Blissfields is pleased to announce the headline acts of its 2016 “House Party” themed summer event as grime-pop legend DIZZEE RASCAL and double top-10 charting electronic rock band EVERYTHING EVERYTHING. They’re joined by RONI SIZE, SUNDARA KARMA, JONES, DUB PISTOLS, BEANS ON TOAST, MOLOTOV JUKEBOX, TOO MANY T’S, and SERIAL KILLAZ with over a hundred more live acts and DJs across a variety of stages still to unveil. Tickets are on sale now viablissfields.co.uk for the June 30th to July 2nd event in Hampshire.
Your inner child has been given the keys to Blissfields – under one condition – you absolutely have to throw a party. From the soul basement of Animal House to the tree-lined estate of Vicarage Farm, it’s time to go old school and take over the palace for one ultimate weekend party. Bring your sleeping bag, togas, PJs and mixtapes to the biggest house party of 2016 – featuring the king of all special guests’Dizzee Rascal. Regarded as the godfather of grime, this Mercury Award winning platinum selling crossover artist will see in the House Party vibe in blockbuster style.
Following the release of their second top-10 album “Get To Heaven” last summer, Everything Everything will also be taking on headline duties on the newly christened Manor Stage for the intimate 5,000 capacity Blissfields crowd this July. Mercury Award winning DnB pioneer Roni Size with Dynamite MC will also join the bill, alongside some guaranteed summer highlights Sundara Karma, Jones and longtime Blissfields favorites Dub Pistols and Beans On Toast.
Blissfields has always celebrated the intimate party spirit and this year it’s going all out with its BIGGEST TOP SECRET ART INSTALLATION EVER, creating an onteractive festival site like they’ve never done before. Blissfields will be hosting slumber parties, garage raves, retro living room discos, and so much more alongside its usual music programme, sprawled across a stunning Hampshire arena where legend has it; it never rains.
Channelling the spirit of National Lampoons and Dr. Frank N. Furter via the Bratpack, 1990’s and Skins, Blissfields will smudge the eras into the party at the end of the universe. Blissfields favourite and now AIF Award winning HIDDEN HEDGE area is celebrating the occasion by going even more overboard than before… crash-landing its Boeing cockpit installation into a new VJ stage, as SERIAL KILLAZ top their music bill.
The BLISSCOTHEQUE double decker Routemaster bus will be taking a mix of the old school and freshest urban performers til dawn, accompanied as always by a loaded cocktail bar.
The festival within a festival for little Blissfieldians and their families, ANGEL GARDENS is back in 2016 programming a non-stop multi venue experience for any age. In 2015 Grandmaster Flash turned up to scratch with kids as part of a DJ workshop… this year, who knows!
The CRAFT AREA and an all new and re-thought A-Z ARENA will be hosting immersive and hands-on activities across the weekend, with some theatrical twists while THE LARCH is also getting a makeover with a later run time to include a silent disco.
For the first time in the festival’s history Blissfields have teamed up with an agency to host a special 'takeover' of the big top on Thursday night. For one night only, the festival will welcome 'The NOW Stage' that will be hosted and curated by the independent bookings and management agency, This Is Now, who will stage performances from Molotov Jukebox, Too Many T’s, Son Of Dave and more, as part of their programme to kick Blissfields off in style. Thursday tickets are available when booking weekend passes.
Widely known as one of the wildest and most immersive experiences around, BoomTown Fair is one of the UK’s fastest growing music festivals. This year marked BoomTown’s seventh year in Winchester, selling out with a huge 38,000 people ready and rearing to explore the pop-up wonderland.
Having not seen many familiar names on the line-up and with this being my first BoomTown, I went into this experience pretty blind.I travelled to the site using public transport and ended up having one of my most valuable experiences of the whole weekend on the shuttle bus there. The atmosphere was intense, people were anxious to see the site appear over the hill, and talk was all about the weekend ahead. Every single person on the bus announced they had barely looked at the line-up, they couldn’t tell me who the ‘headliners’ were and they couldn’t tell me who to look out for. Instead they gave me the best advice I could have asked for: “BoomTown isn’t about the line-up, it isn’t about the headliners. Go in there and immerse yourself in the whole experience, think of the music as the soundtrack to your weekend and go wherever it takes you”. Most of them even favoured the smaller, quirkier areas over the main attractions and insisted I spend some time walking around. Taking my fellow BoomTown citizen’s advice, I did exactly this.
