Stereo MCs bring Blissfield's tenth year to a close

Blissfields 2010 review

published: Wed 7th Jul 2010

Stereo MCs

Friday 2nd to Sunday 4th July 2010
Bradley Farm, Bradley, Alresford, Hampshire SO24 9RY, England MAP
Only day tix now available Friday (from 5yrs) £25, Saturday (from 5yrs): £35
daily capacity: 1200
last updated: Wed 7th Jul 2010

Saturday saw a certain slowness amongst a large group of festival goers, as those who had taken advantage of the hidden hedge and danced until dawn realised that the heat of the day wasn't going to let them lie in until the afternoon. As such the sofas under the small open sided marquee in the centre of the site were full of dazed people gingerly sipping fruit smoothies and eating bacon rolls. But even for these people who were ignoring the stages there was entertainment laid on, for those looking to balance their inner chakras a mass Yoga session was organised, and for those who preferred to stay seated a street magician worked his way around the site, amazing crowds with card tricks and by producing oranges, balls and at one point a melon from underneath their hats.

Port Eden
So drawn in by his tricks we managed to miss the first act of the day, but it did mean were able to get to the Marquee in good time for Port Eden. Port Eden are a three piece whose laid back sound was reminiscent of Jack Johnson. Most notable about them however is that this was the first band of Dan Bliss, son of the festival organisers, and as such he was introduced by his mother and father and well cheered at by friends in the audience – something that left him noticeably embarrassed by the attention.

By this time main stage had started up with the Laurel Collective, a band who seemed unsure whether they wanted to be pop or art rock. They were followed by Rebel Control, whose energetic reggae quickly had the crowd up and bouncing – even those nursing hidden hedge hangovers. Next was The Jessie Rose Trip, whose vocals and dress sense were lifted heavily from Paloma Faith.

around the festival site (1)
A festival first for this year was the Blissfields marathon – not a crawl along the bars on site, but a genuine marathon, run by Blissfields stage manager John Stanford, he set off from the main stage to run the roads around the festival. John is running 12 marathons this year in aid of the charity Brain Tumor UK and we wish him good luck in his endeavour.

Another first this year was the opportunity to print your own festival t-shirt, choosing your own colour shirt and either selecting the pre designed style or taking the time to design your own version using several template elements there.

Peggy Sue
Back on mainstage, Peggy Sue brought us their dark take on folk music. After several years of touring they have just released their debut album and on the strength of their performance here I suspect that this may be the year they finally take off.

James Yuill arrived on stage early and seemed apologetic for being there. Musically he seems out to prove that anyone with a couple of keyboards and a laptop can sound like Hot Chip and, like Hot Chip, his music worms its way under your skin and it's difficult not to warm to him. We left his set early to hear someone we'd heard perform briefly in the Hidden Hedge on Thursday night. Jonny P Taylor is one of those people who writes very simple songs, and performs them with a passion that makes them into something special. His performance was one of the highlights of the weekend and perfectly suited the friendly and intimate nature that this festival generates.

Charlotte Hatherley
Back on the main stage, Charlotte Hatherley was busy proving there's more to her than just being the ex-guitarist from Ash. Charlotte is a highly capable guitarist and, supported on stage by bassist and drummer, performed a dynamic and punky performance through which the spectre of her former band can still be heard. She was followed by Fenech-Soler, who despite them sounding like an ambient French art jazz band, were in fact a lively and upbeat electro-pop act whose dynamic and energetic performance managed to draw one of the biggest crowds of the day. Their sound is definitely radio-friendly and so I suspect that it won't be long before they make their way into the mainstream.

Band of Skulls had to cancel their appearance because of a family bereavement, but their slot was filled by the excellent Slow Club. This band have recently supported Florence and the Machine, and despite only having two members (guitar and drums), manage to build a very rich sound around well-written songs. Their friendly, chatty performance means they engage well with the crowds and are certainly a band to watch in the coming months.

After an hour of setting up (longer if you count the fact that their drumkit was being set up during Slow Club's set) the Saturday night headliner took to the stage. Stereo MC's are a band that made their name initially in the early 90s when they were one of the central bands of the rave culture. Considering their sound is still very much the same as it was all those years ago I was surprised by how well their music has aged, and hits such as 'Connected', 'Step It Up', and 'Ground Level' are still surprisingly fresh after all these years. Lead singer Nick 'The Head' Hallam is still as strong a performer as he ever was, as he dances and gyrates about the stage supported by two female singers.

Stereo MCs
Although the live bands finished at 11pm, the music continued and the Marquee hosted the official birthday party, hosted by Sombrero Sound System. The party didn’t finish until the small hours, but for those who really didn't want it to end could go and seek out the Hidden Hedge, where the party continued until dawn, ensuring that there were even more hung over and sleep deprived people come Sunday morning.

Blissfields is a festival that seems to get it very right where it matters: the site is just the right size and never feels too crowded; there are plenty of diversions around the site – and not just ones designed to make you part with your money; it's not too expensive; the toilets are smelly, but then what festival doesn't have smelly toilets? But they were regularly cleaned preventing the overflow crisis of the year before. This was the tenth anniversary weekend for a festival that has found the secret to balancing everything just right, and many other festivals, both large and small, could do well to learn from them…

…but do make sure there are chips next year!

Rebel Control
review by: Steve Collins / Marie Magowan

photos by: Steve Collins

Friday 2nd to Sunday 4th July 2010
Bradley Farm, Bradley, Alresford, Hampshire SO24 9RY, England MAP
Only day tix now available Friday (from 5yrs) £25, Saturday (from 5yrs): £35
daily capacity: 1200
last updated: Wed 7th Jul 2010


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