Like Glastonbury but better
Let’s not start this preview by listing the 150 lives acts and DJs who are playing this three-day (and night) festival. Let’s instead talk about that other important ingredient that only the very best festivals manage to pull off: the punters they attract. Since its inception in 2015 the Lindisfarne Festival has drew a crowd that exudes bonhomie and it’s utterly infectious. Maybe it’s something to do with the location that puts everyone in the mood, as it’s surely the most picturesque of any festival you’d care to name. For the uninitiated, it doesn’t actually take place on Holy Island (aka Lindisfarne), but the lovely Beal Farm, which is on the mainland overlooking the island, approximately 50 miles north of Newcastle. It’s pure backdrop heaven in a location that has been officially recognised as an Area of Outstanding Beauty.
The bands? On headlining duties this year are Happy Mondays and Levellers. Totting up the amount of live gigs I’ve seen throughout my life I reckon Happy Mondayscould well be the band I’ve seen, and enjoyed, the most and I can’t wait to catch them again when they take up the reins on the Friday night. Along with The Stone Roses they helped fuel the 1980s Madchester scene and scored a string of hits including Step On, Kinky Afro and 24 Hour Party People (which is possibly the greatest signature song that any band has ever had). They are avid supporters of the grass roots rock music movement, Musicians Against Homelessness, and the band’s frontman Shaun Ryder commented: “We’re all really looking forward to headlining Lindisfarne Festival on 31 August. It’s going to be a great party and we love that the festival supports Musicians Against Homelessness too – a great cause.”
Levellers, meanwhile, are celebrating their 30thanniversary this year and will be sticking aural cats among aural pigeons when they rock the festival on the Saturday night. Conleth Maenpaa, founder of the festival commented: “We are absolutely thrilled to have landed The Levellers for this year’s festival. They have long been – and still are – one of the best live bands around and they fit the vibe of the event perfectly. Following the success of our recent crowdfunding campaign [the festival raised over £75k in six weeks with punters eager to snap up advance tickets for this year’s event], we decided that we would crowdsource a good percentage of our 2018 line-up from audience recommendations and The Levellers proved to be an extremely popular choice. With their big anniversary taking place this year, we know everyone is going to be in for a phenomenal show.”
But – as ever with the Lindisfarne Festival – it’s not just about the headliners, and with nine unique venues for music lovers to explore and enjoy, the diverse line-up covers just about every genre that you care to mention.
Space dictates that I can’t list all of the good bands and artists playing here but I would like to highlight a few. The Showhawk Duo, for instance. I’ve seen these young British guitarists before, and, man, they clean up when it comes to live performances. When I caught them they played a set of Ibiza dance anthems on – get this! – two acoustic guitars. It was In-Cred-Ible. Whether playing old-school trance hits or modern funky house, these classically trained guitarists have got it going on.
Another band I’ve caught on a number of occasions is the Dub Pistols. Their rampant mix of dub, reggae, ska, punk, beats and drum ‘n’ bass is built for the festival circuit and their sets – blending rhythmical bass, turntables and horns – ensure that each of their gigs always descends into a huge party.
Another band given over to high-octane performances are Ferocious Dog, a full-on six piece with a sound that encompasses folk infused with rock, reggae and Celtic vibrations. From playing Billy Bragg’s Left Field stage at Glastonbury in front of a massive crowd to sharing a stage with The Levellers on their sold-out European tour, they invariably leave audiences feeling breathless.
One of my favourite local bands of recent years is Newcastle’s Holy Moly & The Crackers who have justifiably been gaining traction right across the UK, especially with the release of last year’s Salem album. This saw the band really cutting loose and strapping rocket boosters to their infectious folk rock sound that goes down a real storm when they hit the stage.
What I particularly like about the line-up at Lindisfarne is that the programmers seem to have gone out of their way to select acts who, like the bands mentioned above, really know how to achieve lift-off when it comes to the live stuff, and Colonel Mustard & The Dijon 5 certainly fall under this bracket. Winners of the Best Live Act at the Scottish Alternative Music Awards, this shiny disco ball wearing, genre hopping, force of nature bang out a sound that has been described as Primal Scream and Happy Mondays fusing with the DNA of Frank Zappa, Bob Marley, James Brown, George Clinton and Neil Diamond. Oh yeah!
There will be plenty of local acts (including No Time For Jive, Hayley McKay and Detroit Social Club) and plenty of DJ action too (I’m particularly looking forward to a set from the estimable Rob Heron – of Rob Heron & The Tea Pad Orchestra – who specialises in dance music from the golden age of music including 50s rhythm & blues and 60s soul. This one’s gonna sizzle). There will also be an indie disco, a hip-hop takeover and Shanti Bee will be running a healing area offering complementary health therapies such as deep tissue massage, reflexology, acupuncture, and more. Punch Drunk comedy returns again this year with plenty of top stand-up too. As mentioned above, the festival actually features around 150 acts over nine stages - so we’re only just giving you a mere taster of the goodies on offer this year - so be sure to check out their website for the full line-up as well as all of the ticket (including day passes) and camping options.
Lindisfarne Festival, Thursday 30 August-Sunday 2 September, Beal Farm, Northumberland. Over 18s only. Tickets from £59. lindisfarnefestival.com