REVIEW: Splendour Festival 2023

The past month in Nottingham saw a horrific incident involving 3 innocent residents that shocked and bewildered many. This year’s Splendour festival could not have come at a better moment helping bring the historic city together in a spirit of joyous colourful artistry.

Similar to last years extended celebrations the festival is again enjoying a 2 day 15th anniversary extravaganza. The fields are awash with the best food, street stalls and playful entertainment. The main attraction for many being the music, included is the forever youthful Betty Boo returning to a rapturous reception with her new upbeat music Get Me To The Weekend, Shining Star and Boomerang along with classic 90’s barnstormers Doin’ The Do, Where Are You Baby and Hey DJ which all get a welcome outing.

Merseyside favourites The Coral , looking like the sort of gang you want to be in, offer expertly conceived tunage. Well known tracks such as In The Morning, Lover Undiscovered, Pass It On and Dreaming Of You offer their followers stone cold belters, superlative new track Wild Bird showcases a moving glance into soundtracks of the wild west. Headliner on the second stage The Vaccines divulge the audience in their short sharp indie raspers, whilst on the mainstage Sugababes colorfully attract a crowd full of youthful wannabes whilst they churn out 90’s bangers Round Round, Freak Like Me and Push The Button everyone pulling their best Vogue shapes across the expansive Wollaton fields.

Saturday main stage headliners need little introduction, a British institution as good as Fish and Chips, Madness always serve up tasty treats with plenty of salt and vinegar. Staple nutty opener One Step Beyond never fails to entertain from the get go, dynamite 80’s stunners Embarrassment, House Of Fun, The Sun and The Rain and It Must Be Love sees the crowd pour out their emotions in the mode of song. There’s plenty of crowd interactions from Graham McPherson aka Suggs, Lee Thompson doubles as a more than mischievous sidekick, defining saxophone blasts is his domain on The Bed And Breakfast Man, Night Boat the Cairo with the closing beats of Ska shuffle Madness being a fitting end to the days proceedings.

Sunday awakens with the garage sounds of Inspiral Carpets. Opener Joe goes for the jugular, This Is How It Feels, She Comes In The Fall, Move and Dragging Me Down exhibit the band as survivors from the Madchester days, Clint Boon and Graham Lambert might not have the huge 60’s hair they once had but they certainly know how to deliver a rapid musical punch. New members drummer Kev Clarke and bassist Oscar Boon complete the line up with original vocalist Stephen Holt holding all the trump cards as the set closes with psych organ Seeds inspired stomp Saturn 5.

Further attractions on the second day include Claire Grogan rewinding the clock with Altered Images sparkling guitar pop I Could Be Happy, Don’t Talk To Me About Love and Happy Birthday joined at the hip with a cover of the Ting Tings That’s Not My Name. Jake Shears looks like he could be Mad Lizzy’s doppelgänger in a glittery tracksuits with a bright performance full of enthusiastic showmanship, the ghost of Mercury would be no doubt full of pride. Laura, Comfortably Numb, Take You Mama and I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’ are straight up crowd pleasers, new material Too Much Music, Mess Of Me and Last Man Dancing make for a feast for the eyes and ears.

The last time I saw Noel Gallagher in concert was at Nottingham’s Rock City just before Oasis Definitely Maybe was released, the crowd that night was at fever pitch, clambering for a glimpse of the Gallagher brothers was a must, Noel was playing for the crowd and cameras on the night fully enjoying his new found fame.

30 years on Noel now surrounded by his High Flying Birds including a couple of figures who saw out the last days of Oasis including former Heavy Stereo frontman Gem Archer, former La’s drummer Chris Sharrock with The Zutons Russ Pritchard added on bass this live line up are definitely one to rival the best bands out there.

The set is as you would expect, Oasis bangers including Half The World Away, The Masterplan, Little By Little and Don’t Look Back In Anger has everyone one each others shoulders belting out the lyrics like their lives depended on the completion of every sentence, whilst new material AKA..What A Life!, Pretty Boy, Council Skies and We’re Gonna Get There In The End back up the main man in hefty rain, however the extremities of the weather doesn’t dampen anyone’s spirits, rather everyone is out to enjoy the moment.

Yet again another triumphant return to Wollaton Hall’s dramatic expansive fields, an excellent 48 hours of entertainment of the highest order.

Splendour website can be found here