Tag Archives: Unorfadox

Hope Festival. Warlingham. 25-27 May 2018

An early outdoor festival in the calendar, we have been for the last few years and always enjoyed it. Check out past reviews. Advance apologies for any errors re names. Also apologies for any acts being missed while we were chatting.

Friday. First on is Tom McQ. A familiar face to Hope regulars, via his mid 60s Donovan/Dylan appearance.  Good original songs, Her Ladyship commented that it was a good start to proceedings.             Unorfadox. Festy favourites of ours, the name has been going for more than 4 decades. Brian is a great front man, check out some great vintage photos on Youtube!  Good songs , including ‘Generation B’, ‘ Silent Hurricane’ and their excellent ditty about being at the Roxy. Still Bromley’s best-kept secret.                 Flakey Jake.   Drums/sax/accordian.  Ska to the fore, unusual enough to be popular.                         Carnaby Army  .   ‘Louie Louie’ and ‘The Seeker’ were the openers, I didn’t bother after that. basic pub covers outfit which we could see in our local pub. And selling t-shirts?!  But the pitiful reflection on today’s live music is that there were more in to watch this lot churn out covers than there were to watch Unorfadox play their own stuff.                         Port ErinThree young men with beards playing original songs. I seem to remember thinking they were decent last time. ‘Chaos in the Streets ‘ got some feet tapping .              Sasha and the Shades.  Another face that I seem to remember from previous events, with a young man on vocals with a much older set of tonsils.   The female on vocals gave it a sound not unlike the 1968 Jefferson Airplane.  They were very good.                        Mick O’Toole . Described as ‘folk punk’, my description is ‘Plastic Paddies’.  ‘Irish Rover’ is featured early and the set is an extension of that. Being told to put my hands in the air as a beginning doesn’t exactly get me on their side either. Tedious, but popular so ‘de gustibus non est disputandum’. (Apologies if my O level Latin isn’t quite accurate).          And that was Friday.  Some very good stuff…and some not so good. Still ok though.

Saturday.  The DJ in the Bar Stage decided, at 11.30 am, to unleash some AC/DC on us. I can only assume that a) his girlfriend is called Rosie  , b) he told her to listen out for the song   c) she lives in f**kin Dover because the dB level was ridiculous.  Especially annoying for those sitting outside when young Leon Tilbrook came on the other stage and they hoped to listen to him. A seasoned performer by now, he didn’t have his well-known father to help out today. Plenty of his peers there to give him a good reception.                                Gavin Martin. Irish punk poet with recorded music back-up. Had to include the word ‘f**kin’ though.                      James and Jonty. Due on the other stage at 1.00pm , it was about 1.15pm when a bloke with a leg in a pot hobbled up. More poetry, Her Ladyship liked him.                          The Random People.  Four teenage girls who seemed to be about forty years too late, as opposed to fifteen minutes as was the bloke in a pot.   But, bless’em, original songs. It made us chuckle when she included lots of obligatory ‘f’ words in one song. Sounded so polite! Plenty of peers and parents there to applaaud them.                 Small Victories. Two young men with shades on drums and guitar/vocals. Seemingly the bass player had to cry off on the Pat and Mick.    But they managed extraordinarily well as a duo.   Own stuff with festival favourite ‘Gloria’ thrown in . We got briefly more excited when we thought he announced a Spirit cover, but it was , I think, Spiritualized.                       Jimmy Regal and the Royals. Their appearance hinted at the onset of ska/Two Tone, but, no, they were a decent blues-based outfit. ‘Look Out’ had an ‘On the Road Again’ feel and some Bo Diddley is always welcome.  They finished with ‘Just Because’, which was much longer than my Flying Burrito Brothers version. Enjoyed them.                 Mee and the Band. Wacky duo, surely influenced by Bjork, Kate Bush and even Peter Gabriel?  They must have put a lot of work into the performance and went down well.      (Did I see Steve Boltz Bolton from Atomic Rooster walking around?)             Databass. Another occasion when the other stage was still going when this one started up.  Dave Ripp on bass, so it was always going to be what I understand to be ‘dub’ based. Plenty in to watch. We sat outside.                             Weird Cousins. B/D/G group with female vocals. Drowned out by Main Stage dj who thought it more important to play a load of ska.   They weren’t all that remarkable really. Harsh?  Maybe, but realistic.                             Hannah Scott. Young singer/songwriter with a decent songs and voice. But just basic chord strumming is just too…basic?                  Dead’s Man Corner. Well that’s what it said on the board! It is the afore-mentioned Steve Boltz’s side group.  Very much based  on sixties rock and roll. Some Billy Fury, Johnny Kidd and the Pirates and ‘Is Vic there?’.  Also Memphis Minnie’s ‘When the levee breaks’. Enjoyable set, you can send Mr B a seventieth birthday card next year!                       Twangers. More Hope regulars. ‘Man of Constant Sorrow’ set the scene.                         Dishy Tangent. Starting on time, with ‘twanging’ still happening across the way.  Now getting an annoying feature!  Drummer looked and sounded like he should have been in a much heavier outfit. But, again, full marks for playing original stuff.                    Hobo and the Hippies.  More Plastic Paddies, from a few miles down the road.                    Aunt Nelly. Five piece soul combo with female vocalist.                       Professor No Hair and the Wig Lifters. Sub-Ronnie Scott’s jazz stuff but a) warmer in the tent than outside and b) away from a couple of intrusive wimmin who decided that it was perfectly ok to invade our company.   Got some boogie woogie piano and a Booker T-sounding number. Bass solo! Drum solo!  ‘Mojo Working’ got some feet tapping.   Not our sort of stuff really.  Afore -mentioned couple came back to pester us again.  We were so fed up we went . Of course, if I had told them to ‘F**k off’ I would have been homophobic, they would have claimed. In fact, totally not. Is probably xenophobic , if xenophobic means not liking total strangers boring us with details of their tedious f**kin existence.        Went to bed, been awake for a long time. Just beat the rain.

