Departure lounge ramblings on music, places, climate change and stuff outdoors

Festival No. 6 2014

Wales, sunshine, swimming in the estuary on the set of ‘The Prisoner’ – why can’t it be Festival No.6 every weekend?


  • Headline acts: London Grammar; Beck; The Pet Shop Boys
  • Weather: Sunny enough for swimming
  • Contemporaneous events: I forgot about everything else
  • Author’s festival credentials: Punter with the Watts/Davis Collective (with apologies to those whose surnames are ommitted, but only Crosby-Stills-Nash-and-Young could get away with four surnames in a band title)


  • Cherry Ghost (5*) – another great Heavenly band. Simon Aldred’s voice is so rich it makes me think of those perfect chocolate puddings where the the sauce oozes out of the centre. The performance of the festival. [8pm, Friday, Estuary Stage]
  • Luke Wright – a new slim, dandified version of our favourite Essex boy completely won over a mainly Welsh, Liverpudlian and Mancunian audience with his punchy, political performance poetry (alliteration unintended). [6pm, Friday, Central Plaza]
  • Peter Hook & the Light – this was a festival surprise as I am not generally a fan of the middle of the day main-stage performances. But drawn in by ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ I couldn’t leave as Hooky ripped through the Joy Division and New Order back catalogue. [5pm, Saturday, Stage No. 6]
  • Beck – ‘Loser’ was always a favourite at Rock City and The Beetroot in my Nottingham days and I have loved every Beck album since ‘Odelay’ and yet somehow this was the first time I have seen him live. I won’t miss out again. A real artist and consumate festival engager – his medley encore, which finished with a Pet Shop Boys cover, was masterful. [9.30pm, Saturday, Stage No. 6]
  • John Shuttleworth – an oddball in a fleece performing quirky songs about DiY superstores to a dodgy synthesiser back-beat. I was only disappointed that Alex didn’t bring along his indoor wind-chime. [6.15pm Saturday, Central Plaza]


  • Dylan Thomas Tribute – Rhys Ifans, Murray Lachlan Young and Kevin Allen chatting on stage about their forthcoming cinematic adaptation of ‘Under Milk Wood’, with enough of a preview to suggest it is going to be surreally awesome. [7.30pm Friday, The Gatehouse]
  • Chris Lintott – the junior Patrick Moore excited us by asking “if there are 17 billion planets out there why has no-one contacted us yet?” I was going to tell him he should read Alastair Reynolds for the answer, until he revealed that the message humans are sending out to prompt a response from intelligent life elsewhere was sponsored by Dorritos.. Nb Dr Lintott what happened to the promised evening star walk?[4.45pm Saturday, The Central Plaza]
  • Martha & the Vandelas – romping through the Mowtown hits on a sunny afternoon. [5pm Sunday, Stage No.6]
  • Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott – singing along to every word with Liz and my sister, Jane, this was the third time I’d seen them in as many months & I would happily make it a regular date. [6pm Sunday, Stage No.6]
  • How We Used to Live – the wonderful new Saint Etienne film about London (obviously), this time reflecting on the immediate aftermath of the Second World War. [7.15pm Sunday, The Gatehouse]
  • Brythoniad Male Voice Choir – can I give them four stars just for hearing the Welsh National Anthem every night? Mae hen wlad fy nhadau (ac mamau) yn annwyl i mi.. (8.30pm nightly, Central Plaza)


  • Gwenno – I really should give her more stars just for the song about patriarchy, but much as I love her Gwenno really needs a band to shine properly. [5.30pm Friday, The Clough Stage]
  • London Grammar – they’ve got the songs but haven’t quite worked out how to be a headliner yet. Given their similar innate shyness & lack of on-stage movement I hope they were taking notes from the Pet Shop Boys. [9pm Friday, Stage No.6]
  • North Soul Dance Class – fun but tough with all that spinning up and down. I retired before injury to buy a few LPs from the stall outside. [12.15 Saturday, Town Hall]
  • The Wharves – minimalist, drum-driven rock on a Nottingham label, although the respective members are from pretty much every part of the British Isles. [1pm Saturday, Clough Stage]
  • Arthur Beatrice – I can’t remember much about them other than I scribbled “check them out again” in my notepad, so they must have been good. [4pm Saturday, Clough Stage]
  • H Hawkline – it’s the kind of great band name that will seem so right if he is still going as a grizzly 70 year old. [6pm Saturday, Clough Stage]
  • Swnami – I’d just been eating fried mealworms on the Bear Ghrylls one-hour survival course (surely anyone can survive in the woods for 60 minutes?) & so was pleased to be distracted by this young Welsh band. [4pm Sunday, Clough Stage]
  • The Sugarmen – slightly over-hyped in the programme notes, these Liverpudlians were really good but my expectations were higher. I liked their song against NHS privatisation though. [2pm Sunday, Lost in the Woods]
  • Riding the Low – Burton’s-own Paddy Considine taking a break from acting (including a superb performance as a local miners’ leader in ‘Pride’) & putting every ounce of spare energy into moonlighting as a lead-singer. [4.30pm Sunday, Town Hall]


  • Awesome Tapes from Africa DJ Set – I was really, really looking forward to this, but a tent by the estuary at the end of the last day with people lolling about on the grass just wasn’t conducive to the requisite vibe. [7.30pm Sunday, Estuary Stage]
  • Grumbling Fur – I’m just not into pyschedelia to be fair. [8.15pm Sunday, Town Hall]

Act I missed but really wanted to see:

John Wizards – that’s two festivals in a row that I’ve failed to catch ’em despite loving what I heard of them in a record shop in their native Cape Town [4.30pm Sunday, Estuary Stage]

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