Citadel debuts with great music but awful queues

Citadel 2015 review

published: Thu 23rd Jul 2015

around the festival site

Sunday 19th July 2015
Victoria Park, Tower Hamlets, Greater London, E9 7BT, England MAP
£49.50, under 12s £5
daily capacity: 25000
last updated: Wed 1st Jul 2015

A much more chilled affair than the previous day’s Lovebox, festival debutants Citadel down-sized to just three stages and a bunch of cherry-picked musical acts to entertain the masses.

Sunday defied the weather forecast for the second day in a row, and stayed sunny for the duration. The crowd seemed a lot more sensible with more families milling around, despite the fact there were sniffer dogs on the gates again and a seemingly heavier security presence. With more outdoor activities such as badminton and dodgeball, it felt much more relaxed and the music certainly plated a big part.

First up was Bear's Den on the Communion Stage. Delivering a blissfully folky set with tracks such as 'The Love We Stole' and 'When You Break', Andrew Davie, Kev Jones and Joey Haynes wooed their fans with haunting, harmonised vocals and poetic lyrics laced with forgotten love and heartache. Tracks were packed with melodic twists and turns, and had a commercial blend that reminded me of something in between Snow Patrol and Mumford. A nice easy entry into the festival, and a thoroughly enjoyable performance.

Nick Mulvey: Citadel 2015

Next was personal hero Nick Mulvey, again on the Communion stage. With plenty of crowd interaction, the Mercury-shortlisted artist sang into his audience and kept people captivated with his catchy grooves and pensive vocals. Looking rough around the edges and un-showy as a performer, it’s his general persona and deliciously acoustic fusion with electronica that wins the day with me. He played tracks from 'First Mind' such as 'Fever To The Form'’and 'Curcurrucu', with the majority of the audience joining in for 'Meet Me There'. Nick seemed on top form, breaking out into smiles during songs and looking like he was loving every minute of being there.Top marks from me.

Ben Howard headlined and finished the day on the main stage. Playing an extended 90 minute set, he played mostly tracks from his new album 'I Forget Where We Are' including 'Small Things', 'Time is Dancing', and 'Conrad'. Beginning his set sat down, it took a while for him to warm up and unlike the subdued 60 minutes we saw at Glastonbury – this time he mixed things up with a performance that felt a lot more upbeat. I find him very introvert as a performer, often so deeply involved into his lyrics he becomes completely engrossed in his own music. From a crowd / entertainment perspective he lacks in interaction and acknowledgement, but from a music perspective his set was flawless and it was a great end to the day.

Ben Howard: Citadel 2015

The site in general was easy to navigate, although I did struggle with having two of the main stages set at opposite ends of the park meaning we had to leave Nick’s set early to catch the start of Ben’s. Had I not been shooting the sets I would have bumbled over when Nick had ended, however as predicted a huge crowd had drawn to see Ben – logistically not ideal!

Same gripe if not worse than Lovebox is centred around the food queues as well as bars. Run by the same organisers as Wilderness, we expected there to be a better variety of food. If there was, we didn’t notice, due to the extra long queues that were present all day long for pretty much every single food vendor. I queued for 30 minutes to get a Buddha Bowl, but boy was it worth it. You have a choice of two or three size boxes filled with layers of Massaman curry with new potatoes, pineapple and soya chunks. Plus carrot, homemade kimchi pickle, flash steamed kale, organic short grain brown rice and a sprinkling of omega seeds. Never ceases to amaze me how delicious this is, they are one of my favourite street food vendors and I highly highly recommend!

around the festival site: Citadel 2015

Back to the queues, as the food stalls were rammed so too were the bars again. Same issue – queues to get into queues, and by 6.30pm most of the main bars had run out of beer! My boyfriend queued for 30 minutes, to be told when he got right to the front they were out of beer. He then spent another 30 minutes in the next queue… definitely something that needs to be sorted out for next year. For this sized capacity festival – Lovebox too – there just needs to be more bars and better staffing to facilitate. Given you only have one day at this festival, you don’t really want to be spending the whole time waiting…

Overall apart from more dust storms it was a great day in terms of music. Sound systems were spot on too, and if these issues were sorted out for next year I’d definitely consider returning.


review by: Carrie Tang

photos by: Carrie Tang

Sunday 19th July 2015
Victoria Park, Tower Hamlets, Greater London, E9 7BT, England MAP
£49.50, under 12s £5
daily capacity: 25000
last updated: Wed 1st Jul 2015


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