the town based Looe Music Festival offers a brilliant weekend of music

Looe Music Festival 2014 review

published: Wed 24th Sep 2014

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Friday 19th to Sunday 21st September 2014
Looe beach, Looe, Cornwall, PL13 1DZ, England MAP
£67.50 for adult weekend, under 18s £18.50 weekend,under 5s £1 weekend
daily capacity: 5000
last updated: Tue 19th Aug 2014

After a 3 and a half hour drive we arrive at Tencreek Holiday Park, this is where we'll camp for the weekend. Looe Music Festival is a town based event, so all accommodation is extra to the ticket costs.

We chose our site based on proximity to the town, being the nearest, however as there are official shuttle buses to at least 4 campsites and a few out of town b&b's on two circular routes, so the distance is not such a problem. We're directed to the camping field and told when the shuttles will start. Tent up and off to the bus stop, the shuttles run approximately every 20 minutes so not too long to wait. A happy Irish driver welcomes aboard and we pay our £1 each way fare. Dropped off just a 100 yards from the quayside marquee and the box office/ wristband exchange. We are quickly banded after our e-tickets are scanned from my phone (this saved on p&p and no booking fee on top of the ticket cost).

Having been to Looe previously, we knew our way to the main stage arena, so we headed off for the beach on which it is built. Looe is an old fishing town on the south coast of Cornwall and its streets are narrow and interesting. The main arena is fenced with a single entrance and separate exit. Security is strictly no alcohol or mixers, each bag is checked. However our experience was of fast, easy entrance each time. The first song we hear is 'Wish You Were Here' being sung by the The Huckleberry Finns, and we are! Sand under our feet and Apple Slayer cider in hand, let the weekend start for us.

After a momentous electrical storm the previous night and lots of rain on the drive to Looe, the warm tea time sun is really pleasant and we can see people swimming in the sea just over the barrier. The festival is about ten days earlier this year and there seems to be plenty of holiday makers still around.

Back across town to the marquee and we catch the end of the Polperro Fishermens Choir set, a smartly dressed collective all in black singing traditional numbers of the sea, on the Weston's Cider Stage. A quick trip over to the bar shows a selection of a few of their ciders on offer alongside more local brews.

The Carl Morris Trio are on the Champion Stage (that's what the sign says even though it's called Groundworks Stage in the festival's guide), 50's rockabilly, a mix of covers and original material. More rock n roll next with Ramshackle Serenade, and they get a good mix of ages bopping away.

Ambling away from quayside to the beach means we get to stop and listen to a cigar-box guitarist busking outside a pasty shop. The town is buzzing and alive with people, the atmosphere is friendly.

The Friday's sun is setting now and  Cosmo Jarvis take to the main stage, best described as a jazz, funk sort of fusion with a melodic indie edge.

3 Daft Monkeys play a great mix of older and newer tunes, I've never seen them before in home county of Cornwall, great to hear songs of 'St Agnes the Giant Killer', 'The Antiquated And The Arcane' and 'Astral Eyes'.

The festival seems to get really busy for The Selecter, the marquee seemed rammed, so we decided to take a walk up the coastal path to get a great view of Brand New Heavies, people were sat out on their balconies enjoying warm evening and sights and sounds of the Main Stage. Walking back down passed the sailing club lock-up, which seemed to be a haunt for the local teens and onto the beach, the sea's edge is just yards from the main two stages (and a little closer than I think was anticipated on one high tide) this has to be one of the best vistas from a festival arena.

A dive into the second stage/beer tent for  Melosa after an over running headliners set seemed to shorten theirs due to curfew times, but they still give us some bouncy ska/skank to please a bouncing crowd.

By the time we get across town to the festival shuttle bus stop the queues are quite long, the same could be said for the town's taxis and other bus route. We wait for about an hour and managed to get on the third bus to arrive. No one seemed to be moaning about the wait, with strangers striking up conversation with those around them. 10 minutes and we're back at our campsite.

