A New Day Festival, Mt Ephraim Gardens, 5-8.8.2016

Inaugural A New Day Festival. Dave Rees, the man behind the founding of the Weyfest Festival, decided to do his own festival, having seen his ethos for Weyfest being transformed into a hard-nosed profit-is-all variation featuring tired 80s has-beens rather than the festival for fans of Tull, Trower and others from a decade earlier. And the setting is just as good as Weyfest.

Friday. Arrived there late, having been held up for an hour near the Dartford Crossing.  We were ordered to our camping spot by a blonde woman in a Weyfest t-shirt, who constantly told us to move our car to the car park asap. Which is fair enough, but the blindingly obvious problem with this system means that anyone who wants to leave on Sunday night has no chance of getting their car back anywhere near their tent. (Get some yellow lines down to make ‘roads’.) Or even early Monday morning! And as it turned out, with no lights on the camp site!  But as Family once said…Anyway.

Unorfadox. Only managed to catch the last few minutes, which was a shame. We thought they were pretty good at the Hope Festival (see earlier review).    The Undivided. There is ‘Nothing like roots reggae music’ according to them.  Well, I certainly agree with that.  Although having an investigative procedure to check for bladder irregularities  probably comes pretty close, believe me.        Nashville Teens.    Remember seeing them back in the 70s at Hull University with the Troggs, and Ray Phillips is still on lead vocals. Missed their opening song, got to the other stage for ‘Hoochie Coochie Man’. We then got 3 Spencer Davis Group hits, a couple  from the Stones and 3  from the Who.  Their ‘biggie’ Tobacco Road’ brought their set to a close.  Apart from the name, nothing really to distinguish them from a bunch of decent musos doing 60s stuff. To be fair, Mr P was born before World War 2 so he’s not doing so bad.        Heavy Metal Kids. Gary Holton has long since left us, of course, but they still have some hard-core fans. Mr and Mrs Rhythmic Raymond being amongst them. ‘Rock Candy’ got some feet tapping and ‘She’s no Angel’ always goes down well.  Her Ladyship likes them.         Ignored the loathsome concept that is Limehouse Lizzy coming from the other stage.  I would have ignored the original too, but there were plenty watching.          Blockheads.  Sadly we never saw Ian Dury and Co live, so were interested to see the Blockheads.  Plenty of familiar tunes, guaranteed to keep the crowd singing and dancing. Still featuring Mssrs Watt-Roy, Jankel, Turnbull and Gallagher which gives them more than enough credibilty. Enjoyed them.            Jackie Lynton.  A Weyfest perennial, always entertaining, and rude!  Classics like ‘I’m Ready’. ‘Mess of Blues’, ‘Tulsa Time’ (a brilliant TWO chord song) and ‘You can’t always get what you want’ hit the spot, as does the closing ‘My babe’ medley.  Ideal festival fare.          Wilko Johnson.   A quick return to the stage for bass wizard Blockhead Norman . A change to the start of the set from the last time we saw Mr Wilkinson, but we were soon into ‘Dr Dupree’, ‘Going back Home’, ‘Roxette’, ‘Sneakin Suspicion’ and ‘Paradise’ .  ‘Gun’ still gets the drawn out treatment, but ‘Back in the night’, ‘She does it right’ and ‘Johnny B Goode’ send everybody back to their beds with a smile.  A very good opening day.

