Here is a glorious festival, nestled comfortably in the beautiful and woody area of Moseley in the midlands, unafraid to stand by its own identity and doing things its own way. The Moseley Folk & Arts Festival, originally started in 2006 and powering through seventeen years later with a fantastic lineup, reaches its turn in the calendar and proving to be a September highlight. Past versions have seen Supergrass, the author of ‘America Pie’ Don McLean and even The Monkees(!) headline, so it’s no surprise that Sunday headliners are America-heavyweights Wilco. Folk purists would be pleased that a late-addition to Saturday was Billy Bragg, veteran of previous Moseley festivals and Friday sees hit-maesters Squeeze top the bill. Friday attendees were treated to a special “golden-hour” slot, with Graham Nash, of Hollies and Crosby, Stills & Nash fame, stopping off during his nationwide tour.
Moseley is such a delight because it always retains its local heritage; from the fact that the Park is accessible via a gate just off Moseley High Street to punters having to pick up their wristbands from the local community-owned hub flanked by volunteers. Everything about the weekend of events is the antithesis to tired-London autopilot festivals, complete with a beautiful lake to the right of the stage!
Welsh singer-songwriter Gwenno, Mercury-nominated for her brilliant all-Cornish-language album Tresor, delivered a fabulous ethereal set whilst also educating the audience to sing about cheese (albeit in Cornwall dialect); Gwenno seems at home in the almost mystical aesthetic of Moseley Park, with its floral decor and local village vibe.
Hugely popular podcaster Blindboy is bringing out his new book, and Moseley pulled off quite a coup by landing the masked Irishman, famous for wearing a Mexican wrestler mask to protect his anonymity, to perform late afternoon in the Speakers Corner section. Blindboy interviewed local historian Carl Chinn on the actual, non-dramatised history of the Peaky Blinders, interspersed with typical off-the-cuff hilarity from the podcaster, complete with on-stage vaping.
Graham Nash brought in a big crowd and he looks incredible in his eighty-first year of life, singing classics with his three-piece band such as Marrakech Express and Bus Stop, and even demonstrating storing fluidity by performing protest anthem Chicago at the request of a crowd member. Nash is the perfect performer for the setting sun in this beautiful surroundings, and he plays for nearly an hour and a half. The late Janice Long, who gave her name to one of the stages at Moseley, would have happily applauded.
And finally to the Friday night headliners Squeeze, in the night time of Moseley, who brought a full greatest hits set backed by songwriting duo Tilbrook and Difford, dressed like Eighties’ teddy boys, and playing to the delighted fans at the front, singing every word of hits such as Take Me I’m Yours, Hourglass and Cool For Cats. Squeeze were a great finale to a fantastic Friday night at the Moseley Folk & Arts Festival, easily one of the best boutique festivals in the later months of the British summer circuit.
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Summer festival season comes to and end but this gem proves to be a September highlight
Graham Nash, Squeeze and Saw Doctors also on bill