A busy Sunday and sad farewell for another year

Larmer Tree Festival 2010 review

published: Wed 28th Jul 2010

around the festival site

Wednesday 14th to Sunday 18th July 2010
Larmer Tree Gardens, near Tollard Royal (about 16 miles W of Salisbury), on the Wilts./Dorset border, SP5 5PT, England MAP
£184 for 5 days, day tickets priced at £30 to £58 dependant on day
last updated: Mon 7th Jun 2010

A slightly overcast start to the day means we're not forced out of the tent by a beating sun, but rather two wide awake kids in need of breakfast. After meeting their requirements, our friends offer to take the kids for a tractor ride into the arena while we pack up the tent and its contents and load it into the car. There are a fair few other people doing the same thing and it's good to see that most of the pitches are left free of rubbish.

Some of the people we meet on the short walk to the car talk about being kept awake by people shouting around but we heard nothing. We were either lucky, or so tired, we slept through it. One of the things about the size of Larmer Tree (about 4000 punters), is that you keep bumping into the same people! It's great and by Sunday, you've got loads of new friends!

Back from the car, we laze around to Goldheart Assembly. Their laid back style in songs like 'King of Rome' and 'So Long St Christopher' is the perfect tonic to any excesses from the night before. The sunshine makes another welcome appearance and fits quite nicely with the blissful tunes from the Goldheart lads.

The only issue with driving home on a Sunday is you don't get to enjoy the ale but I'm feeling pretty chilled and have probably had enough for more than one weekend anyway.

Rango
Rango are next up and the chilled out vibe continues (in fact if anything it goes a bit deeper). The Egyptian/Sudanese band play what sounds like a traditional form of trance music but played with real instruments. Looking around, it's clear that some find it monotonous but they remind me of a band from the Congo called Konono Number One. The idyllic setting of the Larmer Tree Gardens really is conducive to relaxing, letting go and just losing yourself in the moment. Rango aid that and although the Larmer Tree peacocks aren't up for a dance on the lawn, many feet are tapping and heads are nodding. They're also right up my street (had you guessed?).

My restless feet take me for a wander and we happen across On Common Ground ft Chris Woods and Hugh Lupton. Having seen Chris Woods perform with The Imagined Village, I know what to expect of his voice, but not too much about the songs that he writes on his own. We're lucky enough to catch a song called 'One In a Million'. I'm pleased to have kept my sunglasses on though they don't hide the tears as this amazing story reaches its climax. It's a joy to hear and Hugh Lumpton's poetic verse with Woods own style put over the top are spellbinding. I couldn't tear myself away if I wanted to.

After a pizza, we're fortunate enough to hear some bass filled beats coming from the ARC stage. It's a million miles from Chris Wood but has a tractor beam effect. James Yuill is on stage. He's got a guitar slung around his back and he's whacking electronic drum pads, sequencing and then looping them, playing some guitar over the top, looping that in perfect time and then adding layer upon layer of magic. Its brilliant watching someone sequence electronic music live and the sounds he's pumping out are brilliant. The programme states his influences include Chemical Brothers and Aphex Twin – both of whom I love – so it's no surprise that I really enjoy his set. His singing over the looping beats fits perfectly and I hope he's loving what he's doing as much as we are.

around the festival site
I've been promising myself for longer than I care to remember that I'd have a massage at a festival. It seems like the perfect place to find a quiet corner with someone who knows what they're doing working away at tired muscles with a backdrop of beautiful surroundings and accompanied by sounds floating from a stage somewhere in the distance. Larmer Tree's Secret Garden has all kinds of therapies being offered. Reiki, Sports Massage, Aromatherapy, Hot Stone Therapy and reflexology are all available plus a whole myriad of other alternatives that don't ring any bells with me. Tucked away in the corner is Touch Therapy – based not far from the festival site. In all honesty, it's my wife that makes the decision for me (I think she's tired of all the years of me saying "I really fancy a massage at a festival"). I'm welcomed by Claire. Her magical hands soothe away years of exercise without proper stretching, sitting in front of a keyboard, and poor posture. The backdrop of the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble is pretty good although I have to admit, it's not getting my full attention!!

To anyone considering a treatment at a festival from a professional, I urge you to give it a go. I'm chuffed I did, but gutted I waited for so long!
Floating back to meet the rest of our party, I grab myself some water and we decide to go for a wander. Watching Pronghorn is probably not what would be prescribed as a perfect post massage activity, but it works. The cowpunk madness is unleashed and the bouncing commences. Potters bar onstage dispensing drinks and we're split in half to have a dance off. The Country Dancers versus The Cossacks. Naturally, we – The Cossacks – win the day and share the spoils, half a pint of cider amongst hundreds of us. The mad banjo and fiddle of 'Lady Boy of the Night' is probably the highlight for me.

The final band we see is Ade Edmondson & The Bad Shepherds. Their punk-fuelled folk music is amusing. Having seen them a few times already, there are no surprises but they're great fun and as Mr Edmondson has said, tuning folk instruments is quite time consuming. Having a front man in the band who can tune up and keep the crowd amused is no bad thing!

We decided at the start of the day to leave after The Bad Shepherds. Martha Wainwright isn't the upbeat way I want to remember the festival, so we bid our farewells to friends old and new, and to Larmer Tree; a slice of beautiful English countryside, music from across the globe, and a great crowd from who cares where.

This is one festival where you get out what you put in. You'll have a great time if you sit down and wait to be entertained, but a magical time if you get stuck in. The kids cry as we leave, that says it all really. We'll be back next year but in the meantime, thank you for letting us take away some magical memories!

around the festival site
review by: James Tayler

photos by: Andy Pitt

Wednesday 14th to Sunday 18th July 2010
Larmer Tree Gardens, near Tollard Royal (about 16 miles W of Salisbury), on the Wilts./Dorset border, SP5 5PT, England MAP
£184 for 5 days, day tickets priced at £30 to £58 dependant on day
last updated: Mon 7th Jun 2010


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