Sundown Festival 2015 Review

FRIDAY

Sundown Festival returned this weekend for three days of pop, drum and bass and house music, offering, as one girl gushed on the first night, "great value and a great line up." Kicking off with an exclusive 'campers only' opening party from 5pm hosted by SubSoul, house music belted out of the Big Top tent throughout the evening. With one-hour sets from upcoming producers including Après – who has just graduated from university, DJ S.K.T who reached the top ten of the charts with 'Take Me Away', Friend Within (of Renegade Master fame), GotSome and Icarus, who closed the night with a grimier, bassier vibe. But it was Toyboy & Robin's set, from start to finish – with a perfect opening of Bicep's 'Just' mixed into Format:B's Ibiza smash 'Chunky' and ending with their own massive hit 'Jaded' – which gained the biggest reaction. With the music switched off dead on 11pm, the hundreds if not thousands of revellers were able to catch a good night’s sleep in preparation for nearly 20 hours of live music.

Photo courtesy of Sundown Festival

SATURDAY

After filling up on a Sainsbury's big breakfast – the handy thing about Norfolk Showground is that there's a McDonald's, Costa and Sainsbury's within a short five minute walk – SFG made their way to the main arena for the first time, after mingling with Kiss FM breakfast presenters Rikki and Melvin and Facebook famous Jack Jones.

Following a last minute cancellation from Jess Glynne due to recent vocal surgery, Becky Hill – who gave a standout performance last year – was left to foot the bill, a task she took on with ease; her new collaboration All My Love, produced by Watermat and Tai showing off her seemingly endless vocal range to the booming house beat. Once the growing crowd realise how many of this year's chart hits she's put her voice too; Wilkinson's 'Afterglow', Oliver Heldens and 'Gecko (Overdrive)' to name just two more, everyone's lungs are given a real workout as she makes way for Karen Harding.

Similarly a go-to-vocalist for house producers, the glamorous singer shines brightest throughout her top-ten track 'Say Something' and new Blonde-collab 'Feel Good (It's Alright)' – the latter with a strong and catchy enough hook and chorus to top the charts when it's released. "Up next we've got the man that gave us the tunes Pow and Oi" proclaims Rickie and Melvin of Kiss FM fame as they ensure the crowd are suitably hyped up before introducing each act over the weekend. And the phrase 'hyped up' barely describes the atmosphere when Lethal Bizzle arrived onstage … gliding accords on a Segway no less. Sporting one of his own 'DENCH' t-shirts, the likes of Rari Workout and Flashing Lights descend into his request of numerous circles of mosh pits. "This is the last festival I'm doing this year. Let's make it the best one" he beckons, launching into The Drop and Fester Skank.

Contrastingly, MNEK, backed by two powerful female vocalists take things down a more smooth R&B/pop route during Take You To A Place and Ready For Your Love. Meanwhile in the Big Top it's a Defected Records take over. Returning for their second year, label boss Simon Dunmore, leading lady Sam Devine (cue crowd surfer) and relatively new Low Steppa keep the thousands of house lovers satisfied as they bring Ibiza vibes to Norwich. But, expectedly, the biggest draws come from Gorgon City and then Hannah Wants – the latter who's had a whirlwind year, with a Mixmag cover shoot and story last month.

Leading the evening's talent is Sigma, arguably the breakout drum & bass act of the year. Performing tracks from their soon-to-be-released album Life,  Labrinth-collab Higher, which sees girls on shoulders and a building d'n'b edit of Rhianna's Diamonds as well as Lighters with its Chase & Status-like beat, keep the crowd's energy up.

Although, the highlight comes from Ella Henderson's appearance as she belts out Glitterball, faultlessly, along with all the girls – and guys – in the audience, proving herself as one of The X Factor's finest exports.

With flares in hand, it was down to London collective and Sundown first-timers Rudimental to headline. Flanked by live instrumentalists and numerous guest vocalists including Will Heard and Anne Marie who feature heavily on second album We The Generation, the hits everyone knows prove memorable, and the newer as-yet-unheard songs fares nearly as well. With ten members onstage, Right Here, Never Gonna Let You Go and Waiting All Night, the latter dedicated to a passed friend, certify their headlining credentials with ease; the drum & bass + live instruments set up clearly a well honed success.

