That difficult second festival… day two!
Friday night was so memorable, so it was with that ambivalent mixture of excitement and tired reluctance we hauled ourselves out of the hotel come Saturday to taxi our way back to the Robin 2. As such, we owe apologies to Stevie Simpson for missing his set in its entirely and to Emma & The Professor who were half way into theirs by the time we made it – but well, non-stop music for twelve hours, it wouldn’t be the only stuff we missed – and I must confess to sitting and feeling daunted about trying to write it all down!
Heading back into the gloomy venue worked a lot like the casinos in Vegas – it made it seem perpetually evening. Emma & The Professor were on the second stage, and just striking up Bostin’ track Men An Tol – thankfully plenty of folk were more disciplined at getting up than we were, there was a good crowd in already! This was followed up with Battle of the Marches and The Old Black Crow. They have such a unique sound, and a new album in the offing which I’m excited about!
The two stages were alternating – Stevie Simpson compering the main stage, handing over to (or being handed over from) Brian Stone on the second stage. If you take a moment to think about the logistics, soundchecking through the sound-desk only, the first chance to artists get to hear their monitor mix was starting the set – the sound guys and stage management deserves some serious kudos for even considering this way of working, to have pulled it off – just wow!
Brad Dear was up next in full band guise – fitting Bostin’ Days in between his support slots for Wille and the Bandits meant it was only a fleeting visit for them, but great to catch up briefly regardless with them! The set kicked off with Circles and Roundabouts and then The Only Road I Know. It was sounding great, and with Lizzy on fiddle it continues to give them such a rich sound. Far Away, Festival Bar Blues and Billy Brown were rattled out – these were short sets, so the between song chat was minimal.
Special Brew of course led to an expansive conga line – Tim was on the premises after all! Just Brad and Lizzy combined to perform his Bostin’ track Together All The Way, and with time ticking he just manage to squeeze in I’m Still Here before the clock ran out – a cracking set, and to have squeezed eight songs into a half hour slot is pretty good going! Brad too has studio time and releases and indeed headline tour dates in the offing, so he’s well worth keeping an eye on!
Over on the second stage Funke and the Two Tone Baby was setting up – whilst he’s small in terms of number of people, the amassed crowd showed his stature belies the smaller stage. The good thing was the sound was being routed through the main stage speakers too so it was fine to stand back and watch from afar! He kicked in with Never Used To Dance as has become customary and followed up with Bella’s Kiss – I think I detected some subtle differences in the normal arrangement but I’m not musically competent enough to accurately describe them!
I’m Not Well then led into his Bostin’ Days track of The Weed That Killed Elvis – it’s probably been a while since he’s played that, so it sounded different to me than before – but no less engaging and fun! With time rapidly running out there was time for 54-46 That’s My Number and of course the final flourish of Not Enough Bonobo to finish things up. I’ve got a feeling next year is going to be huge for this fella, I really hope so – he never fails to deliver an amazing set.
The Sweetchunks Band were next on the main stage in this relentless run of unmissable acts – they launched into Drunks on a Boat, showing typical aloofness to the pressingly short set time they had with between song shenanigans (and I wouldn’t change that!). Their tribute to Nickelback Folk Star was next morphing into Paradise City before we were treated to the ancient Hampshirean folk song Bullet In The Head.
Brian was loudly summoned to the stage for a hilarious rendition of Kiss (including some expertly improvised lyric adjustments referencing Brian’s wearing of a kilt). Scott was on hand to provide a chair to aid Stuart in his stage theatrics for I Would Punch a Bear For You. With time marching on Drink Up made us worry there might not be enough time to hear what proved to be the final song, but we need not fear – the deceptively professional folksters had left time for the amazing Bees (are f**king awesome). I bloody love The Sweetchunks Band.
