The dawning of the age of the Star Copiers..
The first order of business after slowly boiling alive in the tent as the sun came up was getting out and assessing damage to glasses – pretty much beyond repair, although John kindly at least got them to a state where I could drive safely. I nipped Lisa home to pick up her van, then got back in time to get some Nana’s Kitchen breakfast (amazing home made sausages) to try to stave off the hangover a bit.
Then t’was over to the Acoustic Tent to join the burgeoning crowd eager to witness the debut of The Star Copiers. Mark and Kev have oft been spied with guitars around campfires and had become a bit of a self-created parody, until Suzy laid down the gauntlet for them to appear at her festival. They’ve been operating very mysteriously, recruiting Kieron as front man, and preparing a set list and building hype on social media.
Mark had prepared an intro recording comprising – Captain Sensible’s Happy Talk blasted out followed by sirens and a countdown as the band stood looking a bit awkwardly at each other stood on the stage, bedecked with photos of Bart and Dave from The Star Botherers, their spiritual mentors. This was the first time they’d performed to a sizeable crowd after a short rehearsal out in the wild in Warsop the week before.
The plan was I think for folk to expect something terrible, and deliver something competent – I’d say they went a bit beyond that, and delivered a genuinely cracking set.
Basketcase by Green Day opened the set – Mark and Kev on guitar, Kieron on vocals with a music stand to help him keep track of lyrics, with Kev also contributing backing vocals. And you know what? It sounded bloody good to me. This was followed up with Another Man’s Cause by Levellers and then Ferocious Dog’s Criminal Justice. The crowd were loving it and singing along. Jacquie had made some Star Copiers pants she was too scared to put on, so made me do it – I duly did then lobbed them on stage, Mark ending up with them on his head for the rest of the kick.
Rocking in the Free World by Neil Young was up next going down really well, then a brief skit of Metallica’s Nothing Else Matters (a bit of a running joke over the last couple of years was getting Paige to cover a Metallica song – so this was dedicated to her, but re-worded as ‘what’s the worst that can happen’. A raucous singalong to Monty Python’s Always Look on the Bright Side of Life (or bright ‘cider’) gave rise to a rapturous response from the crowd and a demand for an encore – duly delivered in the form of Levellers’ Fifteen Years.
A really genuinely lovely moment – within minutes of the set finishing a signed set list appeared on eBay to raise money for the Ey Up Mi Duck charities – so if you want to get a unique piece of memorabilia then you can get bidding here. There’s about three days left to run on the auction. Hearty congratulations were offered to the performers – I know that the journey has inspired at least one other home-performer to get a festival slot booked – and I’m hearing the Star Copiers themselves have got themselves some more festival bookings this year!
On the main stage Blue Vulture were underway – they sounded good – accessible and tuneful indie rock. I was still distinctly cloudy of head and awash with excitement at the first act I’ve got a limited recollection of their set which I didn’t see all of. Sonic started their set, a cover of Duran Duran’s Hungry Like The Wolf and what I think was an original song called Radio 2 made it into the notes before I probably found myself back in the campsite continuing my cider and mead based recovery.
We did make it back to the acoustic tent for Tash Bird, who soundchecked with Adele’s Rolling in the Deep before kicking into a cover of Sorry by Justin Bieber (I know, right?). Amusingly the sound chap kept popping up listening to the speakers intently, having spotted a bad earth – Tash initially mistook him for her biggest fan! The song morphed into a medley taking in Phats and Smalls’ Turn Around, Billy Joel’s Uptown Girl and Adele’s Chasing Pavements before looping back into Sorry.
Tash plays guitar but uses beatbox and a loop pedal to layer her sounds and does it with understated nonchalance – she’s fun to watch as I’ve seen before. She treated us to a couple of original songs, one called Fly and another about cups of tea – always a welcome subject. A cover of Lumineer’s Ho Hey was next before an original number Who We Are finished up a fun set, in spite of the bad earth inspired slight buzzing.
Over on the main stage Parasight were lining up for some traditional rock and roll, we opted to listen from the Cheezy Vinyl Bar – one of the awesome things about the festival site was both stages were perfectly audible throughout the arena. They started with Def Leppard’s Pour Some Sugar on Me then treated us to their forthcoming single Driving Me Crazy. Back to classic rock covers and Guns n Roses Night Train was next up.
We wandered a bit closer to get some chips and curry sauce from Nana’s listening to Whole Lotta Rosie, before original song You Bring the People we Bring the Party – it might’ve been a bit early in the day for folk to feel too ready to party. I must admit that I did enjoy their interpretation of Ricky Martin’s Livin La Vida Loca to finish up the set though – it’s one of my guilty pleasures without being rockified!
Still out in the field Tom Lucking was underway on the acoustic stage – his mellow and melodic sound perfect for wandering about in the sun catching up with folk, which means I didn’t see all of his set but instead enjoyed much of it from afar. You Can Go Your Own Way by Fleetwood Mac certainly featured early doors, Take That’s Back For Good and Beatles’ I Saw Her Standing There. He finished up the set by belting out Kiss by Prince and Tom Jones’ Delilah with most of the field singing along.
