Just witnessed your
best live gig?.. send us a review!
Rural Life Centre, Tilford, Nr.Farnham, Surrey
1-2 September 2012
What a delightful festival. What a delightful setting. The Rural
Life Centre is a ten acre site comprising a series of old farm
buildings, sheds, a 2ft gauge railway, corrugated iron school room,
forge & foundry, chapel, old fashioned laundry and a pavilion rescued
from nearby Godalming Cricket Club set amongst woods and clearings.
a narrow and twisty country road (made busier by a local garden centre)
in a quiet part of the Surrey countryside, there are few neighbours to
into the largest of the clearings was a giant inflatable stage
surrounded by the usual food stalls and purveyors of wet weather gear.
officially started on Friday 31st August, but only for those camping,
with three bands playing the Old Kiln Stage, the smallest of the three
open air stages late in the evening (a fourth stage inside a hut housed
the acoustic sessions), but all the stages housed acts from Saturday
morning when the festival proper really started.
The Old Kiln Stage on the Saturday was sponsored by local radio station
Eagle and first up were Dorking based band Ambersand, who
although listed as a punk band sounded more like the sort of stuff you'd
expect playing in the background of that American teen drama The O.C.
All rather bland I'm afraid.
could be said of the dreampop band Paper Boats that followed and
the third band, The Toniks. Each of their sets sounded as if they
just had the one tune and had just changed the lyrics and the odd note
here and there.
Next on the
Old Kiln stage were Unsung Lilly, a band that I had seen play the
Good Times Guide stage at Guilfest. The more intimate surroundings of
this stage, with a barn and farm buildings opposite and trees all
around, suited their style far better than a typical festival stage
(such as at Guilfest, where they seemed rather lost) though I thought
that their cover of Roxanne was poorly executed.
from the Guilfest roster, Weyward Chile, came next. In my
Guilfest review I had said they were more style than substance and their
set at Weyfest did nothing to make me change my mind. If frontman Karl
Whiteman spent a little less time trying so hard to look rock'n'roll on
stage and concentrated more on his delivery of the songs maybe I could
take this band more seriously, but the vocals are muffled and sometimes
mis-timed as he struggles to "look good".
them were Woking based The Stanley Blacks who weren't at all bad
for an indie band. By that I mean each song actually sounded slightly
different from the previous one, which was more than could be said for
final act of the day Cities of Glass. They weren't bad... indeed,
they were actually very tight, but there was nothing on offer from them
that was different from any other indie band. Had I been blindfolded I
wouldn't have been able to tell them apart from any of the other
hundreds of indie bands I've had to endure listening to this year.
Green Stage, with the cricket pavilion at the top end and the railway
winding around the back and side of the stage, started off with KFC,
a band who try to be funny but end up taking themselves far too
seriously. Certainly their brand of shouting-whilst-jumping-up-and-down
is to music what Kentucky Fried Chicken is to haute cuisine and the less
said about them the better.
replaced on stage by The Flying Tigers playing mainly rhythm and
blues covers to a good standard which got the sparse crowd tapping their
feet and dancing (the set kicked off with Hoochie Coochie Man and
followed on with Dr Feelgood's One More Shot). This is exactly the kind
of band that should be on early at a festival.
some of the dire indie bands, decent covers bands playing songs everyone
knows and can dance along to is, in my opinion, by far the best way to
warm up a slightly sleepy festival crowd for later delights.
them were Steve Roux & The Brass Knuckle Blues Band (also seen at
Cambridge Rock Festival) who continued the feel good vibe started by the
Tigers and continued with former Mungo Jerry guitarist Paul King and his
band The Skeleton Crew who played many covers including Maggie's
Farm, Knockin' on Heaven's Door, Sweet Home Chicago and Gimme Some Lovin'.
followed a set by Kangaroo Moon who fuse rock with folk, world
music and dance. I can't say I was altogether convinced by what I heard;
it just felt as if they weren't sure what style suited them best so
played a bit of everything.
