We went to just the second day, which fortunately was the one without rain. All the coloured wellies in evidence weren’t needed in the end.
Cry Before Dawn kicked off the music, at noon, and were unexpectedly good, though lacked that one killer track to make them famous. The songs had the feel of With or without you, with atmospheric guitar and an Irish tinge to the chords.
Next was Foy Vance, one of those amazing stomp box loop guitar bluesy guys, great voice, great performance, a must see live.
Next were Hothouse Flowers, great to see again after 25 years, singing Don’t Go and Trying to get through, a virtuoso band who were having fun being there.
Next was Jimmy Cliff, not Celtic at all, but a bloke in a gold metallic suit with a massive band playing reggae that I found quite boring, it just didn’t have the soul of the Irish stuff. I think he was added to the bill just because he was in London on his tour. But to be fair, the crowd did love him. We slipped away to tent 2 and saw Teddy Thompson, son of Richard and Linda Thompson, who was OK but not quite his dad.
Next was Clannad, legends, but they wafted around looking old and pretentious and didn’t move me, which was disappointing. We tried Mary Coughlan in tent 2 but she was wasting her great voice on some boring jazz songs (nothing wrong with jazz, but her material just seemed dull).
Next up were Horslips (who?) and after Clannad they had no problem rocking the place, with a sort of sub-Tull electric folk rock which was really fun.
Next was Van Morrison, with a gold mic stand and a massive band, great sound quality, really got the crowd going with lots of old favourites, though a few too many 12 bars for me. I had to miss quite a bit of Van unfortunately, since Sally and I wanted to see Paul Brady, one of our favourites ever since we visited Ireland and discovered him on the radio there. Despite poor sound (what is it with these idiots on the mixing desk, too much reverb, vocal too low, guitar too harsh…) he was just great. How can Nothing But The Same Old Story not bring a tear to your eye? A dedicated crowd of people who had given up Van to see him made him feel really welcome, and he walked a great line between having fun on stage and putting across some really emotional songs.
Then it was Thin Lizzy, a four guitar assault with a fantastic back catalogue to draw on. I wouldn’t have finished on Black Rose, and Scott Gorham’s guitar was a bit indistinct, but what fun we had shouting along to Whiskey in the jar and The boys are back in town…..
Getting out only took five minutes, no Glasto marathon, since the festival wasn’t full and access was easy anyway. If you live in London it’s a no brainer to go to this next time.