Hugh Phillimore welcomed back the crowds to the 12th year of the Cornbury Festival came about over the weekend of July 10-12th . With the weather forecast set to stay over the three days, the line-up included Legendary singer Tom Jones, Lulu and Billy Ocean. Stunning Oxfordshire countryside, the views as you enter the grounds never fail to impress, even for an annual visitor or of a first timer. The line-up is always diverse and this year is no different with music on the live stages, entertainment with comedy and poetry and family friendly fun.
Each year, I feel that the line-up feels like it gets smaller and less impressive. However, with Tom Jones, Lulu, Razorlight & Billy Ocean this year had the potential to be the best yet and finally, in my opinion, get back up to where it was 5 years ago, when I began attending. The one thing of note this year was that the line-up saw a lot of Country acts on the Bill which could have a negative affect and take the festival away from its diverse roots. But I was to see for myself.
Joel Rafael, was the first act of the Festival. American, old school folk music. Throughout his set, he was telling the audience about the songs he'd written and the stories/messages behind them. He played a lot off his new album 'Baladista' and accompanied by a slide guitar player, Rafael was a quiet, understated start to the Festival.
Moulettes were quirky, multi instrumental band who were the first act on the main Pleasant Valley stage. Their performance had a sense of fun about it & they didn't seem to take themselves too seriously. They played tracks off their new & third album 'Constellations'. Moulettes are led by female vocal harmony from Hannah Miller, who played the Cello & Ruth Skipper who was on the Bassoon and auto harp.
Police Dog Hogan are a British band whose music combines elements of folk & country with many songs taking on a humorous slant. Led by extrovert singer James Studholme, the whole band gel together combing numerous instruments including the Banjo/Mandolin/Trumpet/Guitar and Accordion. The whole set was lively , energetic and great fun.
Larkin Poe were absolutely fantastic. Sisters, Rebecca & Megan Lovell, hail from Atlanta, Georgia and they were voted as “Best Discovery of Glastonbury 2014 by the Observer. Their name comes from the name of the sisters' great-great-great grandfather who was a distant cousin of Edgar Allan Poe. They were the rockier side of Country, with the younger sister, Rebecca playing electric guitar while older sibling Megan worked wonders on the slide guitar. Incredible harmonies abound in a set that you couldn't take your attention off. A great discovery!
The James Hunter Six named after the leader singer James Hunter who hails all the way from Colchester...played a great set of Rn B and Blues. Singer Hunter has a great soulful voice, at times reminiscent of the legendary James Brown. Backed up by his fine guitar playing and a tight band, they had the audience rocking.
The Fratellis played a set of their hits including hits 'Chelsea Dagger' and 'Henrietta'. They concentrated more on playing their set then chatting with the audience which created a distance between both the band & the audience. A lot of energy which saw the younger audience embrace but a set that won't live long in the memory when you look at the others acts of the day.
Chas & Dave – what you see is what you get. Great fun, good banter and good old fashion Chas and Dave music. Chas & Dave are known across the Country for their "rockney" style music where the Cornbury crowd was full of dedicated fans, who were dressed up as them. Harmless, fun and professionally done. What they do, they do incredibly well and the response from the crowd was great.
Fridays head liners Razorlight produced probably the most energetic set of the day with lead singer Johnny Borrell jumping and leaping around the stage. Their set was full of fan favourites such as 'America', 'Golden Touch', 'Somewhere Else' and 'In the Morning', all received by an appreciative crowd. Familiar guitar riffs which were all instantly recognisable by the audience. Again, similarly to The Fratellis, there wasn't a lot of interaction between the Cornbury audience and the band themselves. For a Friday headliner, they hit the spot & gave the Cornbury crowd exactly what they needed and wanted after a long week at work!
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