01 July 2012 (gig)
10 July 2012
There's a full day of folking goodness in store for us today, and it's not raining.....yet! We arrive and head straight for the Biotic stage, (actually inside one of the Biomes) where we catch the final strains of Cornwall based 4 piece Bragatanga who's traditional brand of world folk music seems to have packed out the surreal jungle setting, with people peering at the band from behind all kinds of exotic plants and trees.
Next on here are 90's indie kids Dodgy. It's unclear how many of the several hundred strong audience are sure exactly who these middle aged guys are taking the stage, but as soon As Nigel strums the opening chords of In A Room, recognition sweeps around the crowd.
Nigel tells us how they watched Fleet Foxes here last year and dreamed of playing here themselves.....and here they are, Ok they didn't make the main stage, if this place was here in the mid 90's they'd have been headlining, but today the're happy to lead the crowd in a singalong of their greatest hits with a few, actually very good new tunes. Highlights are the always thought provoking If You're Thinking of Me, the wonderfully catchy Homegrown (which Nigel says should have been the theme tune to a gardening programme !), and 90's anthems Staying out for the Summer and monster singalong finale Good Enough.
Punctuated with some witty banter ( including Matthew's tale about their friend Mick Terry snogging Mel B back stage at the Smash Hits Awards) and a lot of smiles, here is a reformed band that are doing what they do best, in quite a unique setting ( Nigel took some photos of the crowd when they came on saying it's the weirdest gig they've ever played) making some old fans very happy, and claiming a few new ones along the way.
Due to Dodgy's late start and extended set we miss Staves over on the Main Stage, but get there in time to join a largely bemused crowd in watching the hugely under rated Mull Historical Society. They start off with 2001 single, Watching Xanadu and faultlessly play a great set including new single Must You Make Eyes With Me Now, and a sample of their back catalogue including several from their hard to beat debut album Loss. Although it's clear not many people here are familiar with the band, after a couple of attempts by Colin to get a bit of a singalong going, the audience get going a bit, none more so than to their infectious debut single Barcode Bypass, which he tells us was written about working for Directory Enquiries on their home Scottish Island of Mull.
Seth Lakeman and his band Liven up the crowd a little with their more traditional edged folk tunes, with tales about blacksmiths and mining providing a very westcountry feel to the proceedings, including one song which was actually recorded down a dis-used copper mine! Set's fine Fiddling skills leave the audience in awe at times.
As the Evening starts to draw in, one of the bands a lot of people have been waiting for all day come to the stage. Eleven piece Bellowhead look they make quite a sound before they even kick off, and with all sorts of unusual percussion and string instruments ( bagpipes,coal scuttle, glockenspiel,bouzouki to name but a few) making appearances along side the more traditional instruments, this band are quite a sight for the eyes and ears.
Bellowhead belt out a largely uptempo set of rousing fiddle driven originals with a few old traditional numbers thrown in, including the classic sea shanty Whisky Is The Life Of Man. John Boden's strong vocals and crowd engaging banter draw us into the Bellowhead party, and by the time the indescribeable fascinating mess that is Little Sally Racket is belted out the whole crowd is jigging away without a care in the world.
Oxford's Stornoway have the unenviable task of having to follow up the Bellowhead experience, but the crowd is a bit more loose and lubricated now than earlier in the day and Stornoway's slightly less chaotic, more melodic approach is very warmly welcomed.
The band, named after the town on the Isle of Lewis that always appears on weather forecasts, finally visited their namesake to sign their record deal in the grounds of the castle. A charming tale for a charming band. Tonight Brian Briggs' slightly nervous witty banter endears the crowd and his wonderfully engaging vocals on songs like I Saw You Blink, and the gorgeous debut single Zorbing draw us all into their quickly multiplying fanbase. Which, since their appearance as the first ever unsigned band on Jools Holland , has been rapidly increasing.
Since quitting post hardcore band Million Dead in 2005, Frank Turner has grafted his way around the live circuit, building up a loyal following initially just with his acoustic guitar as company (the band followed later), knocking out thought provoking , catchy songs with his impeccable knack for a riff and his engaging, opinionated lyrics.
It's no surprise now, that after a few years of non stop playing and a growing list of albums bursting at the seams with potential hits, that he finds himself headlining events such as this. After just a couple of songs tonight it's clear that Frank seems to have an amazing talent for writing feel good songs that just beg to be shouted back at him by the masses. "to the east to the east, the road beneath my feet" ( from The Road )several thousand sing at the top of their voices, and we're only two songs in.
The whole set continues in this vain. Frank plays the majority of new album England Keep My Bones, and the crowd don't descriminate between older tracks like Try This At Home and New ones like I Am Disappeared and ( Ode to his home town ) Wessex Boy. Every song gets the full singalongafrank treatment.
Frank's And his band's Infectious enthusiasm for their music drives through the driving rain. They're wet, we're wet, they're loving it, we're loving it and by the time he closes the main set with I Still Believe, the whole crowd agrees and sings along ..... " Who'd have thought, that after all, something as simple as rock n roll could save us all. Now who'd have thought, that after all, It was Rock n Roll"