Vieux Farka Toure & Asian Dub Foundation rock Larmer Tree Festival

Larmer Tree Festival 2011 review

published: Fri 22nd Jul 2011

Vieux Farka Toure

Wednesday 13th to Sunday 17th July 2011
Larmer Tree Gardens, near Tollard Royal (about 16 miles W of Salisbury), on the Wilts./Dorset border, SP5 5PT, England MAP
weekend tickets sold out, day tickets left for Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday
daily capacity: 4000
last updated: Thu 30th Jun 2011

An ultra gloomy start to the day and the thought of trying to cook breakfast in the rain is particularly unattractive. We signed the kids up for a fairly early pitta bread-making workshop (held at the pizza stall), and so we get togged up with waterproofs for the day and head out. The kids both enjoy it and we're all amazed at how enormous it becomes in the stone oven. They eat the fruits of their labour warm from the oven and drizzled with honey, while I opt for some kedgeree from the Goan fish curry stall. It's usually only sold until midday and often we cook breakfast at the tent to save a few quid and get ourselves set for the day so it's a rare treat and highly recommended.

around the festival site (3)
I take the boy for a wander around The Lost Wood and we get involved in a community game of scrabble on an enormous board. We're given the last player's leftover pieces and a few more and have to add to the crowded board. Our pieces are then given to the next participants. As we think our turn is over, we're told that we have to create a poem with each line starting with a letter of the word that we've just created on the board. After that our brains are both aching so we head to Café Dish for a coffee and hot chocolate. The staff are great and we sit under the gazebo watching the rain and making new friends. Meanwhile, the Mrs and our youngest have taken her teddy to Teddy Hospital. The children are all really in to it, and there was a lot to keep them amused for the hour. The ladies who run it were great at getting each child to open up, and teddy came back covered in bandages and looking like an extra from The Mummy.

As the rain slows down a little we head over to the circus skills workshop and attempt to pass a diabolo between us with varying degrees of success. Actually I'm sure the wind and rain aren't helping!

Back at the main stage there is a bit of a switch around on the bill as Vieux Farka Toure has been held up in immigration on the way into the country so the first act we catch is Jassi Sidhu who tells us to imagine that we're in our favourite Indian restaurant, and he will supply the soundtrack. He's a huge name on the British Bhangra scene and here are a LOT of people up and moving for him and his band. The Dohl drums bang out a delicious beat and it's remarkably dry underfoot already.

The Mrs heads over to a Charleston dance Workshop. By the time it's due to be over, we head over to watch rows of people all being tutored with amusing anecdotes and reminders and in such a short space of time, they've all (well mostly), got it licked. It bodes well for the 1950's fancy dress theme.

around the festival site (2)
Our lad decides he likes the thought of having a massage and The Healing Gardens at Larmer Tree are just the place to try that kind of thing. Such a beautiful setting and we manage to get him on a taster session with a few different oils. While he is relaxing, I take our daughter to the Inta Afrca workshop. It's African drumming and this time we get there in time to get a drum (each!). Most of the drums are djembe drums and a huge seated drum circle is formed. The instruction is great and there are loads of kids there. In fact, with that many drums and that many kids, it really ought to sound like a one-man band falling down the stairs. It doesn't, and our tutors have singers chanting, dancing and singing over the hypnotic and trance like rhythms. My only advice for these workshops is get there early, and if you've got kids, make sure they've been to the loo first – otherwise, you'll have to give up your drums to take them!

The fancy dress parade seems a lot lighter in participants this year. From speaking to a few people, a lot of the lads found the 1950's theme a bit too restrictive, though the ladies looked lovely! There was a lot more scope for them to create some amazing outfits.

Stornoway
Stornoway go down really well with us. Their lead singers voice reminds me of Tim Booth from James especially in the 'Zorbing' tune. The Indie sounds aren't raucous, but have loads of laid back catchy melodies and harmonies. The slightly more beat driven 'I Saw You Blink' is great. The lyrics are audible and warm even from the back of the crowd. Our lad goes to add them to his list of autographs too and comes back to tell us how lovely they are as well. The queue to meet them was immense!

Vieux Farka Toure does make it to play a set, it's later than advertised and in a totally different place and it's utterly incredible. His soulful singing voice doesn't do it for me but to be fair he could get away with singing nursery rhymes. The way he plays the guitar makes everything else irrelevant. It sounds like he's got four arms and two guitars and I make a mental note to find out a lot more about him. At times he seems to be playing some kind of psychedelic rock, and then the more traditional Malian roots come to the foreground.

Asian Dub Foundation
The musical highlight of the day for me was Asian Dub Foundation. There was a time in the mid to late 90's where ADF seemed to play every festival. Shouty Asian sounds overlaying dub bass and beats. The – to me – seems punk. 'Target Practice' typifies the more angry end of their set. The messages in 'Oil', and the lyrics "we want your oil!" make it another track with heavily laden with messages and feeling. 'Future Proof' is a breakbeat jungle dance fest.

Making our way back to the tent past the enormous glitter ball hanging by the main stage is interesting. Tipsy and sober adults struggle to cope with its effects on the floor as the grass seems to have come to life.

We escort the ladies and the kids back at the tent and head back out. There is a light and sound installation in the woods. It starts at 10:30 but the queues have been too busy for us to put the kids through. We join the queue and after about half an hour we are at the front and walk through the laurel tunnel. Ambient music plays as dry ice is pumped through the tunnel and we walk through. Turning to look back, the lights create patterns and textures reminiscent of early 90's rave videos. It's quite mystical and disorientating.

Once through, we have a few tunes in the headphone disco but the cheesy music isn't really to our taste.

'The Social' is a late tent with a little stage and we catch Moscow Drug Club and the end of their set. It's still pretty lively but we head back to our respective tents.

Moscow Drug Club
review by: James Tayler

photos by: Andy Pitt

Wednesday 13th to Sunday 17th July 2011
Larmer Tree Gardens, near Tollard Royal (about 16 miles W of Salisbury), on the Wilts./Dorset border, SP5 5PT, England MAP
weekend tickets sold out, day tickets left for Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday
daily capacity: 4000
last updated: Thu 30th Jun 2011


latest on this festival

Larmer Tree Festival
festival home page
last updated: Wed 8th Jan 2020
Larmer Tree Festival 2019
festival details
last updated: Mon 22nd Jul 2019
Larmer Tree Festival 2019
line-ups & rumours
last updated: Mon 22nd Jul 2019