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New attraction whose star is rising on national folk circuit
12:10pm Monday 24th September 2012 in News
The theme for Sunday was a more folk/acoustic style of music (albeit with a few topical songs about the weather thrown in for good measure).
English Summer festival weather was playing true to form; not long after The Lazy Maybees had opened the day on the main stage, light drizzle started to fall as In Fear of Olive played a set of uptempo country style pop, ending their set with a call “Hope the weather gets better!”
It started quite a comical arrangement for the day as the fans dashed back and forth from to the shelter and safety of the refreshment tents while the next band set up, to reappear as the next band started up playing.
Seven-piece Manchester band Beiderbeck were fronted by former Coronation Street star Rupert Hill. Encouraged by “Come on let’s go! It’s only rain!” the brave souls who ventured to the front of the arena were rewarded with a melodic set of songs tinged with violin and sampling the voice of Richard Burton. As they left the stage, Peel Tower ominously disappeared from view behind low forming clouds bringing in the next weather front.
Armed with only an acoustic guitar, Rachel Sermanni had to compete with the rock sounds emerging from the popular and packed (and dry) Ladybird tent and may well have been more suited to a smaller more intimate venue to let her offerings have a better chance of coming across. Having said that, she played the Reading Festival this year so wasn’t out of place on the main stage.
“Look at the sun shining on everyone” was Tristan Mackays’s opening line as the irony took over and the rain gods released a deluge.
Rain would have most certainly stopped play and likely abandon play for the day if cricket rather than music were the order of the day, but Tristan and his band gamely played on, even throwing in an impromptu cover of the Travis number Why does it always rain on me? As the ground slowly started to flood it was left to ‘Diving Dave’ (as he was christened by Seth Lakeman later in the day) to entertain the tent dwellers with an assortment of daring slides and dives through the swollen puddles.
A typical band in the folk style, borrowing and lending members from other bands like happy folk families, Kan featured Flook’s Brian Finnegan and Aidan O’Rourke from Lau. Their infectious traditional Celtic fiddle and whistle based sounds earned them a well deserved encore as darkness began to descend and the lighting rig started to have some effect.
Thea Gilmore and her band, picking up on the mood of the day, checked their sound levels with the familiar guitar notes of The Beatles’ Here Comes The Sun – slightly optimistic, but there were bright spots appearing.
Apparently it had been sunny and bright when they set out from Cheshire, which again added to the irony of the day along the opening song which may well have been called It’s A Beautiful Day unless the mood of the day was starting to take over.
The highlights of her set were songs from the Don’t Stop Singing album where she had been presented with the task of setting to music, some lyrics from notebooks of the late great folk singer Sandy Denny (although some may have enjoyed her cover of the folk classic Sweet Child O’ Mine which slipped into the set). Thea also introduced a special guest in her five-year-old son who played second fiddle in part of the set.
Returning to the area for the first time since the performance at The Met with his ‘acoustic trio’ in early 2011 where he was able to road test some songs from the unreleased Tales From The Barrelhouse, Seth Lakeman lined up at the festival stage at Rambottom’s cricket ground with a full band featuring brother Sean, double bassist Ben Nicholls and perma-smiling percussionist Cormac Byrne. Strange that one of the bigger names in the genre should only be portioned a half-hour slot. Catching him at the Buddha Lounge stall, he said he’d been granted an additional 10 minutes, but as one of the artists who must have had a major pull on the audience, maybe a slight oversight.
Racing his way through his shortest festival set of the year, as usual though, it was a typical high energy Lakeman performance.
Scottish singer songwriter, Roddy Frame, performing solo with acoustic guitar was a popular headliner. Certainly some of the loudest cheers of the day. Probably best remembered, at least by many of the more mature audience members, as a member of 80s band Aztec Camera, the likeable Frame Frame provided what might be called “good music to go home to”.
Nothing too strenuous but an agreeable way to finish to the weekend.
Elsewhere around the festival grounds during the day, the Ladybird Stage proved very popular and very well attended – nothing of course to do with it being a haven of dryness.
Marc O’Relly was typical of the sort of artist on offer and would not be out of place with a main stage slot. Similar could be said to the younger local artists who went down a storm on stage in the clubhouse who may well look to graduate to a bigger stage in future festivals.
There seems to clearly be an audience for this type of event in Ramsbottom and the local public as well as anyone who travelled, will testify that the quality on show was of an impressively high calibre.
If the festival organisers can secure such prominent headliners for 2013 there’s no reason why the event shouldn’t go from strength to strength and become a leading festival on the summer folk circuit.