This pop-up city nestled in the rolling hills of Winchester is split into nine districts across three areas of the festival (HillTop, DownTown & Temple Valley). From Wild West to DSTRKT 5, China Town to Mayfair Avenue, everywhere boasts impressive set designs and strong narratives dating back to the festival’s origins in 2009. You find yourself being ushered along by “policemen” in OldTown, only to then stumble into Grandma’s Living Room and play bingo with other festival goers. Needless to say the weekend was laden with these surreal experiences in every district, leaving you feeling a little lost when all is said and done.
Somewhat hidden within these city walls are the stages. Like every district, each stage is themed depending on where it stands; each one an incredible set up. Some particularly impressive stages are the Lion’s Den; a huge temple themed stage that shoots fire when night descends, Bang Hai Palace; what can only be described as an oriental super palace lit from top to bottom with red and yellow neon lights, and Boombox; quite literally a giant boombox that glows as it pumps DNB through monstrous surround sound.
The weekend boasted some impressive musical names such as gypsy swing cyberpunks Caravan Palace who had the crowd jiving and jumping from start to finish. The global musical mastery that is Gogol Bordello tore up the Town Centre on Sunday night giving the BoomTown citizens something to remember. A particularly impressive set was Shy FX feat. Stamina MC at the Lion’s Den. Having seen this innovator of dance music before at a much smaller venue, it was incredible to see the transition from a sweaty tent to one of the main stages at BoomTown. Stood at the top of the hill where the Lion’s Den is situated, you could admire a sea of people bouncing, skanking and having the time of their lives. The atmosphere was electric as Shy continued to hit the crowd with classic after classic, Shake Ur Body being a particular highlight; smoke spilled from the mammoth stage and worked hand in hand with the strobes to create the ultimate raving experience. Other amazing acts across the weekend included: reggae master Stephen Marley, Ska-Dub-Punk group Dub Pistols (whom have actually won awards for their exceptional live performances), experimental Drum ‘n’ Bass multi-instrumentalist Squarepusher, with strobe lights to match his obscurity. Soulful blues and roots gang John Butler Trio provided a much needed break from the manic happenings elsewhere, while Mali’s Songhoy Blues stole my heart with their lively desert blues performed with upmost sincerity. More notable names were: The Carny Villains, Rubber Duck Orchestra, Born on Road Showcase and Noisia.
Some of my fondest memories of the weekend were visiting all of the side attractions that make their way to the festival. Long pathways lined with gypsy caravans and tipis, inside people were receiving palm readings, massages, yoga classes, wood crafting and wicker basket making lessons; the list was endless. Policemen can be seen taking part, staring at a black and white spiral wheel experiencing what can only be described from his facial expression as a sober acid trip. These side attractions keep the drunken masses smiling and add a little something special to the festival; there are vibes of a buzzing community and a sense that most of the vendors know each other from elsewhere. Its places like this that for me, make a real festival.
The Beat Herder prides itself on being a festival like no other and has firmly established itself as one of the best festivals of the summer, constantly evolving and improving. 17 lovingly crafted stages set across the Ribble Valley site in Lancashire catered for all types of music taste. Each year there’s the promise of new arena to wet your appetite. This year that was Trash Manor, which got an upgrade from a red & yellow stripy tent to a stately manor complete with a roman style fountain and grinding robots.
What I love most about this festival is the attention to detail. It’s in abundance everywhere, from the flower boxes to site signage, to my favourite hangout – Quality Street (a street complete with a sweetshop, barbers, tattooist, garage, hotel and a parish church). The whole site is built from reclamation yards and the organisers positively encourage punters to explore the every nook and cranny, after all it’s not just about the music.