On the second stage Shanks’ Pony were striking up – I spent much of their set stalking Big Bob’s cajón set up (which threatened to distract him at one point, haha!). Having utterly neglected to make good notes of songs, I grabbed a sneaky set list photo which looking at it now hasn’t really helped me! Certainly No Change featured in there along with Raggle Taggle Gypsy and Moshpit Waltz – so whilst I’ve crap song recollection I had a great dance and some great advice on cajón things, big thanks Bob!
Son Primo I’m afraid fell victim to our need to pop outside for a vape, food and socialising break – but it helped us make sure we got back to the second stage in time for Brian Stone on the second stage. He kicked in with Ward The Pirate – we watched from the side of the stage, there was plenty of merriment and dancing, his own increasingly anthemic Barrow Downs was up next with some very melodic backing vocals from the crowd.
Quiet Anarchist followed before ‘the track what I would’ve done had I been in a position to when the Bostin’ album happened’ – a lovely rendition of beautiful Levellers track Believers, which he dedicated to Ella who’d introduced him to it a while ago. The relatively new song Never Drink With The Leylines (something I can testify to after a god-knows-what-time-in-the-morning finish in Weston!) leaving enough time to finish up with signature tune Why Is All The Rum Gone? (accompanied by some consummate dance moves from myself and Stuart from Sweetchunks!).
On the main stage The Bar-Steward Sons of Val Doonican were ready – Stevie introduced them, hit the button and they kicked in with Massage In A Brothel, then it was on to Walking In Man Piss, with Alan’s keyboard hilariously appearing to play itself during the intro! In a bid to raise the profile of their local area She’s From Dodworth was up next, followed by Lady in Greggs which had some pretty breathtakingly epic singing along from the crowd.
Kanye West is a Cockwomble was next – and possibly cut short judging by Alan’s inability to keep up with the cue cards for the crowd to singalong (ha!), Rachel hadn’t got her now infamous womble costume on this occasion but did find herself on Tim’s shoulders regardless to enjoy the view from on high. That left enough time to finish up with The Devil Went Down to Barnsley, always a good way to end a fun set – even without the devilish Tom on hand to play the role of Lucifer!
At this point the clockwork operation looked threatened – I’ll say no more other than I hope Maelor bought Andrea a pint or three in recompense! We’d popped outside again to find the aforementioned Accringtonian arriving. Back inside Davey Malone was on the second stage, Dirty Davey was more in the McDermott’s 2 Hours style than Levellers (certainly no bad thing!), the only other song titles I managed to catch were The Ballad of Billy Miller and the final song The Barmaid Down the Pub. Engaging set though!
Folk The System were next on the main stage – they kicked straight in with Lost Land – both Pil and Maty said after they were missing bass player Tony but it still sounded great to me. I’ve said it before but definitely a band gaining in tightness and confidence as the year has gone on. Witchfinder Generals was up next, followed up with Civilisation and Environmentally Friendly. Raucous, energetic and with a message to boot – just how I like it!
With time marching on we were treated to the instrumental Murphy’s Logic and finally the Bostin’ Days track What You Know – a fun set. Mass selfies were occurring in front of the stage, and plenty of dancing and singing – like so many of the acts thrust together by this amazing project, Folk the System are really on the ascent in terms of their performance and stagecraft. You can really see how much they’re enjoying playing and that reflects back on them from the crowd.
Rumours of Maelor Hughes‘ lack of organisational skills proved to be exaggerated, so he and Chantelle Barrow were next up on the second stage. Chantelle got proceedings underway with ‘a love song’ that she never gave the title of (I heard her play it at Bearded too though, and it’s a belter that really exploits her fantastic vocal range), before she switched to her harp for Maelor to sing Elation – it’s the stand-out track on the Bostin’ album, and live it’s simply mesmerising.
Better Day gave us some opportunity for yelling ‘oi oi!’ a lot (I seemed to be in a minority on that, but I don’t care, ha!). Then we were treated to the title track from the forthcoming new album he’ll be releasing – if Poor Man’s Game is anything to go by, we’re in for a treat. Milltown Boy was next – I thought I heard a new verse in there, and with time winding down very quickly he snuck in an abridged version of Fight With Me. A cracking set.
