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Music Editorial

lindisfarnebritishsea.jpg The Lindisfarne Festival returns!

Set your thrill-o-meter to “Stunning” and gird yourself for one of our very favourite festivals being held anywhere in the UK this year. (And yes, it does help that it’s taking place in our very own, and very beautiful, backyard.)

I LOVED last year’s very first Lindisfarne Festival (caps definitely on), and I reckon that the 2000 other folk in attendance were equally enamoured judging by the enthusiastic response I got when chatting to other attendees (and my, what a friendly bunch they all were). But how could you not love it? Taking place on the most beautiful stretch of coastline in the country, with the spectacular backdrop of Holy Island, it was the perfect venue for an eclectic line-up that ranged from top bands to up and coming local acts to DJs to off-the-wall stuff and more. It received three UK festival award nominations and the smart money must be on it bagging at least one winner’s medal this year as 2016’s shindig looks even better.

Friday night headliners are a band who are possibly my favourite indie outfit of the 21st century, British Sea Power (pictured). Their debut album, The Decline of British Sea Power, was a calling card of real intent, a force of nature that showcased the band’s ringing rock sound that acted like a clarion call to those of us who appreciate riffs the size of coastal shelves and flag-wavingly grandiose choruses. What’s more, they have continuously backed up this early promise with a string of albums that have cemented their place as bold buccaneers of sonic derring-do. And live they are immense (The Rolling Stones, no less, were once heard to utter at the Reading Festival, “Fuck this puerile drivel, we’re going to see British Sea Power!” Yep, they all said it in unison.)

Taking top billing on the Saturday night are Reef, another band The Rolling Stones had designs on, having them on support duties during their mid-90s tour. Their big commercial breakthrough came with their 1997 number one album Glow which was packing their killer hit singles Place Your Hands, Come Back Brighter, Consideration and Yer Old. The noughties saw them take an extensive break from touring but their sold-out 2015 shows showed that they had lost none of their oomph, a fact confirmed when they supported Coldplay at their Wembley Stadium gigs in June.

Elsewhere the line-up is just as diverse and exciting as last year’s offering. I’m particularly looking forward to checking out Beardyman, a man who beat One Direction to the top of the charts with Eat Sleep Rave Repeat; a man who won the UK Beatbox Championship; and a man who is bringing his highly acclaimed One Album Per Hour show to the festival in which he interacts with the audience to a level that few would dare. Expect an experience like no other.

Party starters par excellence The Cuban Brothers will also be on hand to lead you through a set that takes in funk and soul with added jaw-dropping b-boy action and much riotous fun. They’ve entertained everyone from Elton John To Robbie Williams and have supported the likes of James Brown, Fatboy Slim and De La Soul. They’re guaranteed to leave you with the biggest of silly grins slapped right across your face. I caught C Duncan earlier this year at The Cluny and he was immense. Nominated for the Mercury Prize last year (and duly robbed) he plays the kind of spine-tingling astral folk that is a joy to behold. I can’t wait to spend some time in his company once again.

Who else? Molotov Jukebox? Yep! These purveyors of contemporary world music released one of my favourite albums of the year, Tropical Gypsy, back in April and they’ll be kicking up a right royal fuss with a truly riotous whirlwind of Latino influenced horns, accordion and violin, with added samba and Balkan influences.

Scottish indie outfit, and former Crack cover stars, Fatherson, are another band turning plenty of heads, and are firm festival favourites; as are the peerless James Taylor Quartet. James is one of the greatest instrumentalists of his generation and the sound of his trademark howling Hammond will no doubt be heard floating right over to Holy Island.

Naturally there is also a plethora of local talent flocking to the site including the superb Shields whose How Can We Fix This? long-player is also a fixture on my Top Ten Albums of 2016 list with their ebullient and colourful alt pop. They play real top-down-on-your-sports-car stuff and it all translates rather gloriously to the live arena. Other local bands to grab a slice of include Lisbon (think staggeringly catchy pop tunes with a groove), Cattle & Cane (this Teesside band recently topped the bill at Evolution Emerging with their infectious sing-a-longs), Bridie Jackson & The Arbour (think rich harmonies and the kind of folk that is steeped in wonder and amazement), The Baghdaddies (who no party would be complete without), Rob Heron & The Tea Pad Orchestra (with their western swing, blues and gypsy jazz of a decidedly early 20th century nature), King Bee (top drawer funk and groove from this Newcastle band) and Beth Macari (Newcastle soul singer with more oomph than a Dyson).

There will be more local talent playing the BBC Music Introducing stage including Coquin Migale, SoShe, Dom Zilla, The Great & Magnificent and A Festival, A Parade. Comedy arrives courtesy of David Hadingham, Mick Ferry and Duncan Oakley; and there will also be spoken word stuff with a particularly strong line-up that encompasses Ettrick Scott (of JaZZ RiOT), Scott Tyrell (BBC Poetry Slam Champion), Kate Fox, Alix Alixandra, Carys ‘Matic’ Jones and many more. And early birds arriving on Thursday will be treated to exuberant sets from 70’s Cop Show who’ll be bringing their super tight, high energy funk and rhythm show; Hannabiell & Midnight Blue (think Afro-psychedelic jazz funk); and new-mod four-piece The Middens. Raw Vibe will be responsible for keeping the party beats going and have you dancing into the early hours.

I don’t have enough room to list all the goodies in store at this year’s bash, but I really need to mention the catering as the fabulous street food, from a variety of vendors, will once again be back and keeping the hordes well fed. Also returning are those alternative therapists who will be looking to set you on the path to the tranquil. Me? The only therapy I need will be found right down the front, next to the stage.

Lindisfarne Festival, Thursday 1-Sunday 4 September, Beal Farm, Northumberland. A variety of ticket and camping options are available. All information from: lindisfarnefestival.com