On saturday we awoke to glorious sunshine – a welcome relief from the dampness of the night before! I headed on down to Creative Intentions to get myself and Ella an awesome vegetarian breakfast, sold largely by the inclusion of halloumi in truth, but it was delicious – and that’s coming from normally a fairly committed meatosaurus! We ate it listening to Steve Grozier opening up the main stage with some lovely chilled out acoustic music.
Once sorted we wandered to the Hidden Stage – I wanted to catch the open mic slots and we were playing shortly after that anyway, so went armed with the stuff I needed for stage too. Pete Drake was up first, launching his EP and entertaining the crowd with catchy songs with clever lyrics – one about accidental discoveries particularly tickled my funny bone, I grabbed an EP off him which I’ve been really enjoying!
Dusty Herb was up next on the open mic – I’ve seen Herb perform plenty around campfires but never on a stage. He got off to a banterous start which had the decent sized crowd chuckling before dedicating his first song to his wife Sue on the dawning of a landmark wedding anniversary. Initially kicking into Please Release Me he quickly changed tack with a cover of Suzi Quattro’s If You Can’t Give Me Love – it worked really well.
Then it was on to I think a couple of original compositions – Tattoos and Relationships and Campfire Party People were both really enjoyable, a confident performance from Herb and his new guitar, I don’t underestimate the nerves it must’ve took but they really didn’t show, despite his protestations to the contrary after coming off stage. Dirty Davey was on next with a short set comprising a new song Hope and Glory and the ever-popular I Hate You Mrs Thatcher before the drumming circle got underway in the hidden area.
That was our (The Star Copiers) cue to get set up – and kudos is due to Lucy and Joe who ran the hidden stage, they couldn’t do enough to help us get ourselves sorted. With time to spare there was time for a bit of chilling and a cider as people started wandering in to the stage area – we ran through I Still Believe, Listen, What’s Up before Jacquie and Mark took a break for Issac to come up to play Too Late (to which we added some chimes before the finger-picky bit which didn’t faze Issac a jot, haha!).
It was Kev and I who had a chance for a break as Mark and Jacquie took on Nights in White Satin – I busied myself with a bubble machine trying to make smoke-bubbles with my e-cigarette which didn’t work all that well, jumping back on stage in time to add some chimes to the end. Another reshuffle saw me with the mic and Jacquie on the cajon for Wish You Were Here, and then it was on to another new song to us.
Back at Kev’s party a drunken Dean had fairly forcefully told me that Wire to Wire by Razorlight would be an ace song for us to do.. we duly looked it up and discovered it wasn’t too tough to play, so thought it would be nice to play it for him – after the gig he announced it was the wrong song, haha! Mairi’s Wedding Part III brought our set to a close bang on time, meaning sadly we had to ditch contingency track Fifteen Years. We felt it went pretty well though!
Headsticks were underway on the main stage upon our return – I dumped my stuff in the merch tent to watch them. Mississippi’s Burning was the first one I saw followed by Flatline Town, Cold Grey English Skies led into the eyeballing-contest that Fanatics has become. Anthemic (and timely) What Do You Want? was up next and then the more sedate Paper Flowers.
They’d got a cracking and lively crowd dancing away by this stage – World Away dipped back into their first album before going for the new Family Tree. Resident stage-whore Maty from Folk The System joined them for a song I didn’t recognise, leading to the frenetic finish of Killing Me America. Ace set. Under A Banner were up next who I mostly heard from backstage putting my stuff away and having assorted cajon-related conversations!
I always look forward to seeing Nick Parker, as I’m sure you’ll be aware, and there was the bonus of him bringing daughter Flo to perform with him here too. He opened his set with Departures and then I’ve Never Been to Dublin. Evan was due to pop on stage to demonstrate the Down With the Yoof dance, but nerves got the better of him, bless him – but it’s still am ace song, and no double-denim in sight!
Flo arrived on the stage for a lovely rendition of I Guess I’ll Never Know, it sounded stunningly lovely – she stayed to provide some backing for An Open Letter to My Human, not sure if that was planned or impromptu but it worked very well indeed! I helped shepherd some kids on to stage to hold the placards for Es Tut Mir Leit and hung around by the steps to make sure they got back down safely – returning stage-side for the finale of Terry and June. Brilliant set, as ever.
The treats continued – Gaz Brookfield was next, taking the same side of the stage as Nick since his set up is so similar, he kicked off with Diabete’s Blues and then on to Ozzy – it’s worth pointing out at this juncture that there’d been a reshuffle of times to fit Dirty Vertebrae in so Gaz had to get up to site a little earlier than planned, so Ozzy the van definitely deserved his tribute!
Some welcome inclusions from the latest album were up next – The Tale of Gunner Haines is rapidly becoming one of my favourite Gaz songs, hten it was on to It’s All So Rock and Roll (the crowd well ahead of the game on providing the ‘la la’ section), I’ve Paid My Money was another welcome addition he’s sometimes reticent to play, probably partly to highlight the awesome ‘try not to be a dick’ t-shirts he had on the merch stall!
