Rockstock and … well, long overdue…

This is long overdue, so apologies – it’s been a busy ol’ time.  Rockstock and Barrel happened at the end of September, and it was as magnificent as ever.  After finishing up work we arrived on site on Thursday evening and got ourselves set up and reunited with our lovely festival friends.  Soon enough the cider was flowing (Pear and Chilli was my weapon of choice for most of the weekend) – and the music was starting in the acoustic lounge before the festival proper started on Friday.

Phil Cudworth took to the stage first – probably more familiar to most of us for his awesome woodwork, it turns out he’s a bit of a dab hand with guitar and singing too!  He opened with a potentially childhood-destroying song called Disney Princesses where he painted probably on reflection a more healthy set of role models than those proferred by the film company in question, then on to Coward about growing up in the 70s.  A mixture of irreverence, humour but also underpinned with real charm.

Coward was up next and then Bounce, then it was on to Hippy Chick.  I must admit I started losing track of song names – there was one about a chap called Gary, Computer Nerds has a question mark next to it then there was a really bluesy number called Tollpath Blues.  Then we get to where I’ve just covered subject matters – one song was about Russians, another about VIPs, then one called Green-eyed Monster.  The set finished up with Free for a Day but as Zoe took the stage she asceded to the crowds demands for an encore, which we got in the form of Sunglasses – a reflection on how stage-performing can adversely affect ones personality.  Something to watch out for!

Next up was Kev Andrews – who unleashed some throat singing and some really clever layers on his guitar – although I must confess I did get a bit waylaid in the Scrumptiddly Cider Bar for much of the set (oops, sorry Kev – but that cider is amazing!).  In the meantime I’d had a chance to catch up with Funke Dan who’d arrived in preparation for his headline slot for the evening – he was staying the night be then heading off to Something Else in the Dean the following day, but it was nice to have a good ol’ chinwag.

Once Funke and the Two Tone Baby took the stage he looked properly comfortable in his own skin – he probably knows the majority of the crowd by name, and they’re all well up for the party.  He kicked in with Never Used to Dance although I’m sure that there were some new twiddly bits and pieces in there compared to normal.  He had a few guitar tuning issues to contend with before launching into Bella’s Kiss – the microphone stand then proving to be his nemesis but for some hasty adjustments from Rob to keep the set going.

I’m not Well was next, and then onto the lovely Tales of the Place I Live (I’ve made a note of capo issues during this one – I’m afraid subsequent cider consumption and general passage of time means I can’t remember the specifics on this!).  Work all Week was next, fast becoming a familiar favourite now, then we did get a new new one – Reshape is – as I’ve noted on my phone – a ‘big dirty bluesy bugger’ – so there you go, not sure that’ll make it onto the single release notes, but you never know!

If You’re Nice to Me I’ll be Nice to You was up next, then back on the new track trail, and dedicated to Rob, it was Ghenghis Khan – which I remember him attempting and aborting when we saw him at Bodega in Nottingham.  There was another microphone malfunction and amusing reaction (and subsequent apology) – but once underway it was soon forgotten!  With time rapidly running on there was time for The Signal Is Cut and Not Enough Bonobo and we were done – but we did get an encore of a mash up of Paint it Black and 54-46 That’s My Number (including a looped sample of Gayle snorting!).  Awesome set.

We retired for a few more drinks before heading back to the van for sleepy times.

Friday day time was a case of absenteeism for me for personal reasons – so I was up relatively early and off site, leaving Ella with Mark and Amanda – I made it back to the festival at about half past eight in the evening so regrettably missed a fair few acts over the course of the day.  I’d wanted to ensure I made it back in time for Nick Parker but due to a slight miscalculation by another band he’d agreed to swap his slot for the following day – but that’s okay, we settled ourselves in the main hall, artfully decorated with Steampunk trappings in time for Headsticks to take the stage.

They opened up their set with I’m Alright Jack and then into Mississippi’s Burning.  They certainly infused the room with energy, which isn’t really a surprise is it?  Flatline Town and Cold Grey English Skies had the room bouncing and singing along (it is true that a very rock and roll Ella and Amanda might’ve been doing jigsaws at the same time at the back of the room).  Fanatics had the crowd bellowing back to Andrew – and if you’ve ever had the Andrew stare you’d bellow back at him as well.  The transformation he undergoes in demeanour and tone once he’s got a mic in his hand never ceases to amaze me!

I Love You was up next and then Dying for a Lie.  Reece was invited on stage to join in for a rousing rendition of What Do You Want, then it was time for World Away and the emotional Paper Flowers.  The pace was quickened again for Pay The Price and Go Move Shift.  I managed to miss one completely (I have vague memories of there being a new one that we agreed we liked on the table, but whether it was this one or not, who can tell?).  You’re Killing Me America was next before a well deserved encore What If They’re Right.  Cracking set.

