A 3 hour plus drive to Shropshire. We opted to camp in the ‘Quiet’ field. Obviously the organisers did not know that Gayle and Mike SAGA (Salford Anti-Greenchair Association) were en route, making the adjective somewhat contradictory. A lumpy field, ideal for breaking an ankle, we set up camp under a big tree. We arrived on Thursday, which looked a better bet for putting a tent up. Friday forecast was pretty bad. Listened to Hawkwind’s ‘Hurry on Sundown’ on Planet Rock.
Thursday. Emphasis on being a family day, so not much music on. The Endings. Looked like we would be encountering PPI for the first (but not last ) time this weekend. Plastic Paddy Infatuation, that is. But first, a young man got up with acoustic guitar and bashed out some pub favourites…and told us all we had to love each other. The Endings certainly hit the ground running and kept the tempo up pretty much through both sets. Very little of the irksome slow intros then a 3 minute car crash that most PPI acts favour. One of Her Ladyship’s favourite songs ‘Raggle Taggle Gypsy’ was good and the ubiquitous ‘Galway Girl’ (by that well-known Irishman Steve Earle) went down well. Would we get ‘The Irish Rover’? Was Brian Clough’s middle name Self-Esteem? Does Piers Morgan ever ‘name drop’? ‘Black Velvet Band’ brought proceedings to a close, by which time it was lashing down outside. Splodged back to the tent, to bed.
Saturday. Worry Dolls. A female trio, with banjo, 6-string and drums. A good sound , good vocals and good songs. Country-ish, with a record to plug. Sasha and the Shades Her Ladyship recognised the lead vocalist from somewhere, she likes his voice. Me, not so much. It sounds too affected and forced. Also a female on vocals. If I was pushed to make a comparison, it would be Jefferson Airplane. Occasional thunderstorms of apocolyptic proportions, it felt like we were reliving parts of the Old Testament at times. They got a good reception from the small crowd who had braved the elements. In the beer tent, a young man attacked a drum kit. He must have been listening to his grandad’s live lp from Cream’s ‘Wheels of Fire ‘ double lp. Is it 1968 again? Neck PPI. See my review of Rock and Bike Fest. They played though a huge storm which disappeared to be replaced by bright sunshine. Ska Burst Another local group, it does what it says on the tube. Also ska’d up versions of the likes of Dexy’s and Human League. Pretty Babs Regulation rock quartet, young and loud. The lead vocalist made a massive error of judgement by making a smart-ass comment to Gayle SAGA. Very foolish, especially coming from a lad whose musical career will obviously consist of playing mid-afternoon slots in small Midlands festivals for a ‘petrol money only’ fee at best. ‘Kings and Queens’ had a hint of ‘Sympathy for the Devil’. No photo of them, Her Ladyship was away doing tent repairs. Over in the Beer Stage, 5 young men whose combined age was well short of mine gave us a few tunes. Lindisfarne Starting out with ‘No Time to Lose’ and finishing with ‘Clear White Light’, they gave us an interesting set. Yes, all the singalongs were there, but there were some lesser-known lp tracks ( ‘Walk a Crooked Mile’, ‘Song for a Windmill’ and ‘Don’t Ask Me’). Occasional sound problems but they are good pros. Hardline Lindisfarners are maybe not too happy with the evolvement of the current line-up, but I am impressed by how Rod Clements always mentions Alan Hull where appropriate. And he never blows his own trumpet , even though he wrote ‘Meet Me On The Corner’ and the brilliant ‘Road to Kingdom Come’. Her Ladyship was in top voice. More tent problems back at the ranch.
Saturday Georgia and the Vintage Youth. 4 piece with female vocalist, they made an interesting start but by the third song were in ska mode. ‘Bang Bang’ was probably the most familiar number. Back in the beer tent, the 14 year old youth from yesterday set up his drumkit for another bloody drum solo. On the main stage I could hear some acoustic blues, via ‘You Gotta Move’, ‘Rolling and Tumbling’ and ‘I Can’t Be Satisfied’, but it was too wet and windy to investigate. Apologies to Michael Messer’s Mantre. Her Ladyship had been a worryingly long time back at the tent. It turns out that a branch had parted company with our neighbouring tree and ripped a hole in the top. Enter needle, cotton, insulating tape, spray adhesive and The Complete Book of Christian Prayers…in that order. The Spitfires More ska, plus some punk and Jam sounds (the Rickenbacker gave it away). A young man was dancing half-naked in the mud and rain, Christ knows what he had put on his toast this morning. Black Water County PPI from Bournemouth , with waistcoats. Very energetic. Meanwhile, Her Ladyship was attending a pagan wedding in the beer tent…really.
By now, despite Her Ladyship’s Herculean efforts, our tent was totally Donald Ducked. Decided to throw everything in the car and bale out. The field was impossible for cars to drive in so we asked the staff to tractor us out. Thanks lads.
First time we have done a review from back home while the fest was still in progress!
1.Dogs. Absolutely loads of them. At one point it seemed as if we were the only ones without one. One couple brought four into the beer tent, two of which immediately shat on the ground.
2. Kids. Not as many as there were dogs, but plenty. Mostly under control though.
3.Music. Always plenty of ska/reggae and PPI. Lindisfarne were very good.
4.Stewards and Security. All low key
5.Bars. Friendly. 3 pint tokens for an Ayrton, very reasonable.
6. Food. Pizzas from £7.00. The Caribbean chicken patties for £2.00 were great.
7. Campsite. Loudest part was the rain and thunder. Flooding always a danger.
8. Disabled -friendly? Not really, lots of steep banks . I had to laugh when a bloke in a heavy duty invalid carriage kept inching himself to a more advantageous spot in the beer tent. His vehicle got stuck and he miraculously climbed off and lifted the bloody thing clear!
9. Toilets. There were some portaloos on the campsite. The permanent fixtures were…basic! Gave a whole new meaning to the word ‘shithole’. Toilet paper not exactly in abundance.
Overall. Very popular small festival. If you like dogs, kids, ska and Plastic Paddy music (and mud!) it is great. If you don’t, the accent is very much on the ‘festivalness’. Punters are friendly, but beware! Gayle and Mike are always on the lookout for people setting up villages of green chairs then naively buggering off. Same weekend as Cropredy, which costs twice as much and is totally open to the elements.