Rolling out the festival barrel in style.. (part one)..
I’d been looking forward to the festival season getting under way – maybe that explains a loss of concentration resulting in me getting into a car accident (and hence the car off the road) on Thursday morning, already more than one eye on the weekend? Friday was spent trying to get a courtesy car sorted in between finishing up the working week (mercifully I am able to work from home pretty easily – which is lucky really, with the office 40+ miles away and me without wheels!). Fortunately the garage called in the afternoon and had sorted out a car for me to use whilst mine gets itself mended.
And so it was we were able to chuck everything in the back and head on over to Willington and get the tent pitched – I’m not a fan of tents, hopefully this is the last time we have to sleep in one! We located a spot that looked flat and not too prone to bogginess should it rain and got camp set up, catching up with folk already there – before heading over to check out the venue. As Ella was recording all the ‘Up Close and Personal’ gigs in the Purrple People Eater we went to check that out, always a risky prospect, but great to have a natter with everyone over some worryingly early shots.
It’s worth noting the transformation the fairly industrial site undergoes – a couple of teepees, a purple bus and the stalls outside bedecked with colourful throws, charming hand-painted signs and the like really brings the place to life. The alluring cheese bar was set up outside too sadly not yet open for business, more on that later! Folks were arriving all the time so that the sparsely populated camp site was filling up nicely, Dave, Caroline, Brian, Karen, Joe and Naomi all parking up near us (and Murphy the Festival Dog of course!) making for some ace neighbours.
First up for us was Scott Doonican in the bus – this meant we missed the opening act indoors which was Chuck SJ Hay – always regrettable to miss any act, but over the weekend we did pretty well despite the bad start! Ella got her camera set up in the bathroom leaving the bench seats free for spectators to file in, with the acts performing just infront of the cab / bed. With purple shots for each visitor, a wonderous light show and general convivial atmosphere it really was ace. Scott said he was a bit nervous about it, but soon seemed happy enough once folk were leafing through his ‘book of shit cover versions’ selecting songs for him to play.
As we were on a bus he opened with National Express by Divine Comedy – necessary, before moving on to requests. I’m pretty sure it was Dean who had selected Rick Astley’s Never Gonna Give You Up, being Rickrolled two songs into a festival! Rio by Duran Duran was my selection, it went down suitably amusingly as did A-ha’s Take On Me straight into Talking Heads’ Psycho Killer. Whatever was next will have to wait ’til the videos and/or recordings surface (my notes say “summat I’ve instantly forgotten”) – probably more down to shots consumed rather than the quality of the performance!
Summer of 69 by Bryan Adams was definitely in the mix though – followed by a new Doonicans song which I’m not sure how much I can talk about it. It was very funny though, Scott was pensive as he was essentially testing out the humour of the lyrics on an audience for the first time, it worked for me I must say! I’m sure you’ll be hearing it at gigs soon enough – the last track was one I’d asked Scott to learn as being the highest bidder for my place in the bus, I’d given him a choice of two thinking the one he ultimately picked was the more tricky, so it was pretty ace when he reeled off Rasputin by Boney M. Making the observation that I often have that it would be amazing with a bit of Ferocious Dog treatment! Best of all Scott will be recording the song at some point too which I’m pretty excited about!
Friday was going to prove to be a deja vu kind of day – by the time we’d finished farting around on the bus and catching up with folk who’d arrived during Scott’s set it was time for…. Scott Doonican to hit the main stage! This time playing more familiar Bar-Steward Sons of Val Doonican songs in his solo incarnation. He went through a fun-filled set starting with Bar Steward Bop running into Massage in a Brothel. Another new song, Bart had sent Scott some alternative lyrics to Star Botherers (and of course, covered by Ferocious Dog) song Freethinker – now Beer Drinker. It sounded ace! Looking forward to hearing that some more!
The omnichord made an appearance for She’s From Dodworth which led us into I Bet That You Look Good on t’Dancefloor and (If I Could Punch a Face (it’d be Justin Bieber’s). Always a sure fire way to get a crowd joining in, I’ve noticed! The Zipper still had Scott nearly reduced to hysterics during the ambulance bit, in Björn’s absence the crowd lustily provided ambulance sound effects to achieve the desired effect. Me Arse is on Fire and Festival Weirdos finished off the set – at least for us – as we had another appointment with a certain Purrple People Eater.
