a highly enjoyable GuilFest offers a great selection of acts on day three

GuilFest 2009 review

published: Fri 17th Jul 2009

Happy Mondays

Friday 10th to Sunday 12th July 2009
Stoke Park, Guildford, Surrey., England MAP
£110 with camping, Child (aged 12-15) £60
last updated: Wed 17th Mar 2010

The weather improves, a handy barrier provides a useful washing line to dry last night's sodden togs, and the loos are still usable and queue free, result. Another relaxing start to the day, more Rock Choir, a proliferation of 'Swine Flu' T-shirts, and for me a decision to not move much after feeling rather under the weather.

The Hamsters
I'm too late for Elmor, so it's back to the main stage for The Hamsters, brilliamnt guitar work and classic coverss from ZZ Top, and Jimi Hendrix make for a fantastic Sunday afternoon in the sun. Then it's time for Sennah's last ever gig, wearing the usual tutu lead singer Laura leads a phalanx of kids in a singalong, it's a bit emotional I guess. Unfortunately the stage packing Guildford Philharmonic Orchestra playing Abba isn't, and where as I was expecting just an orchestra the singers do nothing for me, however the nearby vendors are loving it, dancing away singing their hearts out in their stalls.

The ales in the bar are all different when I venture there, so I get to try some others beers, nice. The Beat prove a vibrant soundtrack with 'Much to Much' getting much of the crowd at the front of stage dancing, and the ska continues with Skaville UK. I choose to sample a bit of United Stoats Of America, and rising stars Telegraphs. I expect the latter to be playing lower card main stages at many festivals next year, they showed great promise and bundles of energy.

Melo Park
I return to the main stage for the beautiful voice of Sian Evans and her new project Melo Park who really need a drummer in my opinion. A concept based on a park which sounded pretty similar to GuilFest right then. Sure enough she still sings Kosheen's 'Hungry' and I get a delicious lamb tangine from the Moorish place. Before watching a little of Eric Faulkner in the UnisonZone Tent having previously witnessed the bun fight (literally) that was The Unbelievable Freeloaders From Mars.

Goldie Lookin Chain
There's a crowd at the Surrey Advertiser stage so I join them for the rather terrific Spotlight Cannibal, with lead singer local boy Markus Flaherty drawing a strong local following, a big positive enrgetic sound leaves me buoyant for Goldie Lookin' Chain whose natural comedy carries them beyond novelty act, they play a host of new tunes, and go down a storm.

For me the highlights of the weekend were the next two acts The Wailers, who provide an eargrinning well known reggae soundtrack to Stoke Park as the rain seemed to just skirt Guildford, and the Madchester flourish of Happy Mondays.

The Wailers
The Wailers music was to be savoured in the sun. After the Californian tunes of Brian Wilson failed to have the accompanying weather the night before, the music of the seven membered Jamaican reggae legends was blessed with sunshine, as those hits just kept on coming, and the mellow reggae drenched vibe had to be the musical highlight of the weekend, as we sing along to 'Exodus', 'I Shot The Sherriff', and 'Jammin'. I was expecting more people to join in but by now had got used to a more subdued crowd than previous years.

I'm not sure quite what happened with Happy Mondays, one moment I was quite normal, waving off the others in our party who headed for Will Young, the next I was bouncing, wearing a horned helmet, sweaty in front of Bez, who was trying to offer us all a swig of whiskey, and then it all went hazy. They sounded awesomely shambolic, I regained some sanity and returned to our normal viewing spot away from the throng.

Next thing I'm convinced I'm supposed to be meeting someone at The King Blues and dash down to the Rock Sound Cave to enter the sweaty inferno just as they kick into 'Save The World' - brilliant timing! Then I'm back at the Main Stage, for more funked up Eighties choons, crazy Bez dancin' and verbal abuse from Shaun Ryder.

Happy Mondays
We decide to leave before they climax, and get out before the queues. It's been a great weekend, with music to cater for everyone, which is great for those who have a diverse taste in good music. I'm not sure that when the line-up was being put together whoever did it, realised it would work so well, but it kept crowds at all the stages. Everyone I spoke to had had a great weekend, I saw no violent trouble over the weekend, and genuinely enjoyed the buoyant vibe. I even heard that the next day some of the messiest spotty youths, who had been celebrating their end of exams, tidied up their campsite before they left.

This was surely the most successful GuilFest I've ever attended, the weekend was a happy, unhurried, friendly affair. A big thanks to festival organiser Tony Scott and his team who pulled out all the stops to create a highly entertaining weekend of music. And, deciding to move the Rock Sound Cave away from the major congestion was inspired in my opinion. I wonder how on earth you can better the festival next year!
review by: Scott Williams

photos by: Karen Williams / Scott Williams

Friday 10th to Sunday 12th July 2009
Stoke Park, Guildford, Surrey., England MAP
£110 with camping, Child (aged 12-15) £60
last updated: Wed 17th Mar 2010

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