I arrived at Splendour festival later than I intended, mainly due to a lorry break down on the A1. Also the lack of parking signs when I got there meant it took a while to find somewhere to park.
When I did eventually get in what an unexpectedly pleasant surprise I got. Splendour is a fantastic mid sized festival (approx. 20000 people) in a great location. It is set up in the shadow of Wollaton Hall an imposing Elizabethan country house that was used in the film The Dark Knight Rises as Batman's mansion Wayne Manor. The hall sits on a small hill in Wollaton Park that acts as a natural amphitheatre which meant that you could get a great view and sound from just about anywhere in the main field.
The festival is billed as family friendly and it lived up to its name. There was a small but well equipped and lively Kids' zone. Just next to this was a fairly large area that kids used to run about and play. Up near the main hall there was a circus trapeze, which always seemed to have a decent crowd. Also on site was a funfair with about half a dozen rides, catering for everyone from the extreme to the tame depending on your age and your stomach strength. This meant there was quite a lot of kids which led to a great mix of ages on site.
Splendour has two larger stages, the Main stage and Confetti stage, both being outdoor stages. There were also three smaller stages, with Acoustic rooms stage and the Funhouse Comedy stage both located in a courtyard near the main hall. The last stage is the Fringe stage, which is a small tent in the main stage field. The rest of the site contained generic food, drink and festival stalls.
The first act that I saw was Roots Manuva an alternative hip hop artist from London. It isn't normally my taste in music but I found him to be entertaining and was surprised to find that I was disappointed when his set ended. I walked up to the Funhouse Comedy stage next to watch Ellie Taylor, unfortunately for me (good for her) it was packed. I could just see from the edge of the courtyard but couldn't really hear what she was saying. So I left and went back to the Main stage to see Indiana. She was a late addition to the line up as Jess Glynne had to drop out because of throat surgery. Despite the short notice, it wasn't apparent, as she is a polished artist who got the crowd jumping with her electronica styled music.
After another wander to see the circus acts I paid my first visit to the Confetti stage to see local folk punk band Ferocious Dog. They had a large following and tore up the stage. From the very first song to the last the hard-core fans near the front bounced and danced all through their set. It was infectious and you couldn't help but join in. You could tell it was going to be special when there were young kids with Ferocious Pup T shirts jumping about excitedly before they had even started.
After thoroughly enjoying their set I stayed at the stage for indie rock band The Twang. Unfortunately for me they just didn't do it. I might have been in the minority as people at the front seemed to be loving it but I just couldn't get into their style so I left a little early to get to the Main stage.
Next up on the main stage were a band who have headlined many festivals themselves, James. They didn't seem to mind sub headlining and put everything into their performance. They had the crowd right where they wanted them from the off. This meant they could play their hits and put in new material as well without people losing interest. They did this perfectly and managed to get the ratio to about half and half. Tim Booth was his usual quirky self, dancing like he was getting an electric shock and also crowd surfing at one point. All in all an excellent performance by an experienced band who know how to take the crowd with them.
After James I just had time to watch half an hour of Bananarama before the main stage headliners. They played their main hits from the 80's, which gave the crowd something to sing along to but in fairness they didn't have the stage presence and it seemed more like a cover band at a local novelty eighties festival.
Next up was Coventry Ska band The Specials. They started with Ghost Town and from that moment had the crowd skanking throughout. The whole field seemed to be dancing as one. I've always been a big fan of The Specials and have always enjoyed seeing them live including this set. The only slight negative for this performance that I could see though was they seemed to miss the energy and charisma of Neville Staple. Lynval Golding did his best to fill the slot, but with his rhythm guitar duties was hindered and couldn't fill the stage as Staples could. Saying this I still loved it and so did the crowd. Right to the end when they played 'You're Wondering Now' the crowd stayed with them lapping up every last chance to dance.
This was my first Splendour festival and I would recommend it to anyone of all ages and musical tastes. It was a fun day, helped by lovely weather and will be a festival I will look to go to again in the future. Traffic permitting!
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Splendour 2018 review