Review

The Secret Garden 2004

published: Thu 2nd Sep 2004

Friday 27th to Sunday 29th August 2004
Cambridgeshire - full venue information will be released nearer the time., England
£50 plus £5 booking fee.
last updated: Tue 17th Aug 2004

Away from the seething masses of festival/carnival goers at Notting Hill and the Reading/Leeds festivals a few hundred fun seekers gathered at the Secret Garden Party for some late Summer outdoor fun. The picturesque site tucked away in the Cambridgeshire countryside follows the curve of a lake with the campsite at one end and the events areas at the other. The wet weather that has effected nearly every festival this year had made it’s mark on the site in the days before but it remained dry for the weekend and it proved to be a good location for a festival. There were three stages listed in the program – The Main Stage where all the live acts performed, The Stage Tree which was a DJ booth built around the base of a large oak tree with an adjacent bar, and finally the Pagoda Stage which was another smaller sound system accessed by crossing a small bridge over a dike and following a path into an intimate chill-out area.

Things got underway Friday evening with a short programme of acts that ran till well past midnight – special mention to soulful hip-hopsters 27 Groove who got the party vibe going for a small but enthusiastic audience before The G’s took to the stage and carried on the mission in good ol folky moshing style ...and bagpipes...

Though the site felt sparsely populated the bar remained busy into the early hours with people “taking it easy cos it’s the first night innit” - with real ale on offer at variable prices (from free to £3) I found myself taking it easy for longer than planned.

Saturday - the good thing about cloudy mornings (and `afternoons!) is that they permit a good lie-in which was just as well as it was going to be a long day. This was bought home later on after watching only the 4th act of a scheduled 12 appearing on the main stage as it was starting to go dark. Having already seen the Specials and The Selector this year I was pleased to add The Beat to my list and they cooked up a ska storm with many old classics, their set was over too soon to the disappointment of all. The sound from the main stage travelled well across the flat lake to the campsite where I enjoyed the deeply funky Loose Cannons sat in my tent - judging by the cheers they went down a storm with those present as well. As`Saturday turned into Sunday, Bristol ska band Babyhead whipped the crowds into a frenzy in good style, the brass section packed a punch as did Smerins Anti-Social Club’s who kept people grooving on into the night with a mixture of latino based funk, dub and ska. Finally (for me) after another LONG equipment change-over, The Egg hit the stage at 4am (times are approximate!) and played a mesmorising set including lots of material off their new album “/Forwards” (which has had permanent residency on my cd player since buying it last week, such is it’s seductiveness). Comparisons with The Orb give a clue but this is more, better, further. By the end of the set the skies had grown lighter as`dawn approached, the crowd had dwindled with the lateness of the hour but the call for more went up and the band came back and played for another 30 minutes as the sun came up. Marvellous stuff.

If things hadn’t been laid back enough already Sunday was even more so, it was a s l o w day with little happening early on, I found breakfast in the middle of the afternoon (if I were to return next year I’d definitely take a barbie as there was very little to satisfy my carnivore cravings on-site and a hap-hazard service in the laid-back veggy kitchen - the banana cake was nice though!) watched performance artistes pose and then after taking in a couple of the early evening acts on the Main Stage (special mention to Earl Okin – bossanova sex god) I skipped off home early...

Overall a nice little event, well run and appealingly programmed with already potential for expansion in the future - at a guess I would say the site could easily have coped with twice as many people without any additions to the event areas which were sparsely populated most of the time.
review by: Phil Bull

Friday 27th to Sunday 29th August 2004
Cambridgeshire - full venue information will be released nearer the time., England
£50 plus £5 booking fee.
last updated: Tue 17th Aug 2004


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