Beautiful Days 2017 Review
Beautiful Days is only an hours drive for us and we parked up on the Thursday with little fuss, met up with our friends and found a camping pitch which was in a quiet area. There were a couple of water points nearby along with toilets which could have done with a slightly more plentiful supply. Though these were kept very clean and well topped up with supplies from the efficient Andy’s loos.
We popped in for a walk round to get ourselves oriented with the site on the Thursday night and found a massive choice of food and bars which were of a high standard and good value with most meals between £6 and £9. Most beer and cider was £4 but they had a festival ale on for £3.50 which was supplied by the fabulous Otter Ales. On the Friday we even discovered a guest ale which was on for £3 a pint so made great use of this bargain.
On the Thursday we caught Nick Parker playing a set along with Ben Wain and Chris Webb playing some older tracks along with many from his cracking new album titled Besta Venya. It was packed outside of Magpie Music for this but was played and received in great spirit.
Friday was one of the days we were really excited about as we caught our friends PG Haze playing on the Bandstand with a short but atmospheric set and a tribute song to Ben Kench a local musician who sadly passed away this year.
Rev Hammer and Nick Harper were next up in the Big Top who played through their set taking turns and supporting each other but not really collaborating until the final song. It was a set full of humour, politics and life observation.
Gaz Brookfield had his first appearance at the Festival with his band the Company of Thieves. The tent was packed for this gig as they shot few a mix of songs off the new album I Know My Place and some of the greatest hits which turned into a huge sing along with an enthusiastic crowd.
One disappointment for my wife was that she was keen to buy herself a festival hoodie from the extensive merch tent on the Friday and they had all sold out within a few hours of the tent opening so hopefully next year there will be a better stock of these.
On the Main Stage Turin Brakes were entertaining and rocked out a bit but sort of floated by us whilst we were waiting for Stiff Little Fingers. When SLF came on I was quite surprised with the ferocity of the songs and the way they blasted through them with so much energy. The Waterboys ran through a best of set and though they strived to entertain the sound just felt a little flat as due to economics [I guess] the band scrimped on a couple of additional musicians that would have bolstered the sound. Therapy kept the energy of their music in an acoustic set that an underlying aggression it was fun though and the band communicated well with the crowd giving an intimate café feel to the whole show.
Breakfasts were lovely at the festival and it was easier to get a newspaper, bacon roll and coffee in the morning than to visit the loo. It seems a constant at festivals for it to be satisfactory to allow the ladies to queue for ages and maybe miss some of their favourite act.
Saturday was a lovely day weather-wise so we just camped over by the main stage all day. Bristol based Talisman who had people dancing with their Roots Reggae as the bass pumped through. David Wax museum was a fun mix up of sounds from the south of the States to the edge of Mexico and they looked and played the part. Ferocious Dog in effect were playing in front of their home crowd and their punk folk inspired many to get up and join in. The band seemed as if they would be just as happy being in the audience looking back at their selves. Hepcat had some great moves and skanked along with some lovely mellow groves.
It was no surprise that New Model Army didn’t play a hits set and this is their strength as front man Justin has always had a focus on now and the hard hitting set had just as much focus and direction as in their early days.
Sisters of Mercy added to their list of indifferent shows, reaction was muted as the dry ice tried to add an atmosphere as Andrew Eldritch struggled to remember the words of some of the songs. This was my first time watching Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls and they were amazing and Frank is one of the best front men out there and is a pure entertainer with some fantastic songs.
The rain came in properly on Sunday as we ventured down to the beautifully structured Bimble Inn but struggled to get in and decided to move as we struggled to hear the acts outside but it looked as if it was buzzing in there. On to the Little Big Top to shelter from the downpour as we caught pumping sets from Don Letts who did some great mixes and included a few Bob Marley ones in these. Craig Charles was a spark of energy with his Funk and Soul show and his best mix was a mash up of Up Town Funk Me Up and Severn Nation Army, it was a high energy show and Craig worked hard to pump up the crowd into a frenzy.
Public Service Broadcasting have hit another level and their videos running behind the band made the whole event a huge spectacle backed by their soaring music. The Levellers were blistering and crowd pleasing as their songs were just as fresh in their 30th year.
Beautiful Days was one of the best festivals I have been to and will be back again. The music was at the front with excellent sound on all the stages which meant you could truly say that you have seen the acts rather than some specs in the distance playing background music. The crowd were friendly, knowledgeable and respectful of each other which created a great atmosphere as they were music fans. Big respect goes out to the organisers who have created a wonderful experience with one or two minor glitches to be ironed out it was an amazing weekend and the fancy dress on Sunday was great as well. Now to 2018.
Thanks to Karen Liversidge for the pictures. She took the good ones, the others are mine.