Sundown 2015, all photos by Kath Sansom

Photo by Kath Sansom

SUNDAY

Following a failed attempt to get into the DJ EZ after-party on Saturday night, everyone was left clueless as to why, until a member of the merchandise team told SFG the following morning that, allegedly, police were called to shut down the warehouse event due to mass over capacity. Catching Zak Abel, whom SFG later caught up to chat with, the young Londoner's performance was a case of great voice, potentially massive songs, minimal crowd – most likely down to his post-lunchtime set time. Running From Myself and the Kaytranada-produced Say Something, from his brilliant new seven-track EP, One Hand on the Future, are given soul-filled, emotive outings and deserve to gather a lot of attention in the very near future; as does his somewhat brave cover of Daniel Bedingfield's Gotta Get Thru This…

"This young girl actually went to school with Zayn Malik. I would love to have her kisses for breakfast" says Melvin (Kiss FM) as he welcomes Melissa Steel. With slick black hair and vibrant trousers, she bounces onstage, along with two impressive backing dancer. The crowd are quick to pick up on all the tracks she's provided vocals to this year; from the reggae vibes of Drunk and Incapable to her top-ten pop breakthrough Kisses for Breakfast. Ending with Kove's D&B hit The Way That We Are and an acepella version of Blonde-collab I Loved You, Melissa's a pop star to keep an eye on; especially with her new single You Love Me (featuring Wretch 32 – who performs next) coming out this week.

Sporting a new, almost unrecognisable head of hair, Wretch 32 tells the story of Blackout with humble intent; "I started out having to in to the shop to get electric", he says, adding that there is a "hope for life for everyone". A heartfelt version of Six Words stays in the audience's heads, as does Don't Go. Trekking over to the RAM Records stage, it's a drum and bass lovers paradise; Culture Shock, DC Breaks, Mind Vortex, Sub Focus and label head honcho Andy C each rattling out energetic heart racing beats throughout the day. Back at the sunny main stage, Maverick Sabre, who it seems has been away for years now, is asking the question, "can you be my Sundown choir?" The reason? An impeccable cover of Chaka Khan's Ain't Nobody, led by his, as ever, individualistic vocal style. Airing his new single Come Fly Away, the soulful lyrics are bound to score him a hit, and just as he reveals to SFG later during an interview that a new album is imminent as well as a UK tour, he's set for a big return.

Headlining on Sunday evening, Tinie Tempah, whom performing at his last festival of the summer ("lets make it the best one" he shouts) ran through his biggest hits; Pass Out, Frisky and Miami 2 "Norwich", the collabs; RIP, Not Letting Go and Tsunami; and  new single "which i've not performed anywhere else" Turn Up The Music – which is bound to go to number one with a Katy B feature and a cheeky, infectious house sample of KDA's track, Rumble – it was a crowd-pleasing set for sure, and one that left everyone with smiles on their faces before leaving to go back to school/college/work.

Photo courtesy of Sundown Festival

For SFG and friends though, it was Nero's live set which smashed it most. From the intense ground rattling opening bass right to the trio bowing at the end, it was easily the best hour of the weekend, possibly the year in terms of this festival season (closely behind seeing Faithless at Balaton Sound). Having wanted to see Nero for countless years now, it was refreshing for the anticipation to be fulfilled. Alana Watson, who would stalk the stage in a lace dress ensemble, appearing and disappearing between songs,  provided transfixing, almost haunting vocals, to Guilt, Me and You, Innocence and Satisfy among others, while the guys took charge of the drops and beats – all aided by an insane light show onstage. With a new album imminent, Nero's grip on dance music will soon re-tighten.

Photos by Kath Sansom

Camp Bestival 2015 Review

Camp Bestival, the spin-off to the Isle of Wight legend, Bestival, is nothing short of a festival treasure. Lovingly curated by DJ Rob da Bank and his wife Josie, this is a festival exclusively for families and offers one of the most varied musical line-ups alongside children’s attractions and huge television stars.

From the moment you pull up in the car park, you know this is a festival that is going to work out those leg muscles, with everything built on steep hills covering an area the size of a small town! 

Arriving on the Thursday, before the festival really starts, you could be forgiven for thinking that this was going to be a small and unassuming event, with only a few stalls (thankfully including Nandos!) and one arena open, it was easy to believe that this was going to be a weekend that dragged. However, this initial belief was proved wrong from first thing Friday morning with an amazing opening set by the Rajasthan Heritage Brass Band to warm the crowds. 

With the Blue Coats keeping the crowds happy it was not long before everyone was on their feet and laughing along to Dick and Dom’s performance of ‘Dick v Dom Go Wild!’ – an act full of audience participation and lots of water guns and a foam fight, the adults were laughing along with the kids at all the obvious innuendos and humorous use of Richard’s nickname. 

