01 September 2019 (gig)
02 September 2019
Cool Britannia's annual Brit Pop festival brought the worlds of popular music and the Big Screen together in an epic weekend celebrating 90s music culture.
The Fun Lovin' Criminals, Sleeper, Babybird, Echobelly and Gabrielle all treated the Knebworth crowd to a blast of their hits, including those with links to iconic movies of that decade such as Tarantino's Pulp Fiction, Trainspotting, Bridget Jones' Diary, and Dumb and Dumber.
Taking the leading role on Saturday were headliners James, whose exuberant lead singer Tim Booth got up close and personal with the receptive audience, holding their hands before launching into a dramatic crowdsurf.
Although Tim had warned the crowd not to expect the obvious hits from their prolific catalogue, any disappointment felt by this announcement was soon dispelled when the band performed their much-loved hits such as `Sit Down`, `Laid` and `Come Home`.
Speaking backstage after James' incredible set, Tim said about 'Sit Down': "It's had a lot of attention with the Mo Salah thing and `Game of Thrones` .....
"We rested Sit Down for a few years so this year we've been playing it more. You have to rest them because otherwise they become stale and you don't want to go through the motions."
Sleeper's cover version of the Blondie classic `Atomic` would have brought the audience back to the Trainspotting days while Babybird's `Unloveable` conjured up images of the band's video featuring movie star Johnny Depp, a long-term fan of the band.
Babybird performed their hit `The F Word`, which has been adopted as a theme tune by Gordon Ramsay's cookery show of the same name, whilst Echobelly's `Insomniac` was made famous in the hit Jim Carey movie Dumb and Dumber.
Also keeping the movie theme alive was DJ Jo Whiley when she kicked off her set with clips from films and popular media of the time, and featuring dance classics from artists including Blur, Oasis and The Prodigy.
Sunday's headliner Basement Jaxx continued the 90s club fest, transforming the whole field into a strobe-filled rave as revellers danced into the night, reliving their youth.
Caron Wheeler made a welcome return to the stage with Jazzie B when Soul II Soul played many of their club classics, from `Back to Life` and `Keep on Movin'.
Shaun Ryder came back to Cool Britannia for the second year running but this time with his band Black Grape rather than The Happy Mondays, so sadly no Bez with his maracas!
Embrace and The Bluetones re-evoked the essence of the 90s with their crowd-pleasing favourites. Embrace performed hits including `Come Back to What You Know` and `All You Good Good People`, taken from their hit 1998 album `The Good Will Out`, one of the fastest-selling debut albums ever. The Bluetones delighted the crowd with their rendition of `Slight Return`, which featured on their 1996 No 1 platinum-selling album `Expecting To Fly`, among many others.
Two bands which followed swiftly on from the Brit Pop era were Starsailor and The Coral. Starsailor's set was awash with hits from their back catalogue including `Four to the Floor`, `Alcoholic` and `Silence is Easy`, and their cover of The Stone Roses' `Waterfall` went down a storm.
The ocean's theme continued with indie rock band The Coral, who took the crowd on a journey of their hits such as `Pass It On`, `In the Morning` and `Dreaming of You`.
Outstanding with their musical prowess, the band mesmerised the festival-goers with a quick fire progression of genres from psychedlic to folk and rock.
Emotions ran high at the festival during The Farm's `Altogether Now` as well as Gabrielle's uplifting `Rise`.
Fun-loving Brit pop lads Dodgy took time out of their 25th anniversary Homegrown tour to treat the crowd to classic hits such as `Staying Out For The Summer`, `If You're Thinking Of Me`, and `Good Enough`.
The Fun Lovin' Criminals got the crowd going with their New York humour and repartee, turning up the party vibe with songs such as `Scooby Snacks` (which features samples from films by Quentin Tarantino), and `Love Unlimited` (which recalls Barry White's backing vocal group).
They gave the crowd an extra treat by throwing out plectrums as well as drumsticks, one of which we luckily managed to catch – it would have been criminal not to! What better way to bang the drum of Cool Britannia than with such a great festival souvenir. Roll on next year!
Photo credit: Simon J Newbury