Our first visit to this festival, although we went to a similar fest near here some years ago, before I started my review site.
Thursday. Gates opened at 12.00, apparently, so we got there about 12.15pm. Place was packed, I only expected a few hundred! Took us a while to find the beer tent. The Mockinjays. Opened proceedings at 4.00pm. An almost Brit-pop 90s sound, unusual for this event? We got a Black Keys cover and ‘My Generation’. Next up were The Fawn. They are from Plymouth and were due to play another day but put in a brief ‘filler’ set before the next scheduled outfit. Very, very Nirvana-influenced. Original stuff, ended with a Nirvana cover. Verbal Warning. Ramones and Green Day to start with. A mixture of originals plus Jilted John, Motorhead, AC/DC and the usual pub punk covers. Crazy Diamond. Surely not a Pink Floyd copy act? There is one due later! No, they were more reminiscent of Kiss. Covers of Deep Purple, Thin Lizzy, Kansas (!), Cars, Aerosmith and others. Another group you could see in a pub for free without having to come here but some unusual covers. Dr Feelgood. We have been watching the Feelgoods for more than forty years, and this line-up has been stable for about the last seventeen. Stupidity/I Can Tell/No Mo Do Yakamo ( One of Her Ladyship’s favourites)/Milk and Alcohol/Baby Jane/Rollin’ and Tumblin’/Back in the Night/Roxette/If My Baby Quits Me/She Does It Right/Going Back Home/Down at the Doctors/One More Shot/Route 66. And , for the first time since 2000, no elongated Down By The Jetty Blues! Keep it locked away please lads. Short but sweet. A huge class above what had gone before. Floyd in the Flesh. Is there a Floyd copy group anywhere that doesn’t start with Shine on you Crazy Diamond!? Followed by On the Turning Away and Time, I couldn’t see to write any more . They were no better or worse than any other Floyd copy. Not a bad day though, all in all.
Friday. The graveyard opening slot belonged to Real to Reel , a Marillion copy act. Other than the Fish-fronted singles, I don’t know anything about them, apart from seeing them way down the bill at a Nostell Priory festival headlined by Jethro Tull in the eighties. Late coming on, my attention wandered… and didn’t bother coming back. Lots of cheering though. Exhibit A got our vote next over a Thin Lizzy copy, but they soundchecked with Rosalie, which many think is a Thin Lizzy original. Big pompous Omen-like intro, and into Motorhead and the Sex Pistols. A pub group. Metallica appropriately gave us the incentive to have a kip, even though it wasn’t quite ‘exit light’. Heard the singer from afar claiming the dubious award for saying ‘f*ckin’ in every sentence of his banter. The sounds of the Thin Lizzy-alike drowned them out, we woke up two hours later. Soap Girls. Two exotic girls plus a sensible-looking male drummer. Not really all that brilliant but at least not a copy act or a pub covers group. From Capetown, they put in a good stint at the merch table too. The other tent was packed for an AC/DC copy, AC/DC UK. We stopped to watch Girlslchool, as anyone interested in the concept of making original music should have. Big sound problems to start with, but like true pros they soldiered on. They finished with Race with the Devil and Emergency and called it a day after a quick encore. By now, it was raining so those outside the other tent who had been watching Acka Dacka Ucka had come in. A decent day to be fair.
Saturday. Poizon. Another copy act, I only know Poison from their big hit single. I don’t know anyone who was a fan originally, but plenty there were singing along. We got their cover of the Loggins and Messina hit, plus Every Rose Has Its Thorn, of course. I never knew Poison had a song Nothing But a Good F*ckin Time . They went down well. On the Brink Much exhortation to come and jump abaht to what was a ten-a-penny pub covers outfit, I didn’t bother wasting any ink. I presume they have day jobs. Surreal Panther. We witnessed the baffling pre-gig meeting the fans and posing for photos…by a bloody copy group! From a few miles away! Plenty in the tent, who were all familiar with Steel Panther. I have to say, there was nothing I heard which has prompted me to check them out. The banter was ‘f*cking’ embarrassing , and the American accents were a revelation. Oliver Dawson Saxon. Mssrs O and D have , to their credit, kept the Saxon flag flying, although their former lead singer seems to have belatedly laid claim to the name. Plenty of South Yorkshire banter, with plenty of ‘effin’. Wheels of Steel, 747 and Denim and Leather always go down well and they got a well-deserved good reception. Quireboys. About thirty minutes late coming on, seemingly the sound people again to blame. (I have to say that the Quireboys have ‘form’ regarding punctuality though). So we only got about thirty minutes, with the show split between some new songs and their old hit singles. Not the best way to end the event, regrettably. and lessons should be learned. Her Ladyship, a lifelong fan, felt short-changed.
So how was it overall? The over-riding feeling is that it was very good value for money. Yes, really! It was only thirty quid each, plus a fiver for car parking. Yes, there were loads of copy acts, but most biker fests have that sort of bill. Filled out with pub covers outfits, who basically give the crowd what they want. ( More ‘names’ would presumably increase the ticket price, so reducing the attendance.) Originals like Dr Feelgood, Quireboys and Girlschool would probably command a ticket price of twenty quid in their own right.
Toilets? A weekend with portaloos. Her Ladyship didn’t have any problems but I had more than one Close Encounter of the Turd Kind! And as for the rule of choosing a cubicle that a woman has just come out of? Forget it! We were woken by the portaloos being emptied at 7.00 am, but they seemed to fill up very quickly. Regular long queues too, hinting at the need for more units.
Noise? We try to be quiet late at night and when getting up on the morning, but no chance of others being so considerate, But we knew it wound be like that, and fortunately were given some good earplugs.
Litter? The arena was strewn with pizza boxes and cans. And there was supposed to be no alcohol brought through the gate! Sheer bloody laziness.
Bar? A ‘club-like’ system with an airport check-in way of queueing. Actually worked well. Prices ok. A quid deposit on the pot resulted in a young boy taking pots that had been left unattended for a even few seconds. Someone should tell him it is like being a pickpocket. i.e. theft.
We would both go again, especially if the ticket price remains so decent.