The first day flew by quickly with plenty to see and do such as the Insect Circus, the multiple fairground rides and interactive experiments at the Science Museum tent. Before you knew it you were pitched up back at the main stage watching the sun set to the pounding beat of Professor Green and Clean Bandit before a slow crawl back up the hill to the camping site and a steaming cup of tea brewed over the gas stove. 

After a long night anyone would expect it to be a rather quiet and slow morning… But at a festival full of little ones, and Mr Tumble opening the main stage it was a rather early, and very excitable morning! After a set of ‘Hello Hello’, the ‘Hokey Cokey’ and ‘Old MacDonald’s Farm’, the parents were screaming for a break while the kids were ready for some more! My day was spent lazily roaming the huge site, visiting the wall of death, riding the carousel and enjoying more of the fantastic food on offer (as well as trying out the ‘Solar Power Shower Tower’), winding down to Level 42 with a box, yes a box, of Rosé was just what was needed!

With Kaiser Chiefs rocking the stage until late into the night, it was yet another late night, with everyone sadly trailing back to the tent after an explosive set fuelled by classics such as ‘Riot’ and ‘Ruby’, more tea, but yet another early morning!

Sunday’s stage times left a trail of confused festival go-er’s with Ella Henderson and Bob Geldof swapping stage times. While there was an notice on the website, and also on the screens to the side of the main stage, there was still a lot of confusion which left many fans unable to watch their favourite act. One lady said that her young daughter was watching another act over at the Big Top and ended up missing Ella Henderson, who was her main motive for booking the ticket. 

The disappointment was short-lived however as Ella Henderson smashed her set and paved the way for the amazing Kent duo, Slaves, who powered through their set with just two drums, symbols, and a pleasing lack of shirts, with a guest appearance from a friendly manta-ray. Soul II Soul graced the stage next with a set of classics, such as ‘Back to Life’ which gracefully slipped into a blazing set by Ella Eyre which got everyone smiling as we waited patiently for the night’s headlines, Underworld, to take the stage.

As Underworld’s set slowly came to a close, the crowd all turned around to watch the spectacular fireworks which closed the entire festival.

The final trek back to the tents was slow and with everyone slowly coming down from the amazing high of the weekend at the realisation that it was all over, the air was thick with mixed feelings. 

Monday morning was another early rise but everyone was moving slowly. The tents slowly disappeared in a slow trail of little truck’s being pulled up another hill to the car park, it was clear that this amazing festival was one that would be missed by all those in attendance, until next year at least.

Gibraltar Music Festival add James Bay, Ella Henderson and more

With a lineup already fit to burst with huge names including headliners Kings Of Leon and Duran Duran alongside the likes of Kaiser Chiefs, Paloma Faith, Madness and Tom Odell Gibraltar Music Festival 2015 are now adding even more names to this year’s lineup. Providing a fitting and appropriately huge end to the summer festival season, GMF provides sun and music in abundance all within the picturesque surroundings of the Rock of Gibraltar.

Heading up this announcement is British singer-songwriter James Bay. Having won this year’s BRIT Awards Critics Choice Award and also as runner up in the BBC Sound of 2015 list his is a talent that is utterly undeniable and not least showcased on this year’s breakthrough album ‘Chaos and the Calm’. His set is not to be missed.

Since gracing the nation’s TV screens on the X Factor back in 2012 Ella Henderson has proven herself to be a true superstar. With both her debut single ‘Ghost’ and debut album ‘Chapter One’ charting at number one; she is undoubtedly one of the UK’s finest pop exports.

It’s been two years since Union J went from talented unknowns to overnight sensations on the 2012 series of The X Factor, andthey have been on quite a journey. Their army of young fans will be delighted to hear the boys' next stop on their path to boy band greatness will be at GMF this September.

Also joining the lineup are Gibraltar via Manchester sibling trio This Side Up who come to the festival hot on the heels of their summer UK tour as well as Dead City Radio and Kharma 13.

Easily accessible, affordable and suitable for the whole family, GMF rolls a holiday and some of the world’s biggest acts into one incredible weekend.

Tickets available at: http://www.gibraltarmusicfestival.com/tickets-and-packages/

Full Lineup So Far:

Kings Of Leon

Duran Duran

Paloma Faith

Madness

Kaiser Chiefs

Estopa

Tom Odell

The Feeling

Lawson

James Bay

Ella Henderson

Rae Morris

Third World

Hudson Taylor

Dub Colossus

Reach

Guy Valarino

Kristian Vinales (DJ Set)

Headwires

Paddy Taylor

Strange Brew

Tim Garcia ft Afterhours

Jeremy Perez with Tom Stott

This Side Up

Dead City Radio

Kharma 13

Calvin Harris & Kasabian lead V Festival 2015 lineup

Global platinum-selling artist Calvin Harris and Iconic rockers Kasabian are today announced as the headliners for V Festival’s Virgin Media stage.