What can I say about the next band on stage other than I, and all the
others who witnessed the performance, were blown away. The Mini Band
are a group of 8 to 12 year olds (yes, you read that right) and while I
know Mozart was writing symphonies whilst still in nappies, the level of
musicianship displayed by those so young was still truly amazing. I
wouldn't at all be surprised to see a few of them back at Weyfest in 10
or so years time fronting their own bands, and, who knows, maybe even
headlining one of the stages.
There then followed an hour break, once The Mini Band had finished, in
order to ready the stage for the final two acts of the evening on The
Village Green stage.
Like a few
other modern prog bands Karnataka have seen many a line up
change, and from the original seeds sown in 1996, only Ian Jones
remains, though guitarist Enrico Pinna has been an ever-present since
the 2006 incarnation that now includes Colin Mold on guitars, violin and
keyboards, Matt McDonough on drums, Cagri Tozluoglu on keyboards and the
vocal talents of Hayley Griffiths.
I have to
admit right now that when I first purchased The Gathering Light from
their web site I promptly fell asleep when listening to it for the first
time, and listening to this live set I could feel myself doing the same
weeks ago I purchased the rest of the Karnataka catalogue in an attempt
to properly get to know their music before this festival, constantly
listening to them in the car when driving to other gigs, when working in
my studio or when editing photos.
Karnataka's prog folk is not for me, however delightfully Hayley may
sing. With no set list taped to the stage floor, and no songs being
announced I have no idea what they played, other than to say it made me
want to leave. I have no doubt that their many fans attending absolutely
loved their set, but I also know from overhearing conversations
elsewhere that others were driven away to other stages. Very much a
on this second stage were Curved Air, who back in the day were
known for their ultra-theatrical performances when playing live... some
even described them as decadence on stage. Of course that was some 40 or
so years ago so things were bound to have changed.
photographer's hat on, I have no time for bands who insist in being
bathed in either green or red lights only, and while some of this may be
down to Sonja Kristina not wanting to be photographed now that she is no
longer a sylph-like figure, it makes for an altogether unappealing
visual experience. While her voice remains strong, it all just sounded
very dated, especially their renditions of It Happened Today, the first
track off their first album, early in the set and, later on, Back Street
The Beekeepers Stage (or main stage to you and I) started off with
Tommy Justice who has fronted various Hertfordshire based bands all
of whom claim at some point or other of winning a "Battle of the Bands"
quite a few such competitions and it's usually won by the act who can
bring the most mates down. The sparse crowd in front of the main stage
were not there for Tommy, but just making sure of having a decent place
to plant their garden chairs for later, and the muted reception his set
received (apart from 3 girls right at the front screaming his name) was
In spite of
penning a song entitled Every Inch A Rock Star, there was very little
star quality on display. Oh and by the way, whilst Whiskey in the Jar
(which he played mid set) may have been made famous by Thin Lizzy, they
didn't actually write it, as you proclaimed; it's a traditional Irish
Jam, on the other hand, have honed their craft over 20 years or so.
The mix of Ben Bennion's writing skills and the general musicianship of
the band as a whole was on another level completely to what had just
was a mix of Stones, The Band and Little Feat and the ever increasing
crowd taking their places in front of the main stage showed their full
appreciation of the musicianship on offer.
was their cover of The Lovin' Spoonfull's Summer in the City though they
also did a passable cover of House of the Rising Sun too. From their own
songs, Thirty Years Too Late, the sort of song you could imagine having
been penned by Neil Young, deserves a mention.
Then it was
time for a bit of much appreciated reggae courtesy of Bristol based
The Rhythmites before perennial Weyfest favourite Leatherat
entertained the crowd with some hi-octane rocking folk.
stage was Jackie Lynton, former Savoy Brown Blues Band frontman
and Rick Parfitt's songwriting collaborator on some of Status Quo's hits
who played some ballsy blues rock interspersed by the usual blue jokes
one can expect from him. Highlights for me were Five Card Hand and I
Think I'm Better Off With The Blues.
