Category Archives: Live reviews

We see a couple of bands each month, apart from over the summer months where we see a couple of dozen. Here’s what we thought of them.

The Prowlers. The Grove, Leeds. 10.11.2018

Spice Girls reform! Big Deal!  Westlife reform! Big Deal! The Prowlers reform! Now this IS a big f**kin deal!   Yes, five years after they last played, West Yorkshire’s finest are back, in the tiny Grove. We were there at 6.30pm and there were a dozen Prowlerphiles already waiting in anticipation.

Kick-off time and they are straight into the high octane ‘Crawlin’ up my Spine’. And it’s 1987 in The Eagle on North Street all over again. OK, so this is the post-2000 line-up featuring Andy Prowler and Andy Dawson, with John and Kevin as the rhythm section but there is no coasting along. A couple of Pirates songs reveal Andy D’s love of Mick Green and the first set ends with ‘Absolutely Sweet Marie’ a la Jason and the Scorchers. There is also their great take of the Screaming Blue Messiahs’  ‘I Want Up’.

The second set starts out with another SBM song ‘Sweet Water Pools’ and then it is back to their 1987 lp for ‘Boulevard of Broken Dreams’. Our favourite Prowlers track,’Absinthe’, was included  and the rest of the set was packed with stuff familiar to the audience…see set list courtesy of John. (NB There were some deviations from the intended set).

A couple of encores ‘I Can Tell’ and ‘Checkin’ on my Baby’ from the Dr Feelgood catalogue plus the brilliant ‘People Who Died’ (Jim Carroll) and they eventually managed to sit down.

A couple of minor musical blips plus the occasional sound problem but the crowd didn’t give a Donald Duck. (Can there ever be a ‘crowd’ in the Grove, it is so small? You couldn’t have fitted in anybody’s pet hamster if it had turned up late though). The Prowlers confirmed their status as a Yorkshire National Treasure (sorry Kaiser Chiefs, Arctic Monkeys, you will have to wait a while. So will The Grumbleweeds!). They have a charity gig lined up on the 24th at The Library, so anybody who missed tonight has another chance to see them (if Andy P has got his breath back!). Pass it on!

(See also review from the Duck and Drake, December 2012)

 

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Wishbone Ash. The Arc, Stockton-on-Tees, 30.10.2018

It has been some years since we last saw Wishbone Ash. We both thought at the time that they seemed to be ‘coasting’, but recent unanimous approval to the introduction of Mark Abrahams on guitar made us think again.

First up for a 45 minute set of bluesy rock is Felix Rabin. The young French guitarist has a bass and drums in tow and includes ‘Crossroads’ and ‘Voodoo Chile’ in a mainly originals set. A decent reception from an attentive audience. Apart from, unfortunately, three blokes who talked all the way through. They got so ridiculously loud during the main attraction that we had to move. Why do these people f**king come? Why don’t they go outside to talk? Why weren’t they f**king strangled at birth?

So Mr Powell and Co come on and are straight in to ‘Blind Eye’, with Martin Turner’s composition ‘Come in from the Rain’ in hot pursuit. The more recent ‘Deep Blues’ was a good example of how they are up a couple of notches from last time. No, a LOT of notches. ‘Way down South’ featured Mark on a great and economical solo, perfectly illustrating the ‘fewer is bluer, more is a bore’ ethos re the number of notes per second on the fretboard.

Mr Powell introduces Mark as the one who ‘kicks my ass every night’. And as David Crosby sings ‘It’s been a long time coming…’!! ‘Lifeline’ from ‘Just Testing’ is a fans’ favourite and it precedes a healthy chunk of ‘Argus’, namely ‘The King Will Come’, ‘Warrior’, ‘Throw down the Sword’ and the only acoustic number ‘Leaf and Stream’.

‘F.U.B.B.’ has been in the set for a long time and a heavy blast on Mark’s Strat heralds the arrival of ‘Standing in the Rain’. ‘Jailbait’, ‘Sometime World’ and ‘Blowin’ Free’ bring the main set to a close and the crowd bring them back for one of their best post-Ted songs ‘Persephone’. But not before some sound problems which AP doesn’t get fased by.

