Off The Tracks is a great little friendly festival

Off The Tracks Summer Festival 2012 review

published: Wed 5th Sep 2012

around the festival site (1)

Friday 31st August to Sunday 2nd September 2012
Donington Park Farmhouse, Isley Walton, nr Castle Donington, Leicestershire, England MAP
£70 for w/e inc camping, youth (12-16) £40
daily capacity: 2000
last updated: Fri 3rd Aug 2012

Although it's my first visit, Off the Tracks has been going for almost a quarter of a century. Held in the grounds of a regular campsite, it benefits from facilities like proper toilets and shower blocks (hurrah!) and hook-ups for camper vans and live in vehicles. But let's be honest, those are little bonuses rather than a prime reason for going to a festival. And it soon becomes apparent that the reason people come to Off the Tracks time and time again has little to do with the comparatively luxurious pooing facilities. They come because the organisers are masters of the art of putting on a great little festival.

Aluminio Roots
A glance through the (free) programme I'm given tells me that not only is there a world class music line-up but also lots to do for kids and also an area called The Energy Orchard devoted to meditation, massage, healing and the like. It's the music I'm here for really though, so I pitch my tent and take a wander down in the hope of hearing a little bit of Aluminio Roots, but sadly by the time I get to the stage they're all done. I grab a beer and have a chat with a few people, immediately I'm struck by how friendly everyone is here and also by the amount of people who tell me they've been coming here for years and never miss it.

The Beat
Dodgy take to the stage around 8.30pm and play a crowd pleasing set rich with sunny west coast harmonies, a dash of reggae and finish up with an inspired cover of Frank Wilson's Northern Soul evergreen 'Do I Love You (Indeed I Do)'. They go down a storm, as do 2–Tone legends The Beat. Although most of the songs are close to 30 years old, they've lost none of their power, 'Get A Job' and 'Stand Down Margaret' sounding as relevant in Cameron's Britain as they ever did. The ever youthful Ranking Roger has a big smile on his face as he surveys the crowd and there's an obvious fatherly pride in his son Ranking Junior, who takes co-vocal duties and gives the sound a contemporary edge with his jungle inspired toasting. I'm thrilled when they finish the set with 'Jackpot', an old favourite from the dim and distant days when I was an 11 year old apprentice rude boy.

I head over to the Black Barn stage , where Roughneck Riot are hurtling through a bunch of ragged but right punk-folk corkers, bringing to mind the brief but glorious period in the early 90s when Joe Strummer fronted The Pogues. Their original songs are great; particularly 'Ignorance Is Easy' and they finish with a mighty version of Sonny Curtis's 'I Fought the Law' which sends me back to my tent a very happy fellow indeed.

around the festival site (1)
review by: Rob Matheson

photos by: Phil Bull

Friday 31st August to Sunday 2nd September 2012
Donington Park Farmhouse, Isley Walton, nr Castle Donington, Leicestershire, England MAP
£70 for w/e inc camping, youth (12-16) £40
daily capacity: 2000
last updated: Fri 3rd Aug 2012


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