Wychwood Festival, Cheltenham Racecourse
Pulses race with the old favourites
Tuesday 07 June 2011
With more than 70 acts playing on three different stages, the seventh Wychwood Festival featured a musical bill as varied as the weather. The first day's heat was alleviated by a light breeze as the good-natured crowd cherry-picked its way through an embarrassment of riches. On the BBC Introducing Stage, The Suit Corps, a very sharply dressed sextet from Coventry, bridged the gap between the evocative soundtracks of John Barry and the sample-heavy Portishead, and added a dash of ska for good measure, while their bewitching chanteuse Bella Dennie caught the eye as much as the ear.
The lush orchestral pop-with-a-purpose of Swindon-born singer-songwriter Shaun Buswell sent shivers down my spine as soon as I entered the Big Top. He pulled off the remarkable trick of fronting a 12-piece group featuring a string and horn section and the vocals of Zoe Mead – the Lisa Hannigan counterpoint to his Damien Rice.
On the windy Saturday, the festival hit a rich vein of British eccentricity with the maverick Robyn Hitchcock paying tribute to the late Captain Beefheart. Backed by a quartet who made like The Magic Band, he performed the cult album Clear Spot in its entirety and put a Syd Barrett-like spin on the soulful "My Head Is My Only House Unless It Rains".
On the Independent stage, Neville Staple revisited his Specials and Funboy Three hits with remarkable energy and demonstrated the lasting appeal of the late-Seventies ska revivalists. He followed Sarah Savoy, who came across like an Amazonian Bettie Page, and continued her family's fine tradition of Cajun music with her trio The Francadians.
Topping Saturday's bill, the charismatic Mike Scott and his Waterboys delivered a masterclass in festival crowd-pleasing. Their powerful set started with the very apposite "Don't Bang the Drum", took in "Glastonbury Song", the glorious "The Whole of the Moon", an adaptation of the Yeats poem "September 1913", and revisited their "Raggle Taggle Gypsy" era of the late Eighties with Steve Wickham's fiddle well to the fore. With Eliza Carthy also on the bill, fiddles and violins provided the Wychwood signature sound.
On the cold and wet Sunday, the Celtic contingent of Roddy Woomble and the radiant Eddi Reader lost out to near-local favourites The Wurzels, whose "ooh-ah-ooh-ah-ooh-ah" take on Kaiser Chiefs' "Ruby" made many smile. Jethro Tull mainman Ian Anderson rounded things off nicely with his witty banter and breathy flute solos as he revisited the best bits of the evergreen albums Aqualung and Thick As a Brick. Like the Tull repertoire, Wychwood is a festival that's built to last.
elephant appealThe first 23 lots in our charity auction have now gone. But there are 22 more still up for grabs
Jennifer Lawrence attacks mass media again over body image
Paris charity auction staged to save the ancient city of Tyre
scienceScientists find the answer to a question that even puzzled Darwin
A very timely Great Train Robbery and a frantic 24 Hours in A&E among the highlights
Geoffrey Macnab: The Wolf of Wall Street's account of white-collar excess is A Rake’s Progress on steroids
arts + entsThe 'Friends' actor on his new role as campaigner on addiction issues
Arts & Ents blogs
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, film review
Brian Griffin returns: Cartoon dog back from the dead in Family Guy Christmas episode
Christmas comes early: Justin Bieber announces he's 'retiring from music'
Coriolanus, theatre review: 'Tom Hiddleston has blazing stellar power'
Nymphomaniac, film review: 'Despite the surreal sex scenes this is a serious drama'
- 1 America's 'virgin births'? One in 200 mothers 'became pregnant without having sex'
- 2 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 3 Ian Watkins: Paedophile Lostprophets singer sentenced to 35 years for child sex offences, as judge labels him a 'dangerous sexual predator'
- 4 Christmas comes early: Justin Bieber announces he's 'retiring from music'
- 5 Children evacuated from swimming pool after prosthetic leg mistaken for paedophile
- < Previous
- Next >