So, a very good night. They have changed the set around from the pre-UK gigs and seem keen to change at least one song every night. No ‘Phoenix’,no ‘Living Proof’ and not a lot from their last studio lp.

Mr Powell certainly seems to have refound his mojo, due in no small part to the change to a much more animated guitar partner.  Tomorrow’s gig in Mark’s home town should be a stormer.

Re Mark’s joining, does anybody out there know why Mr Manninen seemed to ‘leave’, almost without warning? According to his web-site ‘he became the main songwriter’. Is this true and, if so, was it a factor in his departure? Mmmm…

The latest in the live ‘Roadworks’ series is selling in bucketloads at the gigs. The first to feature Mark, it’s pretty good.

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Glenn Tilbrook. Brudenell Social Club. 26.10.2018

The clock strikes eight and on comes Stephen Wilson. Starting out with ‘Dead of the Night’, the singer/songwriter gives us a selection of his compositions. The second song reminded me a bit of Quicksilver Messenger Service. He finished with a Roy Harper song and got a good round of applause. A brief break before Mr T walks on.

There is a great GT 2014 NYC solo gig available for download on http://www.nyctaper.com and his opening number (co-written with 9BZ’s Dennis Greaves} is the same. There are quite a few unfamiliar songs for openers and ‘Is That Love’ is the first Squeeze singalong. And, yes, that tw*t is behind us…again. You know, the bloke who has a ‘Best of…’compilation in his 4×4 {with the badly-spelt customised number plate) which he has parked across two parking spaces. He knows all the words and thinks we have paid £18 to come and listen to HIM singing! F**kin tw*t! And when we came in earler to the bar next door there was some bleached blonde bird who rattled on non-stop to her companions before going to queue up for GT. Once in she just carried on…for the next two hours. Next to Mr Tw*tty!

‘Up the Junction’and ‘Labelled with Love’ come around, followed by a number from ‘The Knowledge’ and ‘Cradle to the Grave’. A switch to Telecaster from acoustic ramps up proceedings, via classics from Dave Edmunds, Fleetwood Mac and The Kinks. GT invites some ‘guest singers’ up which leads nicely into ‘Some Fantastic Place’ and ‘Third Rail’. The packed club is in full singalong mode now, along to ‘Annie…’, ‘Coffee…’, Slap…’, ‘Mussels…’ and ‘Nail…’.

Encores are the wonderful ‘Tempted’ (not keen on the heavy guitar though), ‘Take me…’ and finally ‘Goodbye Girl’.

The man is a top pro, he was straight out to the merch desk too.

Sorry no photos, they were very poor.

Whitwell Festival of Music. 7-9 Sept 2018

Our second visit to this tiny festival, we came for the first time last year. It is the 10th event…but not the 10th anniversary or birthday!! They are not the first to fall into the trap though. Remember, the first birthday or anniversary of an event is actually the second event, so the tenth event falls on its ninth birthday. Sorry to nitpick. Only a handful on the campsite, again with friendly volunteers as oppposed to minimum wage ‘stewards’ at all-for-profit festivals.