Sunday. Tunehead.  Opening three numbers sounded very much like one of those Steely Dan b-sides which featured an instrumental mix.  In fact, one was a Jaco Pastorius number.  Freddy Husband, Grover Washington and a couple of Miles Davis tunes  came along. Not our genre but much better on a Sunday lunchtime than having some youngster telling us to wake up and put our hands in the air.                            Pelican Assembly. Low-key tapalong stuff with female trumpeter. again, ok for the time and day.                      Interrupted by Memphis  across the way doing their pub covers . ‘Roxette’ got Her Ladyship to her feet, it does no matter who is playing it.    Rolling Stones stuff well in evidence, but , after being marginally overserved the night before, a barrage of King Crimson would have been a bit misplaced.  Strangely, we were talking about Lou Reed’s ‘Transformer’ when they started up ‘Walk on the Wild Side’!  I decided to say my Lottery numbers out loud! *             Ukedelix   Women with ukeleles . Struggled with Roy Orbison, but who wouldn’t ?                              Stone Cold Fiction   Youthful power trio with original songs. Keep it up lads.               Dave Bassey. We got talking to a couple of women whose musical knowledge far exceeded ‘Bat out of Hell’, ‘Queen’s Greatest Hits Vol 1-3’ and Robbie Williams so missed watching Mr B and friend. Which was unfortunate, because anyone who starts with the Flying Burrito Brothers and includes Steve Earle, Little Feat and even Manassas in their repertoire will definitely get our attention next year.                                    Similarly missed the excellent Nigel Clark across the field.   Her Ladyship went across and and said he was great, as he had been before. She was especially moved by his rendition of Tom Waits’ ‘I hope I don’t fall in love with you’.                           Alex and the Wonderland.    Early showing of reggae and funky stuff.   All for people doing their own stuff but this lot didn’t interest me.  They seemed to have plenty of friends there to listen to a quasi-Jamiroquai number and Johnny Nash’s ‘Cupid’ sped up my exit.  Went across to await the arival of the excellent Mazaika.                                Like some before them , they came onstage on time but said there was no point trying to play over the other lot who thought they were wonderful enough to overrun. The woman was quite rightly annoyed . Frustrating that a couple of world class musicians whose presence would not go astray in the Royal Albert Hall were kept waiting by a load of bog standard, going-nowhere tw*ts who wouldn’t fill the Royal Albert pub in Grimsby.    Eventually they got going with their blend of hot swing, classic, Russian folk song music and Django Reinhardt.  Absolutely imperious musicians, Brian Unorfadox was in total agreement. He rightly also commented about the eclectic nature of the weekend’s music. I spotted an old biddy in a purple tie-dyed dress having a good jig to ‘Hava Nagila’ and then thought ‘ Sh*t, it’s Her Ladyship in her latest purchase!’. Worth every penny of their fee, which hopefully was in the tens of thousands of pennies Dave!         To end the event, Hope All Stars  mega ska jam session.  Definitely zed-time!

So, overall? An enjoyable weekend, met our festifriends and basked in the sunshine.  Predicted Sunday storm didn’t quite get to us thankfully but there was a spectacular lightning display witnessed from inside our tent in the early hours of Sunday morning. We never got down to the Piano Bar, so apologies for not covering the events there.

1. Music. Eclectic as usual, with the emphasis probably on ska. Missed the usual bonus of unannounced presence of Squeeze or members thereof though.

2. Food. More choice this year but £4.00 for ‘real’, ‘large’ chips!?

3. Bar. Price £4.00 a pint. OK, not Wetherspoons but not JFK Airport prices either!  But staff? Got to be said…hopeless. The number of times we were quoted wrong prices and (almost) given wrong change was far too many. Her Ladyship actually once gave some change back!  The gesture of giving eg £10.20 to make giving change easier on a round of £8.20 should have made things simpler but caused multiple aneurysms, And the fact that appeals were going out at the last minute for help behind the bar just doesn’t wash. The person getting the contract should surely have to provide a well-prepared, quality service. What if all the musicians had turned up without instruments and asked if anyone had a guitar?

4.Security. Seemed fine but certainly not intrusive.

5. Dogs. Once again ‘No Dogs Allowed’ was the order. So why let these tw*ts in with dogs who are just laughing at the stated conditions?

6. Scheduling of stages. The boards seemed to indicate one stage finish/other one starts. Too many instances of acts not sticking to an important schedule.

But a good, friendly event. Getting slightly more popular though.

Anyone wanting to use any of the photos is welcome to do so, it would be nice to credit Her Ladyship though!


Hope Festival. nr Biggin Hill. 26-28. 05. 2017

Our third time here, it is a long way from God’s own county, we really enjoyed our previous two festivals here. We broke the drive up by stopping Thursday in Peterborough at our mate’s house, and ended up in a not-unexpected state of marginal overservededness.

Friday. Managed to get to the site in good time and there followed a two-pronged attack on Aldi lager and B&M Chateau El Dogrougho.  Went to the Piano Bar where Tom McQ was playing.  Singer/ guitarist, visually firmly entrenched in mid-60s Dylan/Donovan. A song about Chorley Woods suggested different origins. Cans in the Piano Bar were £2.50, a 25% increase on last year. What about inflation at 2%?!            Main Stage was Millions.  We listened from the field. The closing ‘Unchained Melody’ was …interesting.        Sasha and Band. Her Ladyship was impressed with the soundcheck, the singer certainly having a set of tonsils well beyond his years. Occasionally got a whiff of the Doors, and was there a James cover? Her Ladyship liked them but we went over to get a seat in the main tent. I am sure Dave Ripp the organiser will understand that it was not to see his outfit, The Ripp-Offs, but to get a good spot for the following act!  (Two young chaps from that popular beat combo Squeeze.).  Dave and co ran through songs from the likes of  Blondie, The Trashmen/Ramones, Motorhead, Buzzcocks, Clash and Undertones. Finishing off with the Sex Pistols and a show-stealing guest vocalist.  Pleasantly potty.            Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook.   The two Squeeze stalwarts doing a duo. And starting out to a half full tent? Not for long. We spent the set a couple of yards away from Mr T, and what a set it was.  Starting with ‘Take Me I’m Yours’ and finishing with ‘Goodbye Girl’, there was barely a drop in tempo, apart from some running repairs during ‘Black Coffee in Bed’. Great to hear ‘Electric Trains’ and ‘Some Fantastic Place’ again alongside the more regular numbers.  ‘Tempted’ (my favourite) was maybe a bit too funky for me, and no room for ‘Labelled with Love’ but that is picking of nits. A brilliant performance, even C.D. was smiling…honest! Her Ladyship was kindly given G.T.’s set list, so check out the running order when it appears at the end of the review.                 Unorfadox. Following on the Bar Stage, what a job to have to follow Mssrs D and T. Remember when The Who were due to headline a rather large 60s festival, following Jimi Hendrix and Pete Townshend said’ No way’ and they went on before him?  Unorfadox have a foot firmly planted in 70s punk, maybe one and a half feet even. As they should! Good songs, good playing, and Brian is a very good front man. Even a song about Nick Drake , who I just never  got.  ‘Little Universe’ was drowned out by some screeching females behind us  who must have thought they were auditioning for Eastenders. Brian told us afterwards he was quite pleased with their slot, it was a good contrast to Difford and Tilbrook. And they got a great reception.    So, a good day for starters.  Occasional drunken moron, but not a problem.