Saturday. Gate didn’t open at 11.30 am, put back 30 mins. Hope it was only a coincidence that Mr Anderson demanded the tent be cleared at Acoustic Fest some years back while Jethro Tull sound checked. (2000 people duly left, we and a dozen others refused).  So, eventually, Krankschaft.   Hawkwind fans were at the front, the first sound was keyboards which must have been courtesy of Mr Sony? The 3-piece of guitar/vocals, bass and drums proceeded to firmly dislodge any cobwebs from yesterday. Criminally short set, but a great start.       Flutatious.  Fronted by two females on flute and violin, by the fourth completely instrumental number things were just washing over us. We did get some brief vocals, but these totally instrumental performances don’t work for me. (I am sure their fans , and followers of eg Jean Michel Jarre and Mike Oldfield, would beg to differ). Still very good musicians.       Karnataka.    Standard female-fronted 5-piece prog line-up.  Lots of middle-aged lonely men at the front. Their eyes were obviously rivetted on the four male musicians and not the provocatively-clad female singer.  A bit heavier musically than any of the Mostly Autumn extended family, they had a particularly energetic (and hairy) drummer.       Leatherat. Her Ladyship likes them. Weyfest (and other festival) regulars. I suspect they will be A.N.D. regulars too.                Focus.   Like the Enid, who were on the other stage, and Curved Air (also to be on the other stage), Focus very much live in the progressive era of the 70s, but that is very much the audience that A.N.D. are aiming at …and there are plenty of people out there still. It was that time when it was almost obligatory to put out a double LP (Yes, Focus, ELP, Capt Beefheart, Rolling Stones etc. Wings went for a triple LP, as did Yes and ELP !)  They start out with ‘Focus 1’ (?) and soon give us the Tull-like ‘House of the King’. ‘Eruption’ started and I went to change into warmer clothes. It was still going when I got back.  We got a good version of ‘Sylvia’, a track from their last LP , ‘Focus 10’, and ‘Hocus Pocus’.  (‘Hocus Pocus’ by Focus!! ). They went down well.                Caravan.     Local lads done good,  the set had a familiar ring to it. Early numbers from ‘For girls…’ and the title track from ‘In the Land of Grey and Pink’.  Geoffrey Richardson is back as MC and introduces ‘The dog, the dog…’. We got talking, so I stopped taking notes, and left before the end to get a spot for Ian Anderson  on Stage 1. (It was either the Fork Handles Stage or the Four Candles Stage. Cunningly difficult to SAY to somebody which stage you will be at! . Good one Dave!).  Mr A had a young man helping his struggling vocal cords when we last saw him, it worked well.  This time Mini-Me (good analogy Ray!) wasn’t there , so we were a bit concerned. Energetic as ever, Mr A was straight into ‘Living in the Past’, followed by ‘Nothing is easy’ and the shortened ‘Thick as a Brick’. OK, his voice was shot 20 years ago, but he made a pretty good go at it. There were a few newer numbers but the crowd were still treated to older classics such as ”Sweet Dream’, ‘Songs from the Wood’, ‘My God’, ‘Bouree’ and ‘Dharma for One’. A not-unexpected finale with ‘Aqualung’ and ‘Locomotive Breath’ confirmed the billing as ‘Ian Anderson plays the music of Jethro Tull’ , or words to that effect.     And he did it pretty well. For me, the current line-up sounds like another version of the constantly changing group that was Jethro Tull.                     By the time Stray came on I am sure Mr Anderson will have been tucked up in bed with a cup of Horlicks and some industrial strength Strepsils to calm his aching throat.     Stray launch into ‘Come on over to my place’ from ‘Mudanzas’ and follow it with songs from the first LP and ‘Suicide’.   Always a steady outfit, we left as another shortened set was closing with ‘All in your Mind’.      Another very good day’s music.