Friday. Went into, for our starters for ten , the Social Club and caught a bit of  Morris and Watson. The club has an open mic session, and Her Ladyship reckoned she could remember their ‘Northern Mining Town’ song from last year.                      Pete Drake. I remember he was really good on the small third stage last year, just doing spoken word. Her Ladyship was sure he had a guitar then , but our friend Mike from SAGA (Salford Anti-Greenchair Association) sided with yours truly.  And, I have to say, the numbers came across much better as a poetry medium last year rather than accompanied by basic guitar strumming . IMHO is , I believe, the social media addendum nowadays.                                              Time to go into the festival proper, first up were Sheffield’s The Rosadocs. In fact, three-quarters of them as the drummer couldn’t make it.  Wouldn’t class them as a ‘rock and roll band’, but maybe they would have been with a drum kit.  Quite reminiscent of nineties Britpop and full marks to them for not taking the easy way out and cry off.                          Bleeding Hearts. 4-piece,  they started out in a quite heavy way, with ‘Devil’s Mosh’ and ‘Caravan Song’. Her Ladyship’s attention was definitely got. One of the guitarists was sporting a bijou Telecaster which Her Ladyship must have washed for him at the same time as she did my white woollen cricket jumper many years ago…namely at 90 degrees C.  They tended to revert to pirate-punk mode after that, which the crowd seemed to like.                                TV Smith. Former lead singer with The Adverts, he is still treading the boards at 61 years of age.   ‘Expensive Being Poor’ and ‘Immortal Rich’ pretty much sum up his ethos.   He almost could be classed as a protest singer for today, a title which Bob Dylan has long discarded.   He was joined by local lads W.O.R.M. for a blast of old Adverts stuff  and the audience duly joined in with ‘Gary Gilmore’s Eyes’.  The lads did a good job at such short notice, and I  have to mention bassist Don. The reason is that I am expecting a large bulky brown envelope in the post, very similar in size to the ones that (allegedly) used to regularly go to a high-ranking FIFA official, stuffed with Swiss Francs and initialled appropriately. No, not to Sevvy Ballasteros, not to Steve Buscemi and definitely not Sandra Bullock. Don’t be silly!   Great to see TV still showing some passion. Pitiful that one of his peers, a certain Mr Lydon, is now wallowing in filthy lucre and advertising butter.                   Didn’t stop for Karl Phillips and the Rejects. We are not ska fans. but plenty are and they went down well again, according to the lad in the tent next to us. A good start to the weekend.

Saturday. The Storm Trees. They started with a hybrid of the Eurythmics ‘Sweet Dreams’ and The White Stripes ‘7 Nation Army’.  Most of the songs were originals but there were songs by Fleetwood Mac, Iggy and Wild Cherry to get the occasional audience participation. BUT…and it, sadly, is an important ‘BUT’, the lady was not too adjacent with her ‘pitch’ for a lot of the time. Yes, that may seem harsh, hopefully it was a one-off .                                    Kid Conventional. Singer-songwriter from Sheffield. Mainly original songs. eg ‘Samantha’ and ‘Wuthering Heights’ (obviously not THAT ONE).   He is a self-confessed Conor Oberst nut and covered his ‘First Day of my Life’ released by Bright Eyes in 2005.   He also threw in ‘That’s Alright Mama’ towards the end. Good voice , decent songs.                                   Broken Flowers. Seemingly based in String o’ Beads but we hadn’t heard of them. Classed as ‘Alt Rock Country’. Not sure what that means, but if it actually means two of the members wear baseball hats then all is clear.  And…they were absolutely great! Self-penned songs such as ‘Nobody knows it but me’, ‘These are the things’ and ‘I saw the light’ would have been well- received in Layla’s and all the other bars in Downtown Nashville . They finished with Petty and Nicks’ ‘Stop dragging my heart around’.  Anna has a great voice and great songs and we will be checking out their gig list as soon as we get back home. An absolute must for any country-rock fans, Full marks to the committee for a 100% thumbs up for this lot when deciding on the weekend’s line-up.                         Chris Reardon.  With a bass and drummer, and the occasional computerised ‘help’.  Bluesy rock stuff, which had a fairly tepid response to start with, but the Clapometer increased as the set progressed. Did he really need the ‘extra’ instrumentation? Jack, Ginger and Eric seemed to managed ok half a century ago.                        Foreign Accent. Nottingham based folkies of Hungarian descent , playing the music of their heritage. A definite first for us, but only saw a few minutes as we needed to go outside to prepare for                          The Bar-Steward Sons of Val Doonican. Their profile has taken a sharp climb since their festival-stealing show at Cropredy, and all the favourites (old and new) are on show today. ‘Devil’, ‘Paint’, BISTO’, ‘Glove’, ‘Greggs’, ‘Dodworth’, ‘Cockwomble’ and a mass ‘Jump’.    It does what it says on the tank-top, basically.                                Department S. Like most of the audience, we only know one of their songs. But that is sadly remiss of Her Ladyship and me. They were really good, and have plenty of songs such as ‘Sonic Reducer’, ‘Age Concern’ and ‘Wonderful Day’ as well as ‘Is Vic There?’  Original frontman Vaughan Toulouse died in 1991, but this line-up seemed pretty good to our relatively ‘green’ ears.                        Went inside for Addictive Philosophy. No, we don’t like ska-punk stuff but the weather was not great outside so went in for a seat.  This lot from Derby were the Indoor Stage headliners. A three piece with ‘virtual’ drums and bass. Don’t they sell drum kits or bass guitars in Derby? Maybe the music shops refused to sell either to this lot, using the reason that  they are complete dross.  Two women and a bloke, who after a while started to swear to maybe get some attention. It is a shame they didn’t just say ‘We are (insert name) and are f**kin sh*te’ at the beginning.  And gone home.   To use a well-worn epithet ‘From the sublime (Broken Hearts) to the ridiculous (I have already forgotten their name).  IMHO, of course!                        Having missed 3 Daft Monkeys outside , we went out for Doctor and the Medics. Big, bad and as camp as a field of tents, the good doctor comes bouncing on and into Blondie’s ‘Call Me’.  Now maybe it’s me, but the sight of hundreds of hairy-arsed blokes from Derbyshire dancing about and singing along to ”Tainted Love’ was more than a little unnerving!  I concluded that our friend Neil must have slipped some of the Brown Acid left over from Woodstock into our pint pots (and, yes. still technically £2.99 a pint folks)…or everybody else’s but ours!   So we ‘decamped’ across to the Boot and Shoe for  a night cap ( or three).  A good day though, all in all.

