Splendour Festival - Various Artists - Wollaton Park - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

Splendour Festival - Various Artists - Wollaton Park

by Lawrence Poole Rating:7 Release Date:2012-11-26

While the nation's sophisticats sipped proseccos and nibbled on haloumi wraps as Jasper and Georgia tucked into their wheat-free pasta salads in the Suffolk countryside (and before you start, I've been to Latitude and had a wonderful time, but it is the poshest festival imaginable!), an all together more down-to-earth family event was in full-flow in the shadow of the beautifully gothic Wollaton Hall.

Deployed as a backdrop for the recent Batman film, a range of musical caped crusaders attempted to unleash their superpowers under the slate grey skies for our delectation. Pretty of voice and face, Scot Nina Nesbitt got things off to a suitably chilled-out start with her gentle indie musings, before local boys-made-good Dog is Dead showcased their sun-kissed indie-pop melodies to a warm reception. Having read so much about the Robert Milton-led quintet in the local press, it was pleasing to see they more than lived up to the hometown hype.

The first heavyweight of the day, Scottish pop brunette KT Tunstall, showed a lack of festival judgement by not rolling out the hits from the get-go to what rapidly became a bored and indifferent crowd. Thankfully, common sense did prevail and breakthrough hit 'Black Horse and the Cherry Tree' sparked the rockier mood change which was required.

For the first time, the organisers saw sense this year and scheduled the two main stages to ensure no clashes occurred, which meant a hop, skip and a jump over to the Jägermeister Stage for Peter Hook and the Light could be achieved without missing so much as a note. Arriving to the stark strains of major inspirations Kraftwerk, Hooky and co hit the ground running and did not let up with a small crowd swelling impressively during their hour-long set. The product of a long-running and mysterious fallout with Bernard Sumner, while a revamped New Order are rubbing salt into the wounds by dining out on the Joy Divison and NO back-catalogue at the nation's major festivals and venues, it's left to low-slinging bass-playing lynchpin Hook and his band The Light to perform those band's early albums and lesser known tracks at somewhat less prestigious venues.

And what a shame that is, as on this form, Hooky's outfit deserve their time in the sun too. Fulfilling his promise in the press to play the ultimate mixtape set, The Light were the undoubted highlight of the whole day. A magisterial 'Ceremony', sparkling 'Bizarre Love Triangle', joyous 'Love Will Tear Us Apar't - each proceeded to send the masses into ecstasy, with beery men of a certain age hoisting youngsters onto sweat-laden shoulders as if to say, "Now son, this is what you call music!" By the time an extended 'Blue Monday' was trotted out - with a commanding Hook orchestrating proceedings with flair and power from the stage - it was game over.

Back on the main stage, the gentler tones of Squeeze proved just the breather required before we went for the hyperactive Maxïmo Park. Merrily ambling through the bulk of their greatest hits, it wasn't until a sublime 'Up the Junction' was aired that lift-off was achieved. But what a lift off! Tilbrook and Difford's ode to the growing pains of life remains one of the greatest ever eulogies to the wake-up calls of adulthood - utterly appropriate for Splendour too, with two and three generations of the same family present. It was swiftly followed by 'Pulling Muscles (From the Shell)' - surely a major turn-on for Crowded House - and a bouncy 'Cool for Cats'. Squeeze reminded anyone who may have forgotten what a cherished English songwriting outfit they are.

When Jess Ennis blitzed her way to Olympic gold in the heady summer of 2012, she spoke impressively about wanting to leave everything she had on the track - it's an approach to performance which Maxïmo Park's ebullient frontman Paul Smith surely approves of. Racing through the hits of their oeuvre, including a number from recent long-player National Health, Smith had the crowd in the palm of his sweaty hand from the off and remains one of our most captivating frontmen, with a riotous 'Apply Some Pressure' and a classy 'Books for Boxes' proving major highlights.

And so to local boy headliner Jake Bugg. Booked way back in November by the organisers once they realised his debut offering was about to go stratospheric, the Clifton-raised 19-year-old returned home following the small matter of wowing Glasto and T in the Park, and warming up for The Rolling Stones. Impressively, he remains unfazed by his remarkable rise to glory, blasting through his album while occasionally peppering it with some well-received new tracks.

The soaring 'Broken' and neighboured-mentioning 'Two Fingers' proved the stars of the show, with a leather-clad Bugg seemingly unperturbed by the 18,000 strong crowd before him. Sadly, his schlep around Europe and America hasn't strengthened his stage presence any and he remains a dry performer, with very little banter between songs and minimal movement on stage. And while you could throw the same accusations at a certain Liam Gallagher, the Burnage veteran at least does have that indefinable magnetism which lets him off the hook.

It will be interesting to see, when Bugg does return to these parts with a new album of tracks in his swag bag, whether or not that will give him the confidence to come out his shell, as I fear playing some of the nation's enormodomes may be a stretch too far for him.

Comments (2)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

I can't wait for this...

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Me too. Saw him live with Sonic Boom a few years ago and it was brilliant. Sonic Boom knob twiddling, Panda Bear on guitar and amazing visuals.

There are no comments posted here yet
Related Articles