The DIY ethic is also noticeable in the refreshing absence of corporate sponsorship and that’s how fans want to keep it. This year however, heritage drinks brand Jägermeister unveiled their new festival experience ‘Unearthed’. Jägerhaus comprised four separate spaces that offered festival-goers an immersive experience which differs between night and day to reveal secret rooms and passages. The two story wooden shack had a Germanic mountain lodge feel and complete with hexagonal pool table and funky stags heads. There were notable sets from Raff Daddy (2 bears) and Mike Skinner over the weekend, though the venue never quite set the festival alight in its promise. Is this a sign that Beat Herder losing their independent roots, I sincerely hope not….
Matt Whalley from Blackburn said “Beat Herder was amazing as per usual but no more expansions please. Stay true to your loyal fans and don’t go commercial.”
This years Beat Herder was a special one…. their tenth birthday and they invited some of original line up back to celebrate it with them. It’s hard to believe that only ten years ago that Beat Herder was a little known 1,200 capacity rave in the woods. Those numbers have swelled to 15,000, and it’s the wide range of music, and the lovely Lancashire charm that keeps people coming back year on year. Lifers even dedicate their love with a BH sheep logo tattoo. I was tempted myself…but maybe next year.
The main arena opened at 4pm on Friday, giving punters a chance to set up, acclimatise and get pretty drunk by the time the first acts came on. Over the weekend we saw a good caliber of acts from local bands to well-known international dance artists. Here are my highlights.
As Friday evening fell UK base artist Melé & frequent collaborator Slick Don played to young and hyped crowd in Pratty’s Ring. Belting out a host of heavyweight euphoric dance tunes Slick Don urged people to get on shoulders and rise above the crowds. Melé has been steadily rising in the ranks due to his quick mixing style and increasing radio play of his summery anthen Ambience, earning the support of Annie Mac, Mista Jam and Pete Tong.
Securing a huge electronic dance act such as the Basement Jaxx must have been no mean feat for the organisers and what better way to celebrate their 10th anniversary. The Jaxx did not disappoint as they brought their carnival-esque and energetic show to close Friday’s proceedings on the main stage. They ran through their galaxy of hits from Where’s Your Head At, Good Luck, Red Alert, Do Your Thing, Raindrops, as well as showcasing material from their new album Junto Never Say Never. It seemed as if the whole of beat herder, young and old were bouncing in the air to the finale to Bingo Bango. A job well done.
If you’ve ever seen A. Skillz live you know the man is a wizard on the decks. On Saturday evening the DJ extraordinaire set The Fortress alight with a pounding wave of scratching, sampling and mixing, fusing together, hip-hop, dance, breaks, DnB, soul, funk and disco. We heard mash-ups of everything from Eurhythmics, Nirvana, Damien Marley, The Champs, Route 94, Brookes Brothers. Too many hands-in-the-air moments to mention, and with fire canons lighting up the crowd, this was ASkillz at his very best and it was ridiculously good.
I seem to follow the same pattern each year, and 2015 was no exception; swing dancing on Sunday morning followed by a jerk chicken in the sunshine, then over to the Toil Trees stalwart Mr Scruff’s for one of his legendary 5 hour sets. Accompanied by Mc Kwasi’s cheery infectious nature, his chilled out vibes make you want to smile & dance. He starts off with some more laid back grooves, that build to a more jungle funk to a trip-hop vibe. Towards the end of the set most people are waving their hands in the air and singing along to ‘Hot 8 Brass Band’s – Sexual Healing’. Like A.Skills there are no genres that he won’t touch jazz, motownesque horns, funk, hip hop, ska, reggae, disco and house are all up for his treatment. Sunday’s are made for this.
The sun shone gloriously in the afternoon Crazy P took to the main stage. Championing disco-house vibes lead singer Danielle’s big personality and on stage energy adds a huge amount to their live band performances. She high-kicks the crowd out of their final day sluggish state showcasing their latest offerings from the excellent ‘Walk Dance Talk Sing’ – ‘Cruel Mistress’, Scrap the book, Like a Fool, Hear my Song, The Come On; as well as throwing in some crowd pleasing older favourites ‘Love on the Line and ‘Eruption’.
