Sunday was unsurprisingly a more chilled down day. There was plenty of leftfield stuff on offer but somehow we managed to miss most of the good stuff that Mike had aimed for (note to self: check with the music doyen before attending to get good music tips!).
Still, that might give the impression that Sunday was a let down: no, no, no.
The tent was way too packed for anything like an experience of The Strange Death of Liberal England, so we instead pootled off for some trad jazz from Sonny Monks' Jazz Band. Always nice when the sun comes out (as it, against expectations, did) to have some sunny jazz. We then took in some of Cherry Ghost, especially enjoying a recognition for "People Help the People". We then wandered for some energetic ska from El Pussycat before sneaking out to enjoy a side-stage view and delight in the surreal Milton Jones (aka the new and slightly less deadpan Steven Wright). Playing in much the same slot as Mitch Benn did last year, it was again a delightful interlude of fun, with the usual display of humour on chocolate shoes, his favourite film ("released under the name of 'and'..."), and an excess of various grandfathers. Momentarily he got undercut by the audience when he asked for 'teachers', got a shout-up and asked "what do you teach?": the reply came "children"... We even had the "pie to three dismal places" routine, with a special mention for Nottingham...
We then struttered back to the Musician Stage for a packed out performance by Seasick Steve, with a serious amount of awesome playing and truth-telling lyrics of a hard-bitten life (didn't stop one wag at the merchandise tent later muttering 'he can't be that broke now if he sells t-shirts at £15 each...'). Noshing fish and chips as we had so loved doing last year whilst listening/half watching The Pigeon Detectives, the sun was by now seriously out. With a lively front-man (somehow not half as annoyingly strutty as The Displacements lad had been, despite very similar moves) they kept many of young crowd especially very cheery and took time to enjoy the surreal signs displayed to them. "Get Your Owl Out" - which I had seen walked past me earlier on - caused particular amusement as he got the banner up on stage and got the whole crowd to shout the phrase out before skimming the sign back to its owner. I'd have loved to have seen the thrill of the sign-maker! (Later, we had the fun of seeing them doing their signing session at the 6Music Hub Tent. Cue one girl, posed with the band yelling to an oblivious mobile phone camera carrying parent "FATHER!" He did turn round and take the shot!)
At 6.30 it was a bit of a tear as to where to head next. We stood in the tent for Alberta Cross but it took less than 8 seconds before we were bored witless by their serious country rock and beards: meh. Forgoing Gruff Rhys (sorry Rob and Mike), we instead hurtled up to the Musician stage again where we were treated to a very fine and thoroughly grin creating gig from Tom Russell. An utterly anti-Nashville country, cowboy and folk singer with a wry humour, he provided a fabulous time with great musical assistance from Michael Martin. He sparkled between songs with the banter of an experienced professional performer (reciting tales of being asked questions on plane journeys due to his passport saying musician he reported how he is often asked "are you someone I should know?", to which he always replies 'no' - since he doesn't really want the love of sharp suited lawyers and other assorted briefcase-carrying businessmen. The next question, he reported, was usually "what kind of music do you do?": "I've now decided that the best answer to give is Christian Hip-Hop...")
Anyway, with vocal accompaniment from audience member Julie Christensen (a former Leonard Cohen backup singer), we got treated to a fabulous and rambunctious set, including a fabulous track called "Who's Gonna Build Your Wall?" which totally encapsulates everything Cloud has been saying for an age about the stupidity of the US chucking out illegal Mexican immigrants...
It was such an excellent show that I felt compelled to dash out for more cash - despite knowing it would incur charges - just to be able to get some CDs. Definitely fab fun!
After that, we came out to "Rescue" by Echo and the Bunnymen and retrieving some lost youth sentiments, we thoroughly enjoyed some divine old memories including an especially vigorous "The Cutter", a fizzy and quirky paced "Never Stop" (the song I most loved to blast to kingdom come from my bedroom), and drawling delights such as "The Killing Moon", "Seven Seas" and "Bring on the Dancing Horses". They finished with a sublime reworking of "Nothing Lasts Forever" which was blurred into "Walk on the Wild Side" and back out again (with a nice aside to "Leicester City is the place where you say 'hey babe, take a walk on the wild side...'"). Cracking.
We missed the start, but we then quickly rushed in the hall to catch The Broken Family Band bringing their own take on alt-country lyrical subversion. Ending on everyone's favourite "It's All Over" they were a thoroughly enjoyable way to (almost) finish the festival. Even if some idiot at the front decided to moan at them. Bastard (but not said in the joyful mocking tone of Tom Russell's banter to his audience).
After that we tried to stay for the Spiritualized Acoustic Mainlines set... but...
We tried. We did. But two blokes sat facing each other across the stage, even with a string quartet and three enthused black gospel girl singers, was just not thrilling enough... Stu has raved about it from hearing the radio and maybe I was just not in the zone for it. Anyway it all became moot when my foot suddenly began hurting as if it had been twisted. Urgh. I hobbled to the hall to sit down in the bar, wincing in minor-league pain. Then a former student of mine joined us and we had a nice little catch up (we'd seen her at last year's festival too). That was quite fun but I was seriously beginning to flag. I knew that unless we forked out for a taxi to get to the car park I still had a walk down to the car. Boo. Reluctantly we ditched staying indoors for Duke Special (I'd have had to get upstairs to a seat and just couldn't face another walk) and began a much slower than expected trundle to the car park - avoiding the patented Neilie-knows-the-way route which last year took us on a grand walking detour of the entire Leicester city ring road... But the drama wasn't quite over as we had to negotiate with NCP to sort out our parking ticket: we had had it 'validated' at DMH but I had overheard when we did so that some people had had problems with the cheaper parking price this should have guaranteed. As anticipated, it took a little doing, but finally the NCP phone guy agreed to our cheaper rate and sorted us out. Phew. Now we just had to get out of Leicester... Easier said than done with our sense of direction and map-reading skills. It took us 5 extra miles of driving to get back as it had to get to Leicester. Pah.
Home, pitta bread, humous, cuppa tea. Bed.
Three days done: all good, and as last year with much MUCH more we could have done instead or as well. But even with a small festival you can't see it all. The best thing - whilst also being a slight disappointment - was there was no dedicated CD selling stall and far less flogging of CDs by artistes. Frustrating as we so enjoying picking up the artists work last year, but probably a good thing as we spent about £200 last year on music!!!
Right, now off to pack for the vacation!