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ALTERNATIVE MUSIC FESTIVAL
Butlins, Minehead 27-29 April 2012
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Friday 27 April
attending the Rock & Blues festival in Butlins Skegness for the
past three years, I jumped at the opportunity of heading west to
Minehead in Somerset, for The Great British Alternative Music Festival.
On arrival I had the pleasure of bumping into Hazel O'Connor at check
in, like us she had driven from Essex, where she was gigging the night
topic of conversation was the driving conditions on the way down. Shall
we just say we encountered a drop of rain. Rain or no rain, Miss
O'Connor would end up being one of the highlights of the weekend.
After locating our 5 star accommodation (Pontins please take note) I was
off to The Yacht Club for a top class meal, with a bottle of wine to
liven us up, it was time to wander over to Centre Stage for the start of
the weekends entertainment.
Like Skegness, Minehead has two main stages, Centre stage and Reds, both
with excellent sound and lighting plus unobstructed views from any
venues would handle the night-time shows, whilst the vast Skyline Pavilion
would look after the daytime shows.
Jaks bar for very late night drinkies, Butlins has everything one could
need for a long hard weekend. One great thing about this festival was
there was a 30 min gap between stages; this gave you a great chance to
see all the bands.
task of opening the festival fell to Department S, the band had
there work cut out, to me the crowd seemed tired from the horrendous
journey to Minehead.
rendition of their 1979 single, a cover of Alvin Stardust's, My Coo-Ca-Choo
breathed life into the crowd…….and yes Vic is there…
A quick dash
over to Reds, with bands like Anti Nowhere League, UK Subs and Sham 69,
all strutting there stuff, tonight was Punk night.
seeing the UK godfather of Punk, Charlie Harper, growing old
disgracefully is what the Punk ethos is all about.
juncture, I must point out I got married in 1976, and by the time Punk
was exploding I was busy making babies…so I must admit my knowledge of
Punk is very limited. However speaking to Punks throughout the weekend,
Punk is alive and kicking with a thriving community, which is all good.
Surely seeing the UK godfather of Punk, Charlie Harper, growing old
disgracefully is what the Punk ethos is all about.
Two of the
highlights of the weekend up next on centre stage Hazel O'Connor
and Ex Simple Minds. There is no doubt it Hazel is a star, who deserves
to perform on bigger stages, her persona lifted everyone. All the hits,
like 'Eight Day', 'D-Days' and the classic 'Will You' were aired, but to
me her version of Snow Patrols 'Chasing Cars' was simply sublime. If you
get a chance, catch her live, you will not be disappointed.
A few of the bands this weekend consisted of original members, but not
the original singer, and in all cases the new vocalist had massive shoes
to step into.
on bass and drummer Brian McGee formed the rhythm, and driving force
behind stadium rockers Simple Minds. These days they can be seen
fronting Ex Simple Minds (XSM) Jim Kerr's boots are filled by
McGee's brother Owen. Owen is perhaps best known for his 1986 hit 'My
Favourite Waste Of Time'. With bands like this you forget just how many hits
they had. A great performance to finish of a excellent night. A real
Saturday 28 April
something about sea air, but last night was one of the best nights sleep
I have had in years…or was it the ale?
First task of the day is breakfast…and what a breakfast, you name it
they had it. A breakfast to die for and I'm sure if I was here long
enough it would take its toil.
A stroll into town is followed by my first visit of the weekend to
Hotshots, Butlins sports bar, to watch in vain my beloved West Ham
failing in a gallant attempt to reach the Premier League without the
added stress of the play-offs. Alas Southampton scuttled any hope of
firmly between my legs and carrying a heavy heart it was time for Ed
Tudor Pole, the first act to appear in The Skyline. His punky,
country style lifted my spirits, and stopped any thoughts I had of
Throwing My Baby Out With The Bathwater. A perfect afternoon spot for Mr
Fatigue from last nights excess's was beginning to take its revenge, and
wanting to be in a fit condition for the night, I nipped back to our
apartment for a couple of hours kip. The down side of this is I missed
Steve Cradock, an act I was looking forward to seeing.
set from The Lambrettas opened tonight's procedures.
Always at a
festival you come across someone you haven't heard of, and that somebody
blows you away...Annie Marie Hurst fitted this category
perfectly. Putting me in mind of Sioxsie Sioux, she was originally
the vocalist with Skeletal Family, before co-founding Ghost Dance with
Sisters Of Mercy man, Gary Marx.
her new album 'Day of all Days' Hurst delivered a blistering set. With
live dates to follow in June, July and August, another act worth
catching if you can.
It had to happen sooner or later, the dreaded clash. Who to watch? The
plan was to see half an hour of The Beat on centre stage, and then nip
next door to Reds for The Dammed.
