Vintage Festival, Southbank Centre, London
Ed Sheeran, The Duchess, York

Music festivals aren't what they were – except when they are better

In its second year, Wayne Hemingway's Vintage Festival has decamped from green Goodwood to the most urban setting possible, the Southbank Centre in London. And the post-war optimism of the Festival of Britain, of whose 60th anniversary celebrations it forms part, and the brutalist utopianism of the centre's architecture, are mirrored by the joyous spirit of Vintage itself.

The first trick is to dress the part. Black and white crepe-soled brogues? Check. Velvet zoot suit inherited from Fifties rocker dad? Check. And when you walk into the Torch Club ballroom just as all-female big band The Bombshellettes are playing The Andrews Sisters' thinly veiled prostitution metaphor "Rum and Coca Cola", it's difficult to do it without a swing in your step. Up in the Leisure Lounge, Graham Gouldman plays an intimate set of Sixties hits – a repertoire including "Heart Full of Soul", "No Milk Today" and "For Your Love" – which has you marvelling, "I never knew he wrote this. Or this."

It isn't just live music. Sought-after DJ team The Shellac Sisters provide an inspired mix of ancient and modern, their customised wind-up gramophones hooked up to electrical audio outputs so they can spin 78s of a Rosemary Clooney knees-up, a foxtrot by Wingy Manone or the wonderfully titled "She's a Latin from Manhattan" by the Mound City Blue Blowers, at 21st-century volume.

In the Soul Casino, you can dance to Chris Hill's selections one minute, then buy the song. I spend £30 on a bootleg pressing of Wigan anthem "I Really Love You" by The Tomangoes. An original would be £2,000. There's the interactive Charity Shop DJ project, where the public can rummage through boxes of rescued K-Tel compilations and submit them for play, or the more restful Classic Album Living Room where you can sit and contemplate Kate Bush's Hounds of Love on audiophile-grade gear.

The main event, though, is the Hit Parade in the Royal Festival Hall, curated by Bob Stanley and backed by a full orchestra. "I do like being curated," says David McAlmont, sparkling at the waist, wrist, knuckles and neck. "It has a ring to it of suddenly becoming a museum piece." But there's nothing reliquary about hearing his falsetto in full flight on Bernard Butler collaboration "Yes". The best revenge, it reminds us, is living well.

Adam Ant, whose lead singer swagger is back in spades, brings the hall to its feet with "Stand and Deliver" and Bolan's "Get It On". Then Sandie Shaw, barefoot – of course – steals the show, leaping in the air and falling to her knees through "(There's) Always Something There to Remind Me" and a slowed-down "Puppet on a String". It's only the idea of a working-class Dagenham girl becoming a pop star which makes you realise we're living in a lesser age.

Speaking of which ... Ed Sheeran says "chilled" six times in one sentence about hanging around York with fellow acoustic troubadour Benjamin Francis Leftwich. It's narrowly ahead of "vibe" and "dude". I can tell we're not going to get along.

Sheeran's Newquay-friendly folk-pop, strummed on a tiny guitar and backed by an invisible beatbox, has clearly struck a chord. "The A Team", his Crisis at Christmas-inspired tale of homelessness, is still in the top five. The way he wheedles "Hello, I'm Ed!" reminds me of Harry Enfield's "only meee" character. But, judging by the girls who scream and the boys who chant "Ed! Ed! Ed!", it's working.



Next week

Simon changes his gear for the Apple Cart Festival in south London

Rock Choice

This year's Summer Sundae features C W Stoneking, Warpaint, Shonen Knife, Toots And The Maytals, The Agitator, Wilko Johnson, and The Jim Jones Revue at the De Montfort Hall and Gardens, Leicester (Fri-Sun). Meanwhile, relative newcomer LeeFest, a non-profit, boutique music festival at Highams Hill Farm, Warlingham, Kent, will be headlined by electro-pop band Fenech-Soler (Fri) and British Sea Power (Sat).

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Chocolat author Joanne Harris has spoken about the financial struggles most authors face

books
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from How To Train Your Dragon 2

Review: Imaginative storytelling returns with vigour

film
Arts and Entertainment
Josh Hutcherson, Donald Sutherland and Jena Malone in Mockinjay: Part 1

film
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Characters in the new series are based on real people, say its creators, unlike Arya and Clegane the Dog in ‘Game of Thrones’
tv
Arts and Entertainment
A waxwork of Jane Austen has been unveiled at The Jane Austen Centre in Bath

books
Arts and Entertainment
Britney Spears has been caught singing without Auto-Tune

music
Arts and Entertainment
Unless films such as Guardians of the Galaxy, pictured, can buck the trend, this summer could be the first in 13 years that not a single Hollywood blockbuster takes $300m

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has her magic LSD brain stolen in this crazy video produced with The Flaming Lips

music
Arts and Entertainment
Gay icons: Sesame Street's Bert (right) and Ernie

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Robin Thicke and actress Paula Patton

music
Arts and Entertainment
The new film will be shot in the same studios as the Harry Potter films

books
Arts and Entertainment
Duncan Bannatyne left school at 15 and was still penniless at 29

Bannatyne leaves Dragon's Den

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The French economist Thomas Piketty wrote that global inequality has worsened

books
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant and Benedict Cumberbatch

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck plays a despondent Nick Dunne in David Fincher's 'Gone Girl'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty (L) and Carl Barât look at the scene as people begin to be crushed

music
Arts and Entertainment

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Caral Barat of The Libertines performs on stage at British Summer Time Festival at Hyde Park

music
Arts and Entertainment
Ariana Grande and Iggy Azalea perform on stage at the Billboard Music Awards 2014

music
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
    Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

    A writer spends a night on the streets

    Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
    Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
    Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

    Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

    Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
    Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

    Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

    This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
    Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

    Why did we stop eating whelks?

    Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
    10 best women's sunglasses

    In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

    From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    The German people demand an end to the fighting
    New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

    New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

    For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
    Can scientists save the world's sea life from

    Can scientists save our sea life?

    By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
    Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

    Richard III review

    Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice