Live Part II
Waking up in a tent that could double as a fan assisted oven was a good motivation to get the hell up before any of Saturday’s acts had even thought about sound checking – and I wasn’t the only one who thought that way, judging by the length of the queue for the gents toilets (I’ve never seen girls look so smug as strolled in and out of their side of the port-a-crapper without a care in the world).
So with time to spare and a flyer thrust at me directing us to a shop in Guilford selling cheap beer, we were off on an impromptu walking tour of our host town. Fortunately the locals knew more then the marshals so we managed to find the shop just down the road from a really nice pub which was a bit of a bonus.
However, things often work mysterious ways as we greeted in the pub by a pink tutu wearing bald chap with a fluorescent green workers vest. Thinking it was just the locals being a bit eccentric it came as a bit of a surprise to find out this was stage wear, as 30 minutes later he was on the Ents 24 stage with Blimus, still drinking (probably) the same beer.
Blimus, Blimus, Blimus. Now here’s a bit of an enigma. About a year ago we received a review from a one Byron Chamberlain covering a Blimus gig. It seemed pretty genuine at the time especially as Byron seemed awfully excited about covering more gigs for us. However, as time has gone by and Byron has never been heard of again, we were starting to think that maybe this was one which slipped through the net (dumbasses I hear you cry). Given this possible minor dent to our pride, I made sure I made a beeline to the Ents 24 stage to catch every second of the ‘very, very strange indeed’ (according to the program) Blimus.
And strange they are. Not in a musical sense, as this was melodic rock with one foot planted in the sixties and the other getting tantalizingly near funk, but certainly in the sense of what happened on stage.
Sporting a set a delicately groomed false beards the band appeared to rapturous applause and proceeded to charm the audience with a good bit of banter to match their light, airy tunes. Things then developed with the arrival of Tutu man, a miniature pirate, a gothic ballerina and a gorilla. This was then complemented by a fat man with Blimus crayoned on his belly and eventually the appearance of the full cast of festival side show favourites, the Fez Heads. The stage was rammed and a mad spectacle was beheld by all coming across as low-budget version of The Flaming Lips.
Blimus then climaxed with the gorilla smashing his acoustic guitar in true Townsend fashion, nearly taking the head off an unwitting member of the security staff who had to run for cover. The crowd loved it and they may well have shifted a few CDs into the bargain.
However, next up was, for me, one of the best bands of the weekend.
Kovak strolled onto the stage with just the right amount of nervous, unassuming confidence to pick up exactly where Blimus left off. Looking at Kovak you would be forgiven if you thought they were lifted straight out of Deee-Lite with their big shades and seventies chic. However, the music was far from dated.
The bass and the (excellent) drums worked together to produce a rock, yet eminently danceable beat which managed to get some feet a dancing despite the near Sahara temperatures. On top of this was a wonderfully rhythmic and funky telecaster all topped off some Depeche Mode/Hammond/Disco keyboards which really stamped their mark on the music – that is when they worked given that it took Karl’s ‘lucky left hand’ to start them up between every other song!
On top of this glorious combination sits Karl and Abby’s dual vocals which worked exactly how they should; coming together to create a big sound when needed but allowing each voice to go off an do its own imaginative thing when called.
Out of the 45 minute set there were highlights a plenty but if asked to narrow them down ‘Rockstar’ would come to mind with its immensely catchy chorus. As would the double A side single, due out in September, of ‘I Love the Dancefloor’ and ‘Love in a Nightclub’, both of which are slices of electro rock/pop of the highest order.
Definitely a band on the move. So be wise and go and see these guys up close before they’re just a dot on a distant stage.
With lunch time long overdue a stroll to the main BBC2 stage was in order to find some music to aid the digestion and, low and behold, there it was waiting for us in the form of the Cosmic Rough Riders. Now I’m not saying for a second that these Scottish lads are at all boring however, given every song has the same gently plodding tempo and that their onstage banter needs to be upped a few notches, a few beers combined with the heat saw one or two blissfully slip away into the clutches of the Sandman.
But all is never lost. ‘Justify the Rain’ was a super hooky song that certainly shows these boys can write a tune or two and, for my money, they redeemed themselves with a miniature version of ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ to end their set with some upbeat style.
Of course the really reason I happened to be at the main stage was because my good lady’s enduring passion for all things Stranglers, and missing Hugh Cornwell’s set was not an option.
Nowadays Hugh takes the stage with a small wall of vox amps, a drop dead gorgeous (and brilliant) bass player, Kim Khahn, Windsor McGilvray on drums and, of course, his jet black Telecaster. However, despite the lack of keyboards, and completely ignoring the fact the The Stranglers were playing the next day, Hugh had no fear of combining his solo songs with a few of the old classics he penned for his former group.
