Well, the sun came out and the need for new sunglasses and suncream was high. This should have been a good clue it would go well, and so it proved!
As I got in I caught bits of Daisy B, Colum Regan and Vijay Kishore on the Musician Stage, though nothing entranced me enough to hang about. I was in 'passing through' mode, taking in the sun, the heat and the generally lovely ambience of the environs. I said hi to the FairTrade stall-holder, who recognised my custom from last year when I bought my lovely woollen knitted jacket (as modelled here when I attended the Nottingham blogmeet in March 07). I spotted some earrings I liked a happily slotted those in place. I was at this point stood at the top of the hill, to the right of the sound desk, from where I could just see down the hill to the 6Music van and beside it a 'Hub' tent.
Is that Neil Hannon I see on that small stage several hundred yards away?!
Galloping down the hill I bag a spot and delight in three lovely songs from the divine Mr Hannon. Ooooh, he is lovely, even with some facial covering. We get two songs from 'Victory for the Comic Muse' ('Mother Dear - a song that should induce sentimental vomiting but which instead, especially in acoustic form, was charmingly poignant, and the sharply observant 'Lady of a Certain Age'). But between them, and though the lad has probably long since tired of it, we get a sublimely smile-stirring 'Songs of Love'. Awh man: a sunny afternoon, dry ground, and Neil Hannon singing 'Songs of Love' on an acoustic guitar with keyboard accompaniment. My festival was off to a great start!
Wandering around again, I saw Fazed (winners of a BBC regional competition to open the main outdoor stage) who were pleasant enough but left me unfazed. Mind, they did end on a nice and lively version of 'Teenage Kicks'. It was still 'all good' as the George would say.
Unfortunately, I then popped in to the Indoor stage of De Montfort Hall and managed to stick less than 3 songs of the band Palladium. The brochure described them thus:
Palladium are classic English eccentrics. They make music that is epic, joyful and ludicrous recalling Pink Floyd, The Police, Hall & Oates and The Who in the early 70's. Brave is a band who wear tweed jackets and golf visors onstage and have names like Rufio, Fez and Rocky – supernaturally talented musicians who look like they got lost in fancy dress cupboard.Um, no.
Sorry, but eccentric now apparantly means you get a bassist as lead singer (seemingly channeling the spirit of Level 42, but thankfully minus the guitar strapped way-up across the rib-cage) and a keyboardist with a sideways worn open-top baseball cap doing that very eighties wiggly body-bending 'dancing'. And did I mention that the singer was wearing very tight WHITE jeans?
I tried to think of them as intentional pastiche, a laff, you might say.
After less than 3 songs, I was on my way out of the door...
Still, by two songs into Kate Nash, Cloud had arrived. Hurrah!
We then went to the Rising Stage and caught the end of Saab 900i (and wished we'd managed to see more - and could find out more about them), and then stayed for the very chilled combo performance of kREEPA Vs ASMO. The Rising Stage, btw, was significantly larger than the diddy-sized tent that we saw the likes of Camera Obscura in last year. Anyway, the schedule for that stage was revised, starting later (3.45pm for Saab instead of 3.30pm, and then knocking onto starting gigs on the hour instead of the half-hour: I seem to recall this happened last year too. Wot? Are the organisers just a bit unprepared for their scheduling?)
K vs A gave us a combo that was kinda jazzy, kinda noise-y and kinda soundscape-y. Interesting, but somehow emotionally unengaging, though it did draw the type of people who wear Einsturzende Neubauten t-shirts (much to Cloud and mine's annoyance, at rememberance of the ignoramuses who failed to book enough tickets for the band's Rock City gig earlier this year. Grr.) It possibly says a lot that I wasn't entirely infuriated to hear the drifting twitterings of Kate Nash's 'Foundations' carry across the air from the main stage...
After that we had some background and passing music from the likes of The Aliens (former Beta Band members - see also here) and The Dirty Backbeats as we had a bit of a walk together in the sun. Nothing really stuck guys, sorry. You were perfectly fine background though.
We then grabbed a wood stove made pizza - very nice indeed - before wandering off to see the always addictive ramblings of lanky-as-ever John Cooper Clarke. God, the guy is ravaged but he can still thrill a crowd. To a packed Musician Stage tent he amused and entertained the crowd with wit and bile, ultimately over-running (though no-one seemed inclined to stop him) enough to clash with the decibels of Swedish harmonised indie poppers The Concretes from the main stage. This should have stopped the JCC show in its tracks, but instead he turned it to his advantage, leading the audience in an inpromptu rendition of the Velvet Underground song 'Who Loves the Sun'. Whoops and cheers duly ensued as he was (happily) persuaded to finish as planned with old favourite 'Beasley Street' and its revisitation in homage to the locality's Lawrence Llewellyn-Bowen revamp, Beasley Boulevard. Cracking stuff.
After that it was off to the Rising Stage to see the utterly grin-fused chaos of Modified Toy Orchestra. After having caught a track of theirs on Radio 3 last year, I was determined to see the Brum man and his gang at work. Woah! It was a total blast! Opening with the classic cow track 'A grand occasion' it continued to enchant and delight the audience, including one small girl perched on her dad's shoulders who just looked bewildered by the sight of these toys being so manipulated. "The Fisher-Price Kraftwerk" as Cloud said. Urged to 'get your pink tie out' by a section of the crowd, frontman Brian Duffy looked suitably confused, but the band cut a dash with their suits and grins and quirky sounds. Brilliant fun. And they ended on a Kraftwork cover (My Pocket Calculator).
After that we took in a wander, absorbing some necessarily outside the packed tent background from Richmond Fontaine before setting ourselves up for The Divine Comedy on the main stage. Cloud nipped off briefly to go inside for some seriously great DJ'ing (apparantly) from DJ Yoda: if it hadn't been the Divine Mr Hannon, I'd have gone to experience some proper scratching and DJ record playing myself: hey, anyone who can drop in Dylan to some DJ-ing has to be worthwhile. However, I couldn't tear myself away from lounge-posing charmer of Ireland.
I'll give The Divine Comedy their own post I think, befitting the end to a glorious day.