One thing I had neglected to mention but was undoubtedly one of the best things about the weekend was Simon getting up to attend after making some recovery from his operation. Hopefully the start of many more gigs and events that he’s able to make it to – he’s had a crap time of it over the summer so it was so good to see him able to enjoy the company of folk who’d missed him and some live music after so long!
Which brings me on to The Fanzines – who lined up with a substitute drummer who did amazingly well. They kicked in with Brand New Cadillac with a definite punk flavoured set, followed up by Homicide. I took a bit of time out to wander off with Big Bob to check out his cajón and get some more tips on how to amplify them effectively, but was back in time for Boredom, My Perfect Cousin and a rousing finale of 100 Years of Solitude with Stevie Simpson joining on mandolin. Awesome stuff.
On the second stage Bleeding Hearts were ready to serve up their frenetic protest folk punk – they didn’t do much to give me hints of song names, haha! One I think might’ve been called This Is England My Home and another introduced as a song about why Tories are wankers I think might’ve been called We’re All In This Together – but I could be totally wrong! Whilst watching I had an awesome cheese and pepperoni wrap – for the not-particularly-princely sum of £3. The Robin 2 is ace.
We were excited about Parson’s Lot next on the main stage – they kicked in with Bastard Beer and then on to The Hurrier’s Toil, Jethro confident enough in the short time slot to introduce the songs as well as play them. I missed the name of the third song, it was followed up with I Fought The Law (and the Law Won). Next up was No Regrets (their own song, not the Robbie Williams abomination!).
They finished up with their Bostin’ Days track – a barnstorming cover of Liberty and then launched straight into The Rocky Road to Dublin – probably one of the moments of the weekend was Jethro clutching aloft the stage clock as it ticked around whilst he spat the final lyrics out, determined not to over-run. Certainly it appeared to me that it was all done within a margin of four seconds – testimony to the artists’ determination to not impinge on each other’s time – or how scary Andrea is! Haha!
Doozer McDooze was ready and waiting to pick up the baton on the second stage – he opened with Searching and followed up with Dreams, what struck in addition to the huge crowd gathered on nearly all sides of the stage was how catchy his songs must be as I find myself knowing nearly all the words! Bostin’ track Battle of the Beanfield was next and then album title track Not Going Back To That. Autobiographical Bimbling Man and It’s Nice Down Here led into the inevitable finish of I Don’t Wanna Go Home. Cracking set.
Further excitement loomed with Leatherat due on the main stage – I can’t recommend them as a live act enough, despite the leg ache setting in a bit! They kicked off with High Friends and worked their way through a frenetic high paced set, Life in this Old Dog followed an unrevealed title, a song about Pete’s home town was next and then the Bostin’ Days track The Game. Ludicrously catchy Stop was the penultimate song – I didn’t catch the name of the last song!
There was definite need for us to pop out for a vape and a sit down at this point, but we got back in time to catch the tail end of Hobo Jones and the Junkyard Dogs, they were commencing a pastiche of Gina G’s Eurovision entry of Ooh Aah Just a Little Bit but with the tweak of cider being what they’re looking for. I’m really glad we were back in for their skunk (skiffle punk) infused rendition of One Way, though, the track they contributed to the Bostin’ Days album.
On the main stage were The Folkestra, we’d missed them last year – so I was looking forward to checking them out. A six piece, with two vocalists – and highly charged yet tight folk. They didn’t do much by way of revealing song titles, sadly – I think Becki picked up their album, which I’ll probably be pinching! Their Bostin’ track was The Riverflow and came in at number 4, I think the penultimate and final tracks were called The First Dawn and Drinking Song respectively. Ones to watch out for if you get the chance.
Next on the second stage was a man who needs no introduction to these pages – Gaz Brookfield is, I think everyone knows, one of my very favourite performers and songwriters. He kicked in with Diabetes Blues and then on to Ozzy. New song from forthcoming album I Know My Place translates excellently to a solo acoustic guy set up (if you haven’t already, check out the amazing 360 degree video he created for the full band version of it as a preview to aforementioned album!).
