"Just about the perfect festival"
Well that was the comment I heard from more than one or two folk at the end of the latest weekend of hedonistic revelry. And I have to say I agree. You'd have to be really picky to find fault with this one. I am and I will (I really don't like the thick plastic wristbands) but my goodness this was very close to being flawless.
Let's start with arrival. After the fiasco of the campervan parking at Bearded Theory last month it was a joy to be directed straight to a marked pitch with no fuss. Likewise tent camping and parking was more organised with the only minor issue being the family camping was the furthest from the parking. We were soon pitched and heading into the arena, which was right next to the campsites, for the first performances.
This is a relatively small festival with a 5,000 maximum capacity but I don't think it reached that. A lot of the time it felt like a sub-1,000 event with people of all ages and plenty of families making for a friendly, relaxed atmosphere. The main arena was divided into two with the entrance and a few shops along the strip joining the two. One side had the main outdoor stage, another stage in a large marquee with a bar and a tent for dance music. The other side ("T'other field") had a large open area for games and activities and was also home to a good firepit with enough fuel to keep it going most of the night. Creative Intentions ran a colourful, popular cafe and hangout space and were responsible for the Acoustic Stage in one corner. This got a bit more than acoustic when it hosted a battle of the bands session for some talented young acts. I regretted not spending more time around this area but there was such a lot of good stuff going on elsewhere and you can't be everywhere, even at a small festival like this.
|Frankie & the Heartstings|
|Echo & the Bunnymen|
Fire Lady Luck made an excellent job of getting Saturday underway despite some light rain early on and the North-east theme continued with the superb Charlotte Yanni Band. They played the acoustic tent here last year but this was the first time I'd seen them. The band is led by the talented, enthusiastic and excited Charlotte Yanni, originally from France but now based in South Shields, hence the name of her two piece act 'Frog on the Tyne' which she performs with the full band's charismatic double-bass player Kev Charlton. Although quite varied the music was distinctly rock and blues flavoured with great original tunes and a superb rendition of The Cranberries Zombie.
|Charlotte Yanni Band|
Sorry about the sound quality on the video. Phone was a bit close to the speakers.
|Steve Williams and the Blues Deluxe|
|Bessie and the Zincbuckets|
While the sun shone, Manchester punks Goldblade were delivering a loud, energetic set to a pretty packed tent stage with a shirtless John Robb flying around stage and audience in stark contrast to the increasingly chilled and sleepy crowd now flopped out around the main arena. The next act on the main stage, Pearl Handled Revolver reflected this mood and thing moved on in a slow lazy way as we worked our way towards one of the weekend's highlights.
|New Groove Formation|
Headlining the main stage was Peter Hook & the Light but this wasn't really our thing so it was at this point we retired to the firepit in t'other field and watched Venus and Jupiter set together after the sun and the odd shooting star as we chatted and played a few songs into the never-really-dark solstice night. One of my only tiny criticisms of the festival was the firepit was a bit close to the Creative Intentions tent so the music from there was making the impromptu firepit jams hard to hear. Picky I know, but a slightly different location would do the trick.
|The Bar-steward Sons of Val Doonican|
Super early bird tickets are already on sale for 16th-19th June 2016. I've got mine. I hope you can make it too.
There are hundreds of superb photos of the festival goers at Andy R Photography. Take a look: