Blackthorn Festival

Published on July 30th, 2017 | by Nigel Cartner

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Blackthorn Music Festival 2017 Sunday

We managed to survive two rain filled nights and live to tell the tale. The pin holes in our tent held up despite puddles of water being left in the porch both mornings. Surprisingly, the sun was out and the prediction of all day rain was again proved wrong.

The Claremonts impressed

Another big day of music was in store with 90s bands, Space and Lightning Seeds the main acts later on. We kick off with young Stockport band, Matter of Mind, a band getting some serious rave reviews from respected opinions in the music press, which has led them to work with Scruff of the Neck. They’ve been busy on the festival circuit too this summer and considering their teenage years, they have a promising future ahead. They’re loud and rocking and the debut EP has been heralded as a statement of intent. Look out for these young lads.

The Claremonts shortly followed and produced something a little special with an upbeat funky northern vibe, merged with some catchy guitar riffs and a lyrical delivery befitting of their Manchester roots – full of attitude and an enjoyable half hour set. ‘Roll the Dice’ was a highlight.

The Red Shells were the surprise package this year

Perhaps the most surprising element of the whole festival was when I was advised by Neil Gaw from Cheshire Wax Company to go and see a band called, The Red Shells. He didn’t reveal much, just that he knew of them. What I didn’t expect to see as I rounded the corner to The Main Stage was two eleven-year olds covering a Nirvana song…and well. At first, I thought this was just something to pass the time between the next band appearing, but then it became apparent this was the next band, and they were amazing, even proudly stating, “This next one is one of our own.” And that wasn’t the only one they’d written themselves. What a remarkable achievement. This just wasn’t good for eleven-year olds, this was a good standard amongst the rest of the bands that played the weekend. Hopefully a bright future looms for these two starlets of the weekend.

Before the two main legendary acts rounded off the festival, The Sundowners came with a wonderful selection of psychedelic rock that was overlaid with hypnotic folk-like vocals. ‘Into the Light’ was a standout track that exemplified this. Fronted by two women, there was a Jefferson Airplane meets Mamas and Papas element to the whole sound. Very charismatic and alluring and the sort that wouldn’t be out of place in any West Coast of America festival.

The Sundowners psych/folk vibe was suited to California

The downpour that had been expected all weekend finally arrived just before the main two acts ended the festival. Luckily most people could gather under the barn at The Main Stage as the grass well and truly began to cut up.

Space showing they still got it

So in the pouring rain, the first of the 90s acts, Space, promptly took to the stage, and out of the three famed acts over the course of the weekend, I personally enjoyed these the most. I’d forgotten just how many great tracks the Liverpudlians had written, and even the ones that were new to me were highly captivating – eerie, and almost psychotic in parts with weird and wonderful lyrics delivered by unique vocals and keyboard arrangements to emphasise the psych nature. ‘Female of the Species’, ‘Me and You Versus the World’ and ‘Avenging Angels’ were blasts from the past that took me back to my mid-late teens. They saved my personal favourite till last, the exquisitely written, ‘Beautiful Neighbourhood’. They were given an enthusiastic reception when they left and showed that they very much still had it. The sound was just a different standard – showing just how good you have to be to make it in this game as the difference that comes with experience was paramount.

The Lightning Seeds were a worthy headline act

The Lightning Seeds finished off the festival, playing an array of the alternative ‘britpop’ rock tunes that made them household names. Much like Space, I’d forgotten how many class songs they’d produced. ‘Pure’, ‘Life of Riley’, ‘Lucky You’, and the cover of ‘You Showed Me’ are to name but a few. A cover of David Bowie’s ‘Sorrow’ was exceptionally delivered too. Sadly, ‘Three Lions’ wasn’t played though. Ian Broudie is in essence ‘The Lightning Seeds’, and he showed why he’s been so highly regarded as a phenomenal singer/songwriter over the past thirty years or so. Even with a younger band behind him, it was quite the spectacle and a fitting way to finish an absolute fantastic weekend.

Another year done and dusted and another year of fabulous music, centred around a friendly atmosphere that made the weekend such a fantastic one. A huge thank you to all the Blackthorn team – Karl, Jan, Laura, Dan, Mr Peeps and all the crew working tirelessly over the weekend. Their graft is what makes the festival such a success. Already looking forward to next year!

The Red Shells and Space photos are provided by Richard McCann of Labrat. All photos subject to his copyright.

The Main photo, The Claremonts, The Sundowners and Lightning Seeds photos are provided by Trust-a-Fox. All photos subject to his copyright.


About the Author

Nigel's immense passion for music, broadcasting and writing is what drives him along through this strange and surreal world!



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