Caroline Greener from Leeds said “Crying with laughter multiple times, warm crowds, dancing till my feet hurt, being with an amazing group of friends in a magical place where rainbows live and fireworks fill up your eyes. Thanks beatherder!”
This is my fourth year of herding beats in Sawley. I almost don’t want to publish this review for others to see. I want to keep this wonderful festival for the few thousand in the know. When something’s this good it would be rude to share, surely….
EVEN MORE ACTS JOIN OUR SUMMER OF LOVE
WILEY / SKEPTA / RONI SIZE REPRAZENT (LIVE) / DRENGE / JAGUAR SKILLS / DJ YODA PRESENTS: BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS / KITTY, DAISY & LEWIS / GABRIELLE APLIN / DUB PISTOLS / DINOSAUR PILE-UP / DODGY / KERO KERO BONITO / LLOYD YATES / SEAFRET / XOCKHA / YRSLF
Plus To Me, To You Behaviour From The Legendary: CHUCKLE BROTHERS
#Bestival15 / #SummerofLove
With over 25 stages, revolutionary soundsystems, zombie love-ins, psychedelic woodland adventures, 24-hour free haircuts, and a host of dazzling new attractions, Bestival’s Summer of Love is already looking pretty damn fit. But as ever, we want to get everyone we love involved, including this rather sultry bunch of musical marvels that will have you rockin’ Robin Hill all weekend long this September 10-13.
Love commando Rob da Bank says: “I’m well excited with this new batch of acts we’re announcing tonight. With so many identikit festivals about with similar acts and bills I’m proud that 12 years on we don’t go with the flow. If the indie amazingness of Drenge isn’t your bag then grimy faceslaps from Skepta and Wiley might be, and if you’re insane and don’t like the legendary junglist brilliance of Roni Size and his live Reprazent show then perhaps, just perhaps, you’ll be singing ‘to me, to you, to me, to you’ whilst dancing in a pair of ill-fitting tropical shorts to the Chuckle Brothers. No matter what, there’s plenty more fish in the sea to come, as our Summer of Love really starts to heat up. See you down the front.”
Bringing on the love with big fat beats, we’ll have main stage appearances from grime pioneer Wiley, who completely smashed it as our secret guest in 2012, plus the unstoppable skank machine, Dub Pistols.
Dub Pistols legend Barry Ashworth commented: “The Highlight of the year for us will always be playing Bestival, this year we are back on the main stage, it doesn’t get bigger than that, and if that’s not enough you can always catch me spinning tracks and drinking in the Sunday Best Cardboard Record Shop! There’s only one Bestival!”
Not quite true, Barry, there are two Bestivals, but we know what you mean! Big love to all our Canadian brethren! More Isle of Wight-based Bestival main stage action will come from cool chanteuse Gabrielle Aplin, sing-along faves Dodgy, and the Isle of Wight’s own Xockha and Yrslf.
Old blue, Bestival’s beloved Big Top will be playing host to some mighty sounds this summer, too, including the much requested return of Joseph Junior Adenuga AKA Skepta and an absolute must-see live set from drum n bass hero Roni Size & Reprazent. We’ll also have recently expanded noiseniks Drenge, our favourite scratch master DJ Yoda Presents: Breakfast of Champions, with his brand new hip-hop band busting up the Big Top live, and then the man himself will be taking on Bollywood for a typically special DJ set, and we’ll have one of the coolest bands ever to grace a festival, Sunday Best favourites, the utterly incomparable Kitty Daisy & Lewis.
Commenting on their latest Bestival appearance, Kitty Daisy & Lewis uttered as one: “We’re so excited to be coming to Bestival again this year, we always have a great time. Sunday Best know how to throw a festival!”
The Big Top will also welcome a high-voltage rock assault from Dinosaur Pile-Up, plus sets from Kero Kero Bonito, Lloyd Yates, Seafret and – we’re not sure it’s possible to express quite how excited we are about this – The Chuckle Brothers! Yes, it’ll be history in the making with be-mulleted slapstick to me, to you. CAN. NOT. WAIT.
