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.