Today is Splendour number eight and again it has pulled a large 20,000 crowd to Wollaton Park despite, what I would describe as, a weak line-up. We have long stopped worrying about the line-up and now automatically go to our local festival every year.
The Specials headline above James and Bananarama who headline the second stage, which is usually where the better acts are to be found. The fact that a clearly main stage artist such as Bananarama are on there hints at a lack of better options but we’ll see how they do later. Let’s start at the beginning.
Well not quite the beginning because we don’t arrive until about 2.45pm and it’s a decent start with Lenton’s Amber Run up on the Main Stage. We thread our way through the multitude of deck chairs, blankets and cool boxes to the front where a small enthusiastic crowd are the only ones paying attention but they are heavily into it. We join them.
As they finish another Nottingham artist Keto or Leah as she is known to her friends is starting up on the Second Stage. As perhaps you can already tell the focus of the festival is promoting Nottingham and both are repeat visitors. As well as Nottingham bands, the majority of the food and drink on offer is local. So although we touch base briefly with Leah, we feel the real ale tent is a bigger pull particularly as beer stocks rarely make it past tea time. Castle Rock seem to have almost exclusive rights this year with a couple of beers from new Shipstones the only other option. We buy six vouchers which may be a mistake as it assumes a fair longevity for supplies.
London rapper Roots Manuva is next on the Main Stage, although running fifteen minutes late due to technical issues. He plays a rather tired sounding set, although he is definitely not my thing.
We go for a wander to check out the other stages. Aside from the main two stages there are three smaller stages. There is a ‘Fringe’ stage somewhere in the main field but we don’t even stumble across that. The other two, an acoustic stage and a comedy stage, are both located in the courtyard area.
We take a seat on the rather uncomfortable gravel strewn courtyard floor (some matting would be nice guys) to watch Essex girl comedienne Ellie Taylor. Taylor, a former model for Greek yoghurt (apparently) seems obsessed by two things. Firstly her weight (aren’t all women!), she is delighted at her sister’s pregnancy because she is pleased to see any rival female gain weight. Secondly with genitalia (are all women?), pointing out that men have few inhibitions about using theirs for comedic affect and urges the women in the audience to use theirs for ventriloquism. Something to try later perhaps, oh to be a fly on the wall. It was quite an amusing half hour.
We head back to the main field to find that the final barrel of real ale has been drunk dry at 5.05pm, which may be a record but perhaps only just. We move on to some ‘craft’ version, which is at least better than nothing, as we sit in the outside ‘bar’ area and listen to Lawson up on Main.
Next stop, The Twang. These Brummies were once going to be really big but somehow it never happened. Tonight though, their, dare I say baggy/Madchester, sound goes down a storm. They are also the first band today who look they are having a really good time and that means the audience have a good time too. They may now be totally unfashionable but their lively music and sneering vocals help make this possibly the set of the day.
By contrast James are incredibly business like even though, with an irritating time clash between stages, we only stay for four songs. Two of which are new material and one of which is the popular 90s hit ‘Sit Down’. Although I love the way that this is tossed aside so early on and would really like to have stayed to see what Tim Booth and co played later on but we must move on. There’s karaoke up on the other stage.
Which is perhaps a little unkind but Keren and Sara are basically two fifty-something young girls dancing round their handbags and singing into their hair brushes. Perhaps that’s always been the case but you know what, the large crowd love it. Cruel Summer, Robert De Niro's Waiting, Nathan Jones, Venus... they’re all here. Well not all as they’ve had 28 hit singles in all and like the Twang they grin and smile infectiously all the way through it.
The only thing that would have made it better was if Terry Hall had popped up on stage to join them for the songs they did with the Fun Boy Three. The girls hint at this themselves but I don’t think Terry is listening.
Hall is up next on Main with tonight’s headliners The Specials. As is tradition we ignore the headliners and head off for a curry. Na na na na, na na na na, hey hey, goodbye.
(Saturday 18th July)