Last year was the inaugural and, barring a few mendable issues, it was pretty good. (Check out last year’s review)
Friday. Got there in good time, first up were the (acoustic) Strawbs. Dave Cousins has one of those real Marmite voices, and he and Mr Lambert and Mr Cronk have been doing pretty much the same set for some time now. Mr C’s banter doesn’t change much either. The Cronk-Cousins song ‘Turn me Round’ is the opener, followed by 1968’s ‘The Man who called himself Jesus’. Lots of chat about TOTP and ‘The Hangman and the Papist’, and they finished with ‘Lay Down’. A good reception for the folk stalwarts. Paradise 9. They started up promptly on the other stage, Her Ladyship went for a Charlie Cooke. Pearl Handled Revolver were next on the 1st stage. Regular festival favourites, saw them some years ago at Cambridge Rock Festival. Now without a bass player, they were plugging their latest record ‘If the Devil cast his net’ the title track had a definite Doors feel. ‘Help me down from the Trees’ was another newie. Del Bromham’s Blues Devils Good ol’ Del never lets you down, with his blues combo made up of Stray and the recently warmed-up PHR . His Jack Daniels song reminded me of Whitesnake’s early blues sound. Off to the other stage for Dr Feelgood. Starting out with ‘Stupidity’ and ‘I can tell’, the set was very 70s . All the expected offerings…and no ‘Down by the Jetty Blues’. After 17 bloody years! We did go back to ‘Shotgun’ though. Steve W had a sing on ‘Rolling and Tumbling’ and the more recent ‘One more Shot’ ended a short, tight and well-received set. Kaz Hawkins A late replacement for King King. She wanted us to make some noise, I think she was making enough herself. Gushing blurbs always make me nervous, and being ‘much-acclaimed’ made me think ‘much-acclaimed for looking like a cleaning lady’. There were others around me who weren’t overwhelmed. We were very tired after a Thursday night out in Peterborough and an early rising so went to bed. Heard Martin Barre launch into ‘Minstrel in the Gallery’ from the gallery. Mr B seems to have come to terms with the audience wanting a Tull set basically. He still features his Beatles stuff, but now rolls out ‘Aqualung’ as well as ‘Locomotive Breath’. Not interested in Big Country . A pretty decent opening day.
Saturday. Got down in good time for Edgar Broughton. Solo with 6 string acoustic. Light years away from his 70s power trio. He is another one who has adopted this ‘am going to burst into tears’ vocal style…and it is bloody awful! Sorry Edgar, the song about Mick Farren’s death sounded terrible (Rhythmic Ray was there that night too). Stick to ‘Out Demons Out’ and ‘Apache Boogie’ a la 3-piece, mate. The Fierce and the Dead . I just don’t get them. Loud 4-piece but all instrumentals. I listened from Stage 2. Ray wasn’t too impressed by the sound from the back. Solstice. Veteran proggers, much liked by our chum McTaff. Some oldies plus stuff from newer ‘Keepers’ record. Not my favourite genre but they sounded decent. Jackie Lynton. He managed not to swear for the first three seconds! Usual start with ‘Ready and Willing’ and ‘C’est la Vie’ not far behind. A raconteur par excellence, we also get the occasional original number. If you can’t see the genius of Chuck Berry, stay in your tent and put ‘Queen’s Greatest Hits’ on your mp3 player. Soft Machine. There will have been many in the audience who remember when a double lp was almost obligatory. The Who, The Beatles, Chicago, Can etc…and Soft Machine. I do remember a student chum buying it, and I do remember listening to about 30 seconds of it. I kept my distance today. Went across to await Martin Turner playing some classic Wishbone Ash with his current line-up. They played the whole of the ‘Argus’ lp to start with, and they absolutely nailed it. Vocals and playing were spot on, although the silly ‘lumberjack’ interlude could do with binning. Singalong in ‘Jailbait’ too. But ‘Living Proof’ is the best song of the Wisefield era, and we really enjoyed them. John Lees’ Barclay James Harvest. One of the two versions of BJH, but I didn’t stop long. Had intended to, as I really like some BJH songs. But the bass player?! Some git with a Working Man’s Club ‘witty’ banter. What a total tw*t! Couldn’t bear to stop, had to listen to the excellent ‘Hymn’ from the other stage. Lindisfarne. There will be Lindisfarnoraks who will be despairing of the personnel merry-go-round, but starting out with the B-side ‘No time to Lose’, they wisely never strayed from their first three studio lps. The reformed version’s ‘Run for Home’ is a guaranteed singalong, and they were great. A real pleasant surprise , I expected to be disappointed but certainly wasn’t. Uriah Heep. Headliners across on the other stage, starting with ‘Gypsy Queen’. Lots of 70s stuff, of course, ‘Easy Livin’ ‘ and ‘Stealin” are always there. I have never been a fan, but Her Ladyship was when she was 16 (and still is). They seemed to please the faithful. New track ‘The Law’ didn’t sound special. Some good stuff today from the assorted bill.
