I didn’t know what to expect from this trip. New festival for me. New travel buddies, new dawn, noooooo waterproofs! But I was confident, and had good shoes and my St Pauli hat. Job done.
I found a pleasant surprise at my desk on Friday morning… bring it on.
I travelled over with Joe Zadeh, Clash Magazine Press Editor, and his girlfriend Kate who is the singer songwriter of Mt Wolf.
We had a race against time to make the ferry, driving down from South East London but we made it. Happily onto the ferry for the trip. Perched outside and indulging ourselves in just how bad Joe’s eyesight really is.
We made the festival in good time, by around 9pm, but there began the epic list of incompetent steward handling that would descend into disbelief and even the most patient of people would have snapped. I could hear ‘Peacock Suit’ drifting over in the wind and Cradock having it hard on guitar, but alas, I was stood next to my parked car, trying to reason with an absolute jobsworth idiot. I could write 1000 words on each step of this brain dead episode but I’ll save you from that. The short version is that it took us about 2 hours from arriving to actually setting up the tent, during which we ended up in the middle of the busiest area of the festival sitting in the car whilst drunken masses of poxy ‘glampers’ fell and swayed around us.
I put the tent up with chronic hayfever, in the dark, nose running everywhere, with the sole thought driving me on that was ‘it’ll be worth it when the Roses walk out’. SMASH! went that hope. With the tent laying flat on the ground, pegs in my hand, a beautiful sound came floating towards me on the wind carrying a double edged sword. It was the Roses’ walk on tune; Stoned Love by Diana Ross.
I managed to make the last half of the set. But not before fighting my way through an army of hammered provincial townies, every girl aged 14-18 and in tiny jean shorts, completely hammered. Like a zombie film they just kept coming, their eyes fixed on you and their legs giving way below them. Their gym bunny boyfriends following behind devoid of any thought. If eyes are the windows to the soul, these windows have been locked shut a long time. Rust setting in. The populace of your average festival will now never be the same thanks to shows like TOWIE who have put wealthy chavs in designer gear and Uggs sitting outside tents, on the screens of the country’s easily lead moronic hordes. Fear & loathing in cut off denim.
This panic dissipated as I eventually made it to a clearing where I could see Browny, at last, on one of the huge screens in the distance, doing his thing. My girlfriend then pulled out 8 cans of drink she’d cleverly stashed in order to sneak past the security as you reach the main stage section. Gerrin!
One thing was obvious, Browny was in a seriously good mood. With his Manc hooligan jacket adorning him like he was born in it, he couldn’t have looked any more seminal really. A caricature of himself but in a really fucking good way. He was actually dancing, pulling off moves that I’ve never seen him do before, he even did a twirl at some point! The standard shoulder shuffles were peppered throughout the set and at one point he said something that will no doubt creep into the parlance exchanged as normal within my social group; “if ya can’t dance, I’ll take shoulder shuffles”.
Squire’s solo after ‘Elizabeth My Dear’ was absolutely immense; guitar flying above his head, and as he brought this extended version of the ditty to a close that young Browny penned all those years ago for the Queen that he has always held in low regard, Browny held his hand up in the shape of a pistol and barked a shotgun noise into the night.
The set was immense as you’d expect but having seen them twice since the ‘resurrection’, they now seem to be really in the groove, enjoying themselves and just going for it. Free from any concerns or preconceptions.
We walked past the tent where Example was performing. The difference in substance was scary. One song was enough. It was full of the afore mentioned conformists who were loving it, but I really couldn’t work out why. He was MCing badly, over bad backing tracks. I can only think that this is what you get when someone is pumped out of plasma screens all over the nation every Sunday for T4 terrorists. Anyway, enough of him.
We returned to the tent pretty knackered. With a quick stop off for a game of ‘throw the bottle as high as you can and catch the bottle’, and then another slightly more depressing game called ‘you forgot the inflatable bed pump’. Ouch.
Saturday we saw Laura Mvula who one can only describe as a fluffy warbling cushion that seems really lovely, would be nice to sit on but other than that, you might actually get more inspiration from a cushion. Dull as dishwater. No wonder Rosie from Made in Chelsea was next to us enjoying it. This is how I spent most of the set…
Following a momentarily heated discussion on crap mainstream artists cropping up at festivals to the detriment of the bundles of talented bands out there, Joe and Kate nipped off to see Little Mixx, as my girlfriend and I went to see Starsailor’s James Walsh on the Strongbow stage, and he really ignited the day with his buzz, his incredible voice and his clear love for the day and just being there. He retweeted my big up so nice swan James! He ended with Silence Is Easy and then a track I didn’t recognise but it was beautiful.
We made our way to check out Noasis in the Hipshaker tent – encountering some brilliantly enthusiastic ninjas on the way!
