I'm not a fan of festivals. The last one I camped at was Reading in 1993. I like my home comforts, I like a hot shower in a morning, a full English breakfast, a nice big lunch and a bigger tea. I don't like my clothes getting muddy and I don't like going out dressed in the kind of clothes I wouldn't mind getting shitted up. Probably because I don't own any clothes I wouldn't mind getting shitted up.
I tried doing the Leeds Festival when Reading became a spilt in two a schizophrenic North v South festival. I could drive there and back in the day. But it was still muddy, took ages to get in and out, and was full of the type of wacky twats you get at festivals. The Move Festival at Old Trafford over the Pennines in Manchester beckoned next. And what a line up the first one was. New Order, Doves, Echo and the Bunnymen. What I'd pay to see that now. This was a great festival. I could drive there in around an hour. Park up next to the bowling club round the corner, sit on the benches outside and enjoy a nice pint, before sauntering round to see the bands on the nice smooth cricket pitch that was covered in a tarpaulin. No mess, great bands, and a nice drive home. Sadly this came to an end after a few years, and it was sorely missed.
So imagine my delight, go on, imagine it, when the previously teen orientated Bingley Music Festival - an event that used to attract the likes of Steps, Girls Aloud and similar bands that encourage 12-year-olds to dress like prostitutes - rebranded itself as Bingley Music Live in 2007 and put on The Charlatans as headliners. And to top it off. It was free. All two days of it.
For those of you not familiar with Bingley, it's a small town on the edge of Bradford, much like all the other small towns on the edge of Bradford. It's probably best known for being the one time home of the Bradford and Bingley Building Society before the world as we know it went tits-up, the famous Five Rise Locks on the Leeds Liverpool canal that ambles through it, and the huge Myrtle Park, nestled next to the River Aire, where the festival takes place. It's about a 5 minute drive from where I live, or a 30 minute's beautiful walk along the canal towpath, or 3 minutes on one of those train things that members of the public and Londoners use. So yes. I was chuffed that a festival had landed on my doorstep that required neither a tent or any form of hassle to get to.
Booth (Bradford born, he was quick to remind us) can still hold a tune and is the only front man I know who can get 40-year-old shaven headed blokes singing along to the high parts of sound like neutered coyotes. Wooohoooooohooooooow!
2007 featured The Charlatans (one of my favourite bands despite being average for ages) The Twang, Milburn on the Sunday and From The Jam and The Bluetones on the Saturday. All supported by a host of up-and-coming and local bands. And did I mention it was free? For once, Bradford Council was doing something right.
2008 went one better, Echo and the Bunnymen, Alabama 3, Happy Mondays (yes I know) The Delays and yet more up-and-coming and local bands. In 2009 it became even bigger and stretched over three days, with the Friday being free and the Saturday and Sunday costing a total of around £30 and the bands got bigger too - Doves, The Undertones, Editors, Calvin Harris, Zutons, Ocean Colour Scene, Reverend and the Makers - pretty much something for everyone.
The good thing about this particular festival is it appeals to a broad church, rather than just cherry picking some of the here today gone tomorrow bands of the moment. This year proved the point. Friday saw Buzzcocks give a 100mph tutorial in how punk pop should be played, that seemed to be appreciated equally by the older heads and the young emo kids that were still bouncing round the front after seeing their band of choice The Blackout beforehand.
I have to admit, the Saturday and Sunday lineups didn't set my pulse alight, so I decided to spend my Saturday afternoon at the match. But after another shite home defeat at Valley Parade I hurried over to see the magnificent Public Image Ltd take to the stage. No one reading this needs me to tell them about Lydon. He's at home on the stage and seemingly still wants a rebellion. His take on politics 'Two cunts for the price of one,' England 'our finest export is the football hooligan,' and the festival 'Can you smell the onions,' amused and bemused the crowd. Much of it going over the younger heads, who seemed to think throwing bottles is 'punk' (wrong and wrong band kids!) but those who know their music were left blown away by the bass-turned-up-to-eleven-and-then-some driven howling funk rock. Lydon couldn't resist a few digs at up next headliners James, but in my world there's room for both of them.
James, were, as always magnificent. They opened with Sit Down, which I'm glad they got out of the way, then ploughed straight on with hit after hit and a good smattering of new songs, as Tim Booth, said: "We hope you'll indulge us, we don't want to be a nostalgia band." And they're not. Andy Diagram still sports a dress and bounds around the stage, trumpet glued to his lips, Booth (Bradford born, he was quick to remind us) can still hold a tune and is the only front man I know who can get 40-year-old shaven headed blokes singing along to the high parts of sound like neutered coyotes. Wooohoooooohooooooow!
Sunday , another trip to the pub until The Levellers came on. I only own the album that everyone had at the time it came out, but was suprised at how many songs I knew. A true festival band , and not one I'd seen before. Then, Seasick Steve. A man who I was expecting to be something of a one trick pony, but I was wrong. He was superb. Immense. Down and dirty blues, rock and roll, call it what you want, all on a series of bizarre homemade instruments, none of which appeared to have more than three strings. Sadly he was only on for an hour. I could have listened to him all night, and I got the impression that the crowd could too. Steve himself admitted: "Hell, I'd play here all night, I've nothing else to do," but he had to make way for headliners The Enemy.
I'm not a fan of The Enemy, there's something disconcerting about a band who don't look old enough to shave, so made my way back along the canal, in the glorious evening sunset, and stopped off for a curry and a few pints. The perfect end to a fantastic weekend of music on my doorstep. Just one request if I may be so bold. Can we have The Super Furry Animals next year?