Sunday. Chris Conway and Dan Britton. Ok, I don’t want some bunch of teenagers on stage at midday on Sunday telling me to get my f*cking hands in the f*cking air, but I don’t want twee sub-folky tosh either. Fifteen years since their first lp, been together for twenty five years. Coincidentally they are on A New Day Records. Opensight. Went over for a brief look at them. A cross between Spinal Tap and Anvil…but deadly serious. Back for House of X. Like Snakecharmer and Skinny Molly, they are forging an identity away from the mothership. Danny Peyronnel and his UFOsters give us the expected ‘Shoot Shoot’, ‘Lights out’ and ‘Doctor Doctor’ as well as their own stuff. Dave ‘Bucket’ Colwell joined for the end. Lots of t-shirts in evidence. Good applause. Jackie McAuley. Still treading the boards at 70, once of 60s group Them. ‘Baby please don’t go’ gets an airing, but his attempt at Bob Dylan wasn’t to Paul Bobfan’s liking! His slide playing occasionally missed the mark and Her Ladyship spent most of the set playing hell on Facebook at the news of the much-needed Leeds Arena putting another sh*te tribute act on. They went down well though. Most of our party went off for the medieval meanderings of Gryphon, we decided to stay put. Dennis Greaves and Mark Feltham. Lots of old blues standards from the Nine Below Zero duo. ‘L and N’ is a 9BZ staple, and we got some Hank Williams and ‘Amazing Grace’ to finish. Very low-key. Focus. What happened to the policy of no one returning from last year? Another 70s outfit who put out a double lp. ‘House of the King’ was featured early, we had decamped to the other stage by the time the A-side ‘Sylvia’ hit the air. Slade In 1972 I was listening to ‘Free at Last’ and ‘Meddle’ and Slade were just a pop group. But ‘Gudbuy t’ Jane’ was a cracking single , so when Don Powell opened up with that drum attack they had my attention. And it was absolutely f*ckin SH*TE! As was the rest of it. Paul Bobfan reckoned they sounded like a second rate tribute act, Her Ladyship likened them to the dross you usually hear on the P&O mini-cruises. Noddy Holder and Jim Lea must be appalled at the treatment of their songs. OK, Holder and Lea got all the composing money but are Dave Hill and Don Powell so skint they have to churn out this insult to the group’s legacy?! (We definitely didn’t think they were very good. Lots did). Left Gail and Mike Leatherpot to top up their marginal overservededness. New Model Army. Not a clue about them, went back for much-needed kip. Not maybe the best of the three days.
So how was it all?
- Music. A bit sad that Weyfest has gone for a slightly younger on-stage presence, but the ex-Weyfest organisers have gone for eg Big Country and New Model Army too? In general, the music was appreciated by the majority of the customers. We thought Lindisfarne got the gold medal, with Martin Turner and Dr Feelgood also on the podium.
- Toilets. No festival is perfect, and last year’s toilets situation was terrible. But full marks for addressing it. They seemed ok to us . But none near the second stage?
- Bar. Always queues at whichever bar had the music was on…so go to the other one! Price acceptable as was quality. Occasionally ran out of stuff but impossible to be perfect.
- Seating. Again, many were disappointed last year with lack of seats at the top bar. Sorted. Lots of hay bales, cheap and did the job.
- Security. Gurkha Security were polite and efficient. Didn’t appear to be any drunken idiots to police
- Food. £8.00 plus for a pizza is a bit naughty and £6.00 (!) for some chips that had a bit of batter on and had the word ‘organic’ featured somewhere. Come on!
- Stages. Very punctual, with performances staggered. Good scheduling.
- Sound. Another problem last year, particularly for Martin Barre. This year seemed ok to us, but some of our friends reckoned there were occasional lapses.
- Camp Shop. Or lack of it. Another festival out in the sticks which should have facility for basics provided.
- Litter. Thankfully the clientele seem respectful. Maybe a skip to put rubbish bags in?
- Finally, campsite parking arrangements. The only real negative from the weekend. OK, the situation last year needed sorting but having to cart stuff uphill from the car park needs some rethinking. The availability of the little chugalongs and smartarse comments about bringing too much stuff is all very well, but the fest was VERY VERY lucky that the weather was good. Imagine if it had slammed it down and the punters ( NOT a young crowd by any means) had been forced to carry stuff in the mud and rain…and spend all weekend thinking about doing it in reverse! Quite a few adverse reactions on Facebook when we were told (with only a few days to go ) of the arrangements. Many would not have bought tickets if this had been pointed out originally. Just sounds a bit cynical re the timing of the news.
All things considered, a good weekend. But campsite parking situation is the one aspect that will need thinking about. And, by the way, next year will be the same weekend as Cambridge Rock Festival (as it was last year). Both campaigning for the same customers…and CRF has camping NEXT to vehicles! Take note.