Well...please excuse the pun but The Beat was so Damned good, I
stayed and watched the whole show. Still with originals Ranking
Roger and drummer Everett Morton, The Beat played a greatest hits show.
like 'Mirror in the Bathroom', 'Tears of a Clown' and 'Can't Get Used to
Losing You' to name just three, they certainly have a back catalogue to
Unfortunately, I only caught a couple of songs from The Damned,
but from what I did see the band looked awesome. Plus always good to
see Dave Vanian and Captain Sensible on stage together.
I have to
say of all the gigs I've seen over the years dating back to around 1972,
this is right up there with the best I have ever witnessed.
5,000 people must have jammed themselves into centre stage for the next
act...From The Jam, featuring Bruce Foxton, Mark Brzezicki - of
Big Country fame on drums - plus Russell Hastings who has the dubious
task of following in the footsteps of Paul Weller.
Dare I say,
and without being controversial, but is Hastings better? Maybe only a
Jam purist could answer that question.
But on the
evidence of tonight, the crowd have certainly taking him to their
hearts. There isn't enough superlatives to explain just how good
this band was tonight.
bass lines were earth moving, and in fact this is exactly what they did.
Throughout the whole show, the floor literally moved.
I think we
all know The Jam's hits, all were present tonight. I have to say
of all the gigs I've seen over the years dating back to around 1972,
this is right up there with the best I have ever witnessed. As a wag
commented on the way out 'That's Entertainment!'
Sunday 29 April
once again to the sound of rain and a driving wind coming in of The
Bristol Channel, pleased to say this didn't deter me from a five mile
run on the beaches of Bridgewater Bay, followed by a breakfast of fruit
and lashings of tea…rock 'n' roll!
Spent half a hour watching Chelsea annihilate QPR, before going into the
Skyline pavilion for a afternoon in the company of Wilko Johnson
and Secret Affair.
The ex Dr Feelgood man was in cracking form, riding on a currant wave of
popularity, due to recent high profile appearances in the film 'Oil City
Confidential' plus a spot on The Jools Holland show, not to mention his
autobiography 'Looking Back at Me' to be released on the 30th May.
sat comfortably with some Feelgood classics, such as 'Back in The Night'
'Sneaking Suspicion' and 'Don't let your daddy know'. With the excellent
Norman Watt-Roy on bass, this was a cracking way to spend a afternoon.
up next in the shape of Secret Affair. One of the leading
lights in the mod revival of the late 70s-early 80s.The band still boast
Ian Page and Dave Cairns from those Glory days. A full brass and
horn section give the band a unique full sound. Good to see the
bands new signing...ex Leafhound bass player Ed Pearson. Highlight
for me was the band's first hit 'Time for Action' plus a great version
of 'Judy in Disguise'.
Unfortunately I only caught glimpes of the three bands on centre stage
tonight. I was however reliably informed that 'The Vibrators',
'Nine Below Zero' and 'Dr Feelgood' all performed to their usual high
action tonight would focus on Reds. First up was The Blockheads
who despite some sound problems were top class. There is
something reassuringly eccentric and very English about The Blockheads,
this can also be said about John Otway, who was to follow. Filling
Ian Dury's boots is his friend and ex minder, Derek Hussey (aka Derek
The Draw). Like Dury, Hussey is a larger than life character. With so
many great sing-a-long tracks, The Blockheads are a perfect festival
What can one
say about John Otway, tonight the two hit wonder was backed by
his full band. It must be at least 30 years ago, that rock &
roll's greatest failure leapt to stardom-literally on the 'The Old Grey
his first hit 'Cor Baby Thats Really Free'. 10 years ago, to
celebrate his 50th birthday, hit No 2 came along 'Bunsen Burner'.
screen is John's target for his 60th later this year. Never to do
things on a small scale 'Otway The Movie' will premier at London's
Leicester Square Odeon. Like the Blockheads, John Otway is a
perfect festival act, delivering just what the tin says.
It was now well past midnight and one more band to go. Popping out
for a fag break it was pouring down, even Butlins were advising anyone
thinking of going home tonight not to.
pleasure of closing the festival fell to the Boomtown Rats These
days fronted by ex 'Hello' man Bob Bradbury, originals Garry Roberts on
guitar and Simon Crowe on drums plus young newcomer Darren Beale on
other bands over the weekend all the hits were played. The Rats of 2012
are much heavier than the band I remember, and all the better for it.
It was now
about 2 in the morning and only one song to go...in fact with the
weather there could be only one song 'I Don't like Mondays'. A
perfect finish to a perfect weekend.
Overall a first class weekend. Excellent apartment, excellent
food, top class bands, and I have to say this was one of the friendliest
festivals I have ever attended; Rock fans, punks, and mods all happily
mingling together. 'Til next year...
Review and photos by Noel Buckley
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