The sun rises again on Saturday morning and so its up for beans on toast for breakfast in the site bar, full and vegetarian breakfasts were also on offer. A short wait for our ride and we're off along to pick up from another site, West Wayland, where Cat's Eye Morris Dancers board the bus, they seemed fizzing for the day ahead.

Walking through the town and the buskers are out early, a pre-war, American music style finger plucking guitarist, a Leprechaun costumed fiddle player, and  Phat Bollard sound checking.

Smiles from security as we enter the main stage area. Ten Zero One are playing first, a 4 piece rock band of youngsters who have played each year and say how they feel like they've grown up with festival.

Out of the midday sun and into the second stage, sipping a pint of Skinner's 'Ginger Tosser' the beer is a little pricey at £4 a pint but comparable to other festivals. We pitch up listening to Leon Harvey playing some covers and getting the crowd up for an early singalong.

Outside on the sand, the crowd has started to grow and activities are taking place like groups of people on fun team building games and some instructors are helping kids learn slackline walking (from the slack line school). There's a pirate wandering around telling jokes and inviting people to the storytelling later on.

RSVP take up next on the main teaching us some suitably easy 'GCSE level' moves to go along with their bhangra/rock fusion. They go down well with a more family orientated weekend crowd.

Lunch today is some great potatoes cooked in cider and butter with sausages, sauces and homemade coleslaw cost £6.50. There are a few food places including fresh BBQ'd fish, freshly made kebabs and falafel, usual burger type stalls, Moroccan style dishes, smoked meats and plenty of town food sellers and Cornish iced creams, yummy!

Gareth Lee plays his own penned simple guitar songs accompanied by multi-instrumentalist/female vocal Annie. The carpeted floor of the quayside marquee supports two stages, a bar, a VW bay campervan selling cocktails and a tea and boozey coffee tuk-tuk stand. They programme these stages so there is not much of a wait between most of the acts so a quick swivel around and we're watching Don't Touch The Walls, a Shropshire 6 piece folk band, I particularly enjoy their song 'Running Like Its A Sunday'.

Land of the Giants call us up to the main stage, I saw them a month back at another festival and their vivacious and bouncy ska style makes me want to see them again, they draw a good sized crowd and rightly so in my opinion.

The town is full of people but it only takes a few minutes to walk between the main areas but Looe is a town of two sides with the tidal river flowing through the middle. So a short hop over the water via a small fishing boat/ ferry to the the west side costs us 50p. This side has a small enclosed stage on the waters edge, also the Portbyhan Hotel Stage and the Jolly Sailor Inn, proudly the oldest pub in Looe. We hear an impromptu set from a trad stringed 4 piece, this swells to at least 7 as the room fills and the fire doors are opened to let the sounds out onto the street.

Sam Kelly is playing guitar to good sized teatime crowd in the quay side marquee, Jamie alongside picking a banjo at a pace, good quality musicians that the Cornish folk mafia would surely approve of.

Tankus the Henge hit through a carnival rock n roll (in their own words) set with plenty energy, a broken legged guitarist and a smoke machine fieu piano/keyboard. Jaz Delorean (best name award!) apologising incase anything shows through as he swam in the sea earlier, but had no swimming kit!! Set ends, band leave the stage, Jaz leaves in the opposite direction, over the barrier with accordian for 'Down By The River Side' amidst the crowd, brilliant stage presence and crowd pleasing.

Toseland (the name of the lead singer who is a former super bike champion!) give us a rock set full of power chords, power stances and 80's style power ballads, more power! And Tenth Electric provide a bit more rock after a trip out of arena for some fudge and a Cornish orchard.

The crowd has swollen massively by the time we make it back for Squeeze. There has been a lot more day ticket holders I guess especially for them.

Urang Matang in the quieter Quay Marquee are a two tone/mod styled 4 piece with a couple of guests 'Wind Up The Rude Boys' is dedicated to those not in Woolacombe this weekend.

Big Boss Man have a psychedelic Sixties funk feel about them, mainly driven by the Hammond sound playing front man and percussion. Off mid set to try and beat a crowd to the shuttles, we find it's still the same sized queue, but for some reason, maybe extra buses, we were picked up in half the time of the previous night!

