We were attracted by the relative proximity (and cheapness) of this event as much as anything. Alternatives were Farmer Phil’s or Cropredy, both much further away.
Friday. Not much more than an hour to get here, although Marco Polo would have had trouble finding it. Absolutely wonderful setting, miles into the countryside. Space Dogs. 5-piece, totally instrumental set. Some variations in tempo. TV’s no 1 Hawkwind fan was there. Red Elektra 69. Bonus point to singer/guitarist for liking my banana Andy Warhol t-shirt. Classic power trio line-up, with occasional guest singer. We both liked them. People’s Free Republic of Pandemonia. Girl on flute, they opened with a 1 chord song which was good. ( 1 chord songs can be good, just like a 1-0 football match can be. More is not always better in music or football). She changed to sax and we got some ska rhythms. Not for me, but it was short-lived. They had some unfortunate computer problems and people started to drift away. Dubbal. The name suggested ska -based stuff. It was. We went to bed.
Saturday. First up, Shom. Looked like a 5-piece , but another keyboard/clarinet man was tucked behind a speaker. Another 1 chord opener, much emphasis on keyboard and effects. Second number had maybe one and a half chords! The almost obligatory reggae number wasn’t far away. Her Ladyship liked them. Went off to investigate the other stage. Tanglemist. No sooner had I mentioned to Her Ladyship that it was a bit Incredible String Band meets Led Zeppelin than she mentioned the ISB in her song. Silverspace. Featuring guitarist and drummer from Shom, we got some more reggae. Went outside to sit by the big fire. Spirits of the Earth. Came with a recommendation from Rhythmic Raymond, they obviously hadn’t read the fine print in their contract. They didn’t play any reggae! Still spacey, but heavier.Even a bit punky at times. I mention that they played a track ‘True Love’ only because it was the first song title I had heard since getting there. They were pretty good, we both thought. Andy Bole. Him plus 6-string acoustic, with multi-layering. Roz Bruce Infusion. Female vocal/guitar, bass and drums. Different stuff to rest of the bill. Roz seemed to have a toned-down Lena Lovich delivery. They were plugging their upcoming record ‘Doctor Doctor’. Aurora. Very Teutonic sound, with a female vocalist on keyboards. The guitarist was not backwards at coming forwards, it was almost disco at times. Deviant Amps. More of a regulation 3-piece rock outfit, a new number sounded very like part of the Groundhogs ‘Split’ suite. Paradise 9. Punk overtones, with an early number having a U2-ish guitar sound. Some unusual bass effects, with a clarinet making an appearance too. Think Johnny Dankworth meets The Damned! Here and Now. Very heavy bass sound, courtesy of Keith the Bass. Formed in 1974, I had never got round to seeing them and unfortunately we were both so dog-tired we had to go after about half an hour. Shame, they sounded good.
Sunday. Peyote Guru. Not for the first time, Kev on vocals. Either that, or there are identical sextuplets here. First number sounded like Neil from The Young Ones. (Sorry lads, it just sounded miserable!) Managed about 30 minutes before…some reggae. But some New Riders of the Purple Sage came on the speakers after they had finished as compensation. Magic Bus. Rearranged from yesterday, introduced as part of the ‘Canterbury Scene’ and they certainly owe a lot to early Caravan. I also detected a bit of very early Jefferson Airplane and It’s a Beautiful Day. Closing numbers had a hint of Wishbone Ash’s ‘The Pilgrim’ and Tull’s ‘Living in the Past’. Very popular , they seemed to sell a lot of cds afterwards. Electric Cake Salad. One of the musical attractions for us. If you can imagine Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi listening to David Bowie’s Drum and Bass period, and phoning up Ozzy and Geezer to suggest making a ‘Rave’ lp (forgetting to ring Bill…again) then you are somewhere near ‘the Cake’. An early appearance on stage by Stephen King’s ‘It’ necessitated a quick return to the tent for Her Ladyship. She had a sudden attack of SUS (Spontaneous Underwear Soiling). ‘Scene of the Crime’ and ‘Reason to Stay’ were both newer songs. They resurrected Sabbath’s ‘N.I.B.’ and finished with the White Stripes’ most famous riff. Excellent stuff. Try a big piece of Cake! Miser on the Faery Gump. They stick fairly closely to the Blind Cat stereotype of having spectacles, long hair (grey if possible) and a grey beard. (Or permutations thereof). Songs like ‘Wellies’ and ‘Fungi’ give you an idea of the deep profoundness of their lyrics. Good fun. Was tempted to say ‘Back down to earth’ for Sendelica but it was probably further up into the cosmos. One number had the Floyd ‘Set the Controls… ‘ riff. Krankschaft. The other musical attraction. 3-piece with a lot of ‘e-help’. Check out the extended Hawkwind family tree. Not an easy task, as it is bigger than Jonathan Woss’s wallet. Maybe even his ego! (Sowwy, that is an outwageous suggestion!). Pulsating stuff, ‘The Great Procession’ slowed things down a bit…but only marginally. They played an Inner City Unit song I recognised, and were on for the best part of 2 hours. A great end to a really good event.
Some non-musical comments. 1.Toilets were absolutely spotless thr0ughout, loads of added extras. By far the best we have ever experienced at a festival. And a credit to the customers, not a drop of pee or even an errant piece of toilet paper.2. Beer £3.00 a pint, and, yes, £1.50 a half. Foster’s lager, Black Sheep/Theakston’s/Deuchars beer all came and went. 3. Chairs. Those who get annoyed with vacant green chairs being plonked in front of the stage in a field and vacated would have had a field day! A couple bought their big camping chairs into the indoor stage. (The venue was room with a bar and loads of settees ). More than once they were unoccupied! 4. Campsite noise. Saturday was spoiled by inconsiderate musicians and loud women (someone packed up and left leaving a pointless ‘Noisy Bast*rds’ note!). Have a bit of consideration for others please. Friday and Sunday nights were fine.
Musically, Krankschaft got gold and ECS silver. Honourable mention for the bloke behind the bar who was a cricket fan. Obviously from God’s own county. Most t-shirts? Hawkwind, Gong in second place
A great little festival, really glad we went. Sorry the review didn’t have many song details, but we had only heard Krankschaft and ECS before, and that was only last year.
And I am sure those who seemed to be not happy that I am not a fan of completely instrumental sets, as indicated on my A New Day review (thanks to Bill ‘Flutatious’ for the reassuring e-mail ) , you will be delighted to know that Karma (be it he/she/it) came down to firmly bite me fair and square on the ar*e. The majority of the weekend was just that! And as for Rhythmic Raymond’s assurance that it would be a Reggae/Ska-free zone !