the sun hots up while Cinematic Orchestra fail to shine at Blissfields

Blissfields 2017 Friday review

By Steve Collins | Published: Wed 12th Jul 2017

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Thursday 6th to Saturday 8th July 2017
Vicarage Farm, Woodmancott, Winchester, Hampshire, SO21 3BL, England MAP
£100 for weekend
Daily capacity: 5,000
Last updated: Wed 29th Mar 2017

Friday morning began with a blast of heat from the rising sun. Fortunately having managed to pitch my tent in the shade of the tree I was able to ignore it for a few hours and catch up on sleep - Blissfields, like most festivals, has slowly been becoming a more nocturnal event and so things don't really settle down until 3 or 4 in the morning. After a late breakfast form the Original Fry up tent - whose breakfast muffins put the Mac variety far in the shade - there was time to enjoy the rest of the morning before delving back into what the festival had to offer.

There's always some crazy people who actually seem to enjoy exercise, even in the heat of the day, and Blissfields caters for them so a midday workout, dubbed Disco Yoga, was a mix of yoga stretches and bursts of disco dancing to some 70s classics - just watching it wore me out, and so I headed off in search of shade and some more traditional festival activities.

Opening proceedings in the larch stage today was Wait - a duo of two young lads playing guitar and drums - and when I say young I mean young - the guitarist couldn't have been more than 13, and the drummer not much older. But despite their youth their performance was simply stunning, with a maturity that belied their age. The sound was a mix of Arctic Monkeys and White Stripes. Even a problem with the guitar lead didn't phase them, and after the set you got a sense that we'd just seen a future star in the making.


Another future star was the opening act of the main stage proper Anna of the North is a Norwegian singer songwriter whose performance and songs bought to mind Marina and the Diamonds. Not a bad thing and most pleasant way to start the day off for those who sought shelter in the tree line to the side of the stage.

Another highlight of the afternoon were The Japanese House, whose laid back electro-rock gathered one of the first crowds of the afternoon - one of the strange things about Blissfields is that no one seems to hang about the stages between acts. It doesn't matter how big a crowd an act has drawn together - the second the band goes off stage, the crowd melts away into the festival, leaving the next act to have to start it all over again. While most acts have no problem getting the crowd together, it has to be disheartening to come out to an almost empty stage. I guess it will always be a problem for smaller festivals, where it's easy to go and do something else then come back if you like what your hearing.

japanese house

Sometimes you want music to be clever and innovative, and sometimes you just want it to be loud and brash and a bit angry, at these times you need a band like Barbudo. They definitely fall into the latter category having lifted their sound lock-stock from the Foo Fighters. Fortunately they had the talent to carry this off - managing to even produce a mosh pit despite the heat of the day.

Sundara Karma are a three piece band whose vocals if you turn away are very reminiscent of James Walsh, adding up to pleasant listening in the sun, if they have the festival longevity of James Walsh and Starsailor, they are likely to be a band that will be seen for many years to come although there was not the excitement to say that this band is going to be big.

The final two acts on main stage being at opposite ends of the spectrum, Shura full of angst and attitude were probably more commanding of the stage and crowd than the headliners of the night. The Cinematic Orchestra whilst being musically amazing were just all a bit lack lustre and disinterested in their performance on stage. Probably a band to enjoy while having a few drinks with friends, or at a prom in the park rather than headlining a festival where people are looking to party.


A band that have performed at Blissfields before were Head North, if you can imagine the Waltons performing at a festival you would probably have this band to a tee. They are very talented, and a real mix of characters, but all just seem to be a little too nice.

As the evening worked it's way into the early hours, we found ourselves exploring the Bay, having moved from one side of the site to the other this year, it has taken the opportunity to develop into another intimate dance/ dj arena, attracting quite a crowd who were feeling the beach vibe with inflatable beach balls being tossed high by the crowd.

With a quiet bit of time to ourselves we took the opportunity to ride the Ferris wheel to get a view over the site. This gave a clear picture of the changes, and I would say most are for the better, this is one little festival that never rests on it laurels and is always looking to improve, when there is very little to be improved on. Having these few minutes away from the drum of the music, gives chance to realise that this small venue can manage five different music venues, with little to no bleed through. The ground work is phenomenal and a credit to the Blissfields team. Many of the larger festivals could take note especially as they have more room to manoeuvre.


Having had chance to get a second wind it was off to Area 51 for another Blissfields regular Subgiant - a band whose high energy dance led by Tushar Joshi’s frenetic drumming really deserves a larger audience than they've had. Comments were overheard that they should have been on the main stage, and certainly given this performance I have to agree.

Back in the Larch things took a different route with their first Silent Disco featuring a movie anthem double bill. A great enjoyable set, but also a most bizarre sight to behold when not wearing the headphones. So it was as much soaked in sun as in Blissfields euphoria that we turned in looking forward to what Saturday has to offer.


We have also published reviews for Thursday and Saturday.

review by: Steve Collins

photos by: Steve Collins

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