Cambridge Rock Festival. Haggis Farm Polo Club. 7-10. 8.2014

Thursday  is mainly copy group day, so definitely not our cup of tea. But we were talking to a group of 60-year olds who had paid only for Thursday night, so each to his own.   Not a lot of point doing note-for-note analysis of each group, will put set list at the end.   Pure Floyd. They come regularly. Do they sound like Pink Floyd? We don’t think so. Notes in pretty much the right order, vocals nothing like any of the Floyd people (at one point bloody awful!), guitar/keyboard sounds nothing like any of the Floyd people.     Next up Who’s Next. They have found a latterday Daltrey lookalike, have a new guitarist with Union Flag jacket who jumps around, so some points for appearance. Again, they don’t really have the Who ‘sound’.    Fleetwood Bac.  Recreating the ‘Rumours’ era visually, they have certainly worked on the cloning. Both women do a good job of their Mac counterparts, sound pretty authentic too. Best so far, but a point deducted for ‘Lindsay’ pestering us to sing.    Ultimate EaglesNeither look anything like nor sound anything like their ‘heroes’.  (Didn’t they have a long-haired bloke singing last time?).  Still they all went down well.

Set lists.

Two from The Wall/SOYCD/Another from The Wall/WYWH/Comfortably Numb.

Who are you/I can’t explain/Substitute/Pinball wizard/I’m free/See me, feel me/Baba O’Riley/The real me/5.15/Boris the spider/Young man blues/Summertime blues/Shakin’ all over/My generation.

You make loving fun/Dreams/Say you love me/Oh well/Little lies/Big love/Seven wonders/Everywhere/Edge of Seventeen/Don’t stop/Tusk/The chain/Rhiannon/Go your own way/

Seven bridges road/Take it easy/Peaceful easy feeling/New kid in town/Witchy woman/How long/Lyin’ eyes/Heartache tonight/One of these nights/Rocky mountain way/Get over it/Life in the fast lane/Hotel California/Desperado.

Friday. Stella Hensley and Chris Newman. We both genuinely thought the latter was Martin Turner, under an alter ego, but it wasn’t. A song about her father brought a tear to Her Ladyship’s eye and songs by Sandy Thom and Kenny Wayne Shepherd got an airing.  Nick Judd. Programme mentioned many names but omitted the criminally-overlooked Sharks. But, oh dear, vocals are not his strong point. We didn’t stay long, neither did the bloke next to me in a ‘Hot Rods’ t-shirt.   Raw Glory.  Featuring Heavy Metal Kids vocalist, who still reminds me of Ronnie James Dio and Bon Scott. Mainly original numbers in the Thin Lizzy-AC/DC style. Some Beastie Boys to finish.    Will John. Nephew of Clapton, he served up ‘Outside Woman Blues’, ‘White Room’ and ‘Crossroads’ from one of his Uncle Eric’s combos, ‘Need your love so bad’, ‘Oh well’ and an original ‘Coming home’ which featured that ‘All along the watchtower’ Am G F sequence.      Roy Mette. If you like Rory Gallagher, you’ll like him. I don’t so I didn’t.           Serious Blues. Interesting blues take on ‘Come as you are’ punctuated some generic 12 bar stuff. Bits of Stevie Wonder, Wild Cherry (with that ‘fabulous’ woman DJ on vocals. Got a bit tedious but it was lashing down so no escape.     Ben Poole. Another fest regular, bit too funky for me at times. Some Freddie King, and a rendition of ‘Mr Pitiful’ which was as snappy as Arkwright’s till. Song dedicated to Gary Moore had a real hint of’ Comfortably Numb’. He always goes down well. Chantel McGregorPlace packed, as usual, with middle-aged men. We sat in the shelter outside. Heard snatch of ‘Voodoo Chile’ then ‘Purple Rain’ and ‘Daydream’ (she never mentions Robin Trower).     Larry Miller next  ( not interested).   Went off to sit near stage 2 where Comedy of Errors were playing (sounded like Marillion).   Jeff Green Project were next, prog-by-numbers stuff. Couldn’t be bothered with Snakecharmer, we were busy discussing Rugby League v Rugby Union with some southerners.  Moody’s mob have a good pedigree, but CRF seem to deem them regular headliners nowadays

