A pissed fool at Wistful (part one)..
There’s no greater frustration than working the day you’re heading to a festival – coupled with that, I was waiting for a delivery so even when I’d worked my way through my to do list for the day I was still waiting to set off to Wistful Festival. The Parcel Force man arrived, I hit the road and got to Hankin Farm by early evening on Thursday – the lovely folk that run the farm were on hand to arrange payment for the camping, and after a few attempts I found a good flattish bit of the field to get set up.
The van sorts itself out for the most part, I’d packed the teepee too for Becki and Emma who were arriving the next day and brought a gazebo as an experimental awning substitute. Soon enough I had everything where I wanted it, greeted the neighbours (Mary, Rachel, Spike, Beth, Christina, Julie, Mark and The Seabridges amongst others!) and headed down to the arena where a film screening was happening courtesy of a projector and a white screen on the side of Paul and Lisa’s caravan.
A fun way to pass the evening – although the temperature dropped ludicrously after dark – still, cider and mead flowed nicely and Paige and I fought for the attentions of Alfie and Pebble the dachsunds (furry hot water bottles!) before starting to wander back up the hill. A campfire drew me over where rum was flowing, and Brian and Jonny were entertaining us with guitars and songs – perfect wind down before the lure of bed finally took over. The first time I’d slept in Ludo on my own, which was a bit weird!
Friday morning started with Death by Shark – apparently their first ever gig, they got us warmed up nicely with bluesy pirate-themed fun, complete with a big shark board to accompany them on stage. A fine debut, alas I didn’t see all their set, people were arriving and there was much mingling to be done, not least I needed to get Simon and Ella directed up to our camping spot. I had decided before Wistful kicked off that I wasn’t going to get stressed about missing things, the line up at the festival was so strong you couldn’t help but miss something!
Next up though were Carter’s Hot Pies, which the observant amongst you might spot a cunning anagram at play. Either way, they looked remarkably like the line-up that comprises The Star Copiers! A relaxed and fun set – the most relaxed and at ease I’ve ever seen Kev on stage, for sure. Mad World opened, for Time of Your Life when Kieron missed coming in Kev kicked off the vocals instead. The customary butchering of a Levellers song came in the form of Together All The Way.
Rocking in the Free World then led into probably the peak of the set – a rousing cover of Ferocious Dog’s Slow Motion Suicide – with no interlopers from the aforementioned band on hand to fill in, it was down to kazoos both from Kieron and the crowd to substitute for the violin solo. They finished up a highly entertaining appearance with Always Look On The Bright Side of Life. It’s great to see them having such fun on stage whilst delivering a genuinely engaging set.
Paige Seabridge was up next on the chalk board – but brought Sam Jones up with her to cover guitar duties. Trouble Town, Sweet Nothing, Glorious You kicked off the set, before a cover of a musical hero of Paige’s in Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want, original song Crawling Up The Hill and then Wagon Wheel. The lure of the MeadEvil Bar was calling me as the next song started, I’d grabbed a cider before someone grabbed me to tell me Paige had just dedicated the last song Home to me – aww.
I hurried back in and then that slightly awkward thing Tim seems oddly partial to happened – ie, him picking me up on his shoulders. I do bloody love Home though, so it was definitely worth the awkwardness! At some point between The Star Copiers and Paige and Sam, Becki and Emma had arrived – opting to just leave their stuff in the car up at the camp and head straight down to the arena to join the revelry!
Sam Jones and the Local Folk were up next – loads of Stone Roses basslines and riffing teased me during the soundcheck from Sam and Liam! Rocky Winding Road kicked off the set followed by BUttons and Pennies. A confident performance from the band, highlights for me were hotel-named duo Hotel Yorba by The White Stripes and Hotel Boulderado – after which Sam seemed to think he was finished, but an extra ten minutes materialised to give us a hastily chosen couple of extra songs!
The Silk Road were next on stage – I’ve not learned their song names yet (although thanks for the EP, Tich, looking forward to getting to know that!). The first song saw Rachel in her Womble costume dancing around like a, well, mad womble! I Don’t Care was next, then Breaking Down the Laws followed by Scars and The Ancient Road. Keeping an eye on the time I’d factored this as being their last song so took the chance to head to the Cheezy Vinyl Bar for sustenance.
Maybe I miscalculated but certainly there were a few more songs from the band whilst I was munching on cheese and crackers! They are sounding ace – fans of bands like Levellers or Ferocious Dog should find an easy in with their folk punk stylings, when I’ve had more chance to get to know their new recorded tracks I’ll be sure to share further thoughts. My first impressions after hearing some pre-mastered tracks though are highly favourable.
Cheese munching and nattering with Debbo, Phily and other folk milling around the cheesy bar meant that I’m sorry to say I missed most of Jak Collins set. I did pop my head in the barn for the end of their set to see a couple of chaps on acoustic guitars, it sounded really good – as it had drifting across the field whilst I was wandering around. That’s the drawback (ha, it’s no drawback!) of these festivals, something has to give to allow you to catch up with the countless people you know!
Black Thorn were next up – they were sounding great, such vibrant energy, and the kick drum that puffs smoke is awesome. I’m terrible with their song names too, but they are at once lively and accessible, I’ve noted from Facebook recording activities are afoot which I watch with interest. We had a good dance around the barn (including with Alan Doonican), whilst Becki Facetimed closing song Catch Me If You Can to Maia as it’s one of her favourites. Awesome set.
