Review: The Stranglers, The Levellers, The Boomtown Rats, Newton Faulkner, Reef, Craig Charles and more performing at Wychwood Festival, Cheltenham, 2014
WYCHWOOD Festival celebrated its 10th anniversary in style last weekend, as record breaking numbers flooded onto Cheltenham Racecourse.
The weather, which had played havoc with half term, brightened up on Friday when early arrivals queued to enter the Prestbury Park site and set up their tents and campers for three whole days of Festival Fun.
Wychwood Festival – named No.1UK family festival in a recent poll – certainly lived up to its reputation as visitors indulged in all sorts of delights, ranging from three stages of music, a dedicated children’s literature festival, art and activities for young and old, comedy which lasted well into the night, and of course the opportunity to over-indulge in fabulous festival food and drink on offer.
Reggae and Ska featured predominantly in this year’s programme, with acts such as Bad Manners, The Gentleman’s Dub Club and Lee Thomson’s Ska Orchestra keeping the crowd on their toes, but it was not just the Main Stage acts who were garnering attention; over in the Big Top King Charles, Bipolar Sunshine and Wolf Alice were all proving their festival credentials. On Sunday afternoon the circus atmosphere reached fever pitch as the Big Top hit virtual capacity as crowds gathered to watch Craig Charles perform his brilliant DJ set, whilst over in the Hobgoblin Stage, the best emerging talent s from across the area were given a terrific platform to prove their talents This year, there were some very special headliners, including The Stranglers, who brought the first day of the Festival to a close with a special set to celebrate their own -40th – anniversary.
The veteran rockers kept to a set of old favourites which included their hits Golden Brown, Always the Sun, Heroes, Something Better Change and Peaches and even a brilliant cover of Walk on By.
Saturday dawned bright and early with a rush for tickets which saw the festival sell out for the first time in its history. One of the biggest draws of the day was, of course, Justin Fletcher aka Mr Tumble, who kept the little ones entertained with a mesmerising live show, but as the day went on the gret entertainment continued with the likes of Bad Manners, Newton Faulkner, Reef and a big party with returning favourites The Levellers.
However, it was not until the final day, Sunday, that the Festival hit a climax with Bob Geldof and The Boomtown Rats, who brought proceeds to a close with a remarkable set to please fans, old and new. The Rats, who reformed last year for the first time since 1986, played some real crowd-pleaseers including from their extensive back catalogue including Rat Trap, Banana Republic, (I Never Loved) Eva Braun and I Don't Like Mondays.
Whatever tragedies have befallen Sir Bob in private, he certainly did not let them interfere with his public persona of a true professional and exquisite showman. Only during ‘Don’t Like Mondays’ and the encore, ‘Diamond Smiles’ was there perhaps a respectful nod to recent events.
Tickets are already on sale for next year’s Festival, so if you fancy a piece of the action visit www.wychwoodfestival.com
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