Weyfest. Rural Life Centre. 29-31.8.2014

Our third Weyfest, previous two have been ‘best of year’, so how would this year fare?     Seems sensible to start with the music on offer.

Friday. King King. Regulars on the blues club and festival circuit, they feature one of the Nimmo brothers. Blend of blues and soul, with a big organ sound. Mainly originals, with a bit of Frankie Miller and Eric Clapton’s ‘Old love’ thrown in. Got a little bit too funky for me at times, but a good start to the weekend.     Eddie and the Hot Rods. We’ve been fans since the 70s. Barrie Masters keeps on defying the onset of time and his bunch of hooligans keep up with him. Great performance.

Set list.  Get across to you/ Teenage Depression/I might be lying/Telephone girl/Quit this town/Better without you/Life on the line/Why should I care/You better run/Once bitten twice shy/Love love love/Woolly bully/Bad time again/Hard drivin’ man/Do anything you wanna do/Gloria/Born to be wild/I’m not your stepping stone/ Get out of Denver.

10cc. One of the reasons we came to our first Weyfest. Top outfit.

Set list. Wall Street shuffle/Things we do for love/Good morning judge/I’m Mandy, fly me/Life is a minestrone/Art for art’ s sake/Silly love/Second sitting for the last supper/Feel the benefit/The dean and I/I’m not in love/Dreadlock holiday/Donna/Rubber bullets

The Rods and 10cc have a few similarities.  They both enjoyed chart and critical success in the 70s.     Their popularity waned in the 80s.       They both split but reformed , now featuring one original member.    Now both 5-piece units, they both do justice to their back catalogue and (crucially) they also both seem to enjoy doing it.  A good first night.

Saturday. Simon Kent. Described as ‘ambient sound’, he has quite lightweight vocals. At first reminded me instrumentally of Talk Talk (but not for long). Went off to see Magic Eight Ball. Better (for us). ‘Big star’ gave a big hint about one of their influences, and I detected a touch of Jellyfish too. I was just having a thought of Cheap Trick too, when they played ‘I want you to want me’.  Missed a lot (sorry lads) as we got talking to Mr and Mrs Rhythmic Ray, but they sounded decent all in all.   Glen Matlock.     3-piece with Glen on 6 string acoustic.  Set included ‘Blank generation’, ‘Dead end street’ and the inevitable ‘God save the Queen’ before we headed off to see Stray.    Still back as a 4-piece with Pete Dyer, they started with the first Stray song I ever heard ‘Come on over to my place’. Three tracks from ‘Valhalla’ followed, then we got ‘Mr Wind’ and ‘I believe it’. Pete had a spell on vocals and Del made a great gesture by coming down into the crowd to see a well-chuffed young fan. Tour de force ‘All in your mind’ finished a great set and we dashed off to see Chas and Dave.   Set was a mixture of new stuff, classic singles and cover versions, finishing with ‘Rabbit’, ‘No pleasing you’ and ‘I don’t care’.  Glen Matlock was quite happy to be walking round and posing for photos during their set (seems strange how few people ask for autographs now rather than phone pix). He did acknowledge my Mr Spock t-shirt with the famous V sign too.         Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson.  Mr A’s vocals now really strained, but they were getting that way twenty years ago! Still an agile performer, he now has a young soundalike ‘co-vocalist’ to help him out. Starting with ‘ With you there to help me’ and ‘Nothing is easy’ , he gave us a couple of songs from his last cd. It was all Tull from thereon. A mention of the death of original bassist Glenn Cornick preceded ‘Bouree’ and ‘Teacher’. A piece of ‘Passion Play’ and ‘Too old to rock and roll’ were both accompanied by pithy comments, but ‘Songs from the wood’ really seemed to highlight his failing vocal prowess.  ‘Budapest’ from their ‘Dire Straits’ era was always one of IA’s favourites and ‘Aqualung’, with ‘Locomotive Breath’ as encore brought a very good show to a close. We were both impressed, the young’ mirror image’ addition works well.   The Move. Now with a female keyboard player AND another gyrating female on backing vocals and obligatory tambourine-bashing. ‘I can hear the grass grow’, ‘Fire brigade’, ‘Something else’, ‘Night of fear’ and ‘Brontosaurus’ were all given an airing but did they sound like The Move? Of course not. Back in the 60s , did they have females in the group?! No.   Bev came down and gave us a potted history lesson and what the response had been from other members regarding the reforming. I take that with a pinch of salt, he used to do a similar thing in ELO part 2 saying how Jeff Lynne was totally happy with the concept.  Trevor Burton gave us a pretty ordinary 12 bar and we got a female singing ‘Piece of my heart’ which the late Carl Wayne used to sing.  (He’ll be spinning in his grave if he can hear this).  Seemingly The Orb hadn’t arrived , so The Move were going to have to play for longer. ‘Shaking all over’ ,’Hey Joe’ with a mangled ‘Red house’ ending. I worked out a much easier way of converting the old  sixties version into the new teenies version.   Get a pair of scissors, cut three letters out of the word ‘wonderful’ and you have the word ‘woeful’. You don’t have to leave the house! Couldn’t listen to any more of this travesty, went to see the Undertones. (Like her Ladyship said, all those songs in the Move catalogue and we were reduced to a club act. )         So, how about the next lot. Missed ‘My perfect cousin’ apparently, and didn’t know any songs until ‘Teenage kicks’, ‘Here comes the summer’ and ‘Jimmy Jimmy’. They got a good reception.       Seemingly The Orb had turned up. We went round, lasted about thirty ambient trance cosmic bollocks seconds before heading to the Old Kiln Stage for True Deceivers. I don’t usually do twiddleydiddley stuff but they sounded okay. Good crowd, original songs with a couple of Steve Earle tunes and that Van Morrison song ( no, not ‘Gloria’, the other one!). They were good, I was annoyed I hadn’t given them a chance before.    So, The Feeling. Arrived there when they were singing their single ‘Never be lonely’. I only know , because I bought a cd from a charity shop to check them out for their headliner slot.  I found it surrounded by loads of ‘reality show’ contestants’ discs, Travis, Stereophonics and Texas.  There were plenty there, but it did nothing for us. Our departure was hastened when they started a Kinks, Bowie, Queen medley.  (These are headliners?!). Their cd was 2006, we have obviously missed their high -profile career since then.   Still, I suppose most of the people who knew the words to their songs weren’t interested in an OAP earlier playing a flute and singing about a paedophile sitting on a park bench. Time for bed.