Sunday. We missed Sunday last year, having had alternative appointments with both Roger Waters and Poco in New York City.                       Crag Rats. Local rockabilly outfit with a mixture of own songs and covers such as ‘Shake Rattle and Roll’ and ‘Say Mama’. Their rendition of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Rock and Roll’ was good and they cunningly followed it with a number that LZ used to open their early shows with, namely ‘Train kept a -r0llin’ which was a number from their ‘New Yardbirds’ days.                                              Sneakin’ Stupidity. Billed as a tribute to Wilko Johnson and Dr Feelgood. Set list follows to give you an idea. Lookin Back/No Mo Do Yakamo/She does it right/Cell Block no 9/Hog for you baby/Barbed wire blues/The more I give/Down at the Doctors/Roxette/Milk and Alcohol/Going back home.  (I think they did Back in the Night too).  So what were they like! If you think that a tribute act is good if they sing all the right words then ok.  But this lot sounded nothing like Dr Feelgood or Wilko. Seemingly the guitarist saw them in 75, which is when my first of about 50 of Feelgoods gigs was .  So couldn’t he have tried to play like Wilko rather than strum along!? All of Wilko’s successors have at least tried to play the likes of Roxette and She Does it Right in his style and usually done a decent job. This bloke said ‘I hope we have done justice to Dr Feelgood’. If he had said ‘Sorry, we can’t sound like Dr Feelgood but here are some songs’ it would have been better. I can’t remember Lee Brilleaux bashing a tambourine or singing like a Club singer.  They might just have well given the Dr Feelgood songbook to the Wurzels and let them play it. Oh, he had a Telecaster, so all ok then. And pointed it at the audience and occasionally looked wide-eyed.                                Ar Faroued. Folkies from Nottingham. Mixture of covers from likes of Coldplay, Elbow, Jethro Tull  and original songs. Main singer had a good voice and U2’s ‘Still haven’t found…’ got a good treatment at the end.  Their name means ‘Beechwood’ we gather.  Enjoyed their laid-back set.                                   Silver Darlings. Not quite sure about the Leonard Cohen comparison.  Not easy to pigeon-hole (not a bad thing!), they had some good original songs. One song had a ‘Matty Groves’ -ish snatch.  Anybody hoping for ‘All Right Now’ or ‘Highway to Hell’ would have been disappointed.                                     And then it is John Otway. Not sure if he has officially been designated a national treasure yet but it can’t be too far away.  Like all Otway fans know, the set pretty well remains the same. ‘Her eyes were the lasers of love’ and ‘Poetry and Jazz’ provided a rest from the absolute carnage before and after.  Impossible to do justice to the phenomenon that is Otway by writing about him, you need to go and see him.

