Bingley Music Live - Bingley, Myrtle Park - 30th/31st August 2013 Print E-mail
Written by Ben Hughes   
Wednesday, 11 September 2013 03:20

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Bingley Music Live...chances are you have never heard of it, I hadn't until recently and it's only a short trip away from me. This virtually unknown 3 day music festival situated near Bradford in West Yorkshire has been going for just a few years now and is one of the lesser known small festivals on the circuit. Lesser known it may be but that does not make it any lesser of a festival that's for sure, in fact it is gaining quite a reputation.

 

Set in the beautiful surroundings of Myrtle Park, the Acorn Main Stage is a sunken area surrounded by trees that make a good barrier from the elements. Walk up several flights of steps at one end you will reach The Acorn Midi Stage, a more chilled area aimed more towards local acts and acoustic stuff. Dotted around you will find plenty of bars and toilets to minimise queuing and a plethora of food traders and stalls to grab the attention.

 

What does hit me is how well organised this festival is, there are marshals everywhere, it is a family friendly festival and there is a fancy dress theme each year, this year the theme is Pirates, and there are a few sights to see, the most memorable a man dressed as a pirate on a mobility scooter selling programmes. It's not all piratey though as they rub shoulders with animal costumes, Mario, various super heroes and the usual mix of young blonde things in the expected festival attire, that is very short shorts and wellies.

 

There is no camping on site which is the only drawback and there are costs to camping in the many sites dotted around the local area. Obviously the monetary cost and the 20 minute walk to the site and back, but for a 3 day festival that costs just £45 there can really be no complaints, unless of course the line-up doesn't beat the budget price. Bingley prides itself on creating a diverse festival line up and on the band front Bingley is an interesting one. While the likes of The Human League and Chic may well do nothing for me this year's Saturday night headline act Primal Scream and the likes of The Temperance Movement and The Virginmarys earlier on in the day is enough to get me interested. The line-up is diverse and looking at the running orders I can catch everyone I want to see and maybe discover something new too.

 

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Friday 30th August

 

Opening the Main Stage today is Sunderland's Frankie & The Heartstrings, with a sound that sits comfortably somewhere between Suede and The Kaiser Chiefs with more than a dash of early Bowie thrown in for good measure. They are a decent start to today's music. Frontman Frankie Francis does have more than a hint of Brett Anderson in his voice and definitely in his stage moves and general delivery, they go down well to the growing crowd, and their performance does actually make me want to go check out some of their stuff, a good start.

 

After going for a wonder around to do some people watching and to pass the time while Nina Nesbitt is on, I return to watch Kat Men only to be met by The Dirty Rivers who had been upgraded from the Midi Stage to the Main Stage for some reason. So after a few songs of that, and no disrespect to The Dirty Rivers here, I headed to the Midi Stage to see if maybe they had swapped stages or something, there I was met with the sounds of InME vocalist Dave Mcpherson doing his solo set. The singer/songwriter has been doing his solo acoustic thing for a few years now, playing over 200 shows last year alone and it shows. His songs are folky, traditional sounding tales that flow from the heart and soul and with a hell of a voice and a good sense of humour it goes a long way, cracking jokes and keeping the crowd entertained while he changes a broken string, even claiming one song has the most pretentious song title he's written 'Ambivert Melanconnoiseur' (yes I did look it up). I find his songs quite mesmerising, too mesmerising in fact and by the time I return to the Main Stage Kat Men are already on, damn and blast! I tried not to miss the bands I wanted to see, but Bingley's small schedule change has put me to the test. It's the only time though, as all other bands and times seem to run like clockwork, so fair play to the organisers who do quick and seemingly smooth gear changeovers between sets.

