Big Session delivers a wealth of musical choice on second day

Big Session Festival 2010 review

published: Tue 22nd Jun 2010

around the festival site (1)

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

The Saturday at Big Session is the only complete day of music, across all three stages. It's an especially varied day, ranging through traditional folk such as headliner Kate Rusby, via stomping dub/reggae from Dreadzone and to indie-pop newcomers Stornaway.

It also includes a two hour ceilidh. That something like this can take up two hours of prime stage time on one of the main stages differentiates Big Session from some of it's more mainstream cousins.

Crucially, the variety of acts on show also confirms that this definitely not a straight up folk festival, but a crossover showcasing all manner of talent.

around the festival site (1)
First up though is Blair Dunlop in the Big Top. Here is a young man with great potential, sparkling with charm to drag the punters into the day.

It should also be noted that because the festival is so small, it is so easy to spend a while wandering around, looking at the many choices for lunch, catching a bit of something here, a bit of something there, and generally soaking up the delightful atmosphere.

As such, two hours can pass you by without you realising, and you just don't mind. Therefore Miles Hunt and Erica Nockalls are the next band to be caught, also in the Big Top. They peddle a relaxed brand of acoustic songs and are perfect for the sunny afternoon.

So we come to another of the Oysterband offshoots. This time going by the name of Holy Bandits, they are in fact the whole of Oysterband (plus a couple of guests) playing the entirety of their classic Holy Bandits album.

Whilst there are some initial sound issues, the atmosphere in the tent is fabulous. There is a real sense of a special moment, and the band feed off the crowd as much as the crowd feed off them.

Back inside, the stage is running slightly over, so there is plenty of time for the (relatively) massive crowd to file in for Chumbawamba.

Lets get the preconceptions over with. Yes, they did do Tubthumping. No, they do not play it. They don't even sound like it. What they are is a revelation, and proof that music can still be interesting and fresh.

They work largely in an a capella form, occasionally incorporating instruments such as accordion, trumpet and guitar. Indeed, there is even one moment in a song that uses the dreaded vuvuzela that has been terrorising audiences throughout the World Cup in South Africa.

They are a mighty triumph, and whilst still as politically minded as ever, they don't push it down their audience's throats.

Next up indoors are indie-popsters Stornoway. They are a band that is pretty hip right now, with coverage from several leading publications saying great things. For once, the hype appears justified. They deal in contemporary indie-pop, with folk tinges, and some gorgeous atmospheric moments.

Whether it's a laid back number, or a more upbeat song, they perform perfectly. The more melancholy tracks in particular, awash with beautiful keys, are lovely. They are tipped for the top, and on this showing they will make it with ease. A revelation.

Kate Rusby
For headliners on day two, a tough choice is required. Bona fide folk legend Kate Rusby is on the Indoor Stage, whilst the aforementioned mighty Dreadzone are rocking the place in the Big Top. It is Saturday night, and as British dance music pioneers, Dreadzone make perfect sense.

It is a choice that is justified the second they walk out on stage. Combining dubby moments, with reggae guitar and vocals, some killer beats from both drummer and electronics and the filthiest bass lines known to man, they raise an entire tent to their collective feet.

Incredibly loud, and with the bass so huge it shakes all your internal organs into one jelly-like mush, they, quite simply, rock you to your very core, and hammer the final nail in the 'Big Session is a folk festival' coffin.

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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