Meanwhile as an echo to last year Paul had saved the ‘saturday’ side of the blackboard for me to write the listings on, as I’d done the blackboard for last year’s festival. So whilst Brad was setting up I channeled my inner graffiti artist and got cracking – at one point someone tapped me on the shoulder to say I’d made a spelling mistake, I’m terribly sorry Gaz for the filthy look I must’ve given you before I realised it was you, haha! Lisa had sorted a few last minute line-up tweaks so we were able to clarify those.
Brad Dear was up next – he was on predictably good form along with Andy and Chris – Circles and Roundabouts kicked us into Walls, I think that’s where I actually finished the blackboard, then headed to the front in time for Leave it all Behind, Far Away and Festival Bar Blues. Newish song Long Road Home was followed by The Only Road I Know for a mini road-themed section. At some point Brad broke the bad news that recording had been delayed on his project.
Special Brew saw a massive conga line snake its way around the barn, outside and back in several times before he finished off the set with I’m Still Here. Solid performance, it’s a shame Brad, Andy, Chris and Jez weren’t able to stick around for the rest of the weekend, but alas other commitments took them away after a bit of mingling.
I’m a big fan of The Endings – a traditional celtic folk sound that compell you to dance, I think I first saw them at Farmer Phil’s last year (and I believe will see them there again this year, hurray!). I’m not great with their song titles either – but there were awesome covers of Raggle Taggle Gypsy and Fisherman’s Blues in there. Becki was pretty taken with them – she dashed off to buy a CD immediately! At some point in the Mead bar Big T revealed an amazing innovation – using a pump action garden sprayer as a mead-distribution system. Effective and oh so dangerous.
The line up was relentlessly good, Headsticks were next up on the stage – they were predictably full of energy and no small amount of anger, Andrew spits his words with righteous venom whilst the band are sounding tighter and tighter each time I see them. Fanatics kicked it off then Cold Rain in the Sky – without Julie on immediate hand to update me on song titles there’s a couple that passed me by, until we got to This Dog Will Have Its Day, What Do You Want? and Burn the Sun.
The remainder of the set list is a bit of a blur (I suspect I might have graduated from cider to mead by this time), but the penultimate song was certainly Flat Line Town. Next up was a band that caused a high degree of excitement for Ella, Becki and Simon (hell, and me too) – we’d caught up with most of the members of the band before they hit the stage. Time for us to get ourselves down to the front (or infront of the barriers in the safe camera zone!) for….
… The Leylines. They kicked straight in with My Own Worst Enemy before it turned out their most immediate enemy were a few technical wibbles with the sound-desk. Once these were ironed out it was all steam ahead with The Reasons, Let It Go and Save Your Soul (no Addie to cuddle for this one – whilst it was nice to have one with Ella perhaps the sentiments of the song don’t work so well for your significant other!).
Stone Circle was of course dedicated to Brian who was held aloft by the crowd, and then You’ve Changed. The emotionally charged For Queen and Country was dedicated to Andy, Dave and John who stood at the front and bellowed the words back at Steve – pretty moving! New song Long Way From Home got an airing, then on to familiar territory with Sorry My Friends, Run For Cover saw both Ella and an assortment of children on stage to help with backing vocals, before finishing up with the hugely appropriate Sat In A Field.
Then it was Doozer McDooze – he was at his rabble-rousing best, kicking off with Searching then Dreams. Pirate Captain slowed the pace slightly before anthemic album title track Not Going Back To That assailed the barn, with everyone in the room undoubtedly feeling strong empathy with the song’s message at that moment in time! Bimbling Man, It’s Nice Down Here and finally festival theme tune I Don’t Wanna Go Home finished up the set (I think there might’ve been another song too, but my notes betray me!).
Probably a first for me, but I opted to not gaze lovingly at Gaz Brookfield for his whole set – eager to get a good spot for what was to follow (and I was peckish!), but I did get to see the start of the set and hear the remainder very clearly from the comfort of the Cheezy Vinyl Bar. He kicked off with Diabetes Blues and capturing the mood of the festival perfectly with Under The Table.
Godless Man was next followed up with Maps. The Ballad of Elizabeth Duke was of course dedicated to Grant Shapps – I daresay more recent political machinations in this country might give rise to further inspiration for such tunes. The Busker Song led into Towns before an anthemic finish of Land Pirate’s Life, Be The Bigger Man and Let The East Winds Blow bringing a great sounding set to a close.The Cheezy Vinyl Bar was filling up fast post-Gaz, ready for the debut performance of my good mate Dirty Davey.
With no amplification or microphone it was always going to be a tricky to be heard – once Zoe silenced the crowd he got underway. Starting off with original numbers I Cried and Shirt of Blue before he pulled another ace out of the hole, inviting Ken Bonsall to join him to play Criminal Justice and Billy Bragg’s Which Side Are You On? before finishing up with a rousing cover of Levellers’ Riverflow with Ella too joining on vocals.
It was lovely to see Dave fulfil his ambition with such style – he’s already secured festival bookings on the back of it, it will be awesome to hear him properly amplified! He was absolutely buzzing on the back of the performance, I’m really proud of his bravery in getting up there and doing it – it sounded absolutely great, and he’ll get better and better with more practice infront of crowds rather than at home. The presentation of a commemorative gold disc from Debbo and Phily a perfect final touch!
So it was that we staggered back up the hill to camp for bed, I’m sure the partying continued but it had been a long day, with the promise of another long day to follow… but that will have to wait until another post as I need to get my shit together for going back to work tomorrow!