And well, it all went off!! I even shed a tear at some point. Pretty much the only time I feel patriotic these days is when I’m watching an historic British band, or even watching a covers band! (of an historic British band). To see the multitude of ages in there, singing their hearts out, it was really was the Power of Now –see Eckhart Tolle. I was literally as happy as I could be in that moment. Especially as the theme that unfolded was to hit whoever sat on someone’s shoulders, on the back of the head with a plastic bottle. Successful strikes bringing a roar from the crowd! My girlfriend went to the toilet and missed a Jesus storming the stage with a bible and throwing fake water out over his disciples, Hannibal making an appearance and various other characters in fancy dress storming the stage and doing impromptu shows before Liam himself stage dived and everyone moved out the way! Hilarious.
All topped off with Champagne Supanova and everyone piling out into the sun singing Oasis songs and hugging strangers. What more could you ask for? This bloke was certainly happy by the exit!
We then ran over to make sure we caught Mt Wolf’s set in the darkness of the dance tent, (journey home would’ve been a tad downcast if we’d stayed to Oasis it up). We were all hit by the power of the music and Kate’s vocals. The sweet girl from the back of the car transformed into an intoxicating and captivating show, owning the stage and belting out some gorgeous songs. I found it as engaging as Portishead with extra dollops of electro thrown in. They’re obviously all top musicians in their own right, band logo tattooed and adorned everywhere. The crowd loved it, especially between songs when Kate would turn from Blondie to Rab C Nesbitt and whilst hunched over searching around the stage she’d mumble into the mic “now where’s my gin”! Haha! Definitely check Mt Wolf out as they’re playing all over.
Out of the darkness and into the light once more then.
The Intoxicated Tearooms was the next stop.
This is the area that Tim Burgess had turned into his own head. Music, friends, cakes, tea and coffee. It provided an open arm respite and an array of smiling folk.
Tim spotted the t-shirt and came over to say hello. Always pleasant is our Tim and he was looking forward to playing later.
We stuck around for this as it was bound to be good fun and it didn’t disappoint. Mike Garry providing some inspired spoken manc poetry. If you closed your eyes you were transported into Frank Gallagher’s front room. The able lieutenants seemed to be Nick Fraser – Tim’s trusted right hand man who’s enthusiasm is infectious, and Max Lees of Howling Rhythm who is surely vying for nicest lad on earth. By the time Tim and Mark Collins stepped on stage with Hatcham Social, the place was rammed and the vibe was perfect. A mix of solo tracks of Tim’s (one highlight for me being ‘Years Ago’ off his first solo album. There were a handful of tracks I’d never heard before so I’d love to see a set list to post on the site…Nick?!? The Charlatans classic ‘Impossible’ went down a storm and the band were obviously loving it. One stand out for me was ‘The Graduate’ off the new album ‘Oh No I Love You’. Absolute corker. Tim can’t do much wrong in Gigslutz’ eyes and this really was an occasion to be cherished, such an intimate setting.
I had a chat with Mark Collins afterwards about the new Charlatans album and although they don’t have titles yet, he said 4 tracks are done and are sounding quite Byrds-ish! I’m pretty sure (loud, drunk etc) he even said they’ve been influenced largely by revisiting Some Friendly, their seminal debut album of 1990. There you go, Gigslutz exclusive me thinks! If that’s true, then long live The Charlatans!
That had just topped off a day that rose higher and higher for me so I celebrated in the artists enclosure with a few Fireballs. Now, this is truly my new favourite drink. Whiskey, with lime and cinnamon. Bingo! Bongo! They should drink it in the congo! Tis the future my pretties! You n me Fireball, we’re gonna go far, we’ll be skipping through the bulrushes at night without a care in the world, with our vests on, sneering at the moon! Thanks to the lovely Fireball team and Green Eye Events for making me so drunk I mean welcome.
One mega fairground ride later and I was off to the inflatable mattress to compare notes with the other side of my brain, in the stark realization that I’m only truly happy when standing with someone dear to me and watching a band I respect nail it. To that end I’ve applied for a job on the fajita stand for next year.
Before I sign off, I have to mention that on the way home I interviewed a very hung over and also head-in-a-bag car sick Kate Sproule of Mt Wolf and you can check that out later this week. We also had a fit of giggles when we pulled into the drive through Starbucks on the M3 near Camberley, we spoke into one of those voice box things and a girl’s voice boomed out making me jump through the roof; to which she proceeded to lose the plot and we all started cracking up at this girl’s high pitched out of control laughter. She then just creased us up with everything she said and I promised to big her up. Her name’s Sarah West and she’s lovely.
The next radio show is Thursday 27th at 7pm on Optical Radio online. Live. With an emerging artists section focusing on the Animal Farm label. Plus the usual load of classics of all genres that other stations don’t have the balls to play.
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