First Night: Wychwood Festival, Cheltenham
Summer festival season launches on a sunny day of bucolic bliss
Six years into what has been a charmed life, when other events have fallen by the wayside for lack of patronage or ill-thought over-expansion, the Wychwood Festival has become a recurrent and enjoyable high point of my musical year.
Ideally positioned after the last May bank holiday and making the most of the facilities at a venue more usually associated with the sport of kings, the three-day event enjoys nice weather – last night a cool breeze was just the ticket for those sampling the delights of the Barefoot wine stall or the Waitrose cocktails a touch too eagerly – and does great return business with habitués.
The family-friendly atmosphere and the gorgeous scenery in the distance also play their part, of course, but the breadth of music on offer is what makes Wychwood the undisputed first highlight of the festival calendar.
The late-afternoon start to proceedings on Friday gave campers a chance to pitch their tents and park their caravans – I even spotted a very fancy silver Winnebago – as well as find their way around the many stalls, workshops or locate the comedy and children's literature tents.
The keening, easy-on-the-ear harmonies of Manchester-based six-piece the Travelling Band created the perfect mood.
Jo Dudderidge and Snaf Ballinger – wearing a bandanna worthy of Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler – bridged the gap between Americana and the West Coast groups of the 1960s on songs such as "Screaming Is Something".
An extended "Lanes of Names", sounding like a collision of The Dark Side of the Moon-era Pink Floyd and the Super Furry Animals at a rave, provided another delightful moment, the line "Endless sinking sun" summing up the good vibes floating over the blissed-out audience.
Under the Big Top, the perfectly named, violin-toting Welsh quintet Rusty Shackle created a hootenanny, hoedown feeling in keeping with the rootsier tendencies of many of the artists due to appear over the rest of the weekend, such as Piney Gir, Seth Lakeman and Adrian Edmondson and the Bad Shepherds. Back on The Independent stage, Nick Hemming's outfit the Leisure Society made the most of the setting with bucolic material such as "A Matter Of Time".
Their turntable hit "The Last of the Melting Snow" was probably the most unseasonal song ever performed at Wychwood, but went down a treat with the pastoral pop connoisseurs all the same.
The two guys dressed in full piratical Captain Hook garb and the girls in the hula skirts certainly seemed to enjoy them. It's all part of Wychwood's rich tapestry.
Arts & Ents blogs
Owen Howells is a DJ/producer who grew up in Australia but was born in the UK. He came back to the U...
Fancy seeing a play about serial killers? How about inviting a funeral director into your home for a...
There are a good many moments in the second episode of this psychological thriller that deserve refl...
Coronation Street triumphs over EastEnders at British Soap Awards 2013
The Freemasons' Code: Dan Brown reveals the message that told him the door to the lodge is open
Archaeologists uncover nearly 5,000 cave paintings in Burgos, Mexico
Lord of the Sings: Sir Christopher Lee, 91, to release heavy metal album
Film review: The Hangover Part III (15)
- 1 Pope Francis: Being an atheist is alright as long as you do good
- 2 Man and woman arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to murder victim of Woolwich machete attack, named as Drummer Lee Rigby
- 3 'Sickening, deluded and unforgivable': Horrific attack brings terror to London’s streets
- 4 'Something passed underneath us, quite close': Airbus A320 has close encounter with UFO
- 5 Lord of the Sings: Sir Christopher Lee, 91, to release heavy metal album
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Nook is donating eReaders to volunteers at high-need schools and participating in exclusive events throughout the campaign.
Get the latest on The Evening Standard's campaign to get London's children reading.
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.