Sunday. Catballou. Rockabilly trio, gave us ‘Walk right in’, ‘Lookin’ good’, ‘All shook up’ ‘My babe’ and even ‘Stuck in the middle with you’ got the treatment. ‘Folsom Prison blues’ was followed by Led Zeppelin’s ‘Rock and roll’. The latter started out as rockabilly but very cleverly turned into a Jerry Lee Lewis piano stomper. ‘Boogie woogie country girl’, ‘What’d I say’ and by now we were in full JLL mode, with ‘Wild one’ and ‘Whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on’.  Very good.   Cold flame.  Jon Lord-ish organ sound, vocals were a bit iffy from the bassist. Guitarist sang the next song, but didn’t really hold our attention. Went to check out Regular Gas Band but they had pulled out owing to a bereavement. However, singer Jackie McAuley roped in his brother to do a short notice duo set. Songs about his home town, Robert Stroud and a dedication to John Peel. A pipes instrumental and (Saint) George’s day. Pleasant enough.     Sons of Icarus.  That they started out playing Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith and AC/DC songs as youngsters seemed pretty obvious.  They did a 90s cover song which we didn’t recognise and there was much screaming and riffing going on. I don’t remember anything , other than his saying ‘f–king’ at the end.   Charley Farley. Their popularity increases annually, I reckon we were the only ones to leave during their second song.        Bill Posters Will Be Band. Starting out with ‘We’re in the money’, an hour or so of WhoopeeBonzoTempering was on the cards (another new word !). ‘Jollity farm’, ‘Egyptian Ella’, ‘If I had a talking picture of you’, ‘Riley’s cowshed’ and ‘Okay baby’ had all in stitches. We got ‘Cuckoo waltz’, ‘Broadway melody’ and a Russian ensemble featuring Sergei Spoons.  ‘Tea for two’, ‘Teddy bears’ picnic’ and ‘You must have been a beautiful baby’ was sheer genius.  A gypsy air featured a trip into the audience and they finished with ‘Singing in the bathtub’ and ‘Aquarobics’. The stage awash with terrible props, even worse one-liners and consummate musicians, they are national treasures. But will they make it into the next decade? Will they make it into the next Weyfest? Will they make it into the next set of incontinence pants?  All difficult questions. As Asia said here the other year ‘Only time will tell’.          Jackie Lynton.  Anyone who doesn’t like rock and roll, or rude words should be at Evensong in the nearest church and definitely not here. However, he was fully aware it is a family event and only swore once in his opening sentence! ‘I’m ready’, ‘Mess of blues’, ‘Old time rock and roll’, ‘Train coming mama’, ‘You can’t always get what you want’, a great ‘Let it rock’, ‘My babe’ and ‘Keep a knockin’/’Hound dog’/Status Quo to finish. A good pro, a good show.    Big Country. Heard ‘Look away’ as we went back to the tent. They seemed to play lots of their singles and were promoting the anniversary of ‘Steeltown’. I quite liked them to start with in the 80s, but it got that they were everywhere!     Squeeze. We were looking forward to this and were at the front early doors. Started out with ‘Slap and tickle’ followed by an unfamiliar song. ‘Black coffee in bed’, then another three or four we didn’t know. We got ‘Is that love’, ‘Labelled with love’ and Mr Difford sang ‘Slaughtered, gutted and heartbroken’ from ‘Frank’. Mr D, it is all very well telling the audience to ‘Wake up’, but how about pacing your set better so that you don’t get a load of glazed expressions when faced by yet another unfamiliar tune?! We recognised ‘Another nail in my heart’ and ‘Take me I’m yours’ before the tell-tale sign of Mr T’s music stand being brought on again with the words of another newie on it. An hour had gone by, ‘Annie get your gun’ was followed by some more unknown to us numbers. By now, even the wonderful ‘Tempted’ couldn’t shrug off my nearing apathy . A decent finale, featuring ‘Up the junction’, ‘Pulling mussels from a shell’ and ‘Cool for cats’ and that was it.    Arguably , they did play a lot of their singles, but  ‘Hourglass’, ‘ Goodbye girl’, ‘Some fantastic place’ and ‘This summer’ could have easily replaced some of the more obscure songs.  If the show had been at e.g. Newcastle City Hall packed with Squeeze fans who had come to see Squeeze specifically, then by all means give your new  and/or obscure stuff an airing. BUT this is a festival crowd, lads. They must have been pretty bored if they looked like they needed to ‘wake up’! Why did they look sleepy, Mr D?! A bit of soul-searching required, I think.