Album opener March of Progress was next before returning to ‘classic’ territory of Land Pirate’s Life – with a minor lyric slip (followed by a sheepish glance my way, sorry Gaz – if you’re gonna highlight it to me I’m gonna mention it, haha!) – I did make note of an excellent recovery though! I Know My Place documents his eshewing of his personal Facebook account, Thin has been working its way earlier into the set list of late – leaving a finish of Bigger Man and Let the East Winds Blow.
Absolutely storming set – which of course is what we’ve come to expect from Gaz over the last few years… always an absolute joy to see perform.
Dirty Vertebrae had set up next door in the meantime, I’m so glad of the flexibility of the festival team and other artists combined to enable this. Beautifully colour coordinated in cyan t-shirts (or a dress for Nicole) they kicked with Burial and had the crowd dancing to the off, self-included – so there’s a few tracks gap before we get to Ignorance from the new EP – one of my favourites of theirs with Ash’s clever rapped lyrical interplay with Nicole’s more melodic vocals.
The set was brought to a tumultuous and unrelenting finish with Slick Smile, Melody, Taking Over and We Do What We Want – superb, so happy we got to see them after the tribulations of the Friday evening! You’ll note from here less detail probably, Pete suggested I should call these meady moments but I didn’t actually quaff that much mead – you can lay the blame firmly at the door of the ginger cider (which at some point on Saturday ran out – noooooooo!).
But anyway, we hotfooted it down to the hidden stage for Brian Stone, he was already underway with Life Begins at 50 when we arrived – playing to a hearteningly large crowd. Next was newish one that I’m unsure of the title of – but suggests all the best songs have already been written (nah, I’m still hearing plenty of excellent new stuff!) and then on to Jack of All Trades.
Quiet Anarchist is a lovely tribute to his Dad’s subtle rebellion, and Ward the Pirate gave the opportunity for us to ‘do the dance’ which was taken up with gusto by the assembled crowd. Never Drink with The Leylines has lost some of its pertinence since Steve went dry in 2017, although Pete would try to make up for it later in the day (and I wouldn’t want to take on Hannah in a drinking contest either!) – finished up with It’s Down to Us and of course Why is all the Rum Gone?
Brian has really gone from strength to strength in the last couple of years as a performer. Heading back to the main stage we only caught the end of Ghosts of Men (and friends) which is always regrettable, I suspect Maty might’ve been involved again – any opportunity to get his biscuit tin lid on stage and he’s there! Also FD’s Les was up and about on stage with them too!
We were in time for Brad Dear though! He dealt admirably with some drunken heckling from, erm, possibly me. Sorry Brad! He kicked off with Circles and Roundabouts and then into Walls. Sail Away and the highly appropriate Festival Bar Blues were up next before things were beefed up a touch with Save Our Souls (I think that might be my new favourite Brad song).
Billy Brown brought the pace down a touch before anthemic Special Brew kicked off a sizeable conga line around the festival site even in the absence of Tim! They finished up the set with Long Road Home. Another solid performance. I must apologise to The Eskies who have fallen into a cider-induced black hole in my notes… I do remember enjoying their set if that’s any consolation, haha!
The Leylines seem to herald a return to note-taking though – they started their set with Hannah’s Song (I’m assuming it’s still as yet unnamed!) which was a nice change from their usual opening (although I did miss Stone Circle – no pleasing some people is there?) – then into Sorry My Friends. Own Worst Enemy is probably my favourite song of theirs to hear live, it’s just so full of passion and vitriol whilst remaining tuneful and melodic.
Standing by the Waterside is becoming increasingly familiar now after a few airings – followed up with the overtly familiar Let It Go, then we had a couple of the newer tracks Far Away and In your Shadow, both of which are really starting to feel like old friends too. Nick joined them on stage with his mandolin for Run for Cover before an all too soon finale of Sat in a Field. Brilliant set.
Mad Dog Mcrea are one of my absolute favourite live bands – and clearly from the excitement building in the crowd I’m not the only one. They kicked in with Am I Drinking Enough to get the crowd dancing about like loons, then straight into Raggle Taggle Gypsy. At some point Pikki ended up on stage with them but I couldn’t tell you when – too busy taking it all in and having a dance!
Heart of Stone was followed up with one of my absolute favourites Johnny No Legs – this led into the spiralling instrumental of Curly Wurly Jig then a song I didn’t recognise, I really hope that means there could be new material on the cards from them! Devil’s Cauldron led into one of the other songs I deem essential to a Mad Dog Mcrea set – Pikey Killed My Goldfish.
A lovely surprise of the classic cover of Bear Necessities was up next which had a great reaction from the crowd, but sadly that saw the curfew get hit – so just as Mad Dog Coll (one of my other favourites) was struck up unfortunately the sound had to be pulled. A pity, but these things can happen – I was holding out for Black Fly as well – but it was still a bloody awesome set and a great way to round off the amplified music.
We wandered around to the campfire at camp Bazley – me armed with an ill-considered vodka and coke which I’d come to regret later, there was much singing and merriment, eventually we ended up in the backstage area for a while before retiring to bed. Another excellent day’s entertainment, and not quite so many meady moments as I’d feared!