Barre's New Day then took to the main stage, the (former?) Jethro
Tull guitarist being joined by John Mitchell of It Bites on vocals and
Tull's Jon Noyce on bass.
set I recognised Minstrel in the Gallery, New Day Yesterday, Teacher and
Song for Jeffrey, but was it just me or was there no Aqualung?
while I have enjoyed It Bites gigs in the past, I didn't think John
Mitchell's vocals quite suited these songs... it needed a stronger,
the line up for this stage had included Roy Wood, but quite some weeks
ago he pulled out and was replaced by The Hoosiers; not exactly a
like-for-like replacement and listening to them play reminded me why I
hadn't much liked them first time around.
included all their hits (yes both of them!), Worried About Ray and
Goodbye Mr A, along with less successful singles Cops and Robbers and
Bumpy Ride. A largely forgettable set by a largely forgettable band.
act for the main stage on Saturday was 10cc. The last time I had
seen them live (in 1975) the line up had still included Messrs Godley
and Creme so I was intrigued to see what this particular incarnation of
the band would be like.
I was not
disappointed. Hit after hit was played flawlessly by Graham Gouldman on
bass, Rick Fenn on guitar, Mick Wilson on any and every instrument he
could lay his hands and Paul Burgess on drums; Wall Street Shuffle, The
Things We Do For Love, Good Morning Judge, I'm Mandy Fly Me, Life is a
Minestrone, Art for Art's Sake, Donna, I'm Not in Love, Dreadlock
Holiday and to finish things off, Rubber Bullets, which turned into an
extended jam session. A superb end to the evening.
Nathan writes: Given that only Graham Gouldman is left from the
original quartet of 10cc songwriters, and that they seem to be on the
'scampi in a basket' touring oldies circuit, I was rather sceptical
about them beforehand, joking that they should be named 2.5 cc.
fully justified their Saturday night headline billing with a set which,
right from the openers 'Wall Street Shuffle' and 'The Things We Do for
Love', was a reminder that in the 70's they made pop singles that
lyrically and musically were so much smarter than those of their peers.
an easy charm that won over the audience while Mick Wilson, who takes
the vocals on many of the songs Eric Stewart originally sung on, has a
superb crystal clear voice. Guitarist Rick Fenn, who produced some tasty
slide guitar on Good Morning Judge, and drummer Paul Burgess have
connections going back to the seventies to add some authenticity.
It was a
Greatest Hits set with instantly recognisable songs like 'Arts for Arts
Sake' and 'Life is A Minestrone' though they dipped into a few album
cuts, including 'Feel the Benefit' where the band's progressive
tendencies were given greater reign.
After a run
of hits in Donna, The Dean and I with its catchy 'humdrum days' refrain
and the incomparable 'I'm Not In Love', by the time of a slightly
different sounding 'Dreadlock Holiday' everyone was singing along, and
an encore of 'Rubber Bullets', elongated with a sax solo from Mike
Stevens, had the crowd boogieing. A thoroughly enjoyable pleasant
surprise of a headliner.
Singleton continues: Thanks to
the car boot sale at Nuthill Farm on the A3 I arrived later than planned
on the Sunday so missed the first couple of bands on the Old Kiln Stage,
so the first set I saw there was Stevie "One Bloke, One Mandolin"
Simpson who I have seen many a time at the Bulldog Bash and other
festivals in the past. He has a fine voice, knows how to play a mandolin
and obviously has a large stash of Hank Williams, Steve Earle and Waylon
Jennings LPs at home.
Stevie were local Farnham band Solid Juice, who according to the
programme notes are "elements of Steely Dan mixed with the atmosphere of
Pink Floyd". Er, no! Raunchy rock'n'soul maybe (though nowhere near as
accomplished as Saint Jude, for example), though closer to good old
honest pub rock to be fair.
Some of the
songs were their own but these were interspersed with covers, such as
Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel's Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me). Some
former members of the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band, Bob Kerr's Whoopee Band
and The Temperance Seven, in the form of Bill Posters Will Be Band, then
entertained an ever increasing crowd.
jokes, dodgy props and absolutely wondrous entertainment. Every festival
should book them for the fun they bring.
local band, Grizzly & The Grasshoppers then followed with some
bluesy rock and slide guitar... not at all bad and a very pleasant
change from the mostly indie bands of the previous day.
What to make
of Julia K, though? Some hard hitting rock, some ballads, all
wrapped up in a goth look. I don't know enough about her work to comment
more, but I think one of the songs on the set list was Strong and I
think I also recognised a cover of Monster.
band I saw on this stage (yes I know Serious Blues were the final act,
but with clashing start times on other stages and "first 3 songs no
flash" rules to adhere to in the photo pit, I had to give them a miss,
sadly) were Irish folk duo TÝr Na Nog. They mix gentle Irish folk
with heavier rock sounds; a blur of acoustic guitar, fiddle and close
harmonies, interspersed with stories about how the songs came about.
The Village Green Stage had started with pub skiffle group The
Charley Farley Sunday Four who played a mix of popular pop and
country songs followed by Weyfest regulars The True Deceivers
with their brand of folk rock and Americana.
rock was to be had in the form of Little Johnny England before
the crowd were entertained by the amazing guitar playing of Rodney
Branigan, a man who fuses the individual talents of Rodrigo Y
Gabriela with a Paul Simon type style. Yes, this is the man who, at
times, uses the guitar as a beat box while strumming or more amazingly,
plays two guitar at once!
How do you
top such a performance? Well with someone like Mike Sanchez, of
course! Mike who? The man who was part of Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings, who
has played with Andy Fairweather-Low...the man who sweats gallons into
his suits as he plays boogie woogie from his piano, that's who! If you
like Jools Holland but have never heard of Mike, I strongly suggest you
find his web site and get along to one of his gigs. Superlative stuff.
If only his
had been the last set of the day on this stage, things would have ended
on a high. However next on stage were After The Fire, a band who
in their early days in the 70s had started off as a prog rock outfit but
who over the years had become more electro-pop.
that they only had one UK hit (One Rule for You which only barely made
it to number 40 in 1979) should have been enough of an indication to the
Weyfest organisers that the penultimate slot on this stage was perhaps a
few places too high up the bill.
their own website they blame Top of The Pops for choosing to play Gary
Numan's Are Friends Electric instead of One Rule For You for their lack
of commercial success. Let's be honest for a minute; if they had really
been that good they would have had greater commercial success
irrespective of this perceived slght. Talent will out, as Freddie
Mercury once said.
got really bad. In spite of there being a 45 minute gap between the end
of After The Fire's set and the next act, technical difficulties meant
Go West, the final act, took to the stage almost half an hour
late. I really couldn't understand how a simple drum kit, a few
amplifiers and some microphones (essentially a basic back room of a pub
backline), could take so long to set up.
this delay meant I only stayed long enough to get a few photos before
heading for the main stage for Asia (mindful of the "first three songs,
no flash" rule in the photo pit) so I can only imagine that they played
a selection of their better known songs along with some of the newer
songs from their triple EP 3D. Of course, as I left I was unaware that
Asia too were having technical difficulties of their own.
As I made my way from the car park through the campsite to the main gate
I could hear Vibracore on the (main) Beekeepers Stage... what a
way to wake up the crowd on a Sunday morning!
hitting, sleazy, psychadelic blues rock... a sort of mix of Red Hot
Chilli Peppers and Skunk Anansie meets the bastard child of Muddy
Waters. A band well worth seeking out again and deserving a place higher
up the bill. They were followed by The Great Malarkey a
seven-piece gypsy punk band from North London. It's quite a mix of a
set; She Said is a folk punk mariachi style song, while Badman is a
Clash style punk reggae tune.
Also in the
set are past single Merry Profits and the ode to the hellhole that is
Dalston Job Centre, Moneybags. I found them reasonably entertaining, but
the drummer screaming "I can't hear you" (in effect requesting applause
from the audience) did little to endear them to some. A little more
humility needed, perhaps?
Third set of the day on the main stage came from Farnborough based indie
band Grand Mort. Utterly, utterly dreadful stuff. Tedious
mediocrity of the lowest form. Possibly the worst of all the indie bands
we had to endure during the course of the weekend, and many of them were
was a case of just the one tune played over and over again at different
speeds and with different lyrics. To make things worse, once the
guitarist had told us the name of the song and a little back story, the
bassist decided to repeat the information.
guys, make your mind up as to who is the front man and let him, and only
him, do the talking. Mind you, had they not repeated themselves, the
time saved could have meant an extra song in the set, so, small mercies
and all that!
From here on
in things just got better and better on the main stage, in musical if
not always technical terms (more of which later). Jackie McAuley,
ex-Them and Belfast Gypsies guitarist, put on an acoustic set that was
very well received by the growing crowd and included Rockin' Shoes,
Country Joe and Turning Green.
stage was former Oi Va Voi, Jethro Tull and Trans Siberian Orchestra
violinist Anna Phoebe. I admit I knew very little about her
before seeing her at Weyfest other than her partner is BBC journalist
and Prog Rock Awards presenter Gavin Esler and that she was in TSO. Her
combination of rock with classical, gypsy, Celtic folk, Middle Eastern
and Indian music creates a truly wondrous sound and her stage presence
is equally electrifying.
what you're going to get with Snakecharmer; a "battle of the
axes" from Micky Moody and Laurie Wisefield, thumping bass lines from
Neil Murray and screaming vocals from Chris Ousey.
going to get songs like Here I Go Again and Fool For Your Loving amongst
others, and while the Micky Moody slide solo is now getting a tad passÚ,
it was good to hear new song Accident Prone. Maybe I'm wrong, but it
didn't look like Harry James on drums this time.
Andy Nathan writes: The name Snakecharmer may have been
unfamiliar to many of the Weyfest punters, but they would soon have
realised the pedigree of the band from the moment they opened with
'Walking in the Shadow of the Blues' - stalwarts of the original
Whitesnake, Micky Moody and Neil Murray, recreating those days with a
top class band of seasoned musicians.
'Ready And Willing' saw Micky and ex Wishbone Ash and We Will Rock You
house band guitarist Laurie Wisefield trading lead lines in improvised,
almost jazzy fashion, came a new song 'Accident Prone', complete with a
twin lead guitar solo, which augurs well for the future.
Micky, who I
have rarely seen smiling so much, then played a trademark slide guitar
solo before cheekily ending it with a Coverdale-esque 'ere's a song for
you' to lead into 'Slow an 'Easy'. Ex-Virginia Wolf and Heartland singer
Chris Ousey, while no Cov clone, has the vocal range and depth to do the
songs justice though on this occasion his attempts at crowd
participation rather fell on stony ground.
But after 'Aint
No Love In The Heart of the City', with a keyboard solo from Adam
Wakeman who was rather out of sight at the rear of the stage, the crowd
were ready to party on to two of the best loved classics in rock, 'Here
I Go Again' and 'Fool For Your Lovin', the latter with a great guitar
break as Laurie's solo segued into Micky's seamlessly.
grumble was that with only 50 minutes to play with they should have cut
the solos to a minimum and squeezed in an extra song or two, but with
musicians and a back catalogue of this pedigree, Snakecharmer threatened
to steal the show.
