Hope Festival. nr Biggin Hill. 26-28. 05. 2017

Our third time here, it is a long way from God’s own county, we really enjoyed our previous two festivals here. We broke the drive up by stopping Thursday in Peterborough at our mate’s house, and ended up in a not-unexpected state of marginal overservededness.

Friday. Managed to get to the site in good time and there followed a two-pronged attack on Aldi lager and B&M Chateau El Dogrougho.  Went to the Piano Bar where Tom McQ was playing.  Singer/ guitarist, visually firmly entrenched in mid-60s Dylan/Donovan. A song about Chorley Woods suggested different origins. Cans in the Piano Bar were £2.50, a 25% increase on last year. What about inflation at 2%?!            Main Stage was Millions.  We listened from the field. The closing ‘Unchained Melody’ was …interesting.        Sasha and Band. Her Ladyship was impressed with the soundcheck, the singer certainly having a set of tonsils well beyond his years. Occasionally got a whiff of the Doors, and was there a James cover? Her Ladyship liked them but we went over to get a seat in the main tent. I am sure Dave Ripp the organiser will understand that it was not to see his outfit, The Ripp-Offs, but to get a good spot for the following act!  (Two young chaps from that popular beat combo Squeeze.).  Dave and co ran through songs from the likes of  Blondie, The Trashmen/Ramones, Motorhead, Buzzcocks, Clash and Undertones. Finishing off with the Sex Pistols and a show-stealing guest vocalist.  Pleasantly potty.            Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook.   The two Squeeze stalwarts doing a duo. And starting out to a half full tent? Not for long. We spent the set a couple of yards away from Mr T, and what a set it was.  Starting with ‘Take Me I’m Yours’ and finishing with ‘Goodbye Girl’, there was barely a drop in tempo, apart from some running repairs during ‘Black Coffee in Bed’. Great to hear ‘Electric Trains’ and ‘Some Fantastic Place’ again alongside the more regular numbers.  ‘Tempted’ (my favourite) was maybe a bit too funky for me, and no room for ‘Labelled with Love’ but that is picking of nits. A brilliant performance, even C.D. was smiling…honest! Her Ladyship was kindly given G.T.’s set list, so check out the running order when it appears at the end of the review.                 Unorfadox. Following on the Bar Stage, what a job to have to follow Mssrs D and T. Remember when The Who were due to headline a rather large 60s festival, following Jimi Hendrix and Pete Townshend said’ No way’ and they went on before him?  Unorfadox have a foot firmly planted in 70s punk, maybe one and a half feet even. As they should! Good songs, good playing, and Brian is a very good front man. Even a song about Nick Drake , who I just never  got.  ‘Little Universe’ was drowned out by some screeching females behind us  who must have thought they were auditioning for Eastenders. Brian told us afterwards he was quite pleased with their slot, it was a good contrast to Difford and Tilbrook. And they got a great reception.    So, a good day for starters.  Occasional drunken moron, but not a problem.

Saturday.   Mixed weather, staff already cleaning the field. The concept of 10p deposit on bio-degradeable pots is a great help. There were swarms of kids collecting them!  Leon Tilbrook is first up, this time without his more famous father helping out. Starting off with ‘Oh Well’ to loosen his fingers, he has a young voice, but he would have! After all, his dad was nowt but a bairn when he started Squeeze.  Plenty of unusual chords from young Leon, not regulation 12 bar blues stuff. Stick McGhee’s ‘Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee’ got an airing. Should he be singing about this at his age!? He is already a veteran performer though.        Small Victories.   3-piece, with Dave Ripp doing some extra-curricular drum tech work.    Not long before Flaky Jake started up on accordian on the bar stage…plus drums.  I was nervous when ‘Life on Mars’ started up , the karaoke singer’s kiss of death. But he nailed it! ‘All you need is Love’ got a maritime coda, and ‘I am the Walrus’, ‘Ashes to Ashes’ and ‘Sunshine Superman’ made for a wonderfully wacky show.        Some country sounds from Dave Sutherland drifted across. I went over. Guitarist suitably adorned in Nudie shirt and Fender Telecaster.         Tom McQ started out early on the Bar Stage, thereby drowning out Dave S. Not very sensible advice.         Port Erin. Three young bearded men.  Bit of a Ferry-ish vocal delivery early on, some heavy effects on the guitar. A good sound from a trio, the audience grew from a small beginning.               Darwin’s Quilt. I think I have described them previously as grown-up music for grown-ups. And why not?     Glenn T was still there, generously keeping the bar afloat.     Siobahn Parr Trio.  She has a good voice and good songs.  Finished with Percy Sledge’s ‘Warm and Tender Love. Good applause.     Twangers. Started with the traditional ‘Man of Constant Sorrow’. Everyone does the Alison Krauss and Union Station version now. What happened to Bob Dylan or even Ginger Baker’s Air Force?   Guitarist was from Dave Sutherland’s group, he had a bit of  a John McLaughlin jazz guitar solo. ( He appeared to have definitely been more than marginally overserved but why not? Just having fun, his fee was, I suspect somewhat, less than the size of Godzilla’s dad’s dick.  They went down well.        Moviestar  . I think last year I didn’t even  attempt to compare them with anything on this Earth or Fuller’s Earth. As they are from the future anyway, it is impossible.  We left Rhythmic Raymond to undertake his customary groove at the front and stayed a safe distance. Wonderful to see hundreds of grown men ‘whoa-whoaing’ along. The heroes of last year’s festival, check out their identity on t’ t’Internet. Norway’s finest, but they haven’t got much bloody competition have they? The next best thing is a capital city which is a lifeline  for cryptic crossword setters. Blissfully bonkers.                    Nigel Clark . From 90s popsters Dodgy, straight away he is more than a notch or two above the usual fest afternoon filler.  He gave us a version of Blaze Foley’s ‘Oval Room’, written in the Reagan era but equally valid today. ‘Staying out for the Summer’ was given an airing, of course and he was a touch of class.         Now.  Slight diversion if I may. Why is it you can go into a Wetherspoon’s anywhere at midday, and there will always be a plastered grey-haired bloke who will tell you he used to be a roadie for Led Zeppelin?  And this is every bloody Wetherspoon’s! Amazing!  Anyway, reason for the digression is one of them came to talk to us at our table, so we sloped off to sit near the fire pit down near the Piano Bar.   Came back up for Gary Sanford and some blues.  ‘Crossroads’ for starters , loads of w*nkered blokes lurching about.  Things got more up-tempo with ‘Iko Iko’, ‘Willie and the Hand Jive’ and ‘Rolling and Tumbling’.   Got aurally assaulted by some ska sh*te from the other stage so decided I was ‘Leaving on a Zed Plane’. It had been a long but good  day.

