This is the Kit, Sturgill Simpson, Marika Hackman, Hannah Lou Clark, Colorama
The highlight of the festival today is initially the weather. The persistent drizzle is banished for the time being and is replaced by gorgeous, life-affirming sunshine. The unflattering plastic ponchos we have all been forced to wear are now utilised as picnic mats and many take the opportunity to top up their vitamin D intake whilst recovering from the night before. This was possibly the ideal moment to sample what was on offer in the Nature Nurture glade; hot tubs offer the opportunity to view the main stage in luxurious style and various health treatments are available to ease any festival aches and pains. My first priority however was to head back to the Walled Garden Stage to catch Hannah Lou Clark.
Her musical ethos certainly seems to have evolved since her FOE days. Initially performing solo, her sound is pared back, exposing the emotions and her songs feel personal and full of nostalgia. She later introduces her sister along with a full band, allowing Hannah to expand her canvas and Kids on Heat in particular proves to be the highlight of the set. The audience certainly appreciate the wistful subject matter despite the soporific effect the sunshine appears to be having.
Marika Hackman is next up on the main stage. It’s only a short walk from the Walled Garden, and I head over the uneven cobbles through the stables which are currently playing host to a huge beer festival. The opportunity to sample over one hundred local ales and ciders proves difficult to resist and carrying my pint of Lemon Drizzle ale, I arrive just as Marika starts her set. She initially appears incredibly isolated on the large stage, yet she grows in confidence, bolstered by the encouraging response to each song she plays. It is a lovely set, beautiful and therapeutic in it’s presentation and her voice still has the ability to enthrall despite the scale of the venue.
The delightful afternoon sunshine was sadly about to abscond, to be replaced by a torrential downpour and the distant rumble of thunder. Sadly, this was only moments before Sturgill Simpson took to the main stage meaning many leave to seek shelter in one of the covered stages. Undeterred, I took up a spot front and centre and boy, was I glad I did. Sturgill Simpson delivers one of the performances of the whole festival, delivering his brand of alt-country and bluegrass with a band that were as tight a unit as I have ever had the pleasure of witnessing. Tireless and dynamic and completely entertaining, Sturgill manages to tempt the crowd from their cover and by the end of the performance many are claiming that here was an artist definitely worthy of a loftier position on the line-up in the future. An absolute delight!
Back in the Walled Garden This is the Kit are an unknown quantity. Picked up by Aaron Dressner and full of rootsy potential, I was excited to find out more. Kate Stables is the focal point of the band and is a whimsical and genuine host. Her set is intricate in design and ethereal in its presentation. This was possibly not what the crowd were after at this time in the evening and the band seemed to be fighting the general clamour of an outdoor venue, fueled by the many beers on offer around the corner. This is a shame, but the intricate beauty of Kate’s songs still deliver.
The main stage this evening is hosting the legendary Television, performing Marquee Moon in it’s entirety. The New Yorkers demonstrate why they are so revered with an incredibly professional rendition of the album’s songs that certainly make you understand the record’s place in history. I have to be honest regarding headliners Super Furry Animals. I would be regarded by most in this neck of the woods as a philistine due to my general indifference to the Welsh superstars. Their slot certainly begins dramatically enough and is visually impressive throughout, but I am never completely absorbed from a musical point of view and when the rain returns with a vengeance and with the hole in my poncho getting bigger by the hour, I decide to call it a night.
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Review and Photos by Iain Fox | @IainFoxPhoto