We came to the first NK and enjoyed it (apart from teenage girls pinching festival £2,00 pint pots). Hope it has been addressed. New venue, Sat Nav woman directed us into a residential cul-de-sac for some reason. Massive amounts of tents already there when we eventually arrived. The event has grown ‘exponentially’, to use Covid adverb. Tent up quickly again, cold Lidl lager tins passed the time until 3.00pm.
Friday. First up are Creedence Clearwater Revived. Fronted by Pete Barton (regular Bunternet readers will know of him) with the ex-Slack Alice bassist too. Have they changed their name from Clearwater Creedence Revival (cunning moniker!)? The names may change but they are a copy act. I know at least one person who said they had seen Creedence Clearwater Revival on Friday, and thought it was the genuine item. Waited for the bar queue to recede and went for pinteroos with our ‘complimentary vouchers’. MUCH more on that later! So Barton and Co did what they do, to decent applause. Met up with Gayle and Mike SAGA (Salford Anti Greenchair Assoc) and Janet, who has got a Ph.D. (Pink hair Do)
Hector Gannet. NE combo with original songs
Geordie. Preceded by a blast of AC/DC, where most music fans know former Geordie singer Brian Johnson ended up. The lads are still going, with 2 originals, We got a fairly heavy rock hour, with many in the audience recognising their 70s hits. ‘House of the Rising Sun’ ended a well-received set
Little Moscow. More NE lads, with a Hairy Biker on lead vocals. I had been intrigued by young people wearing ‘Waiting For The Sun’ T-shirts, they seemed too young to be Doors fans. But it was a Little Moscow song too. Too jazz/ funky for me, they gave us some Stevie, Marvin, Doobies as well as their own songs. A jazzy assault on Bo Diddley was dreadful, but they obviously had a lots of friends there.
Atomic Rooster. 70s members Steve and Pete resurrected the name about 5 years ago, and they have been festival regulars since. Couldn’t hear much keyboard from our vantage point early on, They included their 2 hits ‘Tomorrow Night’ and ‘Devil’s Answer’,and LP title track ‘Death Walks Behind You’ in what was the ‘best of fest’ set so far.
We didn’t bother waiting up for Big Country and headed back to the tent. Like most of the known acts at the weekend, they seemed to have a ‘festival hour’ set which included many familiar songs. Not a bad first day at all (musically)
Saturday. Gates late opening. Yesterday we presented our plastic pints pots for filling, only to be refused on ‘Health and Safety’ grounds. Apparently, said the girl, ‘she didn’t know what may have been in it?!’ But we are the ones drinking it!! We were trying to reduce need for one-use plastic pots, she said the pots were biodegradeable. A lie, it would have said on the pot. Anyway, maybe today’s delay was via the same girl summoning a Deep Clean from Dyno-Rod, having heard somebody fart near the toilets. Trials of Cato. Folky foursome, we watched with dogs within 5 yards on all points N,S,E and W. One even crapped, seemingly with consent from its owner. I made sure she sheepishly cleaned it up. The Cato people kept instructing us to sing and dance. Even towards the end, the female announced that she expected more dancing by the end! They are destined for a career of opening Saturday afternoon festival rosters, methinks.
Lancashire Hotpots. Quite a few in, we hadn’t seen them before, but were ultimately disappointed. Songs about IKEA, drinking, bin men, it was family friendly , wittyditty stuff. (Can I claim ‘wittyditty’?). On the scale of Wittyditty acts, if you imagine The Wurzels at one end (banal) and The Doonicans at the other (brilliant) , this lot are a bit short of halfway along.
Skippinish. Not quite PPI (Plastic Paddy Infatuation) so slightly relieved. More Scottish/Northumbrain than Captain Pugwash. This stuff is always very festival-friendly.
Band of Friends. Started up by Rory Gallagher’s rhythm section to keep RG’s music alive. (I just never ‘got’ him), they started out with ‘Messin’ with the Kid’…but it sounded different. Went to investigate, and saw that they now have a new (twin) guitar line-up. I don’t know a lot of RG songs, but got the impression that. not unlike eg Skinny Molly , Son of Man and Snakecharmer, BOF are taking on their own identity. And it sounded pretty good. Plenty of RG t-shirts as usual.
Martin Barre. The former Tull guitarist is playing the full Aqualung lp to celebrate its 50 years, but started out with other numbers, incl ‘A New Day Yesterday’. Then moaned that they were indeed going to do Aqualung but didn’t have a lot of time. So why didn’t bloody start out with it? Pillock! Some of the acoustic sections had female lead. Interesting!
Ferocious Dog. Lots of T-shirts in evidence, I haven’t got one. Raucous Plastic Paddy stuff from Warsop. No interest to me or from me.
Red Hot Chilli Pipers. Like above lot, they were here at first NK. And are still a one-trick pony, and it’s not a great trick. Basically a pub covers outfit with kilts, bagpipes and dolly birds.
Wilko Johnson. Saw Wilks in his Feelgood days and quite regularly since. It was a few songs in before ‘Going Back Home’ and his solo classic ‘Doctor Dupree’. Then it was his half-time ‘fannying about’ section. Got some Bob Dylan and ‘Roxette’ before his lengthy ‘Everybody’s Carrying a Gun’ segment. Drum solo, bass solo, eventually finishing with ‘Back in the Night’ and ‘She Does It Right’. Wilko’s vocals are bloody awful (I think) and he has been left Dr Feelgood for about 45 years, having been in them for about 5 years. But still a great guitarist and performer. But too much ‘treading water’. A decent day’s music, all in all.