As if all that wasn’t enough to get you all giddy with joy, he was one of the smash hits acts that started our summer in finest style at Common People, so we’re extremely pleased that turntable ninja, Jaguar Skills, will be joining us to destroy the dancefloor at The Port.
The Town Centre, known for hosting some of the most raucous, party inducing acts this year will host: LA’s anarchic Celtic punk folksters Floggying Molly, bringing their internationally celebrated break-speed anthems to Winchester for a rare and exclusive UK festivalperformance. The return of the hedonistic gypsy punk of Gogol Bordello, headlining the festival in 2011 they totally blew the Town Centre apart with their rip-roaring, frantic show that whipped the crowd into a palpable frenzy, this year with a new album recently released and the BoomTown citizens more than quadrupled in numbers since the bands last visit to the town, one mega party is expected to kick off! Keeping the knees in the air and the skanking skills up to max is the American ska punk of Streetlight Manifesto. One of the most requested ska acts by BoomTown citizens over the years, Streetlight will be bringing their life affirming vibes and outstanding energy in a very overdue first visit to the fair!! Another returning to the Town Centre are ultra-slick Parisian outfit Caravan Palace. After storming the place with one of the most memorable shows, these premiers of electro-swing and gypsy-funk are guaranteed to host one almighty spectacle, worthy of their fierce reputation as an ultimate live act!
Matisyahu, once known for being the Hasidic man of reggae, over the past few years has moved to a more secular style and will be bringing his highly polished reggae tinged hip-hop and soul to the Lion’s Den for a UK festival exclusive. Another festival headliner that can’t seem to stay away from the fair is Alborosie & Shengan Clan, this MOBO award winning artist will be on hand with his thumping basslines and talent that speaks for itself! Joining Matisyahu and Alborosie on the Lion’s Den are reggae legends Black Uhuru, the first ever winners of the Best Reggae album at the 1985 Grammy’s their music has provided a soundtrack to generation with tunes like ‘What is Life’, ‘Shine Eye Girl’ and ‘Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner’ dominating any dancefloor when they drops! Heading over to the southern hemisphere for a taste of New Zealand roots reggae, Katchafire will be bringing their gloriously chilled out sunshine vibes for even more global flavours in the Lion’s Den.
Whilst over on the Old Mines folk and world stage are Katchafire’s Antipodean brethren, the awe inspiring John Butler Trio, with guitar skills so incredible the only other sound that can be heard when they are playing is that of jaws dropping to the floor!! These Aussie guitar heroes are a powerhouse of fusing folk, acoustic and roots and are the perfect tonic to a busy festival day! After welcoming the stunning desert sounds of Mali last year with Tinariwen, BoomTown will be making a return voyage to the country for more musical mastery with Amadou and Mariam, fusing Afro pop with desert blues this Grammy nominated husband and wife duo have been performing together for more than 30 years and are the biggest-selling African act of recent times; along with fellow Mali musician’s Songhoy Blues, who were recently pegged as Mail’s next big thing, no small feat considering the company they keep! Other acts on the Old Mines include festival stalwarts Dreadzone with their mashup of dub, reggae, techno, folk and rock, ultimate fusion outfit Transglobal Underground, acclaimed folk roots of Edward II and Scotland’s finest instrumental fusion folk band Peatbog Faeries, full line up for Old Mines will be revealed in a few weeks.
The brand new Psychedelic Forest secret headliner has also now been released as Infected Mushroom doing an Old School LIVE set, and joining the already announced Astrix, Ace Ventura, Perfect Stranger, Liquid Soul, Juno Reactor who are topping up a psy-trance bill that is one of the strongest seen at a UK festival in years!
DSTRKT 5 dance line up was announced a couple of weeks ago and was headed up by Squarepusher, Spor, Noisia, Machinedrum, Metalheadz takeover, Surgeon and many more.