We had got ourselves pretty comfty in the main room so didn’t move so The Leylines were next next band we saw – it kicked in with Hannah’s Song (which now I can’t help but overlay with Let Me Entertain You in my head!) and then into Sorry My Friends.  This was supposed to be Pete’s swansong as he’s sadly decided to step down from the band, which I’m very sad about.  Unfortunately he couldn’t make it in the end – so it was an introduction to Shaun, the new bass player, and to Dan who has permanently joined the band on electric guitar after deputising for injured Steve recently.  Both did splendidly.

My Own Worst Enemy is probably my favourite song of theirs, and it didn’t disappoint here – there’s just something about it, I’m not sure what that says about me!  It proper gets the hairs on your arms standing up. Save Your Soul got a rare airing which was welcome for me, although with no Addie to cuddle it wasn’t quite so special, then it was on to Let it Go and Stone Circle.  You’ve Changed went into Fly Away, and then the very emotional Queen and Country, as passionate as ever – another real spine-tingler of a track.

Things I Know was up next, before Joel and Ella were invited to join on backing vocals for Run for Cover, both doing a splendid job.  Joel was the proud owner of a signed drumskin after the gig too!  They finished up, of course, with Sat in a Field – of course in festival terms Rockstock involves less sitting in a field than most, being indoor and generally colder – but it still captures the spirit, and there’s plenty of cider involved!  At some point Nick Parker had joined too on Mandolin.  Possibly from Things I Know, but I’m really not sure on reflection!

We finished up a few more drinks but weren’t too late to bed – both Ella and I had performances to do the next day relatively early so we didn’t fancy massive hangovers.  Cunning or what?

On Saturday morning Morgan and Nick arrived, so Ella and Morgan had a bit of a practice whilst I found Bart to strike a shady deal, then Mark and Amanda for some construction of our pretty epic light show for later (Okay, so we lashed together some garden canes to act as a guide for some led light strips I’d found, haha!).  Eddie and Jamie had secured themselves an open mic slot, so they serenaded us with a few songs on guitar, mandolin and vocals – including Galway Girl and Wagon Wheel, but it was soon time to get prepped for Morganella taking the acoustic stage.

This was the official EP launch for Morganella (did I mention they had an EP out – it’s on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play etc etc now too).  They kicked off with Black Horse and a Cherry Tree as has kinda become customary, before launching into playing the EP in full.  Some of the tracks had never had a live appearance before – but Daisies and Sunshine has, their ability to transform the quality of the EP recording right onto stage is pretty awe inspiring really (although they recorded the EP pretty much live so it’s not that surprising!).

Next up was Fight Your Own Battles and then Fade Away and on to Refuge.  The highlight of the set for me though was The Standing Stone of Onich (as it is on the EP too) – it’s just a lovely song.  With a great reception from the crowd it was a return to cover versions, Jolene works really well with Ella’s voice, and their version of Skunk Anansie’s Weak has kinda become a signature tune too.  The set wound to an all-too-soon close with Black Dog Day and finally Photosynthesis to close – awesome set to springboard the new EP.

As The Star Copiers were on stage after Morganella we hung around and got ourselves set up – there was a brief moment of panic when the power to the stage was lost, but Jon sorted everything out and got us soundchecked and sorted.  Regrettably that meant we were missing The Star Botherers on the main stage (with Ellis too!), but well, we do have a fair few channels to sort these days.  As it happened, due to a bit of an unplanned gap in the running order we were asked to go on a bit later – so we could’ve watched them, but never mind!

So we hung around and started a little late – and hastily drafted in Eddie to extend our set at the end with Jamie (and me, despite having no idea what we were playing – ha – but more on that later!).  I won’t go into details on our set – but I think it went well, we kicked off with a one-by-one stage entry to Down Under and then into Listen and I Still Believe.  A slight shuffle and I was on vocals for Wish You Were Here, then back to my box for Nights in White Satin.  Issac was up for guitar on Too Late, then a first airing of Help for us (after a false start).

Mairi’s Wedding Part III was our penultimate listed song, and for Fifteen Years we invited Paul up on stage to be our tambourine wrangler.  Because there was more time to fill we dropped in our ‘soundcheck’ song of Good Riddance and then eventually located Eddie to nick Kev’s guitar, and accompanied by Jamie on mandolin and me on the box unleashed a couple more songs (I still don’t know what they were, I certainly didn’t at the time, ah well – I like a challenge!).  And that was it!  We had a lot of fun, as ever.