Sunday. Headsticks. The SAGA duo like them, but even though they are a fiddle short of full PPI shite, they do nowt for me. ‘Let’s have a little dance’ suggestion from the stage died on its arse, and so it should . It’s noon on a bloody Sunday! Get Paul Simon to come over and do an hour, I’ll gladly pay an extra 50p. But, again, their politico stuff goes down well. Her Ladyship liked them
Gerry Jablonski. Gerry on G/v, plus b/d/harmonica. Blues-rock quartet, but heavier. Another of the Larry, Lawrence, Danny, Ainsley etc who twiddly-diddly for an hour or so at festivals. Only this bloke has an ‘f’ word in most of his patter. Janet Ph.D is a fan.
Black Balled. Late replacement for Tankus the Henge, and it proved to be an inspired choice. Power trio, their first song had a definite ‘Oh Well’ feel and the second had a definite ZZ Top vibe. Also had a stand-in drummer, they put in a great and well-received stint.
Climax Blues Band. Originally formed as Climax Chicago Blues Band, they now have no original members, and hardly any blues. Another regular on the festival circuit, but very ‘Ronnie Scotts’. Jazz more than blues now, heavy on sax. ‘Spoonful’ started out more like the Canned Heat version than the Cream one, but soon developed into jazz-funk bollox. Singer kept telling us they had a recent ‘No.1 album’. Where? In his shed? We got the hit ‘Couldn’t Get It Right’, of course.
Lindisfarne. OK, only Rod is an original member, but not many people stay in the same job for 50 years! And people die! As always, they put on a super pro show, trimmed down to an hour of (mainly) familiar songs. Starting out with ‘No Time to Lose’ and finishing with ‘Clear White Light’ (which had Her Ladyship emanating buckets of IPA from her tear ducts), there were plenty of singalongs en route. And Rod C always namechecks Alan Hull copiously.
Hue and Cry. 80s popsters
Alabama 3. Saw them at Rhythm Festival many moons ago, It was remiss of me not to give them sufficient attention. Because I thought they were really good today. I hadn’t realised The Sopranos series opened with one of their songs. I was in the little boys’ room when I heard what seemed like Traffic’s ‘Dear Mr Fantasy’ over the air waves. When I got back it seemed to be the Velvet Underground’s ‘Oh Sweet Nuthin’. So 2 bonus points! Quite a few people drifting out though, probably those who had work on Monday
Finally, Nazareth. Still with Pete Agnew on bass, he recently turned 75! And like others this weekend, gave us a fest-friendly hour. All the hits, apart from ‘Bad Bad Boy’ plus likes of ‘Razzamanazz’ and Nils Lofgren’s ‘Beggars Day’. Again, Her Ladyship ( a fan since their Scarborough gig in 72) was awash with tears. And that was it. So, let’s have a precis
1.Music. Very good. Some decent names on each day
2.Value. Music-wise, exceptional for ticket price of<£50.
3.Food. Not too expensive, on a par with other fests
4.Sound. Pretty good
5. Security. Place seemed to have a lot of people producing cans and bottles from bags and coats. We got searched every time! There were a couple of instances of unruly behaviour during Big Country and Nazareth sets apparently. A Scottish element?!
6. Toilets. HL encountered a ‘Bangers and Mash’ scenario early on, but after that they were generally ok.
7.Site cleanliness. Cleaning up started before last acts had even finished. Pretty efficient
8. Camp site. Stewards directed our car to somewhere near Carlisle. We ignored them
9. Clientele. Majority definitely not south of Sheffield. And friendly. And, having lost my coin purse after about an hour on Friday, I thought I would (optimistically) ask at Box Office on Saturday . And it had been handed in! Many thanks for confirming there is a North/South divide!
10. Stalls. 9 food stalls, but little else
11.Seating. Benches were a good touch. The SAGA duo pointed out that people were bringing their own chairs and using the benches for their bloody coffee and sandwiches!
And last, but definitely not least
12. Bar. Big queue on first day, to be greeted that beer was £5.50 a pint! This is, according to website. ‘fantastic value for money’!! By ‘fantastic’, did they mean the definition ‘not real’?! And hardly ‘real ale’either. Queues on later days were strangely smaller. £5.50 may be the norm in London, but the clientele here was mainly Scottish or from NE, where wages don’t match up to southern disposable incomes. We booked in 2019, with a view to seeing Wishbone Ash and Fairport Convention. But, as requested by the organiser, we rolled over our tickets as the event would have gone tits up if all had requested refunds. It was a strangely long time before WA’s non-appearance was announced, we knew ages before. Our reward was 2x£5 beer vouchers each, So a pint of lager (£4,70) + pint of beer (£5.50) =£10.20 , so 2 tokens plus 20p? No, small print, £5 token valid for upto and incl £5.00. (And no change).So can’t submit voucher +50p for a pint of beer either!! So if you don’t like lager and you drink halves, you get a half of beer (£3,00) for each voucher. 4 halves for your ‘thank you for supporting us’ £20 vouchers. HL complained to bar manager, he said to complain to organiser…and she did, big style. His response? It’s down to the bar company! Absolute farce and could totally have spoiled the weeekend. We took deep breaths and basically likened it to going to NYC and paying the going rate.
Everybody’s no.1 topic of conversation wasn’t the music, food, toilets, etc but the bar prices. First thought is that the organiser is charging too much for the pitch, and Joe Public basically has to foot the bill. Her Ladyship told complainers to get on social media and not just grumble among themselves. Looking at the Facebook page, either very few complainers have voiced their opinions on social media or their comments have been censored
I would rather have paid more for the ticket and got reasonable bar prices.
I know customers who said they won’t be here next year. And the change of venue raised a few eyebrows too. Hints of refunds being non-existent. If they are looking to be a 10k crowd occasion, I think we may look elsewhere too.
It’s a shame that the review was almost taken over by the bar scenario, because most other factors were very good.