Long Division Festival Review, Wakefield

You’re going to Wakefield? Why? This was the reaction of several people when I mentioned we’d be spending the uncharicteristically hot, sunny day, not outside enjoying the weather in a festival field, but inside watching as many bands as possible in 7 of Wakefield’s venues.  As Post War Glamour Girl’s frontman proclaimed later on in the day, Wakefield has a thriving music scene at present, and boasts a printed fanzine Rhubarb Bomb and record label Philophobia.  Knowing this makes it a not so surprising locatioin for a multi venue city centre festival after all.
It was a return visit to Long Division Festival for me after being there in 2011, but a first visit for photographer Katie.  I was looking forward to how things had developed and to seeing the new venues.  Straight after arriving we popped upstairs at The Hop to catch a bit of The Dissolutions. Their rock was solid enough but not particularly original so we decided to make our way to another venue. The Orangery was almost ideally suited to the vocal talents of Jasmine Kennedy who kept the attentive crowd totally captivated, especially when she performed a song acapella. Her guitar strap also sported an impressive collection of Brownie Badges.  Next it was over to another new venue for me, the Drury Lane Library, for St Gregory Orange who I’d caught last time at the Cathedral. Unfortunately we only caught the last song with singer going out into the crowd as far as his mic lead would allow but it was enough to remind me not to miss them next time.
Downstairs at The Hop was the next port of call for a bit of Humanfly. I was initially intrigued by the metal stylings of the first song we caught but this was followed by a more straight forward rock so we decided to move on only to find them reprising their metal influences as we were leaving so maybe that was a hasty move. We were determined to visit all the venues so continued on our way to Velvet intending to catch Harry George Johns. Unfortunately the venue was running late and had an ammended schedule.  After a bit of a wait we caught Halifax’s punk, skiffle/country group Spirit of John who were initially meant to play two hours earlier.
I then made it over to the Theatre Royal for what turned out to be my highlight of the afternoon. This Is The Kit were definitely the right band in the right place with the beautiful pure folk voice of Kate Stables allowed to shine through. Yet it was the guitar effects that moved them up another level for me and made we want to investigate more.
Katie (photographer) headed over to Warehouse 23 to catch Wakefield band The Spills, their indie-rock has more of a nod to America than Yorkshire, but the changing time signatures and dual vocals from Rob and Chad set them apart from others.  Definitely a band to catch again.
In need of a little rest I remained at the Theatre Royal for first experience Post War Glamour Girls who were Katie’s hi light of the day.  They were preceded by Skint & Demoralised aptly doing one John Cooper Clarke poem (albeit Kung Fu International and not band’s namesake) and a well placed poem highlighting the contradictions in the tenets of EDL and BNP policy. Initial assumptions about the band themselves being moody and distant were dispelled by singer Andy’s inter-song chat. Their material was firmly grounded on the darker side of things and sounded great in the acoustics of the Theatre.
Taking a food break back at The Orangery we (and possibly the rest of Wakefield) could hear the call of Eagulls through Library’s open windows so we popped in for a couple of songs. After an initial assault of noise I was enjoying a darker and moodier song but a decision had be made and that was to go back to The Hop for Sky Larkin. However Ed Tudor Pole who I didn’t expect to see, was still performing downstairs and as he’d just started Who Killed Bambi it would have been rude to walk past. At the end of his boisterous set he was joined on stage by a few invited friends and later by a few who quite possiby weren’t for final song Swords Of A Thousand Men.
Next it was time to head over to the main venue of Warehouse 23. I had seen That Fucking Tank before and the guitar and drum duo can’t be simply pigeonholed asmath-rock so it’s very handy that they have such self-descriptive tunes as Acid Jam. The sizeable crowd of waiting Fall fans (easy to spot as they were all sporting Fall Fall T shirts and badges) seemed to enjoy their set too.
The Fall had had originally been the reason for me wanting to return to Long Division but a recent gig in Clitheroe had been a bit of a testing experience that made consider giving it a miss. However I shouldn’t have worried and even though Mark E Smith spent several songs seated on a dining chair, he and was on great form from the off. It was great to have a lot more new material in the set. Other highlights were Strychnine with Mark showing real attitude, Sparta FC and Reformation. It has to be mentioned the packed Warehouse was one of the hottest gigs I’ve ever attended, with many in the crowd having to use their programmes as fans but MES, ever the contrary bugger, was wearing a full lenght coat for much of their gig!
All that would have been enough for me, but Katie enjoyed Middleman’s set so much at last month’s Live at Leeds, she had to catch them again.  Initially, the crowd was a little sparse, probably people outside grabbing some needed fresh air after the stifiling gig, but the venue soon re-filled. Middleman’s energetic rap, rock has shades of The Prodigy and single Can’t Hold me Down and gets several fans joining singer Andy in crowdsurfing.
Overall another great Long Division.  Long may it continue especially with the promise of the Unity Hall being developed into another venue.  The variety of bands playing to help make this one of the best and importantly most compact city festivals there is.
Check out more Long Division Festival photos here

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