Tuesday, 5 March 2013

The Rhythm Festival 26th, 27th & 28th August.

Buzzcocks, Pretty Things & Steve Cropper star at The Rhythm Festivals new home.

The Rhythm Festival,  Old Wardens House, Biggleswade  26, 27, 28th August 2011. Photo by Dave Edwards.

The 6th  year of the Rhythm Festival and the first at it’s new home in Biggleswade promised a stellar line up of artists and despite a few teething problems, pretty much delivered.  We arrived on Friday in time to see Dodgy, the earlier downpour put us off venturing to see Hazel O’Conner who was well received by those that did brave it. It was the first time I’d seen Dodgy since they reformed with the original line up and though I found it a bit pedestrian in places, was great to hear the old classsics such as  Good Enough, In A Room and Staying Out For The Summer.  The Buzzcocks followed and quickly uped the ante with gems such as What Do I Get, Promises, Harmony In My Head, Ever Fallen In Love. You name it, it was there. Sadly for me I had to slope off before the end to DJ the Silent Disco at The Ronnie Barker Stage.  Silent Disco? I hear you ask and indeed that was my first question. Turned out not to be silent and it was never going to be Disco but a mix of Northern Soul, Ska and R&B was well received to party hardy revellers untill 2 in the morning.

Nigel Clark, Dodgy. Photo by Dave Edwards.
Steve Diggle, The Buzzcocks. Photo by Dave Edwards.
Pete Shelley, The Buzzcocks. Photo by Dave Edwards.
Saturday saw Slim Chance, Nick Lowe, Imelda May and Curved Air gracing the stages and I spent most of the time in the bar watching DJ Wheelie Bag entertain the bemused before I headed off to the Silent Disco, which this time was fully functional.  To answer the earlier question, a Silent Disco involves a set of wireless headphones and two djs playing through 2 channels which are transmitted to the headphones. The wearer can then choose what to listen too by the flick of a switch and dance away in their own world. Quite a bizarre feeling looking out over a busy dancefloor and hearing people singing along (mostly out of tune I might add!) but no music pumping out.  Over the back I could see an old scooter boy dancing to my ska records while next to him was a guy playing air guitar, obviously listening to DJ Lady Fantasy on the other channel. This was soon followed by much cheering around the room as I played Booker T's Green Onions.
DJing in The Silent Disco with a legend keeping an eye on proceedings. Photo courtesy of Claudia Elliott.
Sunday started off with Stone Foundation and From The Jam, who had their set cut short due to complaints from a wedding party taking place in a nearby field. Again the rain came down just as The Pretty Things took to the stage but it didn’t last long and they played a great set mixing mod classics such as Midnight To Six Man, Don't Bring Me Down and Come See Me with a selection from SF Sorrow and of course plenty of rip snorting R&B like Mona, Roadrunner and it wouldn't have been right without Bo Diddlys' Pretty Thing. For my money, The Pretty Things are still the best 60’s band out there, they're tight, powerful and full on and leave you wanting more. 
Dick Taylor, The Pretty Things. Photo by Dave Edwards.
The Pretty Things. Photo by Dave Edwards.
Nipped into the Alborne Stage to see Nine Below Zero who were delayed by over half an hour due to overcrowding as half the festival was trying to get in to see them. Once they started, it was the usual tight performance that you always get from NBZ, a mix of R&B covers, new recordings and old favourites,  Ridin’ On The L&N always a particular crowd pleaser. In hindsight, they should have been on the main stage but for those that got in, they witnessed a blinder.
Dennis Greaves, Nine Below Zero. Photo by Dave Edwards. 
Mark Feltham, Nine Below Zero. Photo by Dave Edwards.
 Caught a little of Wheelie Bag in the bar before heading out to see The Blockheads, still keeping the music of  Ian Dury alive, his former minder Derrick the Drawl doing a fine job on vocals and the effortless bass playing of Norman Watt-Roy is always a pleasure to watch. Again, they are a tight unit and get everybody singing along to all the hits.
Norman Watt-Roy, The Blockheads. Photo by Dave Edwards.
Derrick the Drawl, The Blockheads. Photo by Dave Edwards.
The Animals soon followed with John Steele still on drums and Micky Gallagher playing his second set of the day (first was with The Blockheads). All the hits were there, bass player and vocalist Pete Barton is quite a capable frontman but I feel that sometimes the history lessons take the edge off it for me. Still when you can pull an ace out of your sleeve in the shape of Steve Cropper, who am I to complain? Cropper added an edge and to witness a man responsible for so many great soul records up close was an honour for me. Time Is Tight, 636 5789, The Midnight Hour and Dock Of The Bay ensured the crowd were left happy. Which is just aswell as Toots & The Maytals took far too long to set up. So much so, we went and watched Apart From Rod with vocalist Jim Stapely sounding very good along with members of Rod Stewarts old backing band and song writers performing tracks such as Hot Legs etc. Back to Toots in time to see his daughter take to the stage for 2 numbers before the man himself finally entered the fray. By now the rain came down and the cold had began to take hold so we headed of to see DJ Wheelie Bags Aftershow party. Once past the over zealous door man, you were treated to a feast of fun involving giant balloons, elastic bands, lengths of string and the Stylophone Challenge, all in the hope of winning a glowing rubber ball, a set of juggling balls or a stick-on-moustache. Yep, the usual madness and the perfect way to round off the weekend.  Overall, the good far outweighed the bad and I look forward to next years festival when the niggles should have been ironed out. 
Pete Barton, The Animals. Photo by Dave Edwards.
Steve Cropper with The Animals. Photo by Dave Edwards.
Originally published on 2nd September 2011.

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