Martha Reeves brings an epic weekend at The Secret Garden Party to a close

The Secret Garden Party 2011 review

published: Tue 2nd Aug 2011

around the festival site (Sunday 1)

Thursday 21st to Sunday 24th July 2011
Mill Hill Field, Abbots Ripton, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, PE28 2PH, England MAP
£155 adult weekend
daily capacity: 26000
last updated: Wed 29th Jun 2011

Sunday got off to a slow start as us gardeners nursed our late night antics with some good solid food. There was a great selection of food stalls and actually really good festival prices (a full fry-up for £6 and a curry with rice, bhaji, and naan bread for £6.50).

David Rodigan
The day of music started in the best possible way for me as my hero and legendary reggae DJ David Rodigan graced The Great Stage. With just a set of decks and an otherwise empty stage, he managed to fill up the whole arena with music, people, and good vibes.

It was not only a legendary perfect set to accompany the sun that was beating down so hard on the excitable crowd, it was a history lesson. Rodigan took us through the history of reggae, dancehall, drum n’ bass and dubstep etc, going back as far as the 1970’s, describing the birth of each genre of music before playing the records, bouncing to the front of the stage and hyping the crowd up.

The mainstage area was the most packed I had seen it so far and the crowd were going absolutely crazy for Rodigan, who in turn fed off their enthusiasm bounding about, arms in their air, shouting encouragement such as "Are you ready for the bassline Secret Garden Party?!"

Near the end of his set he revealed that he had been given an extra ten minutes by backstage staff, which had the audience ecstatic. He also took time to give the most touching tribute to Winehouse I had seen that weekend.

"There are no words to express how I feel about the tragedy of a young lady who lost her life. I met her once and I was inspired by her voice and her passion. She had so much love; this is a song about love for Amy"; he then played Bob Marley's classic 'Is This Love'.

It was a really special moment as everyone sang along and swayed together. As Rodigan's elongated epic set finished the applause in the arena towards him rang out into the sky, quite deservedly.

around the festival site (Sunday 1)
I was aware of lots of stuff going on that I didn't have time to explore but I had been made very aware of the mud-wrestling competitions that were going on, and I stumbled across an amazingly entertaining dance-off.

I kicked myself for missing the paint fight in front of the main stage but knew it was definitely over due to the amount of multi-coloured powdery people that were wandering around site.

I also had a peek into the 'Laa of Soft Things', which was a space completely filled with cushions, duvets etc. and full of comatosed bodies resting their heads out of the blazing sunshine.

MC Xander
MC Xander was in the Remix tent; I caught him because I had only discovered him a week before at Lovebox festival and I loved him. He uses just his mouth to create beats, riffs etc, records it and then MCs over it.

When he started the tent was empty but as he got into the groove the place became packed as people wandered in and couldn’t help but move to the dubstep beats and rhymes he was creating.

I found the gorgeous Circus Kinetica stage that has been travelling around the festivals this summer and ska style band Samsara was wowing the crowd surrounding it. Their music ranged from ska to folk style but generally had the types of beats that had people up and dancing around in front of them; They were definitely very entertaining to watch too and I was really glad I'd managed to stumble upon them.

around the festival site (Sunday 1)
As the sun went down the great stage was surrounded for the headliners, Motown greats, Martha Reeves and The Vandellas and in a blaze of all that is diva-like there they were, sparkly outfits and big smiles.

Martha herself was a real character chatting to the audience throughout and stating "We'd like to thank you all for buying our albums and keeping us in the music industry for 50 years."

Their performance comprised of lots of attitude, playfulness, and perfectly in-sync Motown dance moves.

They played their classics to the crowd, whom did not necessarily know all of them but joined in nonetheless. Amongst these were 'Love is like a Heatwave' and 'Nowhere to Run'.

They also had Brassroots as their backing band, and the guys kept up perfectly throughout proving they are extremely talented at what they do.

Martha also took time out to introduce their drummer, Larry 'Mr Sticks' Crockett, who has played for many greats over the years. He played some solo pieces through the set where it was actually impossible to see how fast his hands were moving, and was unbelievably outstanding.

Admittedly, Martha's voice was strained at parts but the power was still there and she really involved the audience by getting them to sing along with lyrics and clap at certain points.

As their set was ending, for the last 15 minutes or so, there was a pantomime style set-up where Martha was being told to finish up by the crew and she repeatedly snapped "Leave me alone!! Leave me alone!! I don't care what you're saying. Leave me alone!"

As 'Dancing in the Street' flew up into the night sky and the set finished, the whole of SGP was shaking from side to side, as the epic weekend drew to a close.

around the festival site (Sunday 2)
review by: Fiona Madden

photos by: Fiona Madden

Thursday 21st to Sunday 24th July 2011
Mill Hill Field, Abbots Ripton, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, PE28 2PH, England MAP
£155 adult weekend
daily capacity: 26000
last updated: Wed 29th Jun 2011

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