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Rhythm Festival, Twinwood Arena, Bedfordshire, August 20th-22nd 2010 (Part 3)

August 31, 2010

Sunday morning brings the dawn in, and the rain had stopped. In fact, the sun was shining and a fine day was in prospect. The previous night, Mr P and I had resolved with the Bs to meet up at the pub in the local village to watch the Newcastle v Aston Villa game following a leisurely Sunday lunch. The lunch was delicious (stuffed pepper, roast spuds and mounds of veg), but please, please don’t mention the football… Our glum band trooped back to the festival site and headed for the Alternative Stage, where young Leicester blues ace Aynsley Lister was scheduled to play.

Beers were bought, benches moved into position and we settled down for an impressive set of blues and beyond. Aynsley has a tight backing band, which helps immensely, and plays without all the showy stuff that infests blues-by-numbers players the world over. By now it was hot and sunny, and we sipped our drinks and tapped our collective toes as he finished the set with an expert AC/DC pastiche Balls Of Steel, a fabulously guitar-heavy Purple Rain and Deep Purple’s stomper Hush. He encored with his own song In The Morning and it had been a most enjoyable set.

We walked down past the main arena to take our tent down and pack up before seeing Gandalf Murphy and the Slambovian Circus of Dreams (left). I’d also said goodbye to the beer as I’d be driving home later, but Gandalf and the crew kept me thoroughly entertained. As I mentioned in my review when they came over in February, they are quite proggy, but in a good, psychedelic way. As main-man Joziah introduced The Great Unravel as their ‘James Bond number’, it struck me that the riff is actually identical to the catchy one from Pink Floyd’s Lucifer Sam, but that’s no problem. Anything Floyd did before (but not including) Dark Side Of The Moon is fine by me.

Joziah explained that they’d just flown in, having played the Philly Folk Festival on Friday night. There were signs of some tiredness, but their enthusiasm won out, with the fine guitar-playing of Sharkey, ably backed by lead vocalist Joziah, the bizarrely dressed Tink, son Orien on bass and keyboards, and hairy Tony on drums. They have a special affection for the Rhythm Festival, as it was the occasion of their first British gig two years ago and the crowd cheered their appreciation. Alongside their own compositions such as the King Crimson-inspired Talkin’ To The Buddha and the mighty Trans-Slambovian Bi-Polar Express, they played a nice version of Subterranean Homesick Blues, being huge Dylan fans – which again is fine by me.

Back at the Alternative Stage, evergreen R ‘n’ B madman Wilko Johnson moaned about the sound then launched into a mean set of tightly played numbers, abetted by Norman Watt-Roy on bass. The Browne Bluesman and I agreed that Norman, moonlighting from his other job as bassist with the Blockheads, is perhaps Britain’s finest R ‘n’ B bass player. Alongside Wilko and his unique lead-and-rhythm chopping style, Norman and Dylan Howe on drums create an extraordinarily powerful and dense sound for a trio. The audience lapped it up and eventually got to their feet for a rousing finale of Back In The Night, an oldie but goodie from the Dr Feelgood days, as immortalised in the recent movie Oil City Confidential. Mr P took this weird but wonderful photo of Wilko (left).

As I walked back down to the main stage to catch a few songs by headliners 10cc, I heard DJ Wheelie Bag playing his stuff in the food concession field. It transpired that the concession flogging corn-on-the-cob was faring badly (and at three quid a pop I’m not surprised) and had hired DJ Wheelie to drum up some interest. One punter suggested to Wheelie that he’d sold out in the manner of John Lydon and his butter adverts, but that’s a bit harsh in my opinion – I suspect he was being paid in corn…

I didn’t want to be too late home, so Mr P and I resolved to watch five songs or so of 10cc before heading off and missing the traffic. Up at the bar’s decked area, our four chums were still drinking heavily and bemoaning the time they saw 10cc almost ruin the Knebworth Festival back in 1976. I said that I’d thoroughly enjoyed them in a cheesy sort of way at Cropredy a few years ago and that I was alarmed to discover just how many of the songs in their set I not only knew but could sing along too – and I don’t even own a record by them.

Sure enough, they came on and started with Wall Street Shuffle – and we all sang along. I vowed we would leave the moment they played a song I couldn’t sing, which by my reckoning was six songs in – we got Good Morning Judge, The Things We Do For Love, Art For Art’s Sake, I’m Mandy, Fly Me and something else I can’t remember. The line-up has changed repeatedly since their 70s heyday, but Graham Gouldman is still at the helm. Unfashionable they may be… no, correct that – unfashionable they certainly are, but I have to admit they were almost unrivalled in their ability to churn out the hits in the mid-70s. But enough was enough and we drove off into the night after a great weekend of music, beer and fun. But not football…

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Paul Higham permalink
    August 31, 2010 9:33 pm

    Excellent read on the festival Guy, thanks. Personally I think Graham Gouldman and a few mates 10cc, who in their 1974/76 heyday were one of the best bands in the UK. Some of their stuff reach the frankly offensive end of the PC filter – “Baron Samedi” and “Oh Effendi” – but across the first three albums there are some real classics.

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