Geddin’ on Farmer Phil’s land.. part three..
Sunday morning arrived with that feeling of simutaneous amazement at how quickly the time had gone whilst feeling like we’d been on that happy campsite for much longer than just under a week. We started the day cooking bacon (we had a lot of bacon to cook) and celebrating Sally’s birthday with.. well, bacon. And cake, too, as all birthdays should be celebrated.
I think we were supposed to dress up in olympic get-up on Saturday, as we hadn’t done that Tim, Dave, Andy and I donned our Cool Runnings inspired lycra suits perhaps a day late (there was at least one other Jamaican bob-sled team on site though, so maybe it didn’t matter!). It was universally decided that in the interests of decency that shorts or kilts should be worn over aforementioned suits. I’m not sure it was any more flattering!
We’d got Sunday dinner booked at Nana’s Kitchen for noon (didn’t stop a sneaky bacon cob though), which clashed with Headsticks opening up the music. The lovely Drew was happy to serve our food into takeaway boxes – and lucky for us a few technical wibbles meant that there was enough time for us to sit by the main stage and get our dinner eaten before the first act started on the stage. It turns out Headsticks is a great way to work off a Sunday roast!
They kicked in with World Away to lots of dancing for the early hour – there was a lot of silliness involving the Bob Sled team. Andrew congratulated the early risers for getting up for a dance over ‘the mingers still in the campsite’ – I’m not sure he still felt that way as I was leading my fellow ‘Jamaicans’ in star jumps to This Dog Will Have Its Day in front of him! At some point I might’ve over-enthusiastically bundled Naomi over on the not-exactly-forgiving stage front area. Sorry Naomi!
Paper Flowers was up next on stage then Cold Grey English Skies. The early start and resultant more modest crowd didn’t sap any of the bands energy at all, Andrew as insistent as ever that the crowd join him for the non-complicated chorus of Fanatics. Foxford Town was up next followed by Two Sides – Mississippi’s Burning ratcheted up the pace a level before probably what is become their anthemic signature tune of the year What Do You Want demands further crowd participation.
They finished up with Flatline Town and Killing Me America. Forceful folk punk with a powerful message, yet delivered with good humour and generating a compulsion to dance even amongst a befuddled-headed relatively early in the day crowd. I do think they’d have been better placed later on in the billing, but it was still a bloody enjoyable way to get revved up for the rest of the day, and a chance to not feel quite so guilty about the pre-roast bacon cob as it was quite a work out!
The Outlines were up next – again, it might’ve been a bit early for their high energy grunge/punk fusion, although it was still pretty enjoyable to me! Waiting kicked off proceedings before Fall To The Drop. There’s a bit more confidence in their stance on a stage these days – Sound of Rain, Vanilla Poison, Calm Down – there’s some really strong songs in their set. Definitely moshable, just needed a bigger crowd.
I do enjoy their cover of Guns of Brixton – the remainder of the set escaped my notes in between trips to the loo and the bar, although I did pick out Streets of England and a new song to finish called Concrete which sounded frenetic and ace too – it’s good to know there’s new material being worked on! Meanwhile I had an appointment at the campsite for a quick jam with Dave, Herb and Morgan – it was a fun diversion, I’m starting to quite enjoy playing cajon – I’d better make an effort to actually get better at it!
Back up at the arena it was back in time for Scott Doonican doing a solo set on the second stage – he kicked in with Tarn Life and then Bag For Life at which point I’d become distracted by a chap in a fur coat and hat with hypodermic needles sticking out of them – presumably in honour of the Russian olympians! Fight For Your Pint and Talk Reight You Idiot were both generating both singing along and laughter well outside of the immediate stage area.
It was nice to hear a few less heard songs thrown into the mix – Born To Get Riled, Avon Calling and Where Do You Go To My Lovely (see, I do learn, Scott! He played this at The Yew Tree the other week). As Frisky In The Jar was finishing up we popped quickly to the main stage to take in some of Miss-Led – a Led Zeppelin cover band, they sounded good – we caught Immigrant Song and Black Dog before we were lured back by the Barnsley troubadour.
He was in the middle of conducting the huge crowd he’d amassed into a three-section choir to provide backing vocals for Val Doonican tribute song Campervan of Love – both strangely amusing and moving! He invited Maelor Hughes on stage next – they’d both soundchecked early so they could use the crossover time to perform together in the guise of their ‘pink rose’ duet – uniting Yorkshire and Lancashire. Ace idea!