Taking place across the weekend of the 22nd and 23rd August 2015, the local lads from Leicester and the DJ from north of the border will be joined by a host of music heavyweights to ensure V Festival sees out its second decade in style.

Joining the headliners across the two festival sites in Hylands Park, Chelmsford and Weston Park, Staffordshire will be a supporting cast of Britain’s finest talent and biggest names. Music lovers with this summer’s hottest ticket will also see performances from recent four-time Grammy and 2015 Brit winner Sam Smith, Ellie Goulding, The Script, Hozier, George Ezra, Stereophonics, Brit winners Paloma Faith and James Bay, Olly Murs, Tom Jones, Clean Bandit, Kodaline, Ella Henderson, Nero and Courteeners plus many more to be announced across four stages at the two festival sites.

Making his debut on top of the bill, Calvin Harris said: 

V Festival is always an incredible time and I can't wait to headline it this year. See you there!”

Kasabian’s Sergio Pizzorno, said: 

“V is for victory, V is for voodoo, V is for vacuum cloud, V is for very very very very excited. See you in the fields!”

The hugely popular Glee Club Comedy Tent also returns as the festival’s fifth stage this year, with a hilarious line-up that will be announced in the coming months.

Over the festival weekend there’ll also be sets from The Kooks, Marina & The Diamonds, The Proclaimers, Jess Glynne, Andy C, Imelda May, Gregory Porter, Fuse ODG, Clean Bandit, Duke Dumont, Jessie Ware, Ella Eyre, Hannah Wants, Reverend & the Makers, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five and Annie Mac.

The glamorous V Style camping will also return for its fifth year. V Style is now an established part of the V Festival family, giving music fans the chance to experience the best of both worlds – enjoying a mix of music and comedy and relaxing at pampering stations and in ready built bell tents, huts, and luxury yurts.

Tickets go on sale from March 6th at 9am with fans advised to visit www.vfestival.com, where all official outlets are detailed. V organisers again stress to fans that purchasing tickets from unofficial outlets could lead to disappointment.

The full line up includes: Kasabian, Calvin Harris, Sam Smith, Ellie Goulding, The Script, Hozier, George Ezra, Stereophonics, Paloma Faith, James Bay, Olly Murs, Chvrches, Imelda May, Kodaline, Ella Henderson, Nero, Reverend & the Makers, The Courteeners, Marina & The Diamonds, The Proclaimers, Tom Jones, Jess Glynne, Andy C, The Kooks, Gregory Porter, Fuse ODG, Clean Bandit, Duke Dumont, Jessie Ware, Ella Eyre, Hannah Wants, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five and Annie Mac.

Rudimental to headline Sundown Festival 2015 plus more!

Headlining will be none other than UK festival favourites Rudimental who will be performing live. From their chart storming, number one album ‘Home’ through to Brit and MOBO Awards they are truly one of the most exciting acts in the UK. Coming to Sundown as one of only a very small number of shows this year, they are certainly not to be missed!

Following on from the roaring success of 2014, Sundown Festival is back for 2015 with another larger than life lineup! Hosting only the biggest and best in pop, dance and urban acts, Sundown is the perfect way to close the festival season with one last party in the sunshine.

If the first headliner wasn’t enough, Sundown are also excited to announce the incredible Ella Henderson for the festival. With debut single ‘Ghost’ already certified platinum and debut album ‘Chapter One’ flying straight in at number one on the UK Album Chart she is undoubtedly one of the UK’s hugest stars!

Drum and bass royalty Sigma will be performing live alongside performances from Clean Bandit collaborator Jess Glynne and afrobeat trailblazer Fuse ODG.

As well as this the Andy C Presents Ram stage will play host to electronic production wizard Sub Focus and the multi-genre DJing of the amazing Jaguar Skills.

Campers get even more with an exclusive Saturday night after party with none other than garage superstar DJ EZ on the decks keeping the vibes going until 1am!

All these and many, many more including a second huge headliner will descend onto Norfolk Showground for a weekend not to be missed!

Lineup so far:

Sat – Main Stage 

Rudimental (Live) // Ella Henderson // Sigma (Live) // Jess Glynne // Fuse ODG

Sun – Stage 2 – Andy C Presents Ram

Sub Focus // Jaguar Skills 

Saturday Afterparty

DJ EZ