Saturday. Blues Consortium have the graveyard slot, and they start off with some Bo Diddley rhythms. Cream supply us with ‘Sitting on top of the world’, ‘Crossroads’, ‘Lawdy Mama ‘and ‘Born under a bad sign’, while The Allmans catalogue produces ‘Hoochie Coochie Man’ and ‘You don’t love me’ (the latter at such a breakneck speed I thought the drummer was busting to go to the toilet). ‘Mellow down easy’, ’44 blues’ and ‘Early in the morning’ basically did what it says on the can.    Blacktop Deluxe. Started with a riff from Webb Wilder’s brilliant ‘Human Cannonball’, fine by me. ‘Money in my pocket’ was more sedate, with a chord sequence from Dire Straits’ ‘Six Blade Knife’. Some hi-octane Robert Johnson stuff preceded a snatch of ‘When the levee breaks’ (which Page and Plant eventually credited Memphis Minnie with). An original number referencing the likes of Kossoff, Gallagher, Hendrix via mentions of ‘Stealer’, Hey Joe’, ‘All right now’, ‘Laundromat etc was sluggish though. ‘Out of the rain’ bucked things up and they finished with ‘Wipe out’ and ‘Crossroads’. Decent.     Absolution. Another 3 piece, lighter than the last lot, with a cleaner Strat sound. Soon got ‘Rock me baby’ and ended up with ‘Further on up the road’ and ‘Shake your money maker’. Inoffensive mid-pm stuff.           Next are The Mustangs. Bass player stuck en route , so did a ‘classic’ blues-based set with some late subs. A blast from Mayall’s ‘Beano’ lp was followed by ‘Hoochie Coochie Man’ and a visit to Dylan’s ‘Street Legal’ record. More Allmans influence via T Bone Walker’s ‘ Stormy Monday’ and the set closed with ‘Crossroads’, ‘Baby what you want me to do’, ‘Tore Down’ and ‘Dimples’. Good pros.      Pearl Handled Revolver. Big keyboard sound, at times very Doors-ish. Very popular and very good.     Leon HendrixHis backing group started out with the ‘Machine Gun’ riff , to herald the arrival of the ‘man’. Starting with ‘Killing Floor’, it soon became obvious that this person couldn’t sing and could barely play basic chords. There are many examples of people cashing in on a relative’s legacy (often dead and always more talented), but this man takes the biscuit. I would love to know how he (or his agent) conned CRF organisers into putting him on the bill. I had to go to get a drink to calm down, there was a danger of a vein popping in my temple. They had run out of strawberry cider for Her Ladyship, it was a shame they didn’t have Ebola on draught, I would gladly have bought Mr H a pint.  The well-known curmudgeon William Cobbett (1763-1835) once described the author Virgil (no, not he of The Accelerators) as ‘A crawling and disgusting parasite, a base scoundrel’. He had a way with words!  I won’t embarrass his guest guitarists by naming them, but I can only think they were  conned into it.  A disgrace.       FM. I was a bit too old for them back in 84, but liked their takes on ‘Some kinda wonderful’ and ‘I’ll be creepin’ . Obvious fans of Free and old soulsters. I recognised ‘That girl’, ‘Don’t stop’, ‘Burning my heart down’,  and ‘Tough it out’, while newer songs such as ‘Tough love’ and ‘Closer to heaven’ fitted in perfectly.  They brought out Bernie Marsden at the end for some Whitesnake and I was wishing that I had paid them more attention in yesteryear. Will dig out the odd cds and singles I have.  The best act so far.

Sunday. The plan was simple . Steady walk into Grantchester to see Castleford beat Widnes on tv in the Red Lion, thereby missing Mostly Autumn and 3 ‘wannabe ‘ Mostly Autumns.  Get blasted, unsteady walk back to celebrate. Sadly, Hurricane Bertha had come for an encore (so had Mr Hendrix, but he was drowned out). Tent in danger of ending up in the next postcode, we packed up the car and drove into the village. Brilliant display by Cas, we had a rethink and quickly put up our reserve tepee. But that split too in the wind.    Bugger!   So, Jorn.  The living legend, god of Norse metal (can he be both?!) ordered us to make some f**kin’ noise. A few dozen answered his call for ‘hands in the air’, which pubrocker Buster James seemed to do every 30 seconds on stage 2.         The end slot of the fest belonged to Wishbone Ash. Great intro with ‘The king will come’ but ‘Sometime world’ is not one of my favourites at all. A dull new song showed up the line-up’s need for a decent singer and the next new song was even more average. ‘Persephone’ has always been good , but the title track to their latest cd is a dirge. ‘Engine overheat’ was followed by’ Blowin’ free’ . Mr Powell said that they don’t play Britain much nowadays. Make what you want of that.  ‘Phoenix’ started up, we decided that we would pull up stumps and start the 3 hour drive up to God’s own county.

So, what of the weekend? FM were excellent, Wishbone Ash sadly weren’t. The bill is getting ever thinner, I know of at least 10 friends who have been before but were not convinced enough this year. That’s a ‘grand’ missing from the pot.  Yes the weather was terrible and unavoidable. Organiser Dave Roberts was ‘hands-on’ enough to have his feet on the stepladders when the ‘big shelter’ was a problem. Flushing toilets? Didn’t appear so.  Our neighbour phoned security when our tent collapsed, did they contact us? What do you think?  Wasn’t that  the point of writing our phone number on the tent tag?  And thankfully, the chair police seemed to have put on some sensible helmets and were low key.

The organiser is a real gentleman, the barstaff are pleasant and it is not too expensive nowadays. But we like to think there is at least one act to look forward to on each of the 3 main days. It is getting to be increasingly difficult.

BUT, looking on Facebook (no , I don’t do Facebook), it appears that we are in a tiny minority. Loads of comments saying how fantastic it was. Dave Roberts has seemingly found a winning formula and  section of people who are quite happy with type of music that CRF serves up, which is absolutely fine. It is all down to opinion, after all.   Three thoughts re ‘opinion’

1. When we are born, we are entitled to two things i.e a hole in our bum and an opinion

2. Each of us has a right to voice that opinion (as long is not extremely racist, bigotted etc).

3. None of us has the right to enforce that opinion on others.




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