‘Duchess’ kicked things off nicely seeing the front of the stage filling up with die hard fans a plenty which soon saw them moving about furiously with the arrival of ‘Hanging Around’. ‘Always the Sun’ was an appropriate choice of tune but this was one of the few points the lack of keyboards showed, as it didn’t have the depth the song should. And that was a tad surprising considering the near genius which carried off the extended version of ‘Walk on By’, which eminently covered the keyboard parts well.
However, the highlight of the set was definitely the last tune, ‘No More Heroes’ which saw Hugh bring the lyrics right up to date with the choice line ‘Whatever happened to, Zinadene Zidane. He did a headbut, that got him sent off’. Needless to say it deservedly got the biggest cheer of the afternoon.
With the sun round the 5pm mark it was time to take shelter, and with no better place than the twinkling Rocksound Cave, we were ready for a triple header of full on sweaty noise.
First up were Radiate, which were a surprise to me as we were all expecting The Hedrons. However, this is a festival i.e. organised chaos, therefore it shouldn’t have come as a shock that things were running 30 minutes late.
Sporting the widest array of hair lengths I’d seen all weekend (from bald to dreads with a grunge mop in between) Radiate gently opened their set with a delayed, tuneful, almost stadium rock guitar sound which gradually built before launching into their first crunchy, melodic effort.
Despite appearances Radiate play modern rock, with a punky/screamo lean and grungy (and sometimes funky) undertones. All of their tunes, from ‘Is It Ever Going To Happen’ to ‘Question’, have melody at their core while still managing to be overtly abrasive. As for the lyrics and delivery, think Lost Prophets with a slightly more politically aware edge. On the whole it was a good set however, if criticism had to be levelled it would be at the often long instrumentals that lacked ideas, especially given the short 30 minute set.
However, making the best use of their short time in the limelight and delivering one of the best sets of the weekend, were The Hedrons.
Hailing from Glasgow this all girl punk/rock outfit matched the hype bestowed on them by their local press with a blistering performance that had the packed tent jumping from start to finish.
Any unbelievers were quickly converted with the string of hooky punk tinged rock tunes delivered with relentless energy and enthusiasm. Scorchers like ‘Be My Friend’ and ‘Heatseeker’ came across as potentially massive tracks and the interaction with the crowd proved that, despite appearances, these are 4 savvy girls. In fact, in Tippi they have a great vocalist who can command and charm crowds and, despite her small demeanour, really isn’t the sort of girl you want to mess with!
By the last tune Tippi had dived into the near delirious crowd only to emerge triumphant and, with a big puff of dry ice, they were gone leaving a pleasant ringing in the ears.
A rip-snorter of a set from a band that should be put on the same list as Kovak, as ones to seriously keep an eye on. You’ve been warned!
Finishing up the triple header in the Rocksound Cave were enigmatic all girl Swiss three piece, The Delilahs.
Coming on after such a good performance by those Scottish lasses, especially given half the crowd had disappeared, was always going to be a bit tricky. However, The Delilahs acquitted themselves admirably.
Kicking off with one of our favs ‘This Is It’, the girls quickly got down to the serious business of blasting out quality Britpop tinged pop/punk/rock tunes. For a three piece the sound was massive as Muriel’s booming bass and Sonja’s stomping drums sat behind the crunching Les Paul effortlessly played by Isabella.
Combined these girls are tighter then a nat’s chuff and this was no better shown then with the excellent ‘Let’s Tango’ which ensured the tent consistently filled up as the set went on. By the last song, ‘Inside Out’ (which was a cracker to say the least), it was clear the girls had converted most of the tent leaving us all with that warm fuzzy feeling that we just may have witnessed the early stages of something huge in the making.
With dinner long overdue and energy levels at a serious rock bottom, it was back our favourite easy listening eating spot, being the BBC2 main stage.
Now I have to hold my hands up here and confess that I actually bought ‘Hunting High and Low’ when it was first released somewhere back during the middle ages. It’s since disappeared from my record collection as I have a feeling I may have given it away as a placatory gift to an ex-girlfriend. However, that doesn’t mean I can’t remember any of the tunes. Far from it, while chomping away of my chicken wrap with extra, extra peri-peri sauce, if one was listening very closely you would be able to hear the odd spluttering lyric emanating from my firey gob. Not a pleasant sight granted, but the fact remains A-Ha were, and still are, a damn good pop band.
I need say nothing else, save we arrived at the tent in a light and fuzzy Scandinavian mood all ready for more inflatable mattress shenanigans unexpectedly aided by the after effects of the peri-peri sauce.
Written by Habert on