Cornbury Festival, The Great Tew Park, Oxfordshire
Tuesday 05 July 2011
Now in its eighth year, the Cornbury Festival, held this year at a new Oxfordshire location, has grown in stature and is as magnificent from above – I went up in a helicopter with a daredevil photographer – as on the ground. It's also fast becoming part of "the season", alongside the Derby, Wimbledon and the Henley Regatta, with Caffè Nero and Pimm's not quite on tap but plentiful in the plush VIP area and beyond.
Despite an early-afternoon slot on Saturday, Los Angeles quartet Vintage Trouble did exactly what their name implies, though they couldn't quite match the Seventies bonhomie of the headliners, The Faces. Now fronted by Mick Hucknall – whose soulful take on "Ooh La La" matched the late Ronnie Lane's original – The Faces showed why they remain the ultimate "Had Me a Real Good Time" band. They even pulled off a double salvo of Small Faces evergreens – "Tin Soldier" and "All Or Nothing" – during the encore.
Earlier, Deacon Blue reminded an appreciative audience that they weren't just named after a Steely Dan tune, they also shared their lyrical ambitions and shimmering sound. They played the brooding "Your Town" and celebrated working-class values with their late-Eighties hits "Wages Day" and "Dignity", though Kinks mainman Ray Davies, predictably enough, still had the best catalogue on offer.
Sunday didn't quite match those highlights, mostly because the X Factor also-ran Olly Murs was a karaoke turn and The Straits revived the over-familiar Dire Straits hits I've been trying to forget. Headliners Status Quo steamrollered their way through their rocking catalogue, even if their "Something 'Bout You Baby I Like" veered too close to Chas'n'Dave territory for comfort.
On the Songbird stage, Jon Allen joined the horn-heavy hordes of The Staxs for a northern soul run-through of Duffy's "Mercy" before the well-routined group backed Jack Bruce performing his Cream classics "White Room" and "Sunshine of Your Love".
Yet no one came close to the Beatlesque wonder of the reunited Stackridge. "I saw so many people wearing multi-coloured smiles," James Warren and Andy Davis sang in "The Road to Venezuela". They had come to the right festival.
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