the well kept secret Big Session offers a relaxed, chilled start

Big Session Festival 2010 review

published: Tue 22nd Jun 2010

around the festival site (2)

Friday 18th to Sunday 20th June 2010
De Montfort Hall, Granville Road, Leicester, England MAP
£75 for the whole weekend, child 5-15 £27.50
last updated: Wed 28th Apr 2010

Big Session, and to a lesser extent it's bigger, more commercial sister Summer Sundae are something of a well kept secret amongst festival goers, taking over the grand Art-Deco venue De Montfort Hall and its associated gardens in Leicester city centre for a few days comprising two of the best festivals in the land.

around the festival site (1)
Big Session is, to quote many attendees, a 'folk-ish' festival. Certainly there is a majority of folk artists, but smattered amongst them are acts that are much different, but still crucially reflect the relaxed, chilled atmosphere of the event.

Being constrained to such a small area of land, the festival feels intimate and extremely laid back. It's not overcrowded, there’s not a hint of trouble and the festival has a very green ethos meaning little to no litter that sometimes spoils the bigger festivals.

First up on the Friday, on the main Indoor Stage, are Julian Gaskell & The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists whose brand of gypsy-punk-folk is a riotous start to a festival. Coming across like the Levellers on speed crashing headlong into Gogol Bordello, the sheer energy on stage from Julian is enough to get even the mildest mannered attendee in the mood for a cracking fest.

The festival line-up is partially decided by the legendary Oysterband, who started the event back in 2005, so there is a selection of Oysterband offshoots peppered across the lineup.

One such offshoot is a solo show from Oysterband bassist Ray "Chopper" Cooper in the Big Top. Very much a traditional folk project, his laid back, easy going style is perfect for the entertaining ballads he sings.

Next up on the Big Top is Ian King. His is a brand of desert blues, interspersed with some more traditional folk. Aside from a glorious bass sound, and fabulous horn section, he is none too memorable.

Joel Owen
The same can not be said of Joel Owen over on the Orange Tree tent stage. Comprising gorgeous poppy melodies, with a general sense of sunshine, he is the perfect counter to a slightly overcast day. Ending on an upbeat ska type number, he has great crossover potential.

Back inside, it is time for Irish folk hero Cara Dillon. She is in possession of a lovely voice, which she uses to great effect on both her slower, more reflective type of songs and the up-tempo toe-tappers.

It is a pity she clashed with the England game being shown in the bar next door, which undoubtedly reduced her crowd, and meant her set was often interrupted by noise from the football viewers.

To end the day, Scottish twins The Proclaimers are on the big Indoor Stage. Unfortunately it becomes boring very quickly, with little to no stage presence, and a pretty flat atmosphere. A disappointing end to an otherwise excellent day.

around the festival site (1)

review by: Phil Grimley

photos by: Phil Bull

Friday 18th to Sunday 20th June 2010
De Montfort Hall, Granville Road, Leicester, England MAP
£75 for the whole weekend, child 5-15 £27.50
last updated: Wed 28th Apr 2010


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