 

You can't beat a good bit of rockabilly and with none other than The Stray Cats' Slim Jim Phantom on the drums, Kat Men make for an exciting proposition. I think vocalist Darrel Higham is probably better known for being Imelda May's other half and guitar player than his impressive musical CV, and he plays a mean bit of guitar. I couldn't tell you the titles of their songs but they sounded cool and the trio consisting of guitar, stand up bass and stand up drums look and sound the business. The song they end with I do know though, The Stray Cats classic 'Rock This Town' with Slim taking the lead vocal sounds spot on. That's another band with music I want to check out.

 

The beauty of Bingley is that it is an intimate venue and you can get as close to the front as you want, or still sit up on the banks under cover and get a good view, and it is easy to flit from stage to stage in a few minutes to check if you are missing something.

 

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Next up are The Neville Staples Band, you can't beat a bit of this really, music of The Specials is perfect for an evening at a festival with a cider in hand and they deliver what the crowd want to hear. Did he play some of his own songs? I don't know I only heard Specials songs. The likes of 'A Message To You Rudy', 'Monkey Man', 'Enjoy Yourself' and 'Ghost Town' are classic songs, songs that remind me of being at school, what's not to like here? They go down well and the sight of hundreds of teenagers skanking along to songs they surely don't really know is a good thing to see. I would have taken them as headliners over The Human League any day of the week and with no real interest in catching The Human League, I head up to the Midi Stage again to check out what The Dunwells have to offer.

 

The Dunwells hail from Leeds and are headlining the smaller Acorn Midi Stage and it obvious why, The Dunwells are a great live band and a perfect distraction from The Human League. Fronted by two brothers, Joseph and David Dunwell, who switch between taking lead vocals and guitar. The folk based songs are maybe a bit twee and squeaky clean for my tastes, but those sweet 4 part harmonies sound very fine, at times haunting, like on such songs as 'Communicate' giving that certain Fleetwood Mac feel to their songs. The songs are uplifting and the band are energetic, give it their all and put on a great show. People want to be entertained at a festival, and The Dunwells have that knack of connecting with their audience and making them feel like they are part of something tonight. Would I buy their albums? Probably not, but if I saw them on the bill at a future festival I would mark them down as ones to watch, great live band pure and simple.

 

As The Dunwells bring the Midi Stage to a close, the Human League are still in full swing so I go and take a gander at their set, impressive show it may be as I walk in to the sound of 'Mirror Man', but a few songs of '80s electronica nostalgia is enough for me so I call it a night as tomorrow is going to be a long day.

 

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Saturday 31st August

 

I knew buying a £6 sleeping bag was probably a bad idea, but it's still summer right...how cold was it going to be? Pretty cold actually, so after a night spent adding various layers to try and keep warm I wearily make my way in for the day's entertainment. I phone Paul from The Temperance Movement to confirm our interview time that was due to take place after their set, luckily they are available now as I was a bit worried about missing The Virginmarys set, so I make my way backstage to meet up with the guys.

 

Interview done I head out to the Main Stage to grab some lunch and sit on the grassy bank to watch opening band Down Radio do their thing. Down Radio are a four piece from Leeds, a hip-hop/rock crossover mixing dub beats, guitar and aggro vocals, they come on like a dub version of Rage Against The Machine. Vocalist Ed seemed a bit peeved for some reason and I don't really think there was any need for the singer's sarcastic comments about the size of the audience he was playing to and how much mark up Bingley were selling his band's t-shirts for. I'm not really convinced by their brand of RATM/Eminem-lite music, it just doesn't do it for me. Maybe he was trying to be edgy and controversial, but this just ain't the Leeds Festival boys.

 

I know they don't have an album out yet but personally I feel The Temperance Movement should be higher up on this bill today. Of course a festival experience is a totally different feel to a small and packed sweaty club where the guys shine, so I am interested to see how they will go down with this small but growing crowd here on a Saturday afternoon.

 

The beauty of playing a festival is being able to get your music heard by an audience that are probably oblivious to your existence, and this audience is filled with teenage boys and girls out for a good time and a dance, the perfect record buying public actually. I head to the front, shoulder to shoulder with the already tipsy and over-excited teenagers as 'Be Lucky' opens their set to grand applause. As the band kick in so do the goosebumps on the back of my neck and it's clear from the off that they lose none of their sparkle in a festival setting.