Next up on the fun bus were Steve and Hannah from The Leylines – once everyone had squeezed into the van we were treated to an ace stripped down acoustic set. Kicking off with Sorry My Friends it was quickly opened up to requests, I think Joel chose Sat In A Field for a nice early raucous singalong. Queen and Country was up next followed by You’ve Changed. Fortunately Addie wasn’t on the bus for Save Your Soul – I’m not sure he could cope with hearing it twice in one evening!
We were treated to a new arrangement for Runaway before finally an unveiling of a new song – dedicated to the kinds of nutters that follow bands for miles and miles. Can’t think of any people like that round here! Anyway, it was an awesome tune and I think it was called Long Way From Home – looking forward to hearing more of it with the full band treatment! Somehow I’d managed to achieve more than one visit to the Purple bus and still have most of my faculties intact! Maybe the live music element is the trick to not ending up completely smashed on there!
Slightly haphazard starting/finishing times in the bus and time between stages meant that Mick O’Toole were already well underway – plus we needed some sustenance so watched most of it from the back where the awesome food hatch was serving a cracking array of very reasonably priced and tasty food. The band describe themselves as Cider Punk on Facebook, in my notes I’d put they had a bouncy rocky folkish feel – I definitely remember hearing Irish Rover and Dirty Old Town whilst I was munching on my hot dog and supping cider at the back of the room with my feet tapping away.
Despite having just eaten it was around this point I remembered the cheesy vinyl bar – I think I’d seen somebody walk past me with a cheesy platter (served on a vinyl record!) and immediately went to get my own. Three big chunks of cheese from a choice of five or six along with some celery, apples, crackers, chutneys and pickled onions – it was a sound investment! Much as I had cheese envy from whoever I saw with one, once I sat down with mine a number of other folk immediately took to outside to go and avail themselves of one too. Festivals need cheese vendors.
By the time this was eaten it was time for the friday headline act to take the stage – it was of course, The Leylines. They kicked straight into Let it Go followed by The Reasons. Plenty of folk were then on hand to comfort Addie during Save Your Soul. Then the energy levels were cranked right back up with My Own Worst Enemy followed by the barnstorming instrumental that is Stone Circle. You’ve Changed was dedicated to that member of the family, as ever Steve pointing out if you don’t think your family has one it’s probably you. Which has me a bit worried, truth be told!
For Queen and Country was next – particularly poignant I know for the former and current service people in the crowd. I personally love the vocals over the drum solo section of it. Next up was their interpretation of Levellers’ Fifteen Years was as mesmerising as it always is. At this point Steve had developed an amusing superman kiss-curl which I wouldn’t have mentioned but for him mentioning it first from stage. Ha! All That We’ve Got was next – some kind of banter between Ella and Pete was developing at this point, the latter managing to keep his concentration in spite of this!
Things I Know was up next follwed by Sorry My Friends and Gotta Get Out of Here. Ella was summoned on stage to provide backing vocals for Run For Cover and that concluded the set proper (there was also some kind of Beckhamesque dancer on stage too). Despite threats of hitting the curfew by the compere there was time to unleash Sat In A Field for which Joel was co-erced onto stage (largely by Ella!) to provide the vocals for the second chorus – top marks, Joel! T’was very well done indeed! A great end to a splendid afternoon and evening!
As it was raining we headed back to the campsite – I settled under the gazebo with Dave and Brian providing the soundtrack with guitars, I just listened and sang along with Caroline and Murphy. Ella popped to catch up with The Leylines members before tiredness caught up with us and we headed back to the world’s worst airbed and sleep – lulled gently to us by the ongoing campfire singalongs. Numerous other guest performers arrived at the gazebo over the course of the evening but we were too tired to notice or join in!
Of course, the story continues tomorrow – hats of to Deb and Phil for their imaginative and fun event organising – all raising money for great causes too. When I can bear to carry on typing I shall get on to the Saturday fun and frolics. Watch this space!