Royston-buried! It was Jamie’s fault..
One of Ella’s many talents is an ability to sleep in once the sun’s up – be it in a sweltering tent or a less-so van. Not so much me, I was awake, I made myself a tea and went for a wander – Jamie was up too, I made him a tea and eventually we all settled around Paul and Jayne’s van for a civilised sit down. I’d grabbed a breakfast from Nana’s Kitchen, Paul and Jayne were cooking theirs, and that’s when it all started to go a bit wrong…
“Fancy a Bloody Mary, Alan?” asked Jamie, casually. I was reluctant, but as I’d not indulged too much the night before there was no normal festival delicateness, I went for it. And breakfast descended into a bit of a shot-fest – there was vanilla vodka, Disaronno, Honey Rum, Tequila (complete with lime/lemon and salt purloined from Nana’s), Triple-sec and – well – safe to say we were all pretty drunk well before lunch time when the music started. Ah well! We did have a bubble machine and some ace tunes to accompany our excesses!
Doozer McDooze was up first, having broken the main stage – which hadn’t been used yet! – he switched to the acoustic stage to open up the day of music. He launched into Searching, a track on his new album (stay tuned for a review of that in due course) and into Dreams – given our alcoholic lubrication we were probably much more fun for an early performer than we normally are!
Following the of the album tracklisting next up was Let’s Not Forget, and then Pirate Captain – even though it was early Doozer’s infectious enthusiasm was weaving its way around the early revellers eager to have a dance around. Anthemic album title track Not Going Back To That led us into Bimbling Man before he achieved the feat of breaking the back up stage too – resorting to unplugging and playing I Don’t Wanna Go Home al fresco in the middle of the field. Ace set to start the day!
It was definitely a day to get up for the start – next up were The Star Botherers, also sticking to the small stage which the sound guys had fixed and moved on to work out the issues with the big stage. In truth, for the early acts this more intimate setting probably worked better anyway! Just Around The Corner kicked things off and then Star Wars Bride and into Ringing In Sick.
There was a wobble with the sound for One Inch Death Punch which was quickly resolved – having failed to succumb to First Night Festival Fever so much, maybe we need a First Morning Festival Breakfast version writing for us! Midlife Crisis led into Bad Guys where calls for an encore were answered with a rendition of a new (to me, at least) song which I think is probably called My Guitar, but I’m open to correction! A fun set as ever from Bart and Dave.
Shanks’ Pony too set up on the small stage – I’d been particularly excited to see they were playing, as I don’t get to see them as much as other acts! They kicked in with Special Brew complete with a selection of eight cans for revellers to enjoy. I resisted, Jamie and Addie certainly didn’t – but we had a great time dancing and singing along. High Street Sell Out, Have Kissed A Girl, Rollercoaster all washed over us.
Their music is so gentle and melodic with bite under the surface – lovely. Final Breath led into Wolfpit with a switch to a twelve string guitar for Paul, the set list suggested Byron’s Dog might feature – I’m not sure whether that happened or not (you should Google the epitaph Lord Byron wrote for his dog though, it’s beautiful). Top of the World led to Cruising In Sanity with a ridiculously dance-tastic finish of Raggle Taggle Gypsy and Mosh Pit Waltz.
The excesses of breakfast were starting to kick in now, we’d jokingly said over breakfast that our mission was to ‘last until Gaz’ – and it was touch and go, to be honest – whilst I was mostly conscious throughout certainly Jamie was reported to be sleeping in his van (sitting up!), and I almost definitely had a little nap in either Dave or Nadine’s chair whilst they were off to get something to eat.
During this slightly hazy period the main stage was up and running Blackmax and the Pirates, high energy ska-infused punk rock was my recollection. I managed to note a single solitary song (an ace cover of David Bowie’s The Jean Genie. The Social Ignition picked up where they left off too with more brassy ska goodness before a trio of ska was finished up with The Splitters. All three sounded great, if it weren’t for my booze-addled apathy I’d have been up for a good skank at the front!
All worthy of more attention than I was in any state to give them – at least two of ’em are local acts too so hopefully I’ll get to catch up with them again!
Mission ‘stay with it by the time Gaz is on’ was a success though! We returned to the vertical plane to have a dance as Gaz Brookfield took to the stage, opening up with Solo Acoustic Guy and into Diabetes Blues and the reprise. Sections of Under the Table were resonating quite strongly (indeed, Jamie even had a shout of at this point, most deservedly!). I might’ve shouted ‘mango’ too loudly when Godless Man came up next. Soz.
The Ballad of Elizabeth Duke takes on a scary new level of resonance in the current political climate, so it was nice to lighten the mood with Maps and Towns. Man of Means is the first song Gaz wrote for his wife, but the sentimentality was shortlived as Black Dog Day washed over us – lots of singing along from the assembled crowd, even more so for Deathbed and then an anthemic finish of Land Pirate’s Life, Bigger Man, Let the East Winds Blow and finally Thin.
Gaz is resolutely dependable to deliver a quality set – I’ve never seen him do anything else, and it was no different here.
Ella and I were both pretty tired – mine self-inflicted, hers less deserved – so we retreated to the awesome Moroccan Lounge tent for a chill out. We still had a great view of the stage, and were ensconced in comfy seats and flickering candles (once we’d helped the chap running it light hundreds of tealight candles to fill the many glasses and lanterns in the place). It was a great place to sit and enjoy the music and the company of each other and the other folk who wandered in for a sit.
Next up on the main stage were The Cracked Actors who returned to the righteous theme of bouncey ska music. Loads of brass, rhythm and fun – even in chill-out mode it was impossible not to have feet tapping whilst nursing a drink for probably too long! There were mishaps with Jayne’s handbag going missing – it turned out she’d left it on the sofa her and Paul had vacated earlier – the ladies now sitting there amused us no end when one accused the other of farting, when it was really Jayne’s phone vibrating beneath her!
The communal bonfire was lit in the middle of the arena as the headline act Tarantism took to the main stage to put the main evening’s entertainment to a triumphant end. An engaging mash up of dance, folk, punk, ska, dub and heaven knows what else – at the time Ella and I were minded of a mash-up of Mad Dog Mcrea style penny whistles with the dance vibes of The Peatbog Faeries. The kind of music that would be great to dance about to, but worked pretty well for us in our chill-out zone too!
Clearly the tactic Jamie employed of a mid-afternoon nap worked for him – he partied on hard into the wee small hours, I didn’t have it in me so we left the revellers around the bonfire where I’m sure plenty more awesome music happened and went back to the van tired but very happy indeed. It was lovely of Tarantism to donate a percentage of their merchandise takings to Horatio’s Garden too.
Roystonbury was a lovely event – all the staff were super-helpful and friendly, the site was wonderful, the stalls, acts, decorations and facilities were top notch. I know folk have mentioned it, but the portaloos were bloody amazing. For a ‘first time’ festival (if you don’t count the birthday party that originated it) you really wouldn’t believe it, incredibly well organised – they’d thought of everything. I hope it’s on next year, I’ll be getting a ticket (and maybe swerving breakfast with Jamie!).