An early finish, so we went with the two SAGA directors, plus a couple of their mates, to the Royal Oak for Quiz Night. Theoretically a good idea but the afore-mentioned SAGA people had been drinking all day and their reading on the M.O.S. (Marginally Overserved Scale) was 87.5%. There was also, of course, a proportionate effect on their combined larynxes. They were seriously challenging The Who’s 126dB level from Charlton Athletic’s football ground show in 1976, with considerable assistance from Her Ladyship.  The team managed to win some beer vouchers and the meat raffle! (Yes, the meat raffle is not extinct!). We also had a woman nearby who said that Otway had been ‘rabbish’. I was tempted to tell her that if Otway had been here he would have given her the thumbs up and grinned, saying ‘Thanks, job done then!’ But it would have been wasted.   A good end to very good weekend.

Value for money? Excellent. A great advert for the village and its residents, although I gather there are a few NIMBYs to placate. No individual pockets to line, most of the artists doing it for basic expenses.

Music. Not all of the music was to our taste, but I don’t expect it to be. But I can’t not say that something is …er…’not good on my ears’. The Doonicans, Department S, Broken Flowers, TV Smith, Otway, Ar Faroued …I would gladly watch them all again. But if someone is singing flat or a tribute act sounds nothing like the original or some socio-political-anarcho outfit is just plain rubbish I have to say so.

Beer. Not rip-off festival prices. Indoor bar did get really ‘busy’ on Saturday though.

Sound. Foreign Accent had some problems but overall it was fine all round.

Food. Seemed ok to me but I don’t eat much. Her Ladyship managed to eat all of her noodles without leaving the customary 10% down the front of a white top so must have been decent.

Camp site. Fine. A bit surprised to find the portaloos had gone on Monday morning, but it makes sense financially. I know how much they cost in 2007 and given the few people on the campsite, the price per plop is plenty!

Thanks to Neil, Val and all the committee and volunteers for a great weekend. Long may it continue.

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Status Quo. Sunshine Festival. Upton-on Severn. 25.08.2018

Musically, the other reason why we came (Katrina being the first). How would they be without the late Rick Parfitt? They were on slightly early, starting with Mr Parfitt’s least-favourite song ‘Caroline’.  Plenty more familiar songs followed, namely ‘Something ’bout you baby I like’, ‘Rain’ and ‘Softer Ride’. The new boy seemed to handling his predecessor’s guitar parts and vocals pretty well. The more recent ‘Beginning of the End’ and the much older ‘Hold you back’ preceded the dreaded medley. I would much rather hear two 3 minute songs than a 6 song medley of snippets, but it has been part of the set for decades now.  ‘The Oriental’ is a really good post-millennium song and ‘In the army now’, ‘Roll over lay down’, ‘Down Down’, ‘Whatever you want’ and ‘Rockin’ all over the World’ had the crowd in top voice. (New boy Richie stepped up for Rick’s ‘Mystery Song’ with great assurance).They come back on with ‘Don’t waste my time’ and ‘Bye Bye Johnny’ , leaving a very cold crowd suitably warmed up.

A pretty good performance. There have been times in yesteryear when we have seen them almost just going through the motions, but they seemed pretty animated tonight. The set was pretty similar to what they have been playing recently. No doubt Quoficianados may be saying it isn’t Quo without Rick P, but they seemed ok to us.
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Katrina. Sunshine Festival. Upton-on-Severn. 25.08.2018

Back in the eighties, Katrina and the Waves were criminally overlooked. ‘Walking on Sunshine’ was very much their ‘All Right Now’ and the Eurovision 97 winner ‘Love Shine a Light’ their ‘Wishing Well’. We saw them at Leeds University when they were touring their sadly inferior second lp.

