James' hit laiden set tops a perfect festival mix at Beautful Days

Beautiful Days 2010 review

published: Wed 25th Aug 2010

James (1)

Friday 20th to Sunday 22nd August 2010
Escot Park, near Fairmile, Devon, EX11 1LU, England MAP
£100 for adult weekend, 10-16 years £60, 9-5 years £30, under 5s £5 - SOLD OUT
daily capacity: 12000
last updated: Thu 19th Aug 2010

Saturday dawns sunny, and for those of us with like zero sleep under our belts there's various breakfast options in the campsite like bus converted cafes with giant spotted teacups, or perhaps a fry up in a tent with some crazy cartoon projections, or a weird ice slush from a pedal cycling surf inspired roving stall. The grassy main arena has been magically cleaned over night, there was more debris than usual on the way home, clearly this year's crowd have forgotten how to use a bin, perhaps without much lighting in the arena (whatever happened to the flame throwing street lights?) they couldn't see them.

Beltane Border Morris
There's the dark menacing black costumes of the Beltane Border Morris gathering for another day of stick thwacking and leaping about. Food choices are excellent and prices are at the more sensible end of this year's festival spectrum with a decent nosh up costing £5-7, bar prices are excellent with the local Otter Breweries own Beautiful Daze ale a tankard full priced at a drinkable £2.80.

For those needing to unwind the bunched muscles of a night of excess and perhaps feeling the effects of the hill climb to the family field tents there's the Body & Soul Arena - a new area offering a wealth of soothing massage choices and some feel good scented smells. A lovely cuppa of tea at the legendary Tiny Tea Tent which also delivers the occasional impromptu set and I'm all set up for the day.

The mouth wateringly delicious smells filling the air from the catering are overpowering as we wander about the eye popping site, the kids area is bigger and busier than ever, all the little workshop/theatre tents seem packed this year. There's a wealth of crazy performers giving circus based entertainment ringed by watching crowds, and the shops have appealing shiny things and invite you in for a closer look. There's also more crazy robot and giant wooden sculptures about, and tactile knick knacks and woven stuff, there's even an artist selling detailed paintings of the festival to let your eyes dive into, and Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall's River Cottage is offering truly delicious wood oven cooked morsels of food alongside workshops in rustic eating. There's also plenty of seating outside everywhere to sit on and engage in random conversation, and the whole place carries a warm vibe.

Today the festival offers something different to just music on the stages there's comedy, and talks hosted by Goldblade's John Robb with amongst others Don Letts, and Mark Chadwick both provide excellent interviewees, the latter seems to also have found the earlier mentioned hippies' haul. He also makes many of the teenage crowd happy with a showcase of a few tracks from his forthcoming solo album in the Teens only tent, a tent which also enjoyed an intimate show from Newton Faulkner the day before.

Tankus The Henge
The musical delights on offer today are a perfect festival mix, an almost perfect offering of festival music that festival audiences like us love. There's the new talent in the form of Lupen Crook, the upcoming festival acts in Tankus the Henge, and The Last Republic, dance inducing festival regulars like 3 Daft Monkeys, and Seth Lakeman. Folk favourites in Kathryn Williams, Show of Hands, and Bellowhead, and new leftfield acts to experience like the fantastic German rockers Boppin' B, and the frenetic ska maestros Babylon Circus (my acts of the weekend). Also rollin' up are the legends Arthur Brown, The Wurzels, Wilko Johnson, The Alarm, New Model Army who drop marks for having such an uninspired retina burning flashing lightshow, and James. The latter produce a fantastic surprise (for me at least, I thought I only knew one of their songs) hit laiden headlining set with a terrifically tight musical arrangement.

There's not just the chance to get a good boob rub down from a Baywatch babe, there's also the DJ sets to consider. From Don Letts dropping Marley, and 'Fast Car' in the middle of James' set, to the local DJ heroes of Mr. Nice, Maxxi P, and Sub Focus made confusing by the magical dissappearance of banks of candles aloft the tables outside the Big Top. Who cares there's jiggin' to be had with the unknown deck jockeys kickin' out the beats from speakers in tent spaces all over the 'late night' arena around Leviticus (full of gloriously dodgy looking individuals), a chance to groove to Melosa in the Bimble Inn or enjoy the laughs and singalong anthems of the Village Disco possie. It proves a truly upbeat day and sleepless night of top entertainment. Even the forecast rain doesn't want to spoil the party and decides to just fine mist the air, I even manage to have a mystic moment around some tipi field fire. Dawn is breaking over the quiet festival fields as I meander back for bed.

around the festival site (panoramas)
review by: Scott Williams

photos by: Andy Pitt / Danielle Millea / Karen Williams

Friday 20th to Sunday 22nd August 2010
Escot Park, near Fairmile, Devon, EX11 1LU, England MAP
£100 for adult weekend, 10-16 years £60, 9-5 years £30, under 5s £5 - SOLD OUT
daily capacity: 12000
last updated: Thu 19th Aug 2010


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