Written by Jan Roberts
This was the 11th running of the Bearded Theory gathering, at stately Catton Hall and for this reviewer, a long gap since the last festival back in so-long-ago-I-cant-remember-1980’s. So long ago that the headliners were Hawkwind, but I digress…
Like all festivals they promise a break from the mundane, a feast of musical and sensory nirvana, you just have to chose how you wish to be pleasured during you brief stay.
Spread over 3 days and one night, a mix of old and new, Indie and Punk, funked-up and rocked-out were my vices. Here us just a few of our favourites from the festival:
Friday saw Pins take to the Woodland stage to deliver a sublime set of their melodic, textured and rhythmic essays. With two drummers providing a strong driving pulse overlaid by the distorted and melodic guitar playing of Lois, the rock-solid bass of the impassive Anna and the strong and controlled delivery of lead singer Faith Vern make for an intoxicating soundworld, far far removed from any “Manchester sound”. Along with a strong and striking visual presence and a new rich full sound the band owned the Woodland stage playing to a packed crowd. Finishing the set with their latest EP “Serve The Rich”, they left us wanting more and neatly avoided the request for Wonderwall. As if…
One of the original UK punk bands, overtime they have transformed into a heavy rock (and roll) band with punk sensibilities. Fast and relentless, verbally and sonically furious their songs still rail against and shine light on the iniquities of life in songs like Coalition Government Blues and Wreckin’ Ball.
Despite a long roster of band members, singer Charlie Harper is still at the helm fighting the good fight. As he explained to the crowd from the main stage, the key to the UK Subs longevity is not water as all the young bands advocate, but “beer, beer and more beer. Cheers!”
Guitarists Alvin Gibb, Steve Straughan and drummer Jamie Oliver delivered a tight energetic pulse that got the crowd rocking and some moshing down at the front. The sun was shining, there was beer, dancing and the Subs were playing. Nostalgia does not get much better than this if you are of a certain age. If you’re not, the lineage of the new “punk” bands like the Idles, Cabbage or Sleaford Mods is clear.
Which brings us neatly to the Idles. They followed the UK Subs on the main stage and the crowds energy level immediately went up to maximum. If the Subs were the warm up, the Idles grabbed the crowd by the throat and gave it a good shake.
The set consisted of a wild rampage through their latest album Brutalism, delivering ‘Well Done’, ‘Mother’, ‘Date Night’, ‘1049 Gotho’, ‘Divide and Conquer’ and others with little time to catch breathe between numbers. A visceral and aural assault of the senses, their energy level did not let up throughout.
The Idles are the current emotional embodiment of the 1970’s punk movement that raged at the injustices and inequalities of society. Very little has changed in 40 years, except the musicianship is at a much higher level. If you are nostalgic for the punk era, or want to rage against the system for a night, try to see them in a small venue. NOW!
With the crowd feeling emotionally and physically drained, what do you do? You slip in a bit of cool and funk.
Fun Lovin’ Criminals
A massive crowd favourite that by turns are heavy, bluesy, funky, funny, hip, big and bouncy. Huey Morgan held centre stage throughout. The interaction and humorous asides between the three band members clearly showed they were out to have fun, with the crowd dancing throughout the whole set as they played their brand of hip hop infused funk rock including all the favourites from the King of New York, Smoke ‘Em, to the anthemic Scooby Snacks. An uplifting and life affirming set that put a smile on everybody’s face as they readied for the next punk onslaught from the Sleaford Mods.