Arrived early-ish in good sunlight.
Wandered and had some food (the first of three burritos) and the first of several plastic glasses of scrumpy. I then went into the new Phrased and Confused tent to watch Aoife Mannix and June Armour perform "Different Words for Snow, which fuses live voice and accordion with pre-recorded text, piano, mandolin and percussion and other samples".
I popped back for a bit more from this tent with King Creosote's Kenny Anderson and former Delgado Emma Pollock doing their own bits before coming together to do a lovely cover of Squeeze man's song about getting out of New York on the morning Greyhound bus (which damn me I know but can't find anywhere!)
Anyway. Following a bit of background from The Heroes (winners of a local band competition to open the main stage of the festival - hey, they're not The Displacements so they're okay by me!) and from Fight Like Apes (very sweary: radio6 won't have liked that!), I finally collected the first of my companions: the lovely George and Sonia. We ambled in to see The Errors - darn fine eclectic noise makers who are of course from Glasgow and signed to the Mogwai label. NeilCloud joined us towards the end and we had a bit more background from Royworld as we guided them round the site - small but perfectly formed! We then went in to see Noah and the Whale who were rather enjoyable (if diminished somewhat for Sonia by missing former collaborator Laura Marling). It was a packed tent for them so no chance to skip out to see what Emma Pollock is now up to following the demise of the Delgados.
Still, after a passing listen to King Creosote, we headed indoors for the consensual highlight of the festival: Nina Nastasia. Nastasia is divine, in both beauty and voice. We planted ourselves firmly in the front row, delighting in her presence. She performed a diverse range of her songs from across her various albums and though stripped down they were as beautiful as ever. Of course, when she struck up "Settling Song" - one of the highlights of any year - there was a ripple of pleasure through us on the front row. And as ever I cried to it. She was very lovely and when she caught people photographing her she asked us to not photograph her "ugly knees" (they're really not ugly!). In the same exchange as we cheered her I yelled out "we love you!" and she blushingly replied "awh, thanks" which made us all feel very giddy.
After that it was out for a fine Italian meal - with the immortal line "Would you like cheese on your.... cheese?" - before heading back to the festival for one last looksie on day one: given that Powerplant had no power (too little cable: doh!) we gave up on that and staggered the George past Supergrass (we got him to restrain from taking up arms against them!) and onto a train home.
Well, it was eventually a train home.
Friday had been sunny. Saturday was not. Boo-hiss. Still, at least G liked his new t-shirt, and following tea and cakes we headed over to Leicester. We caught Dan Arborise whose guitar-playing was impressive but whose songs were overall less so (IMHO)
I wandered off to see Kyte - a very pleasant bit of post-rock noise and harmony - whilst G and S hung out at the Leciester Ska and Jazz Ensemble.
After a bit of Dengue Fever - who were mostly pop but with a Cambodian girl singer - we headed in for a bit of Zombie Zombie who did a fine bit of electronica. But what we were really waiting for was Camera Obscura. On the big stage. And with their own instruments this time! We planted ourselves close to the front - missing the muddiest patches that had formed from the now (thankfully) ceased rain - and wallowed in the loveliness that is Camera Obscura. I was especially pleased to be placed in front of gorgeous keyboardist Carey Lander.
Traceyann was in quite a smiley mood - she is notoriously glum and serious - and their harmonies were as lovely as ever. Hurrah! There are some more nice pics here.
After that we ducked inside for Rachel Unthank and the Winderset whom I had heard a little by and much of and was really looking forward to seeing them. They did not disappoint with a fine audience winning set of their delicious Tyneside folk narratives. We sang along and delighted in their fine musicianship -- including some (cardigan required) clog dancing!
There's a nice bit of video of Rachel Unthank and the Winterset in the 6Music Hub tent at the BBC site.
Pretty soon after they finished, Henry Rollins burst on stage. He was funny, he was satirical, he was polemic and political and incisive and utterly exhausting. George and Sonia nipped out to see Dawn Landes in the Rising Stage tent and were suitably impressed - as it seemed was Romeo from the Magic Numbers who was in the audience watching, just hanging out. Cloud and I stayed with Rollins a little longer before nipping in for the closing part of Landes set and then heading back to Rollins.
Yep, as expected Rollins still had not stopped for breath. He took especial 'pleasure' in excoriating the UK for bumping the USA off top spot for one of the big bad issues polls -- we waste the most food per year: good work UK. So, a good 80 minutes since he had started up - and keep in mind he normally does 180 minute sets - Rollins FINALLY took breath and left the stage. It was an awesome performance: thought-provoking and smart and laced with barbed wit. Someone who travels the globe and then tells us about it, not just for the hell of it but to change us.
After that there was only one place to go; past sparkly-dressed Roisin Murphy and straight to the Musician Stage to watch El Mahico headlining there two years after their brilliant afternoon performance at Summer Sundae. Their brand of ska-Cuban-hip-hop dance is infectious and thoroughly charmed the full tent. The only shame was that with such a low stage in the tent, and the front guy and girls all being quite short it was hard to see them (there are some good pics here)! George and Sonia enjoyed their liveliness and I got high-fived by a nearby dancing couple who grooved through most of the set. It was a thrilling end to the long day of music.
First up, the sad news. With lead singer Blaine Harrison in hospital there was going to be no chance to sing in the festival's second bout of sunshine to the Mystery Jets' cracking cheesy pop "Two Doors Down". Boo. Here's hoping you recover well Blaine.
Still, there was much more to enjoy today even if we would only have the G & S company for short time. We passed by some Rook and the Ravens, were baffled but amused by the Oulipo Poets and caught most of the Tom Waits-esque Agnostic Mountain Gospel Choir who got the chance to play the main stage in the absence of the Mystery Jets. We parted company with our long distance visitors and headed indoors for Jeffrey Lewis (he of the 12 Crass Songs covers album). Jarvis likes him which just confirms that he's brilliant AND he did an amazing song "The History of the Fall". His set included the visually accompanied "Creeping Brain" - videos give some sense of the live performance but at Sundae he showed the visuals on a big screen projection which was less lo-fi but very effective. And he also did the breathtaking "The Last Time I Did Acid I Went Insane", which went down very well.
We had a quick stroll after this and then took in Efterklang - a very odd band from Denmark who were dressed in white Morris Dancer type outfits.
There's some nice pictures by andycook over at Flickr which truly show what the band looked like (including the hot girl playing keyboards and dancing on stage). Their ethereal sounds and noise were a joy to experience.
Following that was going to be hard so we headed to the security of a Mitch Benn musicalcomedy performance which though broadly the same show as last time was still bloody hilarious and came with added Doctor Who comments ("I've been to conventions now: I used to think I was a Doctor Who fan - I now realise I am NOT a Doctor Who fan. They live in houses with a full-size replica Dalek that they made themselves". I suspect that Benn has or is in the throws of reading Wiffle Lever to Full!)
After that we took in some background of Reverend and the Makers. But then we then faced a hard choice: do we follow our heads and recommendations and listen to Joan as Police Woman, or our feet and hearts at the end of Summer Sundae and go for Special Ed and the Short Bus? We went for the latter and had a rip-roaring end to our festival in true hoe-down style with bango, fiddle, bass and guitar and some heavily innuendo laden tunes. Old and young danced happily with each other and a good time was had by all.
Sorry, Simian Mobile Disco - even though your light show looked great you still hit us as merely the Chemical Brothers de nos jours.
A good festival? You bet. We've already booked our tickets for 2009.
And, oh yeah. Lethally the Folk Devils tent was back this year. Thanks to that and the CD sales desk in the De Montford Hall itself we came back with 14 CDs...