We were then due on the Purrple Peeple Eater for the secret performer – which turned out to be none other than Pete from Leatherat, who was feeling a bit poorly.  What a treat though – he brought his mandola and serenaded us for around half an hour.  It was great – he kicked off with Lost which was the first ever Leatherat song, then Whole Down Red.  He tried Let It Go which was the only track ready for the now aborted new album, then Walk Away – a cover of obscure Mindless Drug Hoover‘s Full Off Get Out My Flat was an awesome diversion and then a finale of an instrumental track written in mind of the new album.

A cracking set.  Ella was eager to see Noble Jacks whilst I was pretty content to succumb to some purple bus amnesia for a while – eventually compelled to leave when the next Rockstock and Personal performers – the wonderful 3 Daft Monkeys had arrived ready for their set on there (well, Tim and Athene had!).  So I found myself at the acoustic stage in time for Jonny Wallis to be performing Oh You New York Girls (Can’t You Dance the Polka) – always seems odd without Brian there, I missed Brian as he’d performed whilst I was away on Friday.

Next up was Goodnight Lullaby, as moving as ever – then Light the Darkness to pick up the pace if not the mood – but then we get to a bit more protest folk in the form of Crime of Rights and finally Social Divide (with Morgan drafted in to hold up the lyric cards – hmm, I wonder where he got that idea from?).  I definitely had no intention of missing Leatherat on the main stage though, opportunities to see them are getting thinner and thinner as the disband this year – I fear sadly this might have been my last ever chance.

They launched into Set My Soul on Fire and then Whiskey in the Jar.  They were sounding energetic, fun, raucous and tight all at once in that way only they can – you certainly wouldn’t have believed Pete was under the weather.  High Friends and Life in this Old Dog are pretty much anthems – and their unfeasibly fast version of The Rocky Road to Dublin never fails to get the feet stomping.  The next song I missed the name of but was dedicated to the cider drinkers – of which, of course, there were many.

We’re All in this Together was next – seemingly ever relevant to the political climate of the day, then Partytime in Chavbury lightened the mood leading to an epic set finishing with Stop and Large One.  I do feel genuinely sad that this will more than likely be the last time I take in a Leatherat gig – I know they are playing at Ragged Bear and have organised a Christmas bash but I’ve got plans elsewhere on both of those evenings, but well, for me the Leatherat story ended on a high – and I’m sure Pete will still be performing in some guise.

Nick Parker was up next on the acoustic stage – he launched into I’ve Never Been to Dublin Before and then into Departures (including a guest kazoo performance!).  Down With The Yoof didn’t have the double-denim troupe this time (I had actually arrived on Friday in double denim ready for Nick, but hadn’t reprised the outfit this evening!).  For An Open Letter to my Human there was a lyric tweak to call out Johnny and Beans on Toast as political experts rather than Prowse and Chris TT which is a nice touch!  Louie also made an appearance on stage too.

Could We At Least Try was up next, then Es Tut Mir Leid complete with four children who’d decorated their own excellent lyric canvases to hold up (they were later auctioned raising a chunk of cash for the Lee Bonsall Memorial Fund).  For Guess I’ll Never Know rather than duetting it Nick asked for a male and a female choir – with volunteers thin on the ground I got up since I know the song, Ella was in the ladies choir – and apparently it sounded good!  Terry and June was an in off the pink, then it was time for an encore of Metaphor with Josh on hand to help with the chorus.

We gradually made our way back to the main room – gin and jäger club was in full flow by this point so I must admit that much of Beans on Toast kinda passed me by a little, I’d had a reasonable run of seeing stuff too – oh well, I do go to festivals to see my friends as well as bands!

I wasn’t going to miss 3 Daft Monkeys though – Ella and I moved down to the front for a dance, they kicked in with Social Vertigo and then Drink With God off their latest album (more on that in my next blog post!).  Sticking with the new album they launched into Money and then Delighted to be Invited.  There was a brief trip back in time for Faces then the awesome We are Revolution and I Love You back from the new album – it wasn’t until sitting and writing this I’d realised how many new album tracks they played, shows how much I’ve played it!

Days of the Dance had folks alternating between waltzing and moshing, Astral Eyes kept the dancing pace lively and during World On It’s Head we found Angela in a strangely upside down pose!  With the set winding to a close album title track Year of the Clown was a particular highlight – I love that song.  An encore was very very loudly called for – and delivered with Hubbadilia and – my absolute favourite – The Antiquated and the Arcane.  An absolutely awesome set to conclude an absolutely awesome festival for us.  Lots more 3 Daft Monkey fun to come in my next blog post (whenever that will be!).

It’s true Zetan Spore were on hand on the small stage for the hardcore partiers – but we opted to inadvertently listen to them from the van (they were quite loud, ha!).  We had a splendid time.  But then, you kinda knew that was going to be inevitable didn’t you?

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