Saturday.   Mixed weather, staff already cleaning the field. The concept of 10p deposit on bio-degradeable pots is a great help. There were swarms of kids collecting them!  Leon Tilbrook is first up, this time without his more famous father helping out. Starting off with ‘Oh Well’ to loosen his fingers, he has a young voice, but he would have! After all, his dad was nowt but a bairn when he started Squeeze.  Plenty of unusual chords from young Leon, not regulation 12 bar blues stuff. Stick McGhee’s ‘Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee’ got an airing. Should he be singing about this at his age!? He is already a veteran performer though.        Small Victories.   3-piece, with Dave Ripp doing some extra-curricular drum tech work.    Not long before Flaky Jake started up on accordian on the bar stage…plus drums.  I was nervous when ‘Life on Mars’ started up , the karaoke singer’s kiss of death. But he nailed it! ‘All you need is Love’ got a maritime coda, and ‘I am the Walrus’, ‘Ashes to Ashes’ and ‘Sunshine Superman’ made for a wonderfully wacky show.        Some country sounds from Dave Sutherland drifted across. I went over. Guitarist suitably adorned in Nudie shirt and Fender Telecaster.         Tom McQ started out early on the Bar Stage, thereby drowning out Dave S. Not very sensible advice.         Port Erin. Three young bearded men.  Bit of a Ferry-ish vocal delivery early on, some heavy effects on the guitar. A good sound from a trio, the audience grew from a small beginning.               Darwin’s Quilt. I think I have described them previously as grown-up music for grown-ups. And why not?     Glenn T was still there, generously keeping the bar afloat.     Siobahn Parr Trio.  She has a good voice and good songs.  Finished with Percy Sledge’s ‘Warm and Tender Love. Good applause.     Twangers. Started with the traditional ‘Man of Constant Sorrow’. Everyone does the Alison Krauss and Union Station version now. What happened to Bob Dylan or even Ginger Baker’s Air Force?   Guitarist was from Dave Sutherland’s group, he had a bit of  a John McLaughlin jazz guitar solo. ( He appeared to have definitely been more than marginally overserved but why not? Just having fun, his fee was, I suspect somewhat, less than the size of Godzilla’s dad’s dick.  They went down well.        Moviestar  . I think last year I didn’t even  attempt to compare them with anything on this Earth or Fuller’s Earth. As they are from the future anyway, it is impossible.  We left Rhythmic Raymond to undertake his customary groove at the front and stayed a safe distance. Wonderful to see hundreds of grown men ‘whoa-whoaing’ along. The heroes of last year’s festival, check out their identity on t’ t’Internet. Norway’s finest, but they haven’t got much bloody competition have they? The next best thing is a capital city which is a lifeline  for cryptic crossword setters. Blissfully bonkers.                    Nigel Clark . From 90s popsters Dodgy, straight away he is more than a notch or two above the usual fest afternoon filler.  He gave us a version of Blaze Foley’s ‘Oval Room’, written in the Reagan era but equally valid today. ‘Staying out for the Summer’ was given an airing, of course and he was a touch of class.         Now.  Slight diversion if I may. Why is it you can go into a Wetherspoon’s anywhere at midday, and there will always be a plastered grey-haired bloke who will tell you he used to be a roadie for Led Zeppelin?  And this is every bloody Wetherspoon’s! Amazing!  Anyway, reason for the digression is one of them came to talk to us at our table, so we sloped off to sit near the fire pit down near the Piano Bar.   Came back up for Gary Sanford and some blues.  ‘Crossroads’ for starters , loads of w*nkered blokes lurching about.  Things got more up-tempo with ‘Iko Iko’, ‘Willie and the Hand Jive’ and ‘Rolling and Tumbling’.   Got aurally assaulted by some ska sh*te from the other stage so decided I was ‘Leaving on a Zed Plane’. It had been a long but good  day.

Sunday. Toilets clean, they usually are.  Music not due until 2-ish, and sadly the excellent Mazaika cancelled, so even later .  DJ in Bar Stage started well with His Royal Bobness ‘Stuck inside of Mobile…’, but then went into extended ska mode. A bit self-indulgent, ‘don’t do requests’, he told us (more than once) about his ambition to be on Radio 2. You are already there mate, you are called Bob Harris.   Anyway, eventually it is Memphis. ‘Swing’ stuff. Bit of a dodgy intro to ‘All Over Now’, and ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ was a surprise.  DJ put on ‘Godzilla’ by BOC! Great , thought Her Ladyship, then he cut it off.                Oskar Vilcrow. Another male 3-piece. Heavyish, punkish first song, second was just heavy.   Moviestar Vik liked them.  Not long songs, they were effective.  Quite a few went off to see Spacedogs on the Main Stage. , I listened from afar. Her Ladyship went over to undertake some serious cosmic teacake grooving.    The heavens opened, as had been forecasted, and Fake the Juggler suffered sound cut-outs in the Bar Stage, but like real troupers carried on acoustically.  Well-received.        Levent and Taylor. Two young men, guitar and keyboards, who soundchecked with a pleasant 12 bar blues. Then attacked us with a 200 mph jazz instrumental…followed by another! (It could have been the same one played backwards).   Lots of wild cheering but this sort of stuff does nothing for either of us. OK, it adds to the eclecticism of the bill but two near-rhyming words spring to mind. ‘Genius’ and ‘tedious’. One describes Chuck Berry, the other this lot. No prizes for working out my allocations. It didn’t help that I was in a such a state of advanced alcoholic dishevellment that I decided the long-haired keyboard player, in a skirt, was a woman! I eventually conceded that she was a swarthy woman, due to the facial hair.            Next up, Bruise. Favourites of Rhythmic Raymond.   I got chatting at the bar to John from RenattaJane, who were due on across at the Main Stage.    I tentatively enquired if they played ska stuff, but he assured me not. By then, I was probably talking like The Flowerpot Men*, so would have probably watched them if they had been the Australian Pink Floyd. ( * Was it Bill or was it Ben? I probably sounded like a hybrid. I think only people over 60 will know what I am on about!).)             RenattaJane. Did see them last year, thought they had that scratchy Franz Ferdinand Fender sound/rhythm. And still did, but with balls.  But we watched the whole set this time. John (the drummer), has a style reminiscent of Simon from the Hot Rods. Can’t say higher than that. They were very good.  Two things occurred to me . Second song had a piece of John hitting the rim. Try a cowbell, mate?  And, not wishing to sound too petty, but Mr Bassist could you maybe drop the Steve Harris foot-on-the-monitor, running around stuff? Honestly, it just looks a bit naff and detracts from the other lads. Sorry! Cheers John!        In the final strait. Hope All Stars.   Started with some JJ Cale, who better at this stage in the weekend?  Not surprisingly, reggae was not far away. ‘Hard to Handle’ got much bopping and at that point my pen and paper took refuge . Moviestar Vik and Glenn T were still there .

What a great festival this is. Good ethos, good company, good music, good behaviour, good beer.        OK, some of the music not to my taste, and is £4.20 a reasonable price for beer? I will leave final judgement until September after our final fest.

‘Absolutely NO DOGS’, is in the T&C’s.  Well there were 2 f*ckin big fieldmice there!     Organiser Dave R reckons attendance now is 1000. No camp shop? I agree with Dave, I am quite happy not to have a Sunday paper or Internet access, I am happy on Planet Hope all weekend. I learned that 2 teams of foreigners were playing in an English cup final. It could be sponsored by Kentucky Fried Chicken , or Qatar Airlines nowadays.  Down to who lines the F.A.’s pockets now. Surprised the referee is still English…but then again, I haven’t checked.

And thanks so much to those two thoughtful blokes who parked their estate car near the toilets at 8.00 am Monday morning , opened the doors and blasted out their car stereo. I hadn’t realised that cleaning toilets now involved some sort of revolutionary method of massive sound wave attacks which dislodged the dirt. Isn’t science amazing?

Nearly forgot. Beer supplies? Almost impossible to judge, but close to running out of everything late Sunday night. Just when I was thinking it may have been sensible to have an emergency stock of cans, Dave R emerged from his Transit with what looked like 50% of Kingston Jamaica’s annual intake of Red Stripe. He has been here before!!

Thanks Dave R, look forward to next year


A New Day Festival, Mt Ephraim Gardens, 5-8.8.2016

Inaugural A New Day Festival. Dave Rees, the man behind the founding of the Weyfest Festival, decided to do his own festival, having seen his ethos for Weyfest being transformed into a hard-nosed profit-is-all variation featuring tired 80s has-beens rather than the festival for fans of Tull, Trower and others from a decade earlier. And the setting is just as good as Weyfest.

Friday. Arrived there late, having been held up for an hour near the Dartford Crossing.  We were ordered to our camping spot by a blonde woman in a Weyfest t-shirt, who constantly told us to move our car to the car park asap. Which is fair enough, but the blindingly obvious problem with this system means that anyone who wants to leave on Sunday night has no chance of getting their car back anywhere near their tent. (Get some yellow lines down to make ‘roads’.) Or even early Monday morning! And as it turned out, with no lights on the camp site!  But as Family once said…Anyway.

Unorfadox. Only managed to catch the last few minutes, which was a shame. We thought they were pretty good at the Hope Festival (see earlier review).    The Undivided. There is ‘Nothing like roots reggae music’ according to them.  Well, I certainly agree with that.  Although having an investigative procedure to check for bladder irregularities  probably comes pretty close, believe me.        Nashville Teens.    Remember seeing them back in the 70s at Hull University with the Troggs, and Ray Phillips is still on lead vocals. Missed their opening song, got to the other stage for ‘Hoochie Coochie Man’. We then got 3 Spencer Davis Group hits, a couple  from the Stones and 3  from the Who.  Their ‘biggie’ Tobacco Road’ brought their set to a close.  Apart from the name, nothing really to distinguish them from a bunch of decent musos doing 60s stuff. To be fair, Mr P was born before World War 2 so he’s not doing so bad.        Heavy Metal Kids. Gary Holton has long since left us, of course, but they still have some hard-core fans. Mr and Mrs Rhythmic Raymond being amongst them. ‘Rock Candy’ got some feet tapping and ‘She’s no Angel’ always goes down well.  Her Ladyship likes them.         Ignored the loathsome concept that is Limehouse Lizzy coming from the other stage.  I would have ignored the original too, but there were plenty watching.          Blockheads.  Sadly we never saw Ian Dury and Co live, so were interested to see the Blockheads.  Plenty of familiar tunes, guaranteed to keep the crowd singing and dancing. Still featuring Mssrs Watt-Roy, Jankel, Turnbull and Gallagher which gives them more than enough credibilty. Enjoyed them.            Jackie Lynton.  A Weyfest perennial, always entertaining, and rude!  Classics like ‘I’m Ready’. ‘Mess of Blues’, ‘Tulsa Time’ (a brilliant TWO chord song) and ‘You can’t always get what you want’ hit the spot, as does the closing ‘My babe’ medley.  Ideal festival fare.          Wilko Johnson.   A quick return to the stage for bass wizard Blockhead Norman . A change to the start of the set from the last time we saw Mr Wilkinson, but we were soon into ‘Dr Dupree’, ‘Going back Home’, ‘Roxette’, ‘Sneakin Suspicion’ and ‘Paradise’ .  ‘Gun’ still gets the drawn out treatment, but ‘Back in the night’, ‘She does it right’ and ‘Johnny B Goode’ send everybody back to their beds with a smile.  A very good opening day.