HEADLINERS ANNOUNCED FAR:
Flogging Molly / Gogol Bordello / Caravan Palace / Streetlight Manifesto / Fishbone / The Beat / Goldie Lookin Chain / Dub Pistols / Slamboree / Dubioza Kolektiv
Matisyahu / Alborosie / Cham feat. O / Turbulence / Cutty Ranks / Ward 21 / Katchafire / David Rodigan / Natty / Gentleman's Dub Club / Chopstick Dubplate presents Jah Mason & Demolition Man / Mungos Hi-fi
John Butler Trio / Amadou & Mariam / Dreadzone / Transglobal Underground / Peatbog Faeries / Edward II / Songhoy Blues / Ibibio Sound Machine
Infected Mushroom (Old School Goa Set) / Ace Ventura / Perfect Stranger / Juno Reactor
Devil Kicks Dancehall
Capdown / King Prawn / The Mahones / The Rumjacks / The Interrupters
Toddla T & DRS / The Bug ft: Flow Dan / DJ EZ / Jungle Brothers / High Focus Takeover
DSTRKT 5: (full line up)
Squarepusher / Noisia / Spor / Machinedrum / Surgeon Live / 20 years of Metalheadz ft:
Goldie b2b Dillinja, Ulterior Motive b2b Dom and Roland, Jubei b2b Ant tc1 Hosted by SP:MC / A Guy Called Gerald (Jungle Set) b2b LTJ Bukem – Hosted by MC Ribbz" / Truss / Break / Ratpack / Tango & Ratty / Top Buzz / DJ Sy
Norman Jay MBE & Mr Scruff present…Keep the Good Times Unreal (10 hour Takeover from 2 Legends)
Benny Page / Deekline / Stickybuds / Scratch Perverts / J.Pod / Inspected Records Showcase ft: Culprate, Emperor, Asa, Sorrow, ZES, Inspected Dubplate / SP23 – Renegade Street Party
Bodyshop – (bigger and fully sound proofed)
Luke Vibert / PRSPKT Takeover – Hellfish vs Producer, Bryan Fury, Thrasher, Switch Technique /
Simon Underground / Vandal /Nicky Blackmarket / Bizzy B / Randall (92-94) / Jerome Hill / Crystal Distortion / Renegade Hardware 20th Anniversary -Takeover ft Maztek, Loxy, Ink / FFF / Stivs
“Make sure you pack your sun cream…it’s going to be a scorcher next weekend!”
These words did not end up ringing wholly true. In fact, this was one of the wettest, muddiest festivals I have ever experienced…and I've been to at least 20. If you are going to have your festival in the Lake District, who knows what weather you are going to get, but this was a Northern festival, with proper double-hard Northern people who were ready for anything.
…then this little guy turned up and showed us all how it was done…
We arrived early on Thursday, this being the first year to allow entry the day before the main festival.
After finally getting up our beast of a tent, we caught the first half of Craig Charles’
thumping set in the Glow tent, before some Yorkshire Ska in Chai Wallah, courtesy of The Talks.
Friday started out in the real ale tent, and not even for beer (this time!), but instead to avoid the first
heavy downpour of the weekend. Samba bands were a feature across the site, and kept everyone
entertained until the stages started. By the early afternoon the rain had stopped, giving way to sack
races and plenty of activities to keep families busy in the Ladybird Kids area. Teenagers got their dancing shoes dirty early on at the Jägermeister stage and in the House Party tent. The first big crowd
of the day was for The Dub Pistols, a band who just seem to be made for festivals, getting everyone
stomping those wet weather blues away.
There was disappointment for some as the next act Ella Eyre was unable to attend due to illness, but fear not…The Sunshine Underground served up an extremely last minute indie dance set that kept everyone happy while they refuelled in anticipation of De La Soul…
Unfortunately, owing to an accident on the M6, their set was cut short, but the enthusiasm they provided more than made up for it.
“Me, myself and I” put lots of smiles on faces. With as many years of experience as they have they worked the crowd as you would expect.
Just enough time to grab some food. There was plenty on offer, ranging from exotic burgers
(Llama; wild boar and wagyu beef) to delicious momos from the Tibetan Kitchen (my photographer is now completely hooked on these badboys).
Suede headlined Friday night and began with a quiet opener “The Next life” from their first album.
They had won the crowd over by the third song “Trash”, followed by “Animal Nitrate” giving
everyone a chance to sing, and Brett Anderson to strut his stuff like the mid 90’s were here again.