They started with a cover of The Wonderstuff’s Size of a Cow – perhaps inspired by sightings of Miles and Erica on the Farmer Phil’s site. They went on to cover The Boatman and finally a Lancashire Hotpots song called Chippy Tea – a nice collaboration! Scott exited and left Maelor to get on with his own set – I’m so crap at his song titles, and he rarely announces them – but third and fourth songs in were Morning Sun and Christiania.
A quick trip up to grab a pint and a scotch egg (with leeks and chilli in it – aptly named a Welsh Dragon!), Ken was nearby patiently having his mohawk spikes sprayed with colour by some kids. Meanwhile Maelor was on to Better Day (with Lee in the middle of the crowd shouting ‘Oi Oi!’ in the wrong bits!), and then Not Going To Fight Your War. Two more song titles escape me, one was a love song – and he finished up with Down The Road.
Outside a sinister parrot-headed man watched from behind the sound-desk!
We popped up to the Cheezy Vinyl Bar where Isaac was playing his guitar – I made a shit job of noting down the songs he played, I’m pretty sure Ferocious Dog tracks Too Late and Criminal Justice were in there, and Gaz Brookfield’s Bigger Man. All were raucously sang along with – and well, since I was in there it seemed rude not to grab a cheese platter and sit and munch it with Kieron and Helen.
Then t’was time for Folk The System to take to the second stage – they kicked off with Civilisation and Witchfinder General, then kicking into Environmentally Friendly. Pil switched out his twelve string guitar for an electric one for Waves. As Lost Land kicked in I had Imogen up on my shoulders for a dance down at the front – which confounded my note-taking somewhat, certainly there was a traditional instrumental song in there somewhere!
A quick trip for a cider and I came back to the unfeasibly charming sight of Addie and Jane’s son Tommy on stage playing a bodhran with Maty for their Bostin’ Days track What You Know. The last track of the set I think was called Snowing but I might’ve misheard – Folk The System are another band really growing in confidence and stature on stage, it showed with the kind of crowd they attracted.
On the main stage I was pretty intrigued by SkaBurst – unsurprisingly they were very ska, but the songs they chose to cover wasn’t always what you’d expect. The Love Cats sounded great, and Three Little Birds. Bad Manners’ Special Brew was perhaps less unexpected – but then we had Call Me, The Final Countdown, a Rancid song I didn’t catch the name of an Help by the Beatles.
The Leylines had arrived on site, and Hannah was on stage with them for Come On Eileen. The set finished up at a pace with Pressure Drop, Brown Eyed Girl and finally ska staples A Message To You Rudy and Too Much Too Young. They were great fun, as the bouncing crowd infront of the stage attested to! I finally relented at this point and popped up to the stalls on the ridge to avail myself of a poncho I’d been eyeing up most of the weekend!
Excitement was mounting for The Leylines on the main stage – they kicked in with Let It Go, kindly dedicating it to Simon who couldn’t make the festival due to illness (with the customary cry of ‘Let’s fuckin’ ‘ave it!’ from Steve). The Reasons was up next, and then the mood dropped a little for Save Your Soul – amusingly Addie breaking out of a mass huddle so we could have a cuddle during it. It is an emotional song after all!
The pace was soon quickened though with My Own Worst Enemy and then the instrumental behemoth that is (Brian) Stone Circle. It’s amazing how quickly their songs have embedded themselves as instant singalongs, clearly I’m not the only one afflicted – after You’ve Changed Steve blithely observed that there’s not much point in plugging their album to the folk at the front as they clearly all already had it!
Sorry My Friends, Things I Know then the slightly less-familiar but no-less-catchy Long Way From Home. It’s fair to say that they were bang on form, and the sound on the main stage was top notch. Gotta Get Out Of Here led into Run For Cover, Ella popped her camera aside to join on backing vocals – meaning both of us got to perform on the main stage over the course of the weekend!
The set finished up with For Queen and Country – I’d conspired with Big T to help me get Dave up on my shoulders for this, he promptly put Andy up on his. It’s an emotional song for them both as former and current servicemen. It’s The Leylines best work in my humblest of opinions – I’d liken it to what Slow Motion Suicide is to Ferocious Dog. An encore was demanded and duly delivered, and it was the inevitable festival anthem that Sat In A Field has become. Awesome set!
