Stiff Little Fingers prove the highlight of a rain filled Beautiful Days

Beautiful Days 2008 review

published: Thu 21st Aug 2008

Stiff Little Fingers

Friday 15th to Sunday 17th August 2008
Escot Park, near Fairmile, Devon, EX11 1LU, England MAP
£90 for the weekend - SOLD OUT (car parking tickets still available)
last updated: Fri 18th Jul 2008

The weather has arrived, the tent is half un-pegged as the wind batters our high sided abode which I neglected to tie down with guy ropes. Least I get a decent lie in, although not really thinking we head for the in campsite cafe for breakfast and queue in the rain in unsuitable clothes. Bizarrely there's a long queue of un-sensibly dressed people waiting for the £2 showers, why not just strip off and get soaked even sooner?

around the site (1)

The rain is almost horizontal, so we take our time leaving the dry cover of our campsite, and opt to hang out in The Big Top under canvas but not before we've reached the main stage for a bit of Rhytmites, and some perky tunes from Nuala & The Alchemy Quartet and some terrific guitar, fiddle, and bass work underpinned with some understated drumming, it's worth getting a soaking, although we do decide to visit the merchandise tent to hide from the rain and still hear it. The festival shirts are selling like hot cakes so we buy one, but we can't get the new Levellers album seems there's only a special option to buy it online from a well known virtual shop.

We sludge around to The Big Top and miss Dan Donnelly, but see Blood Or Whiskey who remind me of the energy of an early Saw Doctors or Pogues. They're a highly enjoyable find, traditional sweaty festival fare and by all accounts they were very hungover, though weren't we all.

12 Stone Toddler are another great find, and the young teens in our party also enjoy them, voting them their favourite band of the weekend. They're styles and influences are all over the place, playing well enough to defy pigeon holing, I guess you'd call it psychedelic rock I do particularly enjoy 'Daddy Was A Bad Mother' and would happily see more of this quartet.

Stepping outside for a fag, I consider giving Nick Harper a miss I've seen him before but the rain is still lashing it down. It's a good move on my part I'm impressed with his tight guitar work, he throws in a bunch of other riffs, that leave you wondering if he really just played a bit from that, and a few Led Zep riffs slip through before Mark Chadwick joins him for a Roy Harper tune, rather enjoyable.

3 Daft Monkeys aren't supposed to be here, they keep telling us this, while they provide their lively dance about festival favourite tunes, they're a wonderful trio of energy that's always a good dance and singalong and probably the best festival band about, up there with Levellers and Dreadzone.

It's still pouring down, and The Fiddler's Arms is providing the Tricky cider to give us courage to brave the rain for Balkan Beat Box and to meet up with our teenage charges who have been watching the comedians in the Little Big Top, under cover of the Hope Tavern we're re-told the best jokes they can remember. We take refuge in the Pussy Parlure watching lithe contortionists, wonder woman with hoops, and a guy who eats light bulbs, who, with an audience of young kids, rapidly leaves the stage after aborting his show.

Stiff Little Fingers

The best band of the weekend step up next, the monumental Stiff Little Fingers who, in the driving rain, attract a crowd of fans who sing along to every song, we bounce around singing at each other, tales are told of the last time we all saw Jake Burns and all those great hits are rolled out with bone crunching basslines and energetic drums, and Jake's punk-tastic guitar runs amok, glorious ijn the mud and rain. We romp through 'Johnny Was', 'Tin Soldiers', 'Suspect Device', 'Alternative Ulster', and a bunch of other tunes, Jake electing to keep it fast and full of songs, rather than slowing it up by talking to us, and it works wonderfully, there's steam rising off me as I walk back breathless into the bar for a much needed drink.

After that both Alabama 3, and Supergrass seem a bit tame, and between them we both head back to the Bimble Inn via a wander up to a Tiny Tea Tent, discover Mezzanine Dream and some chilled vibes. Revived, we go to see Dan Donnelly playing a humour infused set which includes a homage to SLF with his own version of 'Alternative Ulster' and a song which included the lyric “F**k off or I'll do your car” which I happen to be singing along to as I turn to the bar to come face to face with an eight year old and her mother, they look a little peeved. So I slope off back to Supergrass via a weird bus and some skeletal metal beasts. Supergrass play a few hits, but not 'Alright' gutted! We meet up with friends and end up at Salsa Celtica and an impromptu sing off in the Pizza tent. We find food, and spend the evening as the rain has ceased dancing about outside the beer tent, before returning to bed as the rain starts.

Supergrass
review by: Scott Williams

photos by: Karen Williams / Andy Pitt / Zelah Williams

Friday 15th to Sunday 17th August 2008
Escot Park, near Fairmile, Devon, EX11 1LU, England MAP
£90 for the weekend - SOLD OUT (car parking tickets still available)
last updated: Fri 18th Jul 2008


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