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CAMBRIDGE ROCK FESTIVAL
Sunday 20 July 2008
An unexpected closure of the A1 meant arriving late and unfortunately
missing opening act, Taildragger. A shame, because I recall they were
highly entertaining last year.
Next up are local band Bijoumiyo - a soul / funk / rock hybrid
outfit whose live performance, according to main man Myles Sanko, is fed
by the audience and ad-libbed from start to finish, with nothing scripted
in advance. The result is bordering on freeform jazz at times, but
expertly performed and enjoyable from start to finish.
The winners of the CRF's 2007 best new band accolade follow in the form of
Touchstone and their brand of female fronted melodic rock. Kim
Seviour certainly has the vocals to suit the style, which at times veers
fully in a progressive direction. The keyboards of Rob Cottingham and
guitar of Adam Hodgson meld together well, and they obviously have a good
musical rapport going. A little more movement and interaction on stage
wouldn't go amiss, but I'm sure that will develop over time.
Photo by Ian Pollard
Iain Jennings and Olivia Sparnenn get their first outing of the day next,
with Breathing Space - the band Iain left Mostly Autumn for. Latest
album 'Coming Up For Air' is featured heavily, of course and the style is
conceptual prog at its best, with multi-layered instrumental sections
featuring double keyboards, guitar and sax. Over the top of this are
Olivia's stunning and perfect vocals. My first time seeing the band, and I
was not disappointed with the performance at all.
Chaos and hilarity now consumes Wood Green animal shelter, in the form of
somersaults, spoons, flowers and a step ladder (amongst other things).
ring leader of this assault on sanity is the irrepressible John Otway.
Opening with his first hit, 'Really Fee' - which he stretches out as long
as possible, the set also includes his second hit 'Bunsen Burner' and
passable (though not quite true to the original) cover versions of 'House
of the Rising Sun' and 'You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet'. Murray Torkildsen
(guitar) and Barry Upton (guitar / keyboards) contribute greatly to the
comedy aspect of the performance too. If you have not yet witnessed the
truly awesome spectacle of a John Otway show, book one now!
Photo by Ian Pollard
Aptly named, The Reasoning return proceedings to a level of
normality (for a rock festival). The Welsh 6 piece outfit feature triple
vocal talents in Rachel Cohen, Dylan Thompson & Gareth Owens, all taking
lead vocals for different sections of songs as well as combining for
sublime harmonies at other times. With the twin guitar sound of Dylan and
Owain Roberts, the end result is a powerful melodic rock sound and lively
stage presence, showcasing the writing talents of bass player Matthew
Cohen. With a guest appearance by Steve Rothery, and a new album due out
in October, this band are sure to move in the right direction.
Jim Leverton and Geoffrey Richardson from Caravan take to the stage
next. Unfortunately the combination of acoustic guitar and violin made
little impression on me, and aside from a rendition of 'Itchycoo Park'
there was not much more I can remember from the set.
The band that most people present had been waiting for finally arrived.
Mostly Autumn, temporarily reunited with original members Iain
Jennings and Liam Davison, are performing their last show before lead
singer Heather Findlay takes time off to sample the joys of motherhood.
Technical problems unfortunately limit the set to just seven songs, highlights
of which are the ever-present 'Evergreen' and 'Heroes Never Die'.
Photo by Ian Pollard
Latest additions to the band Henry Bourne (drums) and Ann-Marie Helder (flute,
keyboards, vocals) are proving to be excellent choices and have gelled instantly
into the MA setup (and into the hearts of the fan base it would seem). A few
months break from live shows should give the whole band a well needed rest, and
I look forward to them returning in December with renewed vigour.
Last act of the day for me (pending a 3 hour return journey) is Andy
Fairweather Low and the Lowriders. With over 4 decades in the business, and
a huge back catalogue to choose from, dating back to his Amen Corner days -
there can be few more accomplished musicians on the planet. The list of names he
has played with reads like a Who's Who of rock guitar, and the reason for this
is clearly evident as soon as he starts playing. I'm not familiar with most of
the songs played, but the guitar work is brilliant and an appreciative audience
are kept enthralled throughout.
A good end to a long day, and hopefully another successful festival for the
Review and photographs by Ian Pollard
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