Well, this reviewer has been on this planet 46 years today. Let’s hope there are some good bands today to celebrate with.
The Drystone stage is the first to kick off today with two great acts early on. The first, Yann Tann
are a bunch of talented youngsters from a nearby music club and play a mixture of Irish Jigs and Reels. They are extremely talented and just what I need as the sun comes out.4 stars
Second up is a young chap called Jamie Francis
who is far more talented than he should be for his age. He plays a rocking dirty blues with nothing more than an acoustic guitar.3 stars
Over to the bar stage for I am Spartacus
, a friend of 6 music is definitely in the anti-folk camp, all stripped down and acoustic and really rather good.3 stars
Saturday at Solfest is fancy dress day and wandering around the arena are many versions of Alice in Wonderland (as this is this years theme), a mini Stig, fake Frenchmen, where’s Wally, a wedding party, Mr & Mrs Shrek and that is to name but a few! My favourite though is a bunch of kids who have very realistic masks of famous people including the entire Top Gear team. It is too freaky for words.
After a great birthday lunch of cheese, biscuits and red wine courtesy of my brother a very bizarre band called the Bikini Beach Band
take to the stage. They come on in full Hawaiian attire and amuse the crowd with instrumental surf ditties and very odd cover versions. Ironically after the first few bars it starts to rain and only stops when they play a cover of the Hawaii five-0 theme tune! This is too silly for words but the crowd love it and despite the rain everyone is singing and dancing.4 stars
After watching a few rather good bands in various small tents around the festival I turn up at the rain soaked main stage to see the legend that is Wilko Johnson
. This man has played on many of my favourite records being a member of Dr Feelgood and the Blockheads. After a slightly shaky start, they sort out the sound and storm through a collection of his songs. His style is part musician and part gangster as he slides around the stage using his guitar as a machine gun. I have to give a special mention to his bass player who even though he looks like the Granddad in the Adams Family plays some incredible bass guitar and is incredibly entertaining to watch. The band please the large and drenched crowd by playing a couple of Feelgood numbers as encores including the fabulous ‘She does it right’. 5 stars
I wander over to the bar stage and catch a few songs from a young band call Colt 45
. These guys sound very much like Green Day and have some great songs and a loyal following of devoted fans. Whilst there is nothing original about their set, it is played with enthusiasm and loads of energy. Great fun3 stars
Playing next on the main stage as the sun sets is the gorgeous Camille O Sullivan
. Unfortunately many of Camille’s songs are quiet and understated and the noise coming from the surrounding tents isn’t. You can tell Camille isn’t used to the festival experience but even though she tries not to let it show it is definitely niggling her. That said she gives as much passion and soul into all of her songs as she normally does.
The band is only half as big as normal and she plays a festival friendly set which doesn’t contain a lot of Brel but we are treated to storming versions of Amsterdam, Hurt and In these Shoes before ending with one of the best versions of the Ship Song I have heard. She goes off after a far too short set but comes back to play two more songs, one of which is the sublime Rock n Roll suicide. Festival may not be suited to Camille but she still shined tonight.5 stars
And so to the Damned
. This is their 30th anniversary tour but unlike many retro bands doing the rounds at the moment they have improved with age. Gone are the drunken ramshackle performances of old. Instead we get an almost polished performance, delighting the largest crowd of the day. We do get a load of new material but all the old favourites are belted out with fury including New Rose, Neat, Neat, Neat and Eloise.
The Captain is on top comical form and his guitar playing is magnificent. Monty makes the crowd laugh during Neat, Neat, Neat with front of stage crazy dancing.
All too quickly the disappear but come back on with a hilarious version of Jet Boy, Jet Girl which gets half the crowd scratching their heads and the other half singing along loudly. They finish their set with Smash it up and we can all go home happy or rather we can’t because the UK subs are about to perform in the bar stage.5 stars
And so, at midnight the UK subs
take to the smaller Bar stage, Charlie looking stranger than ever compared to his young, very punk looking band. Any thoughts that this man is too old to perform are quickly dispelled as he rips into a set of all the old hits and some new songs too. The band are really on form too, most of the Damned’s audience have come along and are really letting their hair down and slam dancing like they are still 19. I think the copious amount of alcohol consumed is the main reason though.4 stars
And so ends Saturday and one of the best birthdays I have had in ages.
All photos by Dave Thorpe