Singleton continues: Steve
Hackett was much of the heart and soul of early Genesis, but his
career since, both as a solo artist and collaborator in other projects,
has blossomed unabated. With Amanda Lehmann on guitar by his side on
stage also providing backing vocals we were treated to a mix of the old
and the new.
year's Beyond The Shrouded Horizon album we got Loch Lomond, The Phoenix
Flown and Waking to Life. From the Genesis era he played, among others,
Fly on A Windshield, Los Endos and the gloriously symphonic Firth of
Of course a
Hackett gig wouldn't be a Hackett gig without Every Day and the whole
set just oozed the quality one expects from a man who has been at the
top of rock tree for over forty years.
for the Sunday were the magnificent Asia; John Wetton (ex King
Crimson, Roxy Music, Uriah Heap and Wishbone Ash) on bass and vocals,
Steve Howe (ex Yes) on guitar, Geoff Downes (ex Yes and The Buggles) on
keyboards and of course Carl Palmer (ex Atomic Rooster and ELP) on
this was going to be my first live glimpse of the real Asia (I'd seen
Asia without John Wetton in the early 90s) so I was as disappointed as
many of the audience with the technical difficulties that beset them. It
seems that while the sound pumping out to the audience was fine, nothing
was coming from the monitors and until it was all sorted, they weren't
10.30pm curfew to be strictly adhered to, this meant a far shorter set
than originally planed. I don't know what songs were culled from the
original set list (though I suspect they were the newer songs) but what
we got was a condensed, concentrated, no additives 40 minute "greatest
of the greatest" hits which included Only Time Will Tell, Wildest
Dreams, Time Again, Holy War, The Smile Has Left Your Eyes, Heat of the
Moment and Sole Survivor. Short but very sweet.
Nathan writes: Sadly technical problems meant that Asia's set had to
be almost cut in half to 45 minutes before the curfew kicked in. I am
not sure what had to be cut, but was disappointed not to hear the new
XXX songs live for the first time as in the time available they stuck to
a set of classics, though both band and audience seemed rather tentative
during opener 'Only Time Will Tell', as if expecting the gremlins to
kick in again.
titled debut naturally featured heavily, with some superlative
musicianship - notably Carl Palmer's ever committed drumming - allied to
melodic songwriting on 'Wildest Dreams' and 'Time Again'.
whose hair seems to have grown longer again, was on fine vocal form and
also joked that he hoped the vicar of the local church where he had once
been married was not present.
Smile Has Left Your Eyes', he began almost acapella with only Geoff
Downes' keyboards for company before the band kicked in, and such was
the heart and soul John poured in that he adopted the classic 'AOR pose'
of head tilted back and fists clenched in front of his chest.
incomparable 'Sole Survivor', there was just time for 'Open Your Eyes'
which reached a memorable musical climax as Carl's powerful drumming
matched Geoff's keyboards in an ever faster duel, before Steve Howe
added an equally rapid flurry of notes on top.
was inevitable 'The Heat of the Moment' and at last a song that people
could sing along to, although in a slightly strange arrangement where
the song seemed to have finished before the crowd participation started
up, and I missed Geoff not coming up front with his keytar as in the
disappointing for those who had come specifically for them to see such a
short set, yet perhaps it did Asia a favour as they could still
demonstrate brilliant musicianship but did not have the time to descend
into the self indulgence they are liable to. It certainly rekindled my
love for their music and left me already anticipating the winter tour.
Singleton continues: My first visit to Weyfest has left a good impression. The good music far
outweighed the bad and the soulless (please... not so many indie bands
next time) and the festival is extremely well run and very friendly.
from some of the campers that a few more loos dotted around the campsite
would be nice (for some the nearest one was at the other end of the
site, so a bit of trek in the middle of the night) but overall it's a
perfect little festival in a perfect setting.
Most of the
food stalls got reasonable to good reviews (and the permanent cafe is
excellent, too) and the place never felt overcrowded yet all the stages
were well attended for the main acts. Definitely one for your diaries.
Musical highlights for me were Asia (in spite of the cut-down set),
Steve Hackett, Anna Phoebe, Vibracore, Mike Sanchez, 10cc, Martin Barre,
The Rhythmites and let's not forget The Mini Band! The low points were
all the indie bands, especially Grand Mort, who I hope never to have to
listen to again.
photos by Bob Singleton
Additional reporting: Andy Nathan
use the direction keys on your keyboard to navigate easily through the
photo gallery or - in Windows - flick from one photo to the other using
the mouse wheel.
|Print this page in printer-friendly format