Sunday.  Yet again, delays in starting on Stage 1, although it appeared that there were some unfortunate circumstances behind True Deceivers non-appearance.  Good new was that John Otway would be on sooner and longer to entertain his trusty disciples.  For those who are not familiar with the phenomenon, he basically has to be seen AND heard, as opposed to the old cliche ‘seen and not heard’. Her Ladyship had been to buy some flowers in readiness. Again, fans will understand. Starting out with the now first hit and the ‘B’ side, it is classic Otway. ‘Blockbuster’, ‘Middle of winter’, the Mobile phone song, ‘Louisa on a Horse’, ‘Body talk’, ‘I will survive’, ‘Bunsen Burner’, ‘House of the Rising Sun’, ‘Josephine’, ‘Rumpelstiltskin’, ‘You  ain’t seen nothing yet’ and his lament for his beloved Cheryl gives way to tumultuous applause. There were quite a few Otway virgins there, made obvious by the urine stains on the fronts of their trousers.  He has cleverly incorporated roadie Deadly into the act as his stooge. One-time guitarist Richard Holgarth is now seemingly a permanent resident in the Hot Rod Hotel. Should be on every human being’s  bucket list to see (and hear)  the man.            Spank the Monkey.   A good, solid blues/R&B outfit, they give us a sensible blend of original material and covers of such as ‘Watch your step’, ‘Ain’t got no money’, ‘Come on in my kitchen’ and’ Ain’t that loving you baby’ . Worth checking out.                 The corpse of Bill Posters Will Be Band was still warm when the entity that is Bonzo Bills rose arthritically from it . Mssrs Spear and Spoons from the original Bonzos are still there. Miraculously so, as their two combined ages must surely be approaching the boiling point of water in degrees Fahrenheit!? And the former’s props would probably challenge any carbon dating.  Megs still steering the ship too.  Fans of Bill Posters knew we were in for some serious  Billfoolery.  (Can I claim that as a new word for the OED as a close relative of Tomfoolery?).  ‘Jollity farm’ and ‘Hunting tigers out in India’ were on the bill (sorry, couldn’t resist)  and like Otway it is very much an audio-visual multimedia experience.  Again, a must see and chuckle event.     Nine Below Zero. Have been a fan since seeing them support the Who in Birmingham, and I was a bit surprised to see Dennis Greaves had decided to add a sax, trumpet, female vocalist and keyboards to the tried and trusted line-up.   Did it work? It was CR*P!!  A horrible jazzy, funky soul soundcheck gave way to expanded versions of all the 9BZ classics.  I stopped writing down the song titles. They were all there but played in some awful cruise liner mode. We saw Rhythmic Raymond exit stage left after about 4 minutes, we stuck it out until the end. Ray reckoned it was a watered down version of Jools Holland (and his ‘bland band  for the coffee table set’).   Dennis, get a bloody grip! It was so mindnumbingly bloody dull.  But the people in the tent next to us thought it was great, so there you are!             Martin Barre Band.  Tull guitarist for some 43 years, we have seen him since he ‘left’ Mr Anderson’s company three times, I think.   ‘Teacher’ was very muddy, and two female assistants came to the mics to give us a bluesy number very similar to the stuff on one of his cassettes I have (was it his ‘Summer Band’? Something like that, can’t find the tape).   Interesting variations on ‘Sweet Dream’, ‘Fat Man’, Skating away..’ and  ‘Love Story’ to keep his long-time fans in the loop.    By now it had been blindingly obvious that the stage had been beset by ‘problems’ all day…and all of the night.  Which is an excruciating link to the venerable                  Stranglers Was it going to be a festival-friendly ‘Greatest Hits’ show or a ‘Here is another one off our new record’ show. Well, they haven’t got a new record so option numero uno was straight into gear with ‘Tank’.  It was a real power display. ‘Straighten out’, ‘Grip’, my all-time favourite ‘5 Minutes’, ‘Nice ‘n’ Sleazy’, ‘Golden Brown’, ‘Always the Sun’, ‘Skin Deep’, ‘Hanging around’, ‘Something better change’ , ‘Peaches’, ‘Duchess’, ‘All day and all of the night’ and ‘No more heroes’. Another couple I didn’t recognise, they could have played as long again with another set of ‘classics’.     A great show to finish off a cracking weekend of music.

There were some great and some not so great aspects. The scheduling did go astray, but when the MC tells us about problems we ‘Don’t want to know about’ it is a touch condescending.   Biggest complaint was the toilets.  Personally, I didn’t see any of the interiors of the cubicles…I had been warned!  But the number of toilets seemed woefully inadequate , especially on the camp site. Is there a legal requirement per capita, is there a ‘recommended’ number or is there a ‘see how few we can get away with’ number. Needs a serious rethink. By far the biggest reason why people will not come again, which would be a shame. The music was of a high standard, the beer was good and reasonably priced. BUT, charging £2.00 for a half when a pint is £3.50 is just unacceptable sharp practice. And, Dave, when someone mentions to you that it is not on (his girlfriend drinks halves) , to give a smarta*se reply that no-one drinks halves is unnecessary and doesn’t put you in a good light.  Stewards were fine and friendly.  Good food variation. People commenting about the fact that the organisers should have not had any problems as they have had years of experience at eg Weyfest, should realise that each site has its own logistical challenges though. But as it says in the programme, ‘comments’ are invited, so don’t just sit at home and moan, tell them!

Overall, despite some problems, we thought it was a great festival. The main stage arena was very similar to Cropredy (plus 2 big trees). Croppers has a good policy of dancers/standers at the front and sitters further back. So don’t bloody stand up halfway up the hill where people have been sitting for hours! Stand at the front (or side) ! Brilliant weather helped, of course, but I am sure after after some adjustments it will be back next year.

 

 

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