there's Amy Winehouse tributes aplenty on day two of Camp Bestival

Camp Bestival 2011 review

published: Fri 5th Aug 2011

around the festival site (1)

Friday 29th to Sunday 31st July 2011
Lulworth Castle, Dorset, BH20 5QS, England MAP
adult weekend camping £170, child age 11-17 £85, under 10s free
last updated: Wed 27th Jul 2011

After treating the kids to a performance of The Gruffalo and sets by Zingzillas, Mr Tumble and Dick N Dom, it's time to begin the day's entertainment for adults with Gentleman's Dub Club's Main Stage slot.

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It's overcast and highly humid and the Leeds-based reggae and ska nine-piece, looking sharp in suits and skinny ties, provide some ideal lazy summer grooves. 'High Grade' has everyone bouncing along nicely, although the following number, 'Procedure Fire', appears to have exactly the same melody and bassline. It doesn't really matter though; summer seems to be gracing us with a brief appearance, the band are full of energy, all high-kicks and skanking, and they get the grown-up music ball rolling nicely.

Pushing past the jousting arena, there's time to catch a short glimpse of The Humans in the Big Top, but because of a last-minute line-up change they have to cut their set short and fill a gap on the Main Stage.

The Humans
The three-piece comprise acoustic guitar, bass and violin and deal in the sort of gentle, earnest folk purveyed by Badly Drawn Boy. 'Ceilings and Walls', with melancholic strings, is the highlight of their short set, and while there's a fairly small number of people reclining in the shade, they seem pretty content with what they're hearing.

Kathryn Williams is next up on the same stage, and she picks up on the serene atmosphere. Dressed modestly in a purple cardigan, she chats away between songs in disarming fashion, revealing that these days she's up at 5am with the kids rather than up all night.

'Daydream And Saunter', with it's descending bass notes, sounds like a reflective break-up letter, while the tender finger-picking of 'Come With Me', co-written with Neil MacColl, evokes Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah'.

Newton Faulkner
Williams employs a loop pedal on 'Little Black Numbers', while 'Beautiful Cosmos' is built on simple and insistent major chords, brief and beautiful. At its conclusion, she appears touched by the crowd's response before quipping "Right, let's get back to something melancholic" and finishing with 'Breathe'. The smattering of people lazing in the afternoon cool of the tent quickly becomes a throng and by the time Newton Faulkner steps on to the platform that's been wheeled centre stage for his set, they're five-deep outside.

A lengthy finger-tapping opening breaks into his opening number and it's met by a formidable roar from a crowd of clearly devotional followers. 'I Took It Out On You' and a cover of Massive Attack's 'Teardrop' which showcases his rich bluesy vocal tones while managing to strip all of the brooding, sensual atmospherics of the original, follow.

Everything he does is met with universal approval - singing into his pick-ups, percussive rapping on the body of his acoustic with his knuckles and cheery patter between songs. At the tent's fringes, though, it's all bit muffled and inaudible. Shame.

His most recognisable piece of work 'Place I Go' is teased out slowly before, stamping on his bass drum pedal, he summons the crowd to join in with its emotive, singalong chorus. It's easy to imagine his set as a 45-minute soundtrack to a romantic comedy starring Hugh Grant and Gwyneth Paltrow.

Outside, a half-naked man in a straw hat and chimpanzee mask performs semi-sexual tai chi moves and we're briefly distracted. However, we're dragged back to the action in the tent when the dreadlocked solo singer begins his final song.

"Surely he's not going to do it", we think to ourselves. "No, he can't, it would be cringe-worthy". "Oh, no. He's doing it..." Faulkner finishes with a full-length, irony-free version of Queen's 'Bohemian Rhapsody' and about 95 per cent of the people inside the Big Top go crazy. Jesus wept.

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Next we tear ourselves away from the excellent Smerins Anti-Social Club and their reggae re-working of the 'Doctor Who' theme, to get a taste of the expensive luxury widely available at Camp Bestival, with an invite to dinner at Kerstin Rodgers' Underground Restaurant. Fellow guests for our silver service dinner include Jo Whiley and Keith Allen, who plays piano after dessert.

We're spoiled with some exceptionally good food, starting with courgette flowers and goats cheese in a deliciously light tempura batter before enjoying salmon or halloumi wrapped in vine leaves with saffron and almond potatoes, jasmine rice and nasturtium salad, then a rose kulfi and a board of Dorset cheeses with biscuits and Wareham chutney, accompanied by a selection of wines. A Dogburger and a can of warm Blackthorn by the portaloos it isn't.

While the early part of the day was filled with acts to keep the kids happy, this year's evening line-up is heavy with DJ sets, and two sets from Rev Milo Speedwagon bookend Mark Ronson's Main Stage performance.

Perhaps this reviewer is being unfairly cynical, but large parts of his Ronson's come across like bad karaoke. He's undoubtedly an extremely talented producer and popular figure in the musical community, but as a frontman and vocalist he falls flat.

Radiohead's 'Just' and Phantom Planet's OC-soundtracking 'California' get the covers treatment before he threatens to turn the place into "a seedy hip-hop New York nightclub". Ambitious, looking at the array of picnic blankets and MacLaren buggies he's faced with.

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Ronson is perhaps best known for his production work with Amy Winehouse and it's genuinely touching to hear him talking of his pain at her passing, confessing "It's hard to play these songs. I wish Amy was here."

He recounts the tale of the first time they met before being joined by Charlie from The Rumble Strips for a version of 'Back To Black'. Sadly it lacks all of the soul and simmering regret Winehouse imbued it with. A disjointed 'Valerie' follows, with Ronson this time leaving the crowd to do most of the singing.

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We leave for the Big Top, where DJ Yoda continues the Amy tribute with a quick blast of 'Rehab' before a rollercoaster ride through dub-heavy samples, bootlegs, children's TV themes and accompanying cleverly cut-up visuals. It seems as if he's been touring this set for the best part of a decade, and there's nothing new or different about his act this summer, but it is unquestionably very entertaining. The theme from The A-Team, a dubstep 'Smells like Teen Spirit', Black Sabbath's 'Iron Man', a Masterchef mash-up, Fatboy Slim, 'Tetris', and a dubstep 'Rastamouse' all hurtle by before, what seems like 20 minutes later, his trademark "That's All Folks" visual is bringing Camp Bestival's second day to a close.
review by: Helen Brown / Gary Walker

photos by: Steve Palmer

Friday 29th to Sunday 31st July 2011
Lulworth Castle, Dorset, BH20 5QS, England MAP
adult weekend camping £170, child age 11-17 £85, under 10s free
last updated: Wed 27th Jul 2011


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