 

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Phil, in shades and suit jacket, leads the band from one great tune to another, all hand gestures and jagged moves he is a frontman with class and has that natural style that you just cannot teach. 'Only Friend' and 'Ain't No Telling' sound like classics already and a gloriously chilled 'Pride' takes things down a gear or two and 'Midnight Black' sounds better live than on record for me. Ending the set with a rousing 'Take It Back' it's clear from the crowd reaction that The Temperance Movement have won over some new fans today, job done and I think they will be happy with that. Expect to see them higher up on the Festival circuit next year.

 

After another wander about it's back to the main stage for The Virginmarys. The last time I saw them at The Duchess in York they were great, but I didn't know the songs that well then as the album had only just come out. Now, I don't know if it is just because I know the songs so well six months later or maybe it's just the good time atmosphere here, but The Virginmarys were on fire today. They had a longer slot than I expected and must have played about 12 songs, but it went by in a flash. 'Bang Bang Bang' opens the set and kicks in, Ally's guitar cutting through clear as a bell. Next up 'Portrait Of Red' with Danny standing and banging out those stop/start bits, Ally screaming "baby treat my body like a canvas." It's not until 3rd song 'Just A Ride' that they hit full speed though and I feel the goosebumps rise just from that intro riff. By now the crowd is pretty big, they seem to have a bit of a following here today and they are loving it down the front, these songs are perfect for a festival crowd it seems.

 

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In my review of 'King Of Conflict' back in March I said that 'Dressed To Kill' was my favourite song and I could just see a field of festival goers singing along to every word, and as I look around me with the goosebumps rising yet again, I stand by that comment, a sublime experience.

 

They end with the album's closer 'End's Don't Mend', a bluesy extended guitar workout and a great way to bow out. If you were there and you didn't like The Virginmarys before this performance you probably do now.

 

That done I head off to interview the guys and make it back just in time for Wilko Johnson and I don't think a lot of the younger members of the audience realise what they are witnessing today. The legendary guitarist announced earlier this year that he is dying from Pancreatic Cancer but will continue to perform as long as he is able, today's performance is billed as being his last. Whether it is his last or not it is a moving experience, opening with big cheers to 'All Through The City' Wilko sounds and looks great, dressed in black with his trademark telecaster, you would never guess he had health problems from his performance today. There are sound problems though as there is no bass, as roadies frantically try to make it work wild bassist Norman Watt-Roy jerks around playing like his life depends on getting those bass notes out, what a star, and Wilko carries on regardless leaving them to it. It takes a few songs for the bass to get sorted and once it kicks back in there is a great cheer from the crowd. There may be technical hitches to Wilko's last performance but it is still a great one. Dr Feelgood classics like 'Going Back Home' and 'Back In The Night' go down well with fans old and new, as he shoots the crowd with his guitar and turns it to his chest, talking to it and caressing it like it was some beautiful woman he had just picked up for the night.

 

The first band to get an encore they run through a bit of Chuck Berry with 'Bye Bye Johnny', quite moving seeing the man waving bye bye to the crowd for maybe the last time and knowing he may never do this again makes it a most magical and quite sad moment, one of the highlights of the festival. He will be sadly missed.

 

The prospect of Tinchy Stryder sends me towards the Midi Stage yet again for a cider only to be met with the sound of some glorious rock 'n' roll coming from the stage in the form of The Struts. I've never heard of them but hell I can't ignore them. Singer Luke is a one man ego machine, with the moves like Jagger and the camp delivery of Tim Curry's Frank N Furter he struts the Midi Stage like it was his own, standing tall to the onlooking and bemused audience, playing like he's headlining Wembley Stadium, and why the hell not, I'm well up for a bit of that.