Mid set we were given a new song “Tightrope” which the crowd were not really sure about, and
their set finished with “Beautiful Ones”.They closed the main stage with an encore of
“She’s in Fashion”, and a wonderful rendition of “Stay Together”.
After hours there was plenty to do with particular highlights being the Britpop set in the Tim Peaks Diner and the jazzy breaks of Mr Scruff.
As morning broke on Saturday, the site was turning to a liquid red thanks to the Cumbrian mud and morning rain. That didn’t stop large numbers of aliens, and sci-fi characters emerging from their tents to lighten up the gloom. The Glow Tent hosted a mass moonwalk to the song “Billie Jean”, as hundreds of MJ’s strutted their stuff.
Mid-afternoon, as the sun peeked out, Newton Faulkner played to a background of bubbles drifting across the field, “Teardrop”, and Justin Timberlake’s “Like I love you baby” bringing the crowds in. Athlete continued the summer vibe, and the sunglasses were out by the time Razorlight took to the stage. Sporting a lovely beard (trust me, I know about beards!) Johnny Borrell and the boys played a high energy, hit filled set.
Then, it was ALL about Madchester, with bucket hats and Lennon glasses being the necessary uniform. The Happy Mondays began with Bez informing us of his political intentions, which is either genius, or the most bonkers thing you’ve ever heard. The majority of this crowd would definitely vote for him. Shaun planned to keep it a PG performance, and entertained the crowd by never being quite sure which songs were coming next. Rowetta looked fantastic in her cowboy hat and tassels, and people were literally climbing the trees to get a good view. The sound was great and the whole arena was rocking to party classics from “Loose Fit”, to “24 Hour Party People”.
Frank Turner started his set with a smaller crowd, hampered by the rain, but that crowd grew and got to enjoy a very special headline slot. This being his third time at the festival, he’s
definitely earned his Kendal stripes, and when he announced how honoured he was to play, you really knew he meant it. His band, The Sleeping Souls, threw themselves around the stage and really stepped up the volume, with stomping tunes like “Photosynthesis” getting the crowd all clapping and singing along. He dedicated his new song “Angel Islington” to all the Northerners. Despite a re-tune mid song and a broken string, nothing could faze Frank tonight!
Sunday, originally predicted to be the best day for weather, was the worst, with frequent showers turning the main arena into a mud bath. Children and adults kept their spirits up by sliding down the hillside, and one of the great moments of the weekend was the chap in neon and a flat cap, cruising round a pool of mud in his electric wheelchair, chasing people. The Lancashire Hotpots played at lunchtime and won the award for most costume changes, and as they said, it was like a Lady Gaga gig! Conga lines, beach balls and songs including “We Love the North”, and “Chippy tea”, were just what was needed to keep everyone from flagging.
Reel Big Fish were the afternoon high point, Masters of styles they gave us the Ska Punk we all expected, but also a touch of Disco, and even a bit of Square-dancing. With choreographed kicks they finished with “Take on Me”, and as the dancing increased, the mud was flying. Tom Odell didn’t go in for quite the same level of onstage action, but instead let his music do the talking. It only took him to point to the girls at the front to get them all screaming, as he hammered away at the piano. A new song “Jealousy” from his upcoming album was particularly well received.
Miles Kane was taking no prisoners with a straight up rock and roll show. Dressed in a psychedelic shirt, his strutted around owing the stage, scissor kicking as he went. By the time he played “Don’t Forget Who You Are”, he had the audience joining in from the front to all the way up the hill.
The final act on the main stage was Example, the biggest crowd of the weekend, and everyone wanted to be at the front. The sound from the stage was massive, with filthy bass lines shaking the sodden ground. Dressed in black he electrified the entire field, with lasers and a completely awesome neon drum kit. “One more day (Stay with me)” “Changed the way you kiss me” and “Kickstarts” were by far the biggest sing-a-longs of the weekend. As the set finished with air cannons
and ticker tape, the epic firework display was a worthy end to a sometimes challenging but ultimately celebratory weekend.
After the main events, we headed back to Tim Peaks Diner for some energetic table dancing and a storming funk and soul set from Tim Burgess.