Caught the end of Secret Affair, doing ‘Time for Action’ and ‘My World’ and headed for the front rail to wait for Ms Leskanich. A bit late coming on, they started with 1989’s ‘Rock n Roll Girl’. A version of ‘River Deep Mountain High’ followed, with ‘Sun Street’ hot on its tail. Katrina acknowledged Her Ladyship bellowing for ‘Red Wine and Whiskey’ and duly obliged. It is a great song. The similarly great ‘Going down to Liverpool’ was preceded by Katrina’s preamble about the Bangles. Martha and the Muffins ‘Echo Beach’ has been in the set for a while and the set ended with ‘LSAL’ and ‘WOS’ with my favourite ‘Lovely Lindsay’ sandwiched in between. Barely 45 minutes and that was it.  It is definitely a ‘festival’ and ’80s night’ set, but it is shame that she feels she has to put a couple of singalong covers in when brilliant originals such as ‘Do you want crying’, ‘Game of Love’ and ‘Que te Quiero’ are left on the shelf. (But she has been singing RDMH since the early KATW days though.)  Still enjoyed her.

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Fairport’s Cropredy Convention. 9-11.08.2018

Our fourth visit to Cropredy.  We only go when there are people on the bill who we really want to see. I suspect the vast majority of customers go every single year, meet the same people in the same spot in the arena every year. They then set up a village and talk all weekend.  They wouldn’t know if they had paid £150 plus to watch Peter Sutcliffe and the Hammer Wielders. Nice situation for the organisers though! Diversion getting there, set our tent up only to be flanked by someone with Blenheim Palace perched on a couple of wheels.

Thursday.  Fairport Convention . Fairport now start proceedings with a twenty minute acoustic spot. ‘Festival Bell’ kicks off the weekend, with former member Maart Alcock making the first of quite a few guest appearances.               Smith and Brewer. Couple of blokes with acoustics.  ‘Another Shade of Blue’ was among the songs they played from their upcoming record. Pleasant enough, they got a good hand.                               Police Dog Hogan. Mix of Irish, Americana and West Country . They managed to overcome a false start when the bass player’s Poundworld guitar lead seemed to have melted. Suspect he may struggle to get a refund. Unusual line-up, but Her Ladyship got a bit fidgetty and went back to the tent for umbrellas and ponchos. Strange that Steve Earle’s ‘Galway Girl’ seems to be the ‘go to’ song for anyone venturing into Plastic Paddy mode. Bit of humour too, but not sure if either of us would queue up at the signing tent.                     Oysterband.  One of the reasons we plumped for a visit . We have been big fans since first seeing them in 1999 and find it unbelievable that they haven’t featured here since 2004.  Lots of favourites today (‘River runs’, ‘Here’s to you’, ‘All that way for this’, ‘Walking down the road with you’ and more). A reworking of their very old ‘Oxford Girl’ got some singalonging, but they lose a point for no ‘Bells of Rhymney’. A great performance , please don’t let it be another fourteen years wait!                      Brian Wilson presents Pet Sounds. I was very, very nervous about this. I have been a Beach Boys fan since the sixties and rate ‘Pet Sounds’ only beaten to the top spot in’ best lp ever’ by Love’s ‘Forever Changes’. ( Back in the early noughties I saw Arthur Lee and Love do a great job live with that.)  Tonight we get an awful, cheesy ‘Greatest Hits’ orchestral interlude before we are greeted  with the sight of a very frail BW being helped on stage with a nurse and walking frame. The opening notes of ‘California Girls’ strike up and Brian’s vocals are very ‘strained’. A couple of other hits follow before he (wisely) hands over the vocals to Al Jardine whose tonsils  have weathered the years better.  More hits follow, plus Al’s excellent ‘California Saga’ along with some more obscure songs.   We then get the entrance of Blondie Chaplain , who fleshed out the group in the seventies. He took over the vocals on ‘Feel Flows’, ‘Wild Honey’ and ‘Sail on Sailor’.  But he seems to have thought the show was ‘The Brian Wilson Show starring Blondie Chaplain’!  Much heavy metal guitar ( ‘basic’ is the kindest adjective I can muster’), maybe someone had sprinkled some Colombian Marching Powder into his £8.00 fish and chips?   Then it was ‘Pet Sounds’. Not going to give a blow-by-blow account but Mr W at one point during ‘God only knows’ looked genuinely upset that he couldn’t ‘make’ the notes. But then again, he knew back in 66 that brother Carl would nail it and gave it to him. (Mike Love wisely incorporated live footage with Carl in Beach Boys shows a few years ago.)  A few more hits to finish off the show, but not his solo ‘Love and Mercy’ which has featured on the tour.  It was at times a bit tearful, both watching the poignancy of a fragile genius and just watching him on stage after being a fan for fifty plus years.    Great night.