Sunday. Toilets clean, they usually are.  Music not due until 2-ish, and sadly the excellent Mazaika cancelled, so even later .  DJ in Bar Stage started well with His Royal Bobness ‘Stuck inside of Mobile…’, but then went into extended ska mode. A bit self-indulgent, ‘don’t do requests’, he told us (more than once) about his ambition to be on Radio 2. You are already there mate, you are called Bob Harris.   Anyway, eventually it is Memphis. ‘Swing’ stuff. Bit of a dodgy intro to ‘All Over Now’, and ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ was a surprise.  DJ put on ‘Godzilla’ by BOC! Great , thought Her Ladyship, then he cut it off.                Oskar Vilcrow. Another male 3-piece. Heavyish, punkish first song, second was just heavy.   Moviestar Vik liked them.  Not long songs, they were effective.  Quite a few went off to see Spacedogs on the Main Stage. , I listened from afar. Her Ladyship went over to undertake some serious cosmic teacake grooving.    The heavens opened, as had been forecasted, and Fake the Juggler suffered sound cut-outs in the Bar Stage, but like real troupers carried on acoustically.  Well-received.        Levent and Taylor. Two young men, guitar and keyboards, who soundchecked with a pleasant 12 bar blues. Then attacked us with a 200 mph jazz instrumental…followed by another! (It could have been the same one played backwards).   Lots of wild cheering but this sort of stuff does nothing for either of us. OK, it adds to the eclecticism of the bill but two near-rhyming words spring to mind. ‘Genius’ and ‘tedious’. One describes Chuck Berry, the other this lot. No prizes for working out my allocations. It didn’t help that I was in a such a state of advanced alcoholic dishevellment that I decided the long-haired keyboard player, in a skirt, was a woman! I eventually conceded that she was a swarthy woman, due to the facial hair.            Next up, Bruise. Favourites of Rhythmic Raymond.   I got chatting at the bar to John from RenattaJane, who were due on across at the Main Stage.    I tentatively enquired if they played ska stuff, but he assured me not. By then, I was probably talking like The Flowerpot Men*, so would have probably watched them if they had been the Australian Pink Floyd. ( * Was it Bill or was it Ben? I probably sounded like a hybrid. I think only people over 60 will know what I am on about!).)             RenattaJane. Did see them last year, thought they had that scratchy Franz Ferdinand Fender sound/rhythm. And still did, but with balls.  But we watched the whole set this time. John (the drummer), has a style reminiscent of Simon from the Hot Rods. Can’t say higher than that. They were very good.  Two things occurred to me . Second song had a piece of John hitting the rim. Try a cowbell, mate?  And, not wishing to sound too petty, but Mr Bassist could you maybe drop the Steve Harris foot-on-the-monitor, running around stuff? Honestly, it just looks a bit naff and detracts from the other lads. Sorry! Cheers John!        In the final strait. Hope All Stars.   Started with some JJ Cale, who better at this stage in the weekend?  Not surprisingly, reggae was not far away. ‘Hard to Handle’ got much bopping and at that point my pen and paper took refuge . Moviestar Vik and Glenn T were still there .

What a great festival this is. Good ethos, good company, good music, good behaviour, good beer.        OK, some of the music not to my taste, and is £4.20 a reasonable price for beer? I will leave final judgement until September after our final fest.

‘Absolutely NO DOGS’, is in the T&C’s.  Well there were 2 f*ckin big fieldmice there!     Organiser Dave R reckons attendance now is 1000. No camp shop? I agree with Dave, I am quite happy not to have a Sunday paper or Internet access, I am happy on Planet Hope all weekend. I learned that 2 teams of foreigners were playing in an English cup final. It could be sponsored by Kentucky Fried Chicken , or Qatar Airlines nowadays.  Down to who lines the F.A.’s pockets now. Surprised the referee is still English…but then again, I haven’t checked.

And thanks so much to those two thoughtful blokes who parked their estate car near the toilets at 8.00 am Monday morning , opened the doors and blasted out their car stereo. I hadn’t realised that cleaning toilets now involved some sort of revolutionary method of massive sound wave attacks which dislodged the dirt. Isn’t science amazing?

Nearly forgot. Beer supplies? Almost impossible to judge, but close to running out of everything late Sunday night. Just when I was thinking it may have been sensible to have an emergency stock of cans, Dave R emerged from his Transit with what looked like 50% of Kingston Jamaica’s annual intake of Red Stripe. He has been here before!!

Thanks Dave R, look forward to next year



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