So, how was the weekend musically?( First of all, well done to all the sound people. Great sound everywhere we went). Briefly, Eddie and the Hot Rods were great on Friday, as were 10cc. Saturday?  Highlights were Ian Anderson and Stray for us, but there were enough who were decent enough to make the day worthwhile. Sunday was about Bill Posters plus some good slots from Jackie Lynton, Catballou and a slightly-deflated end slot from Squeeze. There were disappointments, but ‘one man’s meat…’, as they say.

Other aspects to consider.

1. Toilets. My first trip was to one without soap! Not a good start, but thankfully a small aberration .They were pretty good.

2. Beer. £4.00 a pint our most expensive festival pint this year. Spoke to Luke the Chelsea fan (at the front for Squeeze with his lads). He wasn’t keen on the quality on offer.

3. Benches. We were disappointed that there was no covered bench area in the main arena like last time. Rhythmic Ray was similarly surprised , he did an immediate Facebook comment. Our chums from SAGA (Salford Anti Greenchair Association) thought last year’s set up was a good concept too. The Norwegian press people did too. So not just us. However, it seems it wasn’t down to an oversight or money. Maybe next year can you give it a whirl again?

4. Chairs. We are all for being allowed to sit down at festivals. We are too old to be standing up for half a day. But these a*seholes who set up a small village of chairs and usually a blanket and then go off for hours are indeed a*seholes. Our friends from SAGA (see above) take great delight in kicking them over.

5. Food. Outlets seemed okay, we don’t use them much. Festival shop a good idea though.

6. Merchandise stall. Nightmare for those playing on 2nd stage to have it at 1st stage arena!  No ‘impulse’ buying and plenty of ‘can’t be bothered to go down there’ thoughts too.

7. Air Force cadets. All very well having kids help out with campsite cleanliness, but what is in their minds when they are up at the crack of dawn and make sure all around them are too. And it’s not just the young children. Either it is a grossly inconsiderate ‘we have got to get up so we’ll wake everyone else up too’ attitude or they are not bright enough to realise what they are doing. I know what I think.

8. Festival setting. This always wipes the floor with every other fest. The absolute best, the only down side is its distance from the nearest village, which is where the Acoustic Festival of Britain gains some points.

9. Cars. The only fest where we can’t park next to our tent. Elsewhere, we are advised to lock valuables in our car. Here, we are advised to not leave valuables in our tent, i.e. carry them around with us. And get our pockets picked! A good arrangement for thieves, therefore.  No easy solution though because of the nature of the site.

10. Timetable. Pretty well organised re start and finish times, although the afore-mentioned Luke was frustrated the The Undertones didn’t get an encore.

11. Staff and stewards. All pretty friendly and organised.

12. Security. Her Ladyship says that people are already posting on Facebook about a small minority of morons on the campsite creating mayhem until dawn. It makes a mockery of the signs saying that security is present on the campsite. Yes, it isn’t the only fest that has its share of pondlife, but the organisers need to take a serious policy decision. If they don’t reassure those extremely disgruntled campers, every one of those campers will not return next year. And they will tell others not to come either. Even if that is only a couple of dozen, that is a few thousand pounds out of the end pot. So the organisers need to realise that it  is hitting their pockets and it is not just  a few curmudgeons being curmudgeonly.

Yes, our favourite festival for the third year running. (but if it hadn’t been for atrocious sound at the Acoustic Festival, it would have been a closer contest. So no resting on laurels lads!)

Acts for next year? No objection to Asia returning. Man?  Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band ? Cheap Trick? Pure Prairie League? Little Feat?  Martin Turner would be fine by us for a recall too. I think the organisers may already know who not to invite back!

 

Photos courtesy of Her Ladyship. My favourite is the one of Chris Taylor sneaking off stage while the rest of the Hot Rods take a bow, not realising he has just dropped his guts!

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