Saturday overview

The Secret Garden Party 2008 review

published: Thu 31st Jul 2008

around the site Saturday (2)

Thursday 24th to Sunday 27th July 2008
Cambridgeshire - full venue information will be released nearer the time., England
Adult weekend £125, (14-17) £100, Under 14 free (prices include all fees)
last updated: Wed 9th Jul 2008

After a very late night, we're forced to get up early 'cos the sun is blazing away, making the tents unbearably hot and ensuring that we're so sweaty that the suntan lotion slips off.

around the site Saturday (1)

Still there's a very refreshing start to the day with Jake Flowers on at 11 am in the Wild Things tent. I've seen him once before a couple of years ago at a Twisted Folk Festival and he's even better than I remember. An alt-folk singer-songwriter with a guitar, a kick drum and a very fetching hat, he sings songs of love and life in the sticks (Flowers is from Shropshire). Highlights are 'Anyhow', 'Sticks and Stones', and 'Fireworks' – a romantic song about a theft from a fireworks factory, and how a couple have lost the spark from their relationship but the lost spark sets the fireworks off and they rain down on the town, reigniting their love in the process. Bless!

Izo Fitzroy and the Royal Bastards provide some jazzy funk afterwards. Izo has a deep soulful voice and the songs are joyful and funny – 'Never Mind the Sex Pistols' about being sexy all the time, and other songs cover the subjects of the mullet haircut, Jack the Ripper, Beethoven and there's also a cover of Rage Against the Machine’s 'Bomb Track'.

We happily catch Jake Flowers playing a second set in the cosy Living Room venue and stay for the hi-energy Mozzy Green, an experimental three piece from London with drums, cello and guitar and some absorbing songs.

Hush The Many

Then we rush back to the Great Stage to see one of my favourite bands, Hush the Many, who aren't listed in the programme but thankfully there is a bit of a crowd hanging out there anyway. They've undergone an almost complete line-up change from the previous time I saw them in April and, judging from the first couple of new songs, are heading in a grungier music direction. They've still got the distinctive cello in the mix and the hard/soft, frantic/gentle contrasts in the music, and finish with a familiar and great Hush song 'The Illusionist'.

Esser, a four piece with a bequiffed, frownsome lead singer are up next with some melodic rock which is very danceable and funky. The next act, songstress Lazenby, who has an excellent voice, manages to raise some male interest by hitching her dress up and flashing her knickers – that works wonders in bringing the men to the front of the stage but the music is forgettable though pleasant.

We whiz over to the Wild Things to see a bit of Married to the Sea, a rowdy and fun band from Liverpool. They're playing a guerrilla set of 80s songs later on which sadly we don't manage to find. The following band, the female fronted four piece, Thomas Tantrum, get a great crowd reaction for their punky pop music and everyone’s dancing.

Back over to the mainstage for the Glaswegian band Sons and Daughters, who have drawn a big crowd and have eminently energetic and boppy tunes, including 'Dance Me In' and a cover of Seal's 'Killer'.

The Hoosiers

The Hoosiers keep up the pace with some guitar pop, the band is supplemented with a couple of skeletons on brass, backing vocals and dancing duties. They blast through hit singles 'Goodbye Mr A' and 'Cops and Robbers', and we leave just as they're playing Billy Joel's 'We Didn't Start the Fire'. The Hoosiers sound very sunny but we head off to the Living Room for Tallulah Rendall, and some music with a bit more depth.

Tallulah on lead vocals and guitar is accompanied by cello and bass guitar. She has a smooth voice and beautiful sultry songs like 'Lay Me Down', 'Only You' and a Patti Smith inspired song called 'Hope Tonight'. There’s a slight distraction towards the end of the set as the ceremonial burning of the galleon in the middle of the lake has started, along with an impressive firework display.

around the site Saturday (2)

Wandering back to mainstage, the ceremony creates quite a spectacle with fire baskets floating off into the night sky. Along with the trees around the lake being illuminated with multi-coloured lights and the ship ablaze, it looks very magical.

It's a bit of a challenge to actually get near the mainstage now as everyone is eagerly anticipating the arrival of Grace Jones and it seems that all the festival folk are flocking to that one place, but we manage to get right to the front. The start of her set is delayed, as expected, but then the giant video screen bursts into life and the soundtrack buzzes and rumbles through us. This is the video for the powerful song 'Corporate Cannibal' which is from her forthcoming album 'Hurricane'.

Her huge distorted image on the screen is as scary as I remembered and so's the real thing when she eventually appears elevated on a platform at the back of the stage singing 'Nightclubbing', wearing high heels and dressed in black sparkling fishnets and a very short jacket, over a basque, her thong and butt cheeks proudly on display. Reportedly she's now 60, and you can't help but admire her style and stage presence. She's certainly impressively statuesque and fascinating to watch, there's a costume change between every song – an array of headgear including the concertinaed hood, flowing cloaks, feather headdress, glowing horns, eyemask, hat and tails.

Jones is playful with the crowd throughout the performance and during 'My Jamaican Guy' she pulls a few female members of the audience out to dance with her. In the next song, a new one called 'This is Life', she takes one of them by the throat, pushes her to the floor and straddles her, much to the delight of the crowd – I'd have been petrified but I later learn that this is Florence of Florence and the Machine, and she seems to be enjoying the performance. Jones plays most of her best known songs – 'Private Life', 'Demolition Man', 'La Vie en Rose' and the set finishes on 'Slave to the Rhythm'. I think we might have been treated to 'Pull Up to the Bumper' eventually but there is a midnight curfew and so the plug is pulled on the band and a few minutes later Jones' mic is switched off so she resorts to shouting about 'motherf**kers' at the front of the crowd. The organisers ignore the booing and heckling and Jones has to admit defeat, shout "thank you" and disappear.

around the site Saturday (2)
review by: Helen OSullivan

photos by: Darryl Moir / Kirsty Umback / Helen OSullivan

Thursday 24th to Sunday 27th July 2008
Cambridgeshire - full venue information will be released nearer the time., England
Adult weekend £125, (14-17) £100, Under 14 free (prices include all fees)
last updated: Wed 9th Jul 2008


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