Photo Copyright © Christopher James Ryan
The line-up for this year’s Standon Calling promised something for everyone and, far from being just another music festival with the same old bands turning up just for an easy pay packet, organisers made sure that a varied line-up of music, comedy and entertainment, combined with a wallet-friendly ticket price, turned the 2018 weekend into a real family-friendly event.
Essentially a warm-up day for the weekend ahead, we arrived at Standon Calling and made the most of what would be our last chance to party before the hard work started. On that note, what better way to do it than in a field, with a beer, and a ’70s funk cover band?
From kids to grannies, young to old, the party is going full pelt when we arrive and, while we may be too sober to bust out our best dancefloor moves, Uncle Funk are quite literally awesome. With more people piling in, many dressed in full ’70s get up, they crank out classic after classic like “I’m Every Woman” and set things up for headliners Ultimate Power who continue the party where Uncle Funk left off.
Providing a soundtrack packed with every ’80s classic you could think of, the Ultimate Power party had it all. Loads of inflatables. Check. Amazing Soundtrack. Check. Awesome hosts. Check. Most importantly though, we had a beer in our hands knowing that, while our Standon Calling had well and truly kicked off in style, we were going to regret it in a few hours when the hard work really started.
So, we wake on the Friday and the hard work starts as we head over to the Standon Calling site ready to throw ourselves into whatever this festival can throw our way. Not sure where to start, a look down the line-up sees familiar names like Morcheeba, Nina Nesbitt, The Hunna and Jarvis Cocker sharing the bill with plenty of artists we’ve never heard of.
Our first port of call is Electric Pyramid, a London rock band with an Italian twist. Packing in a stack of rock riffs, thumping beats then spicing things up with a dash of electronica, it’s fair to say our Friday kicked off to an impressive start.
From London to Tyneside next as our next stop saw us catch up with Geordie lad Sam Fender. Sounding like Anberlin colliding with The Killers, his songs are full of emotion whether he’s playing a slower number or something a bit more upbeat. Engaging with the crowd throughout his set, Fender jokes about guitars, water and music and you find there really is nothing to dislike about the lad or his music.
Singer-songwriter Jade Bird is certainly making waves in the music scene with her Something American debut and watching her perform you can see why. One woman, one guitar, one powerful voice. It’s incredible to watch as one person fills the arena with just her voice and a guitar.
Sadly the warm weather doesn’t hold out and, during folk-duo Hudson-Taylor an almighty thunderstorm kicks in and the brothers are forced to cut short their set which is a pity because their happy folk music was the perfect soundtrack for a balmy Friday afternoon.
After over an hour delay due to the heavy storms, there was no better way for Standon Calling to restart than with the fantastic Manchester electro-pop outfit Pale Waves. Bouncing into action with their melodic beats and female vocals, their songs have the vibe of The Cure with a bit of The 1975 thrown in for good measure.
With so much going on across the site at Standon, it’s hard to take everything in but there is no better way to end the day than with the gloriously quirky pop star Paloma Faith. With Samuel L.Jackson’s Evolution heralding the start of her fantastic set, Paloma had the crowd up and on their feet from the start. Decked out in green, the singer was in fine voice as she powered through tracks from her hit album “The Architect” all while peppering her between-song breaks with thoughtful chat about pregnancies, society, weight and more as the first proper day of Standon Calling, despite the usual unpredictable festival weather shenanigans, ended with some top quality pop.
Despite the odd battle with the weather, our first proper day at Standon Calling was a huge hit so we headed into the second day hoping for more of the same (bar the shitty weather).
Our first port of call saw us encountering Stevenage rock quartet Waste who won us over with their Kasabian meets Royal Blood sound. The quartet wake up a sleepy field with their hard, vibrant rock, it comes as no surprise to find that their five track EP was produced by Tom Dalgety the man behind Royal Blood’s Mercury Prize Album Nomination and puts them firmly in the box marked ones to watch.