Saturday. Gate didn’t open at 11.30 am, put back 30 mins. Hope it was only a coincidence that Mr Anderson demanded the tent be cleared at Acoustic Fest some years back while Jethro Tull sound checked. (2000 people duly left, we and a dozen others refused).  So, eventually, Krankschaft.   Hawkwind fans were at the front, the first sound was keyboards which must have been courtesy of Mr Sony? The 3-piece of guitar/vocals, bass and drums proceeded to firmly dislodge any cobwebs from yesterday. Criminally short set, but a great start.       Flutatious.  Fronted by two females on flute and violin, by the fourth completely instrumental number things were just washing over us. We did get some brief vocals, but these totally instrumental performances don’t work for me. (I am sure their fans , and followers of eg Jean Michel Jarre and Mike Oldfield, would beg to differ). Still very good musicians.       Karnataka.    Standard female-fronted 5-piece prog line-up.  Lots of middle-aged lonely men at the front. Their eyes were obviously rivetted on the four male musicians and not the provocatively-clad female singer.  A bit heavier musically than any of the Mostly Autumn extended family, they had a particularly energetic (and hairy) drummer.       Leatherat. Her Ladyship likes them. Weyfest (and other festival) regulars. I suspect they will be A.N.D. regulars too.                Focus.   Like the Enid, who were on the other stage, and Curved Air (also to be on the other stage), Focus very much live in the progressive era of the 70s, but that is very much the audience that A.N.D. are aiming at …and there are plenty of people out there still. It was that time when it was almost obligatory to put out a double LP (Yes, Focus, ELP, Capt Beefheart, Rolling Stones etc. Wings went for a triple LP, as did Yes and ELP !)  They start out with ‘Focus 1’ (?) and soon give us the Tull-like ‘House of the King’. ‘Eruption’ started and I went to change into warmer clothes. It was still going when I got back.  We got a good version of ‘Sylvia’, a track from their last LP , ‘Focus 10’, and ‘Hocus Pocus’.  (‘Hocus Pocus’ by Focus!! ). They went down well.                Caravan.     Local lads done good,  the set had a familiar ring to it. Early numbers from ‘For girls…’ and the title track from ‘In the Land of Grey and Pink’.  Geoffrey Richardson is back as MC and introduces ‘The dog, the dog…’. We got talking, so I stopped taking notes, and left before the end to get a spot for Ian Anderson  on Stage 1. (It was either the Fork Handles Stage or the Four Candles Stage. Cunningly difficult to SAY to somebody which stage you will be at! . Good one Dave!).  Mr A had a young man helping his struggling vocal cords when we last saw him, it worked well.  This time Mini-Me (good analogy Ray!) wasn’t there , so we were a bit concerned. Energetic as ever, Mr A was straight into ‘Living in the Past’, followed by ‘Nothing is easy’ and the shortened ‘Thick as a Brick’. OK, his voice was shot 20 years ago, but he made a pretty good go at it. There were a few newer numbers but the crowd were still treated to older classics such as ”Sweet Dream’, ‘Songs from the Wood’, ‘My God’, ‘Bouree’ and ‘Dharma for One’. A not-unexpected finale with ‘Aqualung’ and ‘Locomotive Breath’ confirmed the billing as ‘Ian Anderson plays the music of Jethro Tull’ , or words to that effect.     And he did it pretty well. For me, the current line-up sounds like another version of the constantly changing group that was Jethro Tull.                     By the time Stray came on I am sure Mr Anderson will have been tucked up in bed with a cup of Horlicks and some industrial strength Strepsils to calm his aching throat.     Stray launch into ‘Come on over to my place’ from ‘Mudanzas’ and follow it with songs from the first LP and ‘Suicide’.   Always a steady outfit, we left as another shortened set was closing with ‘All in your Mind’.      Another very good day’s music.