I was particularly keen to see King of Rome on the main stage though – Martin and Ian were joined on stage by the excitement of a double bass player, and Sam Jones (still resplendent in his hi-vis jacket). Perfect music for sitting in a field in the sunshine, with bass and Sam’s intricate guitar work it really added to their sound. Johnny Come Lately was up first, Sam withdrew as Jesse James was up next.
Flying the flag for local music, DH Lawrence and the Vaudeville Skiffle Show’s Sons and Lovers was next up then a cracking cover of The Waterboys’ Fisherman’s Blues. Again the DH Lawrence songbook was plundered for the harrowing-yet-lovely tale of Honey. With time tick-tocking away they finished up a thoroughly enjoyable set with Saw Doctors’ The Green and Red of Mayo before inviting Sam back to accompany them for The King of Rome for all the pigeon fanciers in the crowd.
Headsticks reimagined themselves as an acoustic incarnation on the smaller stage – I must say, I think this is one of the best performances I’ve ever seen from them. Their normal cacophonous sound translates really well to an acoustic setting whilst retaining the passion and urgency they regularly muster in a more plugged in environment. World Away started procedings with a few sound issues that were soon sorted by replacing a guitar lead.
Paper Flowers was up next followed by Cold Grey English Skies (which will be featured on the soon to be released Morning Star CD), this was followed up with The One You Want and what I think I heard Andy say was called Fox for Town which will feature on their new album. Mississippi Moon and a great singalong for Flatline Town finished up a cracking set – definitely a highlight for the festival, and the strongest performance I think I’ve seen from the band.
Next on the main stage were Black Cats and Magpies – formed on the very field upon which they were now playing apparently. They were in a duo incarnation, both on acoustic guitars. They sounded upbeat and fun, I’m a bit sketchy on set list but I think Bending Over Backwards started proceedings before a cover of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s Weapon of Choice. I may have missed some of the set which finished up with Oasis’ Supersonic and finally a song called Away telling the tale of a friends’ girlfriend who ‘went psycho.’
We definitely didn’t hang about to miss out on Paige Seabridge in the acoustic tent, making a bee-line to sit at the front I got to sit right at infront of the stage with Suzy, and Chris and Karen’s awesome hound to play with too! With Sam having borrowed her guitar for their set the previous day and some string snappage she wasn’t with her regular guitar, but that didn’t seem to matter! She opened the set with Jake Bugg’s Trouble Town and then into God and Satan by Biffy Clyro.
Heartbeats by José Gonzalez was up next, which sounds magical with Paige’s voice – then it was on to Fifteen Years by Levellers. She joked that of course she couldn’t compete with the Star Copiers version, then her similarly mesmerising version of Stay With Me by Sam Smith. Speaking of Sam’s, band-whore Sam Jones then joined the stage to take guitar and backing vocals for a Gabrielle Aplin inspired finish of Sweet Nothing and my favourite song in Paige’s repertoire that is Home. One of my favourite sets in ages.
Further wandering around the site with folk was to the feel good folky strains of Northern Monkey their set sounded great, tracks I detected whilst nattering with folk were This Is Not My England, Giving Life a Kiss and what they described as a hymn. I reckon if the hymns at my school assemblies sounded like that I’d have been less reluctant to sing along! I’d encountered Bart at this point who bade me to sit and listen to Ketamine Kim which I duly did. Shortly after catching up with Martin I complimented him on the inclusion of the double bass in his set. “I know!” he said, “you could just shag it, couldn’t you?”.
Well. That escalated!
I spent a bit of time hob-nobbing in an awestruck fashion with The Star Copiers and their ever growing legion of fans which means I regrettably missed a chunk of Ellie Keegan‘s set in the acoustic tent. A shame as it’s been a while since I’ve had the pleasure of seeing her perform – however I did get to take in You Can Go Your Own Way and Words as well as strains of her other tracks whilst drifting around the field from folk to folk and checking out the cracking array of stalls on offer too.
We were suitably well planned to make sure we didn’t miss the excellent Nick Parker though. Uncomfortable elevating himself above the crowd he’d had the sound guys help him set himself up infront of the stage to be a bit more up close and personal. He opened with Never Been to Dublin Before and then the awesome An Open Letter to My Human ostensibly written by his dog. Then the heavens opened for the only bad weather we had of the weekend meaning he needed to quickly decamp back to the stage.
I think the next song was called Down With The Youth with the immortally amusing line ‘I don’t want to be the kid with the double denim dad.’ Next was the spectacularly charming Terry and June, he then invited Paige up on stage to join him for a beautiful duet of Falling Slowly by Glen Hansard. His collaborations didn’t end there either – he’d briefed some young lasses to help him with the chorus for Metaphor and hold up some lyric cards for his finishing German song.
Awesome set. Nick is definitely in my pantheon of favourite performers now.
Raynor Jackson was next on the bill, kicking off with a cover of Billie Jean then straight into what my hazy mind thinks was a cover of Foo Fighters’ My Hero but I’m willing to accept correction on that point! Battle For The Sun was next from his own collection of songs. Always a favourite was The Beards’ Shaved Off His Beard – indeed, it was this song performed by Raynor about three Deerstocks ago that inspired Ian Corbishley’s magnificent beard. And Ian was in the crowd at Ey Up Mi Duck too!
