23 July 2016 at Wollaton Park, Nottingham
So. I joined a sold out crowd last weekend and sat outside in the beautiful sunshine to experience the Splendour Festival here in Nottingham. It’s something of a tradition to go along and join in the fun so I was interested to see what all the fuss was about. I’ve never been before, but as one of my favourite bands were playing a set on the main stage, I thought it would be rude not to show my support.
Splendour has been running since 2008 and has seen a whole host of artists play in the grounds of the wonderful Wollaton Hall including The Pet Shop Boys, Madness, The Charlatans and Blondie to name but a few. There’s not just music though. There’s also comedy acts and other activities going on during the day.
Headliner for this year was Jess Glynne who apparently was meant to play the main stage in 2015, but had to pull out due to medical reasons. This year would be her year though as the festival was completely sold out for the first time in its history with thousands of people ready to spend the day in the sun watching some great artists play.
I can’t really give you a complete review of everyone that played on the day as there were 4 stages and I am but one person. What I can tell you about are the artists I saw and experienced. To be completely honest, I was there mainly to see Turin Brakes as they are one of my all time favourite bands. I may have mentioned that one or twice before.
The gates opened at 11.30am and the first act on the main stage was Super Furniture at 12.30pm. I didn’t get to hear these guys though as I didn’t arrive until gone 2pm, but due to the massive amount of people arriving it took nearly another hour to actually get into the grounds. As Turin Brakes were due to play at 3.30pm, it was getting a bit tight as to whether I would actually make it in to see my heroes or not. Luckily I did, and I managed to get a spot right at the front of the stage with just a few people in front of me. As I was a bit early I managed to see the band doing a quick soundcheck and I took a few photos of them whilst I had the chance.
I have no idea what they are all looking at by the way. And I couldn’t get Rob in a photo as he was at the back of the stage hidden behind Olly. Anyway, after a brief interlude they returned to the stage to do a half hour set. The set-list (from memory) was:
- Keep Me Around
- Last Chance
- Fishing For A Dream
- Pain Killer
- Black Rabbit
The 30 minutes went far too quickly for my liking and after a round of applause it was over. I was disappointed it was a short set and I also felt that the crowd weren’t fully warmed up enough to appreciate a band of the Brakes calibre this early in the day. When I think back to some of the other artists that performed during the day and had longer sets, it makes me a bit sad that my lads were a bit forgotten in amongst it all. I have no idea how they felt they were received, but I really do hope they enjoyed themselves. Perhaps the draw of the main stage can be a bit too much sometimes whereas to headline a smaller stage over a longer set might actually be the way to go if asked. Food for thought.
After a bit of a wander around I caught the tail end of Jamie Lawson’s set on the main stage. I had heard his name before and convinced myself he was an X-Factor contestant or suchlike as I wasn’t sure where I’d heard of him. It turns out he wasn’t, he is in fact a very good singer-songwriter who I enjoyed listening to very much. When he segued into Brown Eyed Girl part way through one of his songs I knew he was a man after my own heart! He was well received and I will definitely be checking out some of his tracks.
Next up was UB40. Well, I say UB40, but let’s be honest, it wasn’t really UB40. It was a version of the band without Ali Campbell. Now, my knowledge of British reggae was clearly not up to date as I had no idea Ali and some of the other members of the original band had left a few years before. It was only when the lead singer (who I believe is another Campbell) started to sing and I turned to my partner and said “That’s not Ali Campbell is it?”. To be fair, the crowd didn’t seem to mind too much as they joined in with tracks such as Cherry Oh Baby, Homley Girl and of course Red Red Wine. The band seemed to be having a great time and the crowd loved it so I guess you could call it a success!
Next onto the main stage were the legends that are The Human League. I love the eighties and am partial to quite a few of their songs so I was looking forward to hearing what they could do! Onto the stage came lead singer and main man Phil Oakey looking like a synth pop villain with his shaved head and dark glasses along with the lovely ladies Sally and Joanne. All were dressed to perfection and very much looking the part. Throughout their set we were treated to classics including Mirror Man, (Keep Feeling) Fascination, Love Action, Tell Me When and although not strictly a League song, the wonderful Together In Electric Dreams. Within their hour set there were three, yes THREE costume changes for the ladies. You can’t fault them for wanting to put on a good show! Finishing up with the song everyone was waiting for, Don’t You Want Me, the crowd sang the lyrics out loud all the way through in accompaniment. It was a marvellous thing to hear.
I actually didn’t stick around much after The Human League as it had been a long day and I wanted to get home. I believe Jess Glynne was very good and over on the Confetti Stage, The Darkness closed the evening in great style. I ventured over to the smaller stage to catch a bit of Stiff Little Fingers earlier in the day, but gave the rest of it a miss. I also caught a couple of acts on the Acoustic Stage as I was interested to see what the local artists were sounding like. All in all it was a great day of music, enough of an assortment to cater for most tastes and the weather was glorious.
Looking back over the artists that have performed over the years I think this is a great example of a day festival for the local and wider community that works really well and I’m very much looking forward to seeing who will be in the line up next year.