Festival Reviews

Its another solid day of shows but there are a few key performers we need to see today and some favorite venues to visit and with SXSW Music really kicking off today, the city is getting a little busier.

Temple Bar Tradfest is now in its twelfth year, and as a certain Michael Eavis would say, this year's was the best one yet! A welcome attraction at the end of the bleak month of January, the event is comprised of concerts, recitals and special events in venues, pubs and churches in the centre of the capital. The term trad is applied loosely. There are indeed events that are very traditional, but the line up also included Billy Bragg, Fairport Convention, the Rails, Martin & Eliza Carthy, Mundy and an ultra-rare concert by Maria McKee.

A warm welcome from festival directors Mick Peat and Bob Rushton, plus local folk heroes John Tams and Lucy Ward greet us at the start of the 10th Derby Folk Festival. As it's the 10th festival they've put together a great line-up including the new and as yet unknown, the traditional and much loved, and the unaccompanied voices to the full-blown band.

This festival has had one or two years off but was back with a bang this year. This time round featuring some top-class bands, and including the larger 'Pyramids' venue.

Great value for money at £20 a ticket. Bands were playing from 1.00 pm at the majority of the 20 venues so inevitable there would be frustrating clashes. Notably, bands we were unable to see included, The Big Moon, Pigeon Detectives, Honeyblood, Inheaven, Sisterray, Black Honey.

Apart from The Pyramids Centre all venues are located on Albert Street and range from the established Wedgewood Rooms to various small rooms within/behind/above pubs. Pyramids is a 15 minute walk away

The first-class nature of today's line up saw co-headliners Mystery Jets clashing with British Sea Power. Having caught MJs the previous Wednesday in Reading and being a BSP devotee this choice was in reality a no-brainer. In all we managed to take in 11 great acts.

The V2s - Little Johnny Russell's
Competent guitar band to get things underway. Set List written on a waiters note-pad

The Dead Freights - Little Johnny Russell's
Highly likeable local Southampton band. Tunes laced with 60's soundalike melodies. More Animals than Beatles

Just Millie - The Vaults
Undergoing a change of name later this month. At the behest of her label she is moving into experimental electronic territory and will perform under the moniker of 'Wren'. Today an acoustic set with bass and Nicki on box-beating drums

Cassava - Little Johnny Russell's
Back to noisy guitars. Having been running late, this venue had now caught up so only caught last two songs

King Nun - The Loft at The Kings
Most interesting venue of the day - an extensive room above a pub with stage in the corner. Interesting as it presented a down n dirty rock n roll backdrop. In truth the whole room and furnishings require a refurb. But no complaints, good to see an event like this creating a useful home for creative arts. This band are from Richmond (South London, not Virginia). Nirvana guitars with Mark E Smith vocals.

Palm Honey - Little Johnny Russell's
Far and away the best 'unknown' on show today. This band is truly one to put on the radar. Standard guitar line-up but with a prominent synthesiser giving colour and depth to most of their songs. Saw them at Truck Festival earlier in the summer. As then, they announced their last song 22 mins into the set and proceeded to go into an excellent 8-minute prog-based guitar jam which moves into an extended outro comprising scuzzy guitars and strangely melodic feedback as instruments are left strewn across the stage as the band walks off.

Kassassin Street – Pyramids
Off to the Pyramid Centre for three bands firmly on our list today. Kassassin Street are a local Pompey band who deservedly drew a strong local following. The big stage and vibrant light show enabled this band to show their dancey side in full flourish. At the end of the set, lovely to see them taking pictures of the crowd - savouring their big moment. This band potentially has even bigger moments in store.

Eagulls - Pyramids
Eagulls’ songs rely on George Mitchell's powerful vocal being front and centre. Sadly today the band were a guitarist down and seemed to over-compensate by cranking up the volume of the lone guitar. As a result George's sullen poetic lyrics were somewhat drowned out. The slower 'Life In Rewind' off sophomore release 'Ullages' was the best song in today's set.

Little Comets - Pyramids
Had to play a curtailed set to get the venue back to timetable but delivered 7 wonderful songs including one of my all-time favourite songs 'The Blur, The Line, The Thickest Of Onions'. Their jerky rhythms and concisely-delivered vocal lines give this band a truly unique sound.

Lucy Rose - Wedgewood Rooms
A great turn-out for this wonderful female vocalist. Tonight with a band but that didn't detract from the delicate style in which she delivers her beautiful songs

British Sea Power - Wedgewood Rooms
BSP are not on tour currently so this was a one-off; but they were still on fine form. What I find striking about this band is that each of the six members has a brilliantly defined role down to Phil on cornet and Abbi on strings, and cowbell on 'Matches', one of two new songs in this set that otherwise comprised better known numbers including 'Remember Me', 'Waving Flags', 'Great Skua' and 'Carrion'. The customary dancing bears joined in the fun during live favourite 'Spirit Of St. Louis'. The somewhat over-exuberant white bear (aka Bi Polar) took a crowd-surf following which he fell in an unceremonious heap across the barrier. Marvellous fun!

Si

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