Review and Photo Copyright © Mark Ellis
When the Bingley Music Live Festival announced that would be taking a year out the small Yorkshire town of Bingley was clearly divided. Many residents were glad that the annual invasion of festival goers would not be happening, however many of the local businesses, who benefitted each year from the influx, were deeply saddened. Step forward the Bingley Bees Rugby Club (home to the major campsite for festival) and after meeting with the concert promoters and bookers SSD Concerts “Bingley Weekender” was born. Would it be a success … no-one knew .. but as the dust settles .. yes it was a resounding success.
After a short delay in gates opening the first band I head to see is St Agnes over on the Discovery Stage. Always a difficult slot as the audience roll in, the band do a great job in keeping the ever growing crowd entertained. Kitty prowls the stage and delivers and outstanding performance.
Main stage tonight has a pretty solid line-up with the likes of Louis Berry, Gang of Four and Idles. Despite all the talent on show it is Idles who definitely get the the festival off with a bang. They may not define themselves as a Punk band but they certainly display all of the traits and attitude. Frontman Joe Talbot immediately gets the onstage sign language interpreter to sign his tirade of swearing (all done in the best possible humour and taste) and then chastises a member of the crowd for throwing beer .. follow this with the twin guitar attack spending a goodly proportion of the set out in the audience .. and you have a show the likes of this sleepy West Yorkshire town has never seen before ..
A special mention must go to Bradford band, Fling, over on the New Music Stage, who, despite the “names” on the main stage drew a sizeable crowd and gave a solid and entertaining performance.
So, to our first headliner of the weekend. Ocean Colour Scene. The band are completely at ease throughout and deliver a greatest hits set that has the crowd singing and dancing. Critics may say that the band is past their best, but they know how to deliver a crowd pleasing set .. nothing more could be asked of Friday night headliner.
Saturday opens with Manchester noise merchants Twisted Wheel ripping up the main stage. The band are clearly relishing the return to live performance after a break and You Stole the Sun and Strife serve as the perfect wake up call. So onto the first real outstanding performance of the weekend for me .. Circa Waves. They draw a reasonable crowd for a Saturday opener and deliver a performance to go with it. The Liverpudlians are really beginning to breakthrough into the mainstream with their latest, and most poppy release “What’s It Like Over There”
At the same time over on the Discovery Stage is Liverpool songstress Zuzu and her band. She has had a busy festival season. Zuzu deserves to be considered one of the most exciting prospects in the UK indie scene right now and tracks such as Can’t Be Alone and I’m Good support this .
She is soon followed by the outrageous stage climbing antics of Sports Team’s lead vocalist Alex Rice , a band who again wake up the Bingley audience to a real stage presence.
For me, the one thing this festival line-up misses from the long running BML is a “pop” presence, in the words of one audience member “Its all a bit too indie for my liking”. Saturday afternoon / evening traditionally has had a good mix of pop / soul etc.
So step up young Tom Grennan (as The Craig Charles Funk and Soul Club sadly never opened). He is clearly comfortable in front of a big festival audience and delivered a solid performance, much to the appreciation of a somewhat younger audience than we had previously seen at the main stage.
Over on the Discovery stage Bingley is once again treated to something special in the form of Doncaster’s very own ..The Blinders. They attracted one of the biggest crowds on the smaller stages and put on a performance to match.
Our Main stage headliners for Saturday night were the mighty Doves. This band really do know how to put on a crowd pleasing festival performance. Each song is delivered with pure perfection and by the time we reach set closer The Cedar Room, the Bingley crowd are truly mesmerised. Ending the night with the magnificent, There Goes The Fear, and of course pre Doves, Sub Sub hit , Space Face. The Bingley crowd head off having had yet another fantastic day.
Taking the hangover slot on main stage were competition winners The Marble Arches. Despite some early nerves the boys soon grooved their way through tracks from the latest release. Once again proving that there is hungry young talent out and about in West Yorkshire. As the audience began to grow main stage was treated to one of my other standout performances of the weekend, King No-One. This band knows how to entertain a crowd and are ably led by front man Zach Lout, who makes full use of the stage walkway to come down and sing to the fans.
As the rain begins to increase main stage is treated to the superb voice of Ten Tonnes, yes we know he has a famous brother , but when you can hold your own like this even in the pouring rain you have definitely got something … one to watch for sure. As the rain gets heavier I headed across to the New Music stage to see the outrageous Fudge, a singer who jumps into the crowd to start his own mosh pit ? you have to see this band to believe them.
It’s too early to tell whether Bingley Weekender has a legend slot but if it has then Billy Bragg is clearly that person this year. He is a compelling and likeable live performer and we all love a bit of politics in these unsettling times. Morrissey and Boris are the but of many a political jibe. He gives a welcome break from the usual festival fodder of indie rock and the crowd lap it up.
We rapidly head over to the Discovery Stage for the wonderful Anteros. Singer Laura Hayden sweeps across the stage like an ethereal princess, who has more than a touch of angst. She delivers a superb performance and the band are there to provide the perfect musical accompaniment. Hit song “Drunk” is as always a highlight of the set.
And so onto our final headliners .. Echo and The Bunnymen and James. This could have been a killer combination however for me both bands seemed to lack that certain something for a festival. Despite the band being as tight as they have ever been .. frontman Ian McCulloch has, for me, just lost his command of a crowd. For sure the die hard’s will turn up at the altar to worship, but step back for a minute and you hear a voice that just doesn’t cut it anymore. Even the hits “The Cutter” and “Killing Moon” just sound flat. There was no doubt that the Bingley crowd were looking forward to James who certainly pulled the biggest crowd of the weekend. Unfortunately that crowd were not really treated to a festival set of hits, it was more like a show aimed at the true fans, with new songs a plenty and the big hits coming right at the end. Sure Tim Booth shows up and gives his all and entertains the crowd with his barrier antics.. But really if we once more stand back and take it all in .. it certainly wasn’t a festival show.
Despite falling slightly flat in places and the lack of representation from the pop world Bingley Weekender has been a resounding success .. once again we have to thank the Bingley Bees Rugby club for helping to keep alive a local festival and SSD Concerts for logistically getting the show back on … here’s to next year for sure.