Sunday.  Yet again, delays in starting on Stage 1, although it appeared that there were some unfortunate circumstances behind True Deceivers non-appearance.  Good new was that John Otway would be on sooner and longer to entertain his trusty disciples.  For those who are not familiar with the phenomenon, he basically has to be seen AND heard, as opposed to the old cliche ‘seen and not heard’. Her Ladyship had been to buy some flowers in readiness. Again, fans will understand. Starting out with the now first hit and the ‘B’ side, it is classic Otway. ‘Blockbuster’, ‘Middle of winter’, the Mobile phone song, ‘Louisa on a Horse’, ‘Body talk’, ‘I will survive’, ‘Bunsen Burner’, ‘House of the Rising Sun’, ‘Josephine’, ‘Rumpelstiltskin’, ‘You  ain’t seen nothing yet’ and his lament for his beloved Cheryl gives way to tumultuous applause. There were quite a few Otway virgins there, made obvious by the urine stains on the fronts of their trousers.  He has cleverly incorporated roadie Deadly into the act as his stooge. One-time guitarist Richard Holgarth is now seemingly a permanent resident in the Hot Rod Hotel. Should be on every human being’s  bucket list to see (and hear)  the man.            Spank the Monkey.   A good, solid blues/R&B outfit, they give us a sensible blend of original material and covers of such as ‘Watch your step’, ‘Ain’t got no money’, ‘Come on in my kitchen’ and’ Ain’t that loving you baby’ . Worth checking out.                 The corpse of Bill Posters Will Be Band was still warm when the entity that is Bonzo Bills rose arthritically from it . Mssrs Spear and Spoons from the original Bonzos are still there. Miraculously so, as their two combined ages must surely be approaching the boiling point of water in degrees Fahrenheit!? And the former’s props would probably challenge any carbon dating.  Megs still steering the ship too.  Fans of Bill Posters knew we were in for some serious  Billfoolery.  (Can I claim that as a new word for the OED as a close relative of Tomfoolery?).  ‘Jollity farm’ and ‘Hunting tigers out in India’ were on the bill (sorry, couldn’t resist)  and like Otway it is very much an audio-visual multimedia experience.  Again, a must see and chuckle event.     Nine Below Zero. Have been a fan since seeing them support the Who in Birmingham, and I was a bit surprised to see Dennis Greaves had decided to add a sax, trumpet, female vocalist and keyboards to the tried and trusted line-up.   Did it work? It was CR*P!!  A horrible jazzy, funky soul soundcheck gave way to expanded versions of all the 9BZ classics.  I stopped writing down the song titles. They were all there but played in some awful cruise liner mode. We saw Rhythmic Raymond exit stage left after about 4 minutes, we stuck it out until the end. Ray reckoned it was a watered down version of Jools Holland (and his ‘bland band  for the coffee table set’).   Dennis, get a bloody grip! It was so mindnumbingly bloody dull.  But the people in the tent next to us thought it was great, so there you are!             Martin Barre Band.  Tull guitarist for some 43 years, we have seen him since he ‘left’ Mr Anderson’s company three times, I think.   ‘Teacher’ was very muddy, and two female assistants came to the mics to give us a bluesy number very similar to the stuff on one of his cassettes I have (was it his ‘Summer Band’? Something like that, can’t find the tape).   Interesting variations on ‘Sweet Dream’, ‘Fat Man’, Skating away..’ and  ‘Love Story’ to keep his long-time fans in the loop.    By now it had been blindingly obvious that the stage had been beset by ‘problems’ all day…and all of the night.  Which is an excruciating link to the venerable                  Stranglers Was it going to be a festival-friendly ‘Greatest Hits’ show or a ‘Here is another one off our new record’ show. Well, they haven’t got a new record so option numero uno was straight into gear with ‘Tank’.  It was a real power display. ‘Straighten out’, ‘Grip’, my all-time favourite ‘5 Minutes’, ‘Nice ‘n’ Sleazy’, ‘Golden Brown’, ‘Always the Sun’, ‘Skin Deep’, ‘Hanging around’, ‘Something better change’ , ‘Peaches’, ‘Duchess’, ‘All day and all of the night’ and ‘No more heroes’. Another couple I didn’t recognise, they could have played as long again with another set of ‘classics’.     A great show to finish off a cracking weekend of music.

There were some great and some not so great aspects. The scheduling did go astray, but when the MC tells us about problems we ‘Don’t want to know about’ it is a touch condescending.   Biggest complaint was the toilets.  Personally, I didn’t see any of the interiors of the cubicles…I had been warned!  But the number of toilets seemed woefully inadequate , especially on the camp site. Is there a legal requirement per capita, is there a ‘recommended’ number or is there a ‘see how few we can get away with’ number. Needs a serious rethink. By far the biggest reason why people will not come again, which would be a shame. The music was of a high standard, the beer was good and reasonably priced. BUT, charging £2.00 for a half when a pint is £3.50 is just unacceptable sharp practice. And, Dave, when someone mentions to you that it is not on (his girlfriend drinks halves) , to give a smarta*se reply that no-one drinks halves is unnecessary and doesn’t put you in a good light.  Stewards were fine and friendly.  Good food variation. People commenting about the fact that the organisers should have not had any problems as they have had years of experience at eg Weyfest, should realise that each site has its own logistical challenges though. But as it says in the programme, ‘comments’ are invited, so don’t just sit at home and moan, tell them!

Overall, despite some problems, we thought it was a great festival. The main stage arena was very similar to Cropredy (plus 2 big trees). Croppers has a good policy of dancers/standers at the front and sitters further back. So don’t bloody stand up halfway up the hill where people have been sitting for hours! Stand at the front (or side) ! Brilliant weather helped, of course, but I am sure after after some adjustments it will be back next year.