The Eskies were up next – celtic, baltic and romany infused folk – reminiscent of Mad Dog Mcrea musically but without Mick’s honeyed voice. As they played we went on a mission for food – opting for some awesome fresh cooked pizzas and munching them on the bank infront of the stage enjoying the music. Oh, I did that whilst sipping a ‘Hair of the Ferocious Dog’ cocktail too which was surprisingly nice!
And then it was the finale, of sorts. Ferocious Dog owned the stage – the intro track boomed out as we settled a bit back in line with the sound desk, I didn’t fancy the dust that would kick up in the mosh pit, every time I’ve moshed in dusty fields it’s made me ill! Once they band were on they kicked into Gallows Justice and then Poor Angry And Young – it was funny watching from on high seeing Dean doing the ‘rock lobster’ claws!
A Verse for Lee led into The Glass and it was crazy to see the amount of dust kicked up as the stage lights arced over the crowd, decision definitely vindicated! It’s not like it wasn’t a well populated mosh pit that would miss just one, ha! Lee’s Tune led into Crime and Punishment. Les and John’s dance-off was back on for Unconditional whilst watching a triple-stack of Dean, Paul and Nicki looked all the more impressive from up on the hill.
Of course, that makes reassembling themselves for a surfboard all the more tricky for Freeborn John. Paul was the board, Dean clambered up and immediately fell back before getting back up and doing a great job of it. On stage Dan in particularly was a lot more animated than usual, whirling and dancing as his bow danced over the fiddle strings. Sophie joined them on stage for an epic didge-driven intro for Lyla.
By this point we’d moved round to the side where we found Mark Kelly, mosh pit veteran, sat on a chair watching the set! On The Rocks was next then Marikana Massacre. At some point Lisa was led up to the bar tent near us by paramedics, we made sure she was okay and didn’t need our help as the band dropped into the ‘classics’ that typically mark the journey toward the end of the set.
Criminal Justice and Quiet Paddy were the tracks on the original EP they released that really hooked me into them back in the day, Hell Hounds and Freethinker followed soon after – Mairi’s Wedding Part II was also on that first EP. Whilst I did miss bouncing around in the pit it was nice to stand back and admire the spectacle as the band went off stage with loud roars for an encore coming from all over the field.
Mark had found someone’s lost phone, we were trying to work out how to take a selfie on it before handing it in – and eventually succeeded. Hopefully it’s been reunited with their owner and they now have a lovely picture of Mark to boot! The encore did come – Paddy On The Railway was unleashed with Farmer Phil dancing on the stage witha guitar, before the epic finish of Slow Motion Suicide.
Spotting Leanne wandering from the merch desk I insisted she go and have a dance to Dan’s epic fiddle solo whilst I covered her for a few minutes, it was a storming set. I even managed to flog a couple of albums and a plectrum, ha! Farmer Phil’s All Stars finally took to the stage – Sweet Home Alabama, Born To Be Wild and You Can’t Always Get What You Want set the tone for the set, but we had an appointment by a campfire, so wimbled back to the site to the strains of Freebird.
A quick trip to the van for supplies and my cajon, and we headed over to the Parry/Bazley/Stone/Day/Penn (and probably others!) camp where a big circle had already amassed. It was lovely to sit and have a drink, a natter and listen to music from Brian, Morgan, Dan (or was it Björn?), Alan, Ella, Matt, Nick Parker with voices, guitars, a mandolin and a fiddle (and Addie’s tuba) by fire and starlight. It was a good opportunity for some box-banging for me too, a poncho is a great night-time box-banging garment, too!
In echoes of last year security guards did come to tell us off during an epic guitar and fiddle track (amusingly they politely stood and waited for the finish before asking us to hush up). After they’d gone we carried on albeit quietly (except when Dan played), and got glimpses of the meteor shower and generally had a splendid time. It was around 4am when Ella and I staggered back, it sounded like the party went on well past then!
All in all, another amazing Farmer Phil’s festival. They are blessed with a wonderful setting – but then have filled that with amazing acts and a fantastically mixed group of people (not to mention all the amazing dogs I spent the weekend fussing!). I think I’m right in saying it’s their tenth anniversary next year, I’m not sure how they’ll top what they already do, but I’m sure it will be set to be an absolute cracker. I can’t wait!