Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Cambridge Folk Festival 2014. July 31st- August 1st. The first 2 days.

Earlier this month I had the great privilege of finally getting to one of the oldest and most renowned festivals in Britain, The Cambridge Folk Festival. This year saw the celebration of 50 years of the event which made it even all the more special. Located at Cherry Hinton Hall, this festival offers more than just music, it's a whole concept of summer celebration, family outing and appreciation of true English culture at its finest. The 14,000 strong crowd consisted of literally every age group from infants to senior citizens, just one of the unique attributes to this fest, no one is considered too young or too old to attend.
Pokey LaFarge

Thursday evening's entertainment kicked  off steadily despite the heavy rain that poured down for a short period earlier. As we entered Cherry Hinton it was as if the spirit of the crowd had pushed away the ominous clouds overhead. Pretty soon the sun was shining down again and the place was officially in festival mode. The highlight of the evening was Pokey LaFarge's performance at stage 2, his brand of old style Americana certainly lifting the spirits inside the crammed to the brim tent. He and his band would again perform on the main stage the following day to even more enthusiasm. In fact the record store at the festival completely sold out of his albums over the weekend,  such was his success. I must also mention that it was a pleasure to see such a great array of CD's and Vinyl available there for sale. I of course couldn't resist buying a bunch of albums as a memento of this mighty weekend.

Friday and the second day of the festival was a beautiful sunny day, encouraging much of the crowd to file out in their deckchairs for a long run of wonderful music. My choice of refreshment for the day was the official festival ale which flowed beautifully by the pint.
Our first band experience this day was seeing Hazmat Modine on stage 1, a group I had not heard of before but proved to be a worthwhile choice. Based in New York, their brand of music is a mix of world fusion, jazz and reggae. 'Bahamut' their 2006 released album is a very worthwhile listen to get a feel of what this band are about, I would highly recommend it.

Hazmat Modine

Fisherman's Friends from Cornwall by now a favourite choice of this festival, lined out later in the evening on stage 1 to great applause. Essentially an a cappella group, their humorous sea shanties and tales of drinking and carousing had smiles going all around, a perfect addition to the day.  

Fisherman's Friends

Richard Thompson is a man I have waited for a very  long time to see play live and today was the day. A true British songwriting legend of our time, his entirely solo acoustic set was a fine pick of some of his greatest moments from his long career. 'Down Where The Drunkards Roll', 'I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight', and '1952 Vincent Black Lightning' to my joy were some of the choices. Thompson's 12 string acoustic skills had a packed out audience enthralled into silence from the minute he hit the stage. On retrospect his performance was probably my favourite of the weekend.

Richard Thompson 
Sinead O Connor would be second last this evening to play at the main stage, again a highly anticipated choice by many people attending. Her voice was in perfect pitch throughout, the set included such songs from the vaults as 'Nothing Compares 2 U' and 'The Emperor's New Clothes' along with the new material.
Recently I have found a new respect for Sinead since her refusal to perform in apartheid Israel despite being offered 10 times her usual fee. 

Sinead O Connor

Afro Celt Sound System 

Afro Celt Sound System closed the night's proceedings on the main stage with a dynamically theatrical presence. Their fusion of traditional Irish with African rhythms was concieved over 20 years ago from an idea by guitarist Simon Emmerson. Their debut album 'Volume 1 Sound Magic' was released in 1996 to huge acclaim on Peter Gabriel's Real World record label. Visually their stage show is nothing short of stunning with traditional African costume and instruments. With an imaginative merging of music cultures combined, the Afro Celt's have created something certainly original. If I were to have one criticism of the band however it would be of their sometimes over use of electronic instruments. All in all though I was very pleased to have finally seen them on stage as they have been on my list for a long time.
The first 2 days of this festival had already exceeded expectations, there were 2 more days to go and it was getting better....

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