Wow, we are having such luck with the weather as it's a sunny Sunday. Pasty breakfast from one of the many available sellers and varieties and friendly hello's from Warren and Chris from coast2coast security, and a day easer Betty Stogs' style!

First up on the beach it is time for Plymouth based indie/rock outfit Propeller to help knock us into Sunday, another young band given the chance to play at the festival, they certainly were full of sound and confidence.

A lovely walk around the town and I find the best value mug of tea (60p) from a local outlet in a proper mug goes down well and some Cornish iced cream. Then it's back to the beach for the Oompah Brass. The hardest gigers of the weekend again (they played a lot last year and at least seven times all over the town this year), playing recognized covers in their leather lederhosen and Bavarian dress. They are great fun and engage with their audience, taking to groups of people and telling tales of campsite fun. The crowd sing to 'Angels' by Robbie Williams, Tom Jones's 'Delilah' and Bon Jovi's 'Living On A Prayer' amongst others. They should be great with show closers Hayseed Dixie later!

Sharing the river ferry with a seagull we venture back to the Jolly Sailor to listen to Miner Quay, a bunch of older musicians from Looe singing shanties (very appropriate) Santayana and old traditional folk like 'king of the faeries'.

These Reigning Days continue the more rock edge to the main stage, skinny black jeans, loud guitars and smashing drums please a young crowd.

A quick bite, by way of a great veggie burger supplied by the Monkey Sanctuary, and we hear trombone playing, around the corner we find The Normals playing upon the roofrack of a van to a lively little crowd outside the town toilet!

PerKelt are a Czech Republican duo, who play folk at 75rpm, from around Europe and from all era's, well from circa 13th century onwards! On classical guitar, varying recorders and languages like French, English, Czech and Galician!

Crowns bring a Cornish modern folk punk hit to the main stage, I first saw them a few years back at another festival and it feels like they have moved on in leaps and bounds.

Food on the quay and back to main area, briefly bump into Gaz Brookfield and ask how his voice is coping after a couple of cancellations (this man is everywhere and is so hard working it's no wonder his throat is suffering) he hopes it will cope okay and that his throat is not bleeding after, quick directions to where he can get in the arena and off he goes for a naughty cider, the Apple Slayer is recommended.

Red Hot Chilli Pipers are on now so away to bounce to rock bagpipe mix (we've been really looking forward to these). Musical banter between a piper and guitarist leads to a great version of AC/DC's 'Thunderstruck'. At least 15 various musicians on stage give us a great show of how bagpipes can entertain a modern crowd with accessible tunes.

Gaz Brookfield was as brilliant as ever and enhanced by Ben on violin, they played the songs we have come to love over the last couple of years. if you haven't seen him play yet get along and do so he's bound to be in a town near you sometime soon!

Frank Turner overlaps his friend Gaz slightly but plays to a appreciative audience that are happy to sing back to what is a fabulous set to the end of their festival season but part of their autumn tour.

Hayseed Dixie are a great finale to the weekend. With their bluegrass versions of classic rock songs they are well worth the trip away from Frank. 'Eye Of The Tiger' and Journey's 'Don't Stop' got the crowd singing. My camera holder broke and I lost my camera mid set, thankfully the happy security, this time Brian found it and brought it right back to me, just as Oompah Brass take to the stage for highway to hell with Hayseed Dixie.

Off to catch our final shuttle back to camp and the queue is tiny, we wait barely five minutes tonight and so have time for a night cap in the campsite bar.

All in all we had yet another brilliant weekend at Looe Music Festival, organisation seems to be getting better each year and the line up hasn't failed to impress again, all for a good value ticket price and accommodation prices to suit all levels. I think with very little doubt that we'll be back next year for what is a great weekend in a fab location and a fitting end to our festival season.

review by: Simon Gillespie

Friday 19th to Sunday 21st September 2014
Looe beach, Looe, Cornwall, PL13 1DZ, England MAP
£67.50 for adult weekend, under 18s £18.50 weekend,under 5s £1 weekend
daily capacity: 5000
last updated: Tue 19th Aug 2014

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