow plump…’ , the set was very much entrenched in the 70s, with ‘Why Why Why’, ‘Golf Girl’, ‘The Dog, the dog…’ (for Dave Roberts), ‘Grey and Pink’ and ‘9 Feet Underground’. Some newer stuff too, they are a class act.

Sunday. Sonic Blue, and for a change, reasonably accurate programme notes. Funky blues, bass player has apparently backed Graham Bond (how old was he?!), fairly unobtrusive start to the final day. Made a policy decision to set up camp at Stage 2, as Stage 1 seemed to have at least 75% Mostly Autumn-type outfits, which is 74% too much for my personnel taste.  Adrian Nation (is there a fest he doesn’t appear at?!) had been on at 10 am, and the rain forced us into Stage 3 to watch Tommy Jones. The woman in front of us took offence at people having the temerity to speak. Looked on my ticket, doesn’t say anything about talking not being allowed. Obviously, she didn’t have a ticket which said that sour-faced, ugly woman weren’t allowed. Blackwebb next, again as per programme. High-paced rock ‘n’ roll/rockabilly stuff, lots of Dr Feelgood. Good stuff. Ben Poole had the programme notes back to going overboard. ‘This is something VERY VERY special’. Why? Because he’s young? (See Virgil comments from earlier). ‘Losin’ you’, ‘Have you ever loved a woman’  plus other bluesy stuff. A good version of Stevie Wonder’s ‘I don’t know why’ was best bit for me. The walking into audience with guitar and playing on the bar is old hat now, Stan Webb was doing it 40 years ago , with an actual lead! And why does compere Sue Marchant (did she tell you she has a radio show?!) have to give these American ‘whoos’ into the mic all the time? Is there someone pinching her backside? Next on Main Stage are Stampede so we tentatively transferred to the MA zone! Similar era to Tygers and Dennis Stratton, generic ‘rock’ revealing they why they never quite got to Def Leppard’s level (and it was puzzling how THEY got so big). They’ll always get a mid-afternoon fest spot or a support to a U.S. touring rock band though.Touchstone came on to the afore-mentioned bunch of sad, ogling males. Whoever told the girl she was a singer must be the same person who told Eddie the Eagle he was a ski-jumper. Very ordinary indeed.  Snakewater gave us some Gary Moore, ‘Thrill is Gone’ and showed themselves to be a competent pub rock outfit, but there must be hundreds like them a lot nearer than Manchester?! Mucked up ‘Sunshine of your Love’ but at least played some originals.  Some country rock followed in the guise of Roscoe Levee. Hats gave away a definite affinity to Dickey Betts/Allmans stuff. Decent enough original stuff but not quite enough to really grab you. CRF prides itself on a variety of rock genres, but there is very little Skynyrd/Allmans stuff (ok, they have had Skynyrd tribute ). But CRF certainly can’t be accused of neglecting the 5-piece keyboards, bass, drums, guitar and female vocalist genre, and you will have gathered it is not my cup of tea at all! Hence there will not be a review of the PUB rock phenomenon (Pompous / Up their own backside / Boring rock) that is Mostly Autumn. And contrary to what all their fans think, I am not alone.  Stage 2 had Marcus Malone. From Detroit, he’s not the only run-of-the-mill U.S. blueser (cf Mud Morganfield) making a living round the Euro-fest circuit. He wouldn’t get a gig in the U.S.A! Ok bluesy start, then he slaughtered the Bee Gees ‘To Love Somebody’. He bashes out chords while a young, bearded, long-haired white bloke thrashes the lead guitar fretboard. Average. Main Stage headliners next, Snakecharmer. Having had changes of name, mainly thanks to Coverdale’s lawyers, Moody and Murray’s lot come back to CRF. Having seen Martin Turner in the crowd over the weekend, we were hopeful he was going to get up and join former bandmate Laurie Wisefield but it was not to be. Nice to hear ‘Ain’t no love in the heart of the city’, even though I was never a big Whitesnake fan.’Here I go again’ and ‘Fool for your loving’ were never far away and the crowd were well-pleased. Having grown up in Teesside , I ‘ve followed Micky Moody from Tramline, Juicy Lucy, SNAFU to Whitesnake and beyond and while his teenage bandmate Paul Rodgers may be Teesside’s greatest export, Moody can’t be far behind Coverdale in the medals positions. I enjoyed them more than last year, they seem to be coming into their own and relying less on Whitesnake, although Moody’s slide guitar spot is somewhat self-indulgent.

And that was it. Usual thanks to and from Dave Roberts, who at least had the sense to allow some of us (The Saga Set!), to pitch a chair at the back. A good little fest, Dave deserves every success and although the line-up is at times a bit thin (and top heavy with certain genres!) we’ll continue to go.(Full marks to Dave and his team for coping with the appalling weather too.)