A confession on the pitfalls of drinking before a gig finished up Land Pirate’s Life which had a bit of a lyrical oops. He finished up the set with what are probably his most anthemic songs – Bigger Man, and then the epic crowd participation big hitters of Let The East Winds Blow and Thin. Even with a lyric slip, Gaz was – as ever – Mr Dependable, as the huge crowd surrounding the stage bears testimony to.
And you know what, with the headline act waiting in the wings, that’s twenty. That’s right, TWENTY acts that had been on, near enough back to back but for a brief introduction / handover between the stages – and it was running precisely on time. One of the difficulties with Bostin’ last year was the distance between stages and what ended up being overlapping sets from the different artists – if you had the fortitude for it (and an iron bladder!) you could’ve not missed a moment of music here had you so chosen!
The Leylines are a band that are really building their reputation – their hard work over that time earned them a coveted headline slot meaning they got over an hour to play. They launched into Stone Circle, an instrumental dervish to get the crowd moving. Steve showed off his new Tanglewood guitars having gained an endorsement from them. You’ve Changed, Let It Go, The Reasons – anthems all, a great testament to their great song writing.
Save Your Soul slowed the pace – I couldn’t find Addie in the crowd for a cuddle, but did find Andrea instead, finally free of her stage management duties! Tim proved he never learns and held me aloft for Own Worst Enemy (ostensibly this was to get a photo from a better angle, but it lasted a bit longer than that!). Next up was a new song – exciting – Standing by the Waterside which sounded belting, it bodes well for the second album which must be in early stages of plotting by now.
Things I Know moved into another relatively new song in Long Way From Home. As Sorry My Friends kicked in I glanced stageward to see one of the most moving sights a man can see – bursting his way through the crowd like a wild animal casting aside the undergrowth in the forest was Stuart, striking a course to me a for a bit of a dance (I suspect en route to the bar and / or loo, but I thought it was touching nonetheless!).
Runaway led to the epic track they contributed to the album – that spine-tingling slow-build arrangement of Fifteen Years. As Gotta Get Out of Here kicked in I noticed that Hannah was holding her violin horizontally and playing it, at first I wondered if she’d broken her bow (she hadn’t – she uses it later!) or maybe forgotten her mandolin? I’ve never seen her do that before! Ella was summoned to the stage to perform backing vocals for Run for Cover (along with Scott and Maty).
Steve revealed that tour dates for the spring were ready to be released – and they had been by flyers at the venue, a Bostin’ Days exclusive. There’s a fair few I think we’ll be able to make which is good! They finished the set proper with For Queen and Country – an amazing song, an amazing performance. An encore was demanded from the crowd, and duly delivered with festival anthem Sat in a Field to bring the listed acts to a close in fine style.
All that remained was for a few words from Addie – they were a perfect and predictable blend of effusive and abusive, a bit of bonus Brian Stone and Jonny Wallis for a rendition of Julie before assembled artists took to the dancefloor for an unplugged rendition of The Riverflow. What an amazing weekend – all that remained for us was the not inconsiderable task of goodbying our way around so many people – oh, and claiming a raffle prize for me, I never win raffles!
The only complaints I could possibly have from this superb event were – the wristbands weren’t as good as last year, the hand dryers in the gents were asthmatic… and that’s it! Everything else was bang on – the music was superb, the stage timing peerless, the venue was accommodating and great, the drink prices were fair, the food prices were ridiculously cheap for what you got, the company was amazing – and from the noises I’m hearing, the fundraising (which after all, is the point) sounds to have been a great success.
By teaming up with Andrea and Scott, Addie has really upped the Bostin’ game this year – it remains to be seen whether Bostin’ Days 3 will happen, I dearly hope so! Those three and the countless folk who worked alongside them to make the day run so brilliantly deserve all of the accolades coming their way – aside from the very trivial half-joke criticisms above, everything else was a damn close to perfect as you can get. What a talented bunch they all are.