When you’re smilin’ the whole world smiles with you..

IMG_4001I’ve been dreading starting this post.  Of course I’m looking forward to rummaging through my photos and notes and re-living another fantastic weekend, but I must admit I’m feeling the pressure to do it justice just as I did with Bearded Theory the preceding weekend.  Getting a glimpse of the work Pete and Becky have put into Something To Smile About, it was so good to see them able to announce a sell-out as the deadline for ticket sales loomed on the horizon.  I’m going to break this down to a post for each day – so here’s Friday (with a bit of bonus Thursday)..

We arrived a night early, delivering a gazebo Debbo and Phily kindly offer to loan – not that any of us could work out how to put it up, it lay dormant where I left it until I collected it again on Monday morning to bring back.  Never mind!  It gave us the chance to pop the van back stage and plug in to the hook up for a night and enjoy pizza, drinks and campfire songs whilst the finishing touches were being added to the arena – we also got to meet Phat Bollard, who as well as being awesome are really lovely folk too (thanks for the CDs!).

Come morning we de-camped to the camper van field along with Roger and Kaye, finding a good spot to set up camp and save a few spaces for folk who’d arrive later.  With an idea of our layout sorted we got the tent up for Becki and Maia who’d be arriving later too, and watched folk starting to arrive as the campsites officially opened – an assortment of vehicles started trundling into the L shaped field a short walk from the festival site proper to pick a suitable spot to set up home for the weekend.

We interspersed getting the van and tent sorted with catching up with other early arrivers, soon enough Dave and Caroline had arrived and parked up in the space we’d saved for them with some strategically placed camping chairs, along with Matt who they’d got chatting to on Facebook so he joined our merry camp, shortly after Herb arrived and then Sam and Matt, followed by Naomi and Joe – which rounded off our campsite-within-the-campsite – a safe distance from the bus of peril that is the Purrple Peeple Eater, haha!

Soon enough it was time to head into the arena, get wristbands and take stock of our surroundings.  The outdoor centre at Hatfield is an idyllic setting for a festival – all flat, with paths as well as grass and plenty of shady spots under trees should the weather pick up (which it would as the weekend went on).  The tent camping was around the edges of the arena which was centred around a two-trailer stage to not give the lack of depth you usually get from trailer stages.

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IMG_4006The MeadEvil Bar was close by, Nana’s Kitchen was there for sustenance as well as plenty of other delicious food options, then the main bar was over the other side.  A banner adorned the fence near to the back stage access for folk attending the festival to leave messages on – a lovely touch and I’m sure will become a fitting souvenir for Pete and Becky to enjoy once they’ve got through the deconstruction and decompression process that’s bound to follow such a great event!

IMG_4002First act up was none other than Brad Dear – only the main stage was open on the first evening, he came on in solo guise before inviting Andy and Chris to join him to finish up with some full band goodness.  A typically great set from them to a surprisingly large and enthusiastic early-arriving crowd.  Doozer McDooze carried on the rabble-rousing – considering how tired he’d looked the night before he was transformed into the showman that he is!

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IMG_4007Meanwhile the lure of a fish finger sandwich from Nana’s Kitchen hit the spot perfectly – still easily in range of hearing Doozer finish up his set, then it was back down to the main stage to see The Star Botherers sans Brad.  A cracking set from them – I’m sure I’ve not heard My National Trust for a while so it was good to hear it get an airing right from the off.  Ringing in Sick probably resonates now with folk suffering from post-festival blues, whilst favourites like Star Wars Bride and Bad Guys gave us the chance to have a good singalong.

IMG_4008The stage was cunningly divided by a curtain meaning the next act could get set up and be ready to get soundchecked straight away when the previous performer had finished.  So in no time Taxi for Bob were ready to go with a set of what I’ve put in my notes as ‘punkish rock pop’ – that sounds a bit rubbish, it wasn’t!  The highlight for me was a charged up cover of Radiohead’s Creep – a really enjoyable and energetic set – and they didn’t get distracted by some fluorescent-knitwear clad blokes setting up next to them!

IMG_4018The Bar-Steward Sons of Val Doonican are always a highlight – and this was no exception, highlights for me were opener Massage in a Brothel and Get ’em Art of The Pub with Addie and Tommy making a starring role on stage.  I’d seen Tom earlier in a suspicious red t-shirt so it wasn’t surprising to see The Devil Went Down to Barnsley – although Satan has been trying to correct the bad PR he’s been getting in the whole fiddle-playing contest.

The Cockwomble song which is apparently from the cutting room floor of the new album is bloody ace, and led to everything being declared a cockwomble throughout the weekend (particularly Morgan, since one of the people who gets branded a cockwomble over the course of the weekend is none other than Piers Morgan, ha!).

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IMG_4022Headlining was the inimitable Funke and the Two Tone Baby – this time without a dress (ha!), launching into Never Used to Dance and then Bella’s Kiss – he had the mostly-familiar-with-him crowd eating out of his hand, and those that he was new to look agog at how one man can create so much sonic splendour.  The ‘I work in an office’ song pains me to think of right now as I switch the alarms back on my phone, with other highlights including I’m Not Well and of course…

… Not Enough Bonobo saw a certain person clad as an ape cavorting on stage again (he’s getting better at this dancing lark), he was joined by Scott Doonican too.  There were huge calls for an encore but with curfew looming it had to be restricted to being truly unplugged – on a crowd-member’s shoulders – treating us to a medley of 54-46 That’s My Number mashing up into Tainted Love (and possibly some other things too!).  He finally finished to spontaneous chants of ‘We love you Funke, we do!’ – which must’ve been nice for him!

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There were further jamming sessions at the bar area although with concerns over official sound monitory people patrolling it ended up in the camp site – we’d opted instead to head back to our own camp site for further drinks and singing along with Dave and Herb on their guitars until the wee small hours.  Dave’s making some real progress with some of his songs, I’m looking forward to his first gig at Wistful in the Cheesy Vinyl Bar all the more!  Then t’was bed time, an earlyish start needed to be in time to see Hector’s Pirates.

Day one was an absolute triumph – lovely mead, great food, amazing company and fantastic music – I’d go as far to say that the price of the weekend ticket would’ve been decent value for that alone.  We had two full days of revelry ahead of us though!  For a much better visual record of the day then check out the pics Ella has uploaded for Friday over on her Snotography page!

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