Just time to pop back to the real ale tent, this time for a well-deserved pint, we’d all survived!
Words by Reuben Crowther
Photographs by Andy Sawyer
WATCHET LIVE FESTIVAL have announced details of the three further main stage acts; Bellowhead, Boney M and Dub Pistols that complete their 2014 main stage line-up.
They join previously announced main stage headliners Toploader, Bad Manners, Eric Faulkners Bay City Rollers and Geno Washington & The Ram Jam Band, festival house band, The Wurzels and more, in what is the festivals strongest and most diverse bill in its eight year history.
Bellowhead are 5-times winner of Best Live Band at the Radio 2 Awards. They have transported folk music into hitherto unknown territory and spearheaded the new folk boom. They are the greatest live act in Britain says BBC Radio 2s Simon Mayo, and the blistering 11-piece band fuse folk, funk, rock, world, jazz, music hall and classical, placing themselves at the cutting edge of the contemporary music scene.
Dub Pistols, Barry Ashworths high energy 7-piece live dance act will undoubtedly get the Saturday night crowd jumping with their unique blend of dub, hiphop, techno, ska & punk.
Sunday headliner Boney M need little in the way of introduction. Founder member Maizie will be providing the ultimate sing-a-long finale to WATCHET LIVE by performing their incredible back catalogue of hits, including Brown Girl In The Ring, Daddy Cool, Ra-Ra-Rasputin and of course, the UKs 7th biggest selling single of all time, Rivers Of Babylon.
I had never really heard of Blissfields before however after doing a little bit of research on the festival before I went, I was more than happy to be attending. After being in Glastonbury the previous weekend I knew it was going to be a major contrast however I was eager to see what it had to offer.
The journey to Blissfields from London was very smooth, it was about an hour on the train from London Waterloo. A small shuttle bus was also at the local train station, dropping festival goers to and from the station and the site. Blissfields was most definitely blessed in terms of the weather, and when I got there plenty of sun, shades and sounds were out.
The festival itself is very small however this definitely adds charm to it, it’s the right size for people to bump into each other regularly round the site. Over the weekend seeing the same faces around the site gives people that sense of comfort and familiarity which gives it that extra relaxed atmosphere. The weather was scorching on the Saturday when I arrived however there was enough trees and shade and little areas to explore, however I think most people were just chuffed and more than keen to be out in the sun.
On Saturday the main stage hosted the particularly impressive Sam Smith, who’s career has rocketed recently after having a recent hit with the song Latch which he collaborated with the young house duo Disclosure. His powerful soulful voice echoed around the site and brought about a sense of enjoyment and fun in the fields. By early evening the Dub pistols got everyone up and dancing busting out some of there songs mixed in with some more famous ska and reggae tunes appealing to people of all ages.
Bastille were the biggest name to play on the Saturday, it was not their first time at Blissfields either so the regulars have grown a relationship between them and the band. They played a brilliant set even though at some stages the visual effects did seem a bit much, nevertheless the crowd was loving it!
Blissifelds is a good mix of people very family and child friendly with lots of activities for kids to get involved and also enough music and alcohol and atmosphere and so on for the adults to enjoy.
The bar was reasonably priced and the food seemed all good produce the burritos were particularly impressive. I spoke to a few people on what they liked about the festival and the majority of the feedback was mainly related around the family friendly vibe for all ages and the lively and creative atmosphere packed into a small site.
Blissfields is most definitely a festival I would attend as a teenager wanting to get the taste of their first festival or families or adults who want to get everything they would usually get form a festival just with less agro, crowds, people and headline acts. It does have something for everyone but if your aim for the festival is to go all out I would probably leave it and go to one of the bigger festivals besides that Blissfield’s has a great atmosphere and entertains all age’s and I would go again. The weather most definitely added a lot to the festival but apparently they are lucky with the weather every year. If you are an aspiring artist, band or DJ they also offer through their website a chance for people to apply and play at the festival which is a very good opportunity for artists wanting to get their foot in the door in performing at festivals and gives the festivals a chance to include a diverse range of established and up and coming artists.
Photos by Kevin Spice