Smile like you mean it..
So, Saturday morning. Feeling pretty fresh, after charging up on tea and coffee by the vans we hotfooted it over to the hidden stage for Hector’s Pirates. For folk more observant than me when it was announced, you’d have noted it was a clever anagram of The Star Copiers – it took somebody to tell me to suss that bit of intelligence out, it’s made other festivals over the summer all the more suspicious though.
As Paul said, I’m looking forward to Prosthetic Arse making an appearance! Anyway, the boys had roped Ferocious Dog’s John in to joining them on bass, and most charming of all moments was Dan walking into the hidden stage area in the nick of time and politely asking if it was okay for him to play with them too. Once everyone was set up it was time for the set to begin.
They kicked off with Another Man’s Cause and into Basket Case – Mark had pledged to wear whatever people threw on stage after pants-gate at Ey Up Mi Duck, so started in a pair of Jacquie’s shoes, these were quickly switched out for her crocs – and then added to with Morgan’s top hat. Rocking in the Free World went pretty well considering the in-flight costume changes.
John and Dan joined for what was a genuinely lovely rendition of Slow Motion Suicide – after the intrepid Star Copiers confessed to bricking it, but it didn’t really show – watching Kieron mesmerised by Dan’s violin solo was quite a picture! They finished up with a raucous re-write of What Shall We Do With The Drunken Sailor – with re-written lyrics Kieron was only discovering as he read them (and the crowd too, thanks to a handy flip-chart holding child!).
The set was finished up with a rousing Always Look on the Bright Side of Life. After seeing the Levellers’ confetti cannon at Bearded Theory, Mark had asked the crowd to bring party poppers to recreate the effect – it was certainly surprisingly effective, plumes of tissue streamer erupting in the air leaving a hazy aura of smoke over the crowd. Another triumphant episode in the saga of The Star Copiers.
Next up on The Hidden Stage was a pretty jaded looking Brian Stone – I suspect a lot of campsite jamming had been taking place the night before, and perhaps a little rum consumption! Nonetheless he kicked off with the lovely Barrow Downs, a song so lovely on hearing it on his EP I googled for ages to find who he was covering – only to find it’s his own creation reminscing of his childhood haunts. It’s very Simon Friend-like. High praise indeed!
My Mate Mark saw the subject Mr G strutting his stuff around the stage, and he probably didn’t really look the finest advert for Life Begins @ 50 – so duly invited Jonny Wallis on stage to take the vocals whilst he played The Boatman, then got Morgan up to accompany on guitar for a lovely rendition of Julie – again, with Jonny providing the voice.
There was energy enough for his own songs Why Is All The Rum Gone?! and a rare live outing for the charming Quiet Anarchist – written about his dad. The encore was a rousing version of The Riverflow with Morgan again contributing guitar work and Björn/Dan with his fiddle. Cracking set. This was our dilemma juncture – we’d got a load of stuff to barbecue and had forgone breakfast in preparation – so retreated to the campsite.
Dave did the Gordon Ramsay bit whilst the rest of us sat and waited for a splendid array of meaty goodness. Kieron and Helen had brought some marinaded onions, we had cheese, cobs and lots of meat – and well, we can say we’ve had a barbecue with two thirds of The Star Copiers now with Mark and Amanda also joining our corner of the camper van field for some food!
Oh, did I mention I’d spent the morning dressed as a pirate? (thanks for the photo, Paul! I don’t think I’ll be using your Sunday photo though!) I think I de-pirated at this point, and possibly replaced that with a parrot head. WIth the temperature rising I was in no mood for keeping up the fancy dress, to be honest – the parrot body remaining resolutely in the van! He might make a reappearance at a future festival with less gloriously soaring temperatures. There’s bound to be one!
We timed our break to get back in time for the amazing Dirty Vertebrae – that’s my one complaint about STSA – I didn’t want to miss anything – ha, what a great complaint to have, eh? They put on an amazing show just like they had at Bearded Theory – the energy, the rhythm, the musicianship was just spot on. It was great to finally get to have a chat with Steve too!
We’d already encountered most of The Leylines before they appeared on stage – apparently having had a pretty heavy night of indulging in Tamworth, certainly didn’t compromise their performance. Normally I think “yeah right” when someone tells me they’d been up drinking ’til 8am – but having had ‘The Leylines experience’ in Weston Super Mare, I know that it’s more than feasible!
Nonetheless, they were all clearly up for a banging performance regardless of hangovers – and Steve had already discovered the MeadEvil bar over the course of his wandering pre-setting up. They kicked off with Let It Go with that lad Morgan up on stage again! I watched Morgan after writing down chords for songs as they played them – more on that on Sunday…
The Reasons went into Save Our Souls – a cuddle with Addie went on a bit too long to be comfortable before My Own Worst Enemy brought the dancing back. Stone Circle was renamed Brian Stone Circle for the day, Mr G taking the cue to get a reluctant Brian up on his shoulders. You’ve Changed led to a particularly empassioned and moving rendition of For Queen and Country – with the service and ex-service folk amongst the crowd visibly moved.
