Another Guilfest has gone. Overall impressions were good, although there were some niggles this year.
- The toilets were not anything like their usual standard - they were messy, not cleaned, and did not have adequate water pressure to allow flushing. They also kept closing. It was not pleasant.
- The place could have really used some big screens, especially on sunday night. When a long way from the main stage, the sound quality lost definition in the treble range (we watched the last act halfway to the second stage)
- We had tents sorted, they had fences all the way around the tents, and a guy sitting at the far corner fire exit for the whole festival (well, multiple guys) - unfortunately, he was sitting so he could open the fence in the event of an emergency, and not guarding an exit - why not provide an easy exit to the car park?
- I objected to the way that the stewards on the entrance would check wristbands by grabbing wrists and manhandling the arm into a position that they could check whatever it was they were checking. A simple 'would you mind, sir?' would have made the difference, but instead it was a 'grab'. Most rude.
- One security guy objected to my taking photos of an act. I pointed out that everyone around me was taking photos, but he said that my camera was 'too professional'. Really very silly, especially if he saw the shots I was deleting. It was annoying as if I'd have been two or three people further back then he wouldn't have seen me at all, and the shots would have been virtually identical.
The lineup was not as strong as last year, however, the headliners for Saturday and Sunday were about as big as they come - Squeeze and Madness.
On Friday, we saw 'The Ordinary Boys', who were surprisingly good. I say surprisingly as my knowledge of them comes through being unimpressed when their lead singer had a hissy fit on 'Buzzcocks' - which didn't endear him, he's also connected to Big Brother, which never comes as a recommendation to me.
They were followed by Supergrass. Now, Supergrass were good, but the thing is that they're playing to a festival audience - i.e. people who, on the whole, don't follow them per se. Therefore, the bulk of the set should be recognisable tunes - but they fell into the trap of saying 'here's one from our new album' way too often. There were only two Supergrass songs that we, or anyone around us, could name off the top of our heads - these are 'Pumping up your Stereo' and 'All Right'. Of these, they only played 'Stereo' - we thought that they'd use 'All Right' in the encore. They didn't. The conceit of going off stage just to be 'spontaneously' called back to do the songs that you're actually known for annoys me somewhat .... though for a big band like Madness with lots of songs you're known for, it's fine.
Though people enjoyed them at the time, once they'd finished, there were a lot of people who seemed a little peeved.
Once the bands had finished, we went to the Cheesey Disco, which took so long to get going that it was almost packing up time!
On Saturday, I 'd nipped home to feed the cats, and returned a little late, but I caught the end of Kovak, who are excellent. Along with a few others I heard 'My Boyfriend is a Rockstar', which is one of my favourite numbers from them. Kovak's tent/van was set up close to our tent - I went over on Sunday morning and thanked them for the entertainment (though I didn't get all of their set). My sister thought they were good too, and our tastes differ wildly (she's of the 'Take That' generation).
We caught the end of Sandi Thom - but were in place for the whole of Jimmy Cliff's set. He started slow, sitting down, with 'The River of Babylon'. We thought 'well, he is getting on a bit', but as the music went on he stood up, and was soon bouncing around the stage full of energy. He sang (Ooh La, La, La) Let's Go Dancing, Save our planet heart, You Can Get It If You Really want, Vietnam, Wonderful World, Beautiful People and others. Unfortunately, unless the heat affected my memory, he didn't do 'Many Rivers to Cross', which is one of my favourites.
We went for a little wander, and came back to hear Morcheeba. They were okay, I don't know why they got a higher billing than Jimmy Cliff.
The headline act for Saturday was Squeeze, newly reformed (without Jools Holland). They were really good, though the lead singer had a slightly ropey throat. They did all the favourites, such as 'Cool for Cats' and ' "Pulling Mussels (From the Shell)"', and joked that they would spend the next hour or so performing tracks from their respective solo albums.
On Sunday, things were a little damp, it rained during the day. It started off well with 'Rock Choir'. These guys were great, and sang numbers from Robbie Williams, Abba, 'Chicago', and others.
We went into the comedy tent for a bit, and then it chucked it down and everyone else came in, making it rather hot in there.
During the afternoon we nipped home briefly, then returned to hear 'The Magic Numbers' and 'Madness'.
The crowd was HUGE for these, and we were quite some distance away from the stage, right next to the exit, in fact - so no photos. The sound quality started to get a bit distorted at that distance, which spoiled things a little. Madness in particular were very good, playing all the hits, plus some others. Of course, they started with 'One Step Beyond' this has the 'Hey You, don't watch that, watch this' intro. They did everything one expected, short of flying the saxophonist off the stage.
A nice weekend, marred only by a bit of changeable weather, and a few things which should be relatively simple to put right.