The set finished up with his uplifting cover of Men At Work’s Down Under and then his own song Down The Days / Bög Ankor (aka ‘The Gay Ducks Song’) – you couldn’t really with any good reason not play the gay ducks song at Ey Up Mi Duck could you?! We mingled in the acoustic tent whilst the funky rock sounds of Little Liam had our feet tapping from the main stage area. It sounded great to be fair, but a sit down was definitely the order of the day!
The raffle was drawn after this in the acoustic tent – I didn’t win but found myself handing out the prizes, or picking prizes for folk who weren’t there. Sorry if you ended up with a prize you didn’t like, that was my fault, haha! There were some cracking prizes though, the ducks that Suzy had made proving particularly popular.
Next up was the amazing Brad Dear Band – clearly by this point the cider had been kicking in, the first song was the one that mentions turning tales and wicked times, I have no idea what it’s called! They Say was up next then another that went by in the blur before Far Away. The highly appropriate Festival Bar Blues was next before Special Brew gave us the opportunity for an expansive stage-front conga line, even recruiting a very reluctant Bart into joining in.
His set was finished up with Circles and Roundabouts and then a highly demanded encore which was Save Our Souls. Fresh from a well attended support slot for New Model Army and apparently with more exciting announcements in the pipeline this promises to be an exciting year for Brad, Andy and Chris – I hope so, they’re sounding better and better every time I see them.
The Most Ugly Child were next on the main stage – they had a fulsome Americana folk styling which we mostly enjoyed nestled by the Cheezy Vinyl Bar, with another wonderous platter of cheese of course! I detected a lively cover of Tell It To Me by Old Crow Medicine Show, with folk munching cheese whilst singing ‘cocaine gonna kill my honey dead’ to each other. Golden Gates was another that jumped out followed by These Tears which was dedicated to Paige (and not a particulary cheery sounding song!).
Maelor Hughes was next up – there was much cavorting and dancing about in front of the stage which rather inhibited my note-taking, but the second song in was definitely Morning Sun, my favourite of his. Better Day was up next with plenty of ‘Oi oi’ing from the assembled crowd. By this point a helium-filled Storm Trooper had appeared which led to all manner of dancing shenanigans and silliness, and another skipped entry on my note taking!
Big Golden Pot was up next before the treat of him getting Chantelle to join him on stage to take his guitar and accompany him in singing Elation. Of course, it’s not quite up there with the full on harp version, but still a magical rendition. He finished up an excellent set with Mill Town Boy. After his set Gaz Brookfield popped on stage to make a presentation of a picture to Suzy to congratulate her on an awesome festival – a lovely moment, and a well deserved accolade.
Sam Jones along with the local folk were up next – it was an energetic set with the crowd well lubricated and gathered, I want to say Rocky Winding Road was first followed by Pennies and Buttons. Yep, that Evil Mead bar was definitely working its magic on my poor addled mind again! Coming Home was then followed by Wilderness. The next song got lost in the excitement of a firework show unleashing behind the campsite.
Then I get to lyrical guessing – so make of what you will from ‘there’s nothing left for you song’ and ‘the rolling people song’ – because I have absolutely no idea what they are called! Hotel Boulderado was up next at which point I think the poor Storm Trooper we’d still been cavorting with lost his legs! Oops. That might have been my fault. Sam’s set was finished up with Optimistic Song – Sam definitely wins for most frequent festival performer – as well as stewarding and other duties – and his main act was brilliant.
Finally it was time for the headline act – anyone who reads these pages even semi-frequently will know how awesome I think Gaz Brookfield is, despite seeing him countless times it’s exciting to see him perform. He kicked off his set with Let The East Winds Blow and then into Godless Man. Ozzy gave his van a bit of kudos (amusingly we followed Gaz and Ozzy out of the festival site the following morning).
Sailor Jerry’s Kitchen and The Ballad of Elizabeth Duke were all met with raucous singing along. Suzy was up on Tim’s shoulders, and everyone was dancing about. At one point I’d said to Nick Parker something like ‘don’t you hate touring with Gaz, he’s bloody brilliant’ – he looked and me a laughed, and said ‘that’s ridiculous – I love it!’ – good answer! He hit us with the acoustic version of Black Dog Day and then upped the pace with Land Pirate’s Life.
The set seemed to go by in a blur of awesome with Diabetes Blues and its reprise, Deathbed – probably my favourite of his songs on balance, Bigger Man and finally Thin. A triumphant finish to an amazing small festival. We headed into the clubhouse where Suzy made a speech and Rob presented her with a festival poster signed by all the performers. Another of these is available for charity auction on Facebook should anybody want a souvenir.
I’ve got vague memories of a chap stage-diving from the bar in the club house before we decided to retire back to the cheese tent for a cider with Phil, Debbo, Dave, Caroline and Murphy – enjoying a quiet contemplative drink and chat before eventually heading back to the tent after a truly lovely day. There’s already talk of there being another Ey Up Mi Duck festival. I really hope there is, it was magical.