One of the best things about festivals like Standon Calling is how you can be wandering around a field early in the afternoon and find yourself in the company of the stars of the future. One of those names is Lily Moore who, at just 19 years old, started her career busking in Brighton and has been likened to a young Amy Winehouse. With such a soulful voice coming out of such a young person, it’s hard not to agree with the praise gushing out for this youngster.
Speaking of stars for the future, Tom Walker is riding high off the back of his hit single Leave The Light On so it comes as no surprise to find that the Manchester singer pulls a hefty crowd to the main stage for his appearance while equally popular on the Laundry Meadows Stage are London indie-pop quartet Gengahr. In fact, the Laundry Meadows Stage seems to be the place to be on Saturday with the funk of Park Hotel, the reggaue of West London singer Hollie Cook and the electronic drenched sounds of headliner Maribou State showcasing not only the diversity of Standon Calling but also how it is the place to be if you’re looking for some of the UK’s finest musical talent.
Back over on the main stage, the guitars are plugged in and the leather jackets are pulled on as Black Rebel Motorcycle Club bring some badass rock to proceedings. While the emphasis of their sound is primarily based on distortion and attitude, an acoustic rendition of Dirty Old Town brings the tempo down a bit but it’s only a brief respite as, soon after, the only thing raining down on Standon Calling is a bunch of loud, dirty riffs.
There is only one act that could close the main stage on Saturday night and that is local boy George Ezra who is quite simply sublime. Riding high of the back of his chart-topping album Staying At Tamaras, Ezra is in superb form and an quite literally do no wrong in front of HIS crowd. Mixing his set up with old and new tracks, the singer discusses the inspiration behind his new album, talking about his backpacking experiences that helped inspire the record.
From slower numbers like Barcelona to more upbeat tracks like Saviour, the crowd sing along to every word as the set glides through Hold My Love, Song 6, All My Love and Blame It On Me. The weather may have been hit and miss today but you couldn’t tell by the energy given off by the crowd as Ezra effortlessly headed towards the end of his set and, as hit single, Shotgun, filled the night at Standon Calling, there couldn’t have been a better way to sign off our second day.
You get to see some mental things during your three days at a festival like Standon Calling and none more so than Horrible Histories gave us bad jokes and cheesy songs and we couldn’t have wished for a better way to kick off our final day at Standon Calling.
After a damp set watching the everyone’s favourite Beatles tribute act, the world famous Bootleg Beatles it was back to the scene of many an impressive set this weekend, the Laundry Meadows stage. Again, throughout the day, fans had another day filled with quality acts with our particular including Brighton friends Dream Wife whose set was packed with attitude and energy. The Marmozets flung themselves about the stage like only The Marmozets. Like an atom bomb exploding there is no stopping marmozets as, sparing no time to chill, they crank out the rock to the max!
Interspersed between our visits to the Laundry Meadows stage, indie stalwart Gaz Coombes of Supergrass fame took to the Main Stage and delivered a set of indie rock at its finest as the likes of Moving and Deep Pockets gave Coombs the chance to show off his unique voice to a very appreciative audience.
As our Standon Calling experience surges to its finale, there is no better way to head down the home straight than with Goldfrapp who provide the perfect audio soundtrack to this breezy Sunday evening. Electronic beats laced with soothing vocals, the bold bass and the electric hooks surge through your body and you simply can’t help but lose yourself into the music.
One last trip to the Laundry Meadows Stage to catch indie favourites The Horrors and they didn’t disappoint delivering the kind of energetic indie that has won them a massive fanbase and earned them a place right at the top of bills like this one.
And so our first ever experience of Standon Calling comes to an end with the superb headliner Bryan Ferry and his slow, soulful love songs are the perfect way to finish off this weekend. Songs like Slave To Love fill the next hour or so with the Ferry’s soothing voice sending fans home soaked to the skin but having had a top weekend.