Friday. Had a walk into the village. Her Ladyship is a very smiley individual and was disappointed and suprised that this snotty, folky crowd are just plain ignorant. At every other fest we go to , we are greeted with ‘Good Morning’ from passers-by. Here? Not so much as a nod. And the arena last night was a sea of litter. Anyway, sod ’em, back to the tent to start ex- Fairport producer Joe Boyd’s book . (Cheers Les, will give you it back in October). By now, lashing it down so headed for our first ever visit to Brasenose Arms. Managed to find a seat and decided to stay. Decided to go to the arena after a few sherbets, where it was             Cregan and Co. A few years ago Jim recruited a talent show Rodalike and hit the boards playing some songs he co-wrote , and lots he didn’t.  He also features in the new-look Family line-up. (The Rodalike wasn’t there tonight though.)   Last few songs featured ‘Sweet little rock n roller’, ‘Twisting the night away’ and ‘Maggie May’. (He neglected to say he didn’t co-write any of those.) Much singing along to a club group, basically.   Hoping next year that Tetsu and Co are here, playing Free and Faces songs. After all, he co-wrote the ‘B’ side of ‘Wishing Well’.    Her Ladyship went off to watch the Doonicans doing a brief spot at the Radio Oxford tent. I predicted before we set off that that they would take Cropredy by storm.                   Le Vent du Nord. Electric Francophiles from Quebec. Very talented and unusual but with limited appeal. Strangely enough, they didn’t play ‘You wear it well’. One of them ran over a dog in 1972 that belonged to a woman who lived next door to a milkman who delivered Rod Stewart’s yoghurts.                          Fish .  Her Ladyship is a fan, but she is not sure why! She can’t even remember seeing him at the Acoustic Festival some years ago. Then again , she did go wandering off to the toilet that night about 2.00 am , fell into a water-filled ditch and was stuck in mud and nettles until somebody heard her cries. To me, he is still very much sub-Genesis Gabriel era.  A Marillion song to finish, he still has a loyal following.                                  Kate Rusby. Amazingly, she has never appeared here before. Last year’s t-shirt boasts The Divine Comedy and Petula Clark. Am I missing something?  Great to see Ms R doing a ‘regular’ set, our recent viewings have been her Christmas songs. Plenty of well-known numbers , incl ‘Hunter Moon’, Nick Jones’s ‘The Blind Harper’, ‘Big Brave Bill’ and ‘The Ardent Shepherdess’. Her Ladyship had gone down to the front to watch, and like me on the hill, found herself surrounded by loads of people talking and not giving a ‘f**k about who was on…or anyone who actually wanted to listen. Ms R should adopt Neil Young’s response (‘Why have you people actually paid f**kin money to come to see me?!) . Kate ended with ‘Underneath the stars’, coinciding with a plug for her own fest of the same name.  She has been a class act for years. Not interested in yet another appearance by the Levellers. Early night to bed for us.