 

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The band are quite young, and if the likes of Indie darlings The Strypes and The 45s are getting all the press attention, then The Struts could well be the more rock 'n' roll alternative competition up for a piece of the action. Do they have the songs though? Yes they damn well do by the sound of it. 'She Makes Me Feel Like', 'Kiss This' and 'Put Your Money On Me' are catchy, familiar and stick in the mind. Mixing up Dolls riffs with early Bowie stylings and the addition of the singer's enthusiasm on stage make them a new band worth keeping an eye on for sure.

 

I return to the Main Stage for The Fratellis and if you don't think The Fratellis are Uber Rock friendly you are wrong, take one listen to 'Costello Music' and come back and tell me again. They play through a great set to a now packed out field, highlights are the tracks from that debut album which gave them six singles. Opening with the very fine 'Henrietta' makes me wonder why I don't listen to them more, great song indeed and the crowd go wild. As suspect looking bottles start to fly around down at the front, I make my way back to the grass to avoid the missiles, sit, listen and watch from a safe distance. 'Cuntry Boys and Girls' and 'Flathead' follow in quick succession and 'Whistle For The Choir' gets the whole crowd singing, but of course the biggest response is for the big single we all got a bit sick of hearing for a while and it's 'Chelsea Dagger' that has the place going nuts of course, job done.

 

Primal Scream are a band that constantly reinvent themselves and never do what's expected, from the classic 'Screamadelica' to the more agressive and experimental 'XTRMNTR' and on to the more countrified rock 'n' roll of 'Riot City Blues', which ever period of Primal Scream you prefer you know damn well they are going to cover all bases at a festival.

 

It's no real surprise that they open with the hypnotic '2013' the opening track of latest album 'More Light', a solid groove of a track that gets the crowd warmed up as the sun sets behind the stage. The ever stick thin Bobby Gillespie in a sparkly shirt is centre stage, The Primals may well be Mani-less now but Simone Marie Butler is a more than competent replacement for The Stone Roses bassist and with Little Barrie frontman Barrie Cadogan seemingly a permanent fixture on guitar now it seems they have a settled line up.

 

It's then straight into the Stones-like beats that introduce the classic 'Moving On Up' and while Gillespie sure doesn't sing the words like he should with his sort of half-arsed vocal style these days, it still sounds great, as does the following 'Jailbird', another classic that shamelessly pilfers The Stones, oh but they do it so well and I could listen to that stuff all day long.

 

They do play a good few tracks from the new album and the likes of 'River Of Pain' and 'Goodbye Johnny' take things down a notch. There is a bit of a mid-set lull for me to be honest and it's not until the classic 'Screamadelica' one-two of 'Loaded' and 'Come Together' that things perk up again and the best of course are left until last as Gillespie introduces 'Country Girl' that sends the place into a frenzy and an extended 'Rocks' closes the set with Gillespie down at the barrier shaking hands with the crowd before his exit. They sounded fine indeed, Primal Scream sure still have it.

 

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That ends my Bingley Music Live experience and it's been a good one, it hardly even rained and there was no mud in sight...winner! BML is a success in many ways, I like these small festivals, being family friendly there is a good atmosphere, a lack of carnage that comes with the like of Glastonbury and Leeds Fest, there is no dickheads or trouble about to ruin your experience, plenty of bars and toilets to keep queuing to a minimum and if you just want a few days to chill out on the grass watching some cool bands then you could do a lot worse for your money.

 

Because it is small, it is easy to navigate between the two stages and there is little chance of missing the bands you want to see, you can easily get up front with no trouble or stay back and watch from a grassy bank. The sound and production are spot on and I really can't fault it, now If BML can secure a few more cutting edge bands and top headliners and cut back just a bit on the nostalgic acts, then it really can compete with the big boys.

 

Sunday will see another day of bands both new and old, of music and fun, but I cannot stay that long. This year has to be the most successful one yet, on Saturday 15,000 people came through the doors so here's to Bingley Live 2014.

 

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[Photos by Ian Taylor]