Sorry My Friends led into Run For Cover, with Ella taking Tommy up on stage to help with backing vocals (I think Morgan just about beat Tommy for stage time over the course of the weekend, closely followed by Brian) and a loudly demanded encore was delivered with the very apt Sat In a Field. Cracking set, one of the highlights of a universally top quality line-up.
We retreated to the sidelines to watch a more laid back bluesy set from Smoking Beagles which was sounding great – meanwhile I needed to nip back to the van for supplies (and to dump the parrot head which was far too warm to wear any more!). I also took the opportunity to finally get rid of the piratey eyeliner Ella had expertly applied and I’d expertly ruined over the course of the day!
Black Thorn were just started when I was back in the arena – good timing or what, they sounded great, a few unfamiliar songs to me in there (I think one was called Cigarettes) which was introduced by the band throwing paper aeroplanes into the crowd, I missed the logic for that. Festive and new single Slaves stood out for me before finishing up with the much more familiar and ludicrously catchy Catch Me If You Can.
They’ve still not quite broken through their 1,000 benchmark for Facebook likes yet – so if you haven’t already get yourself on their page and click that little thumb!
The Majestic were next up – wonderful full bodied reggae flooded the field, prompting folk to either dance along or sit and enjoy it. As well as their own tracks (or ones unfamiliar to me) there were covers of Bob Marley classics I Shot The Sheriff and No Woman No Cry (whilst I like reggae very much I’m not well versed in it – I’m afraid I’m one of those knobbers who only recognises Marley tunes. Sorry FD Scott if you’re reading this!).
Parson’s Lot lined up next – this is a band that have really tightened up their sound since I first saw them. Jethro is an awesomely confident frontman, it was at Dogfest earlier in the year they properly won me over – and the process continued here. Jesse James, Paddy on the Railway and Beautiful Day gave way to originals like Drink Away Our Tears (morphing into I Fought The Law and Bastard Beer.
As nature called I dashed to the loos (Something to Smile About had proper flushing toilets – somewhat of a festival luxury I neglected to mention yesterday, along with showers too). As I returned they were finishing up with an energetic rendition of Dreadzone’s Captain Dread – a superb set, a perfect set up for a spot of Ferocious Dog which would of course follow.
Since it’s been a while I went back in the mosh pit for Ferocious Dog, alas I’d forgotten my scrappy moshing converse but well, sod it. The boys were on top form – John told me afterwards he wasn’t getting anything from his amp or his monitor but he did a decent job regardless. I’m never going to remember the set list – damn elevated stages not giving me a vantage to photograph them!
Certainly Gallow’s Justice opened, for Freeborn John I was sure to get myself hoisted early to avoid having to surf (sorry Dean!) – he’d just been carrying Paul and Nicki on his shoulders for Too Late too! Ha! Slow Motion Suicide saw Mick and Dave up on shoulders, Freethinker gave us a nice circle and all in all, a frenetically good time.
Probably the highlight of the set was Lacey Lee going on Dean’s shoulders to watch Lyla though – after working out what was going on she was clearly enjoying seeing Dad and Grandad from this vantage point. I’ve never seen a ‘ring of steel’ erected around anything in a moshpit like it, either! Even wrecking-ball Wez was quelled. Loved every minute of it, it was good to be back in a mosh pit properly for the first time in a while!
Speaking of first times in mosh pits – having spotted Becky bouncing on the peripheries in a moment of revelry I decided to drag her into the eye of the storm for the full experience. Unbeknownst to me at the time she’d never done that before – I’m glad I made sure I had my arms round her for the experience, I think she kinda enjoyed it, haha! Mick T had brought his wife to the festival – her first dogging experience – I’m assured that it won’t be her last, which is ace!
We wandered over to the bar area where the amazing Phat Bollard were playing an unplugged acoustic set. When I’d told Gaz Brookfield earlier in the day they were jamming after Ferocious Dog he lit up “Wow, they are YouTube sensations aren’t they?!” I also need to apologise to Gaz for the sweaty hug straight after the Ferocious Dog gig. Sorry-not-sorry, Gaz!
Phat Bollard were the perfect upbeat-but-chilled out way to wind down the rest of the evening – until we wend our way back to the camper van field for further guitar and singing with Brad, Dave and Herb. Another splendid day at a splendid festival – I’d missed out on things that I regretted, but seen so much more to make up for it once again – to be honest, at this point, if we had to pack up and go home at this point it would still have been more than value for money.
But we had a whole Sunday of wonderful to look forward to… as before, Ella has done a rather better job of keeping a visual record of the day in this album on her Snotography page.