Saturday. We inadvertently arrived a few minutes before the gates opened, and the sight of middle-aged men and women scurrying across the field to get their ‘spot’ was laughable.                                Richard Digance. A Croppers institution , although he missed last year. An occasion to air some new songs, but the likes of ‘Sod’s Law’, are never far away. His ‘Salisbury’ song is a modern day protest song almost and , of course, there is ‘We are searching’ complete with hanky waving.  He has the rare ability to get the audience crying and laughing simultaneously and is a great guitarist.  Try to catch him on tour if you don’t fancy sitting in a wet field.                       Eric Sedge. Singer-songwriter. His opening ‘Pleased to meet you’ had a bit of Quo tagged on. Thoughtful songs.                  Bar-Steward Sons of Val Doonican. Fellow Barnslegians to Kate Rusby. How would they go down with the Cropredy faithful? Would my prediction come true? There were a few sniggers to start with from an unsure crowd, but an hour later it was mayhem! Thousands ‘Jumpin Arraand’ and clapping.  I think it helped that a big majority were Doonicans virgins. For the uninitiated, they rewrite the lyrics to well-known songs by such as Chris de Burgh, Rainbow, Marc Cohn, Police , The Wombles and …Abba. Sometimes the lyrics are lost in a noisy crowd but the punchline is the title which always gets a huge laugh. I won’t spoil the jokes but Her Ladyship couldn’t breathe for laughing at the newer ‘How Deep is your Glove’. Doonicans won by a cricket score.  I should have had a bet.                         Will Varley. Had the unenviable task of following the Doonicans. In an electric four-piece, he has one of those voices that seems to be about to burst into tears. He gave us the first (and second) ‘F’ word of the weekend.  He did nowt for me, and the rest of the audience seemed only to give him polite applause. But his short overrun generated some more interest. Plenty of people queueing up for cd signing.                      Sam Kelly and the Lost Boys. Nothing to do with the deceased ‘Porridge’ and’ Allo, Allo’ actor or the Keifer Sutherland comedy vampire film.  A sort of East Anglian Seth Lakeman. Mainly originals, they did an interesting ‘Sultans of Swing’, featuring some great banjo playing. They finished with mass jumping too.                              Afro Celt Sound System. By now it was lashing down and after the next twenty minutes of screaming women and endless percussion solos I knew what the term ‘water torture’ meant.  The rain and the ‘music’ went on for an hour.  What a gay day!                          Al Stewart. It was about now that I found it impossible to hold a book, pen and umbrella at the same time and keep the ink from running too. So apologies to Mr Stewart and his cohort for not logging details of their very good spot. Ralph McTell joined him on a Jackson C. Frank song.  ‘On the Border’, ‘Time Passages’ and his ‘hit’ ‘Year of the Cat’ were all well-received as were his anecdotes about Robert Fripp etc.  He deserved better weather.                         Fairport Convention and Friends. I was again rendered unable to write, courtesy of the relentless precipitation. But I remember ‘Crazy Man Michael’ making an early entrance. As usual plenty of instrumentals to show off their prowess, such as ‘Bankruptured’ and ‘Surfeit of Lampreys’.In fact , the opening half was very much in recognition of the forty years since the hugely untimely death of Sandy Denny. Plenty of guests came on to sing her songs including Iain Matthews and Fish, after a Denny slideshow. ‘Solo’ and ‘Who knows…’ went down well. Dave Pegg introduced ‘Walk awhile’ from the Full House lp as his first Fairport performance, it’s still great.  Maart came on again, fresh from his bass-playing with the Doonicans. But no Ralph McTell?  As usual, Fairport finish the set with ‘Matty Groves’ before coming back on to lead 20,000 piss-wet people through ‘Meet on the Ledge’.   A great end to a great weekend.

Music. Some great performances, some ok. In my opinion, of course.

Prices. Beer started with a 4, but this is Oxfordshire. The Welsh Oggies seem to have shrunk in size.

Security. Quite why we have to show our wristbands to go to the toilet, when we cannot have got there without having one anyway I don’t know. But never heavyhanded.

Campsite. Fine…and quiet!

Litter. As mentioned before. It’s as if the folky elements expect some lower class minimum wage people to pick up their crap.

Bar staff. Fine, unusual not to be shortchanged at a festival!

Village. It embraces the festival, which it makes financial sense to do. I found a cassette of Bob and the Band’s ‘Before the Flood’ for 50p. Plus a Howling Wolf double cd and my third copy of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s fantastic debut lp for a quid each.

We will return! Hoping for Pure Prairie League, New Riders of the Purple Sage or Little Feat next year. ( I made a similar request after 2013 but not successful! Check out the 2013 review.) If it is UB40 or The Buzzcocks again though we will be somewhere else. In fact , ANYwhere else.

And if Alison Krauss and Union Station are coming I will pick the litter up myself…with my teeth.

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