We arrived early again on the Sunday with the few hard-core crowd who wanted to make the most of the entertainment on offer. It had rained heavily on the morning but by the time it opened we were blessed with blue skies once again. The ground was a little damp but it soon dried up with the heat and breeze.
Local Billingham born singer/songwriter Sarah Proctor opened the Sunday on the Main stage at 1pm. She had a good voice, and mixed it up with both her own songs with a few covers. It was a very good way to start a chilled Sunday afternoon. Local rockers The Purnells soon put paid to the chilled atmosphere and woke everyone up from the Vela stage. They are Stockton Weekender veterans after playing before in 2011 and you could tell that they felt at home. They are a decent band, and were doing well, but unfortunately kept getting interrupted by the sound checks from the main stage.
Next up was another female singer/songwriter Bo Bruce. Bruce had come to people’s attention after appearing on The Voice UK and since then toured the UK finishing off at Stockton Weekender. She was very samey, and didn't get the crowd going at all. Even when she covered Coldplay's Charlie Brown no-one seemed to care. Thankfully the Sunday then hit a purple patch, and we were treated with some cracking bands that took us all the way to the evening. First up was Alistair Sheerin Band - a local indie band that reminded me of Ash. It was the first time I'd had chance to see them but I'd heard a lot of good reports. They didn't disappoint and their high-energy enthusiastic set went down really well.
Following straight on from the Main stage was Collectors Club. We'd watched half their set when they played in 2012 so knew we were in for a treat. They have an excellent catalogue of songs already and I'd be amazed if they aren't higher up the bill next year. It was also a turning point for the Middlesbrough band as guitarist Joe Cockerline was playing his final gig and they were going from a five-piece to a four-piece band. We decided to put off getting food for a while, as we didn't want to miss anything. This was a good decision as Frankie and the Heartstrings were next and they were fantastic. They are led by charismatic frontman Frankie Francis who has a stage presence like a young Mick Jagger.
The Vela stage then welcomed on a relatively new band Abel Raise The Cain who have been together for just over a year. Saying that, you wouldn't have guessed, as this tight group performed as if they had been together for years. The Teesside rockers went from a melodic orchestral sound to a drum-pounding wall of noise.
We gave in to our hunger pangs and grabbed some food. When we got back the evening entertainment was just kicking in. The Coral's front man James Skelly's new band (mainly made up of The Coral members) James Skelly and The Intenders were just getting going. They were quite good and even put in a couple of The Coral's songs to keep the crowd happy. For the rest of the night the festival then took a trip back in time, which started with Scotland’s most recognisable twins, The Proclaimers. The Reid twins mixed it up with new and old and managed to keep the crowd happy by dropping in one of their sing-along tunes just as the atmosphere started to drop off. They finished off with I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) and people were singing and dancing along. We even saw one woman who must have been 70 bouncing around in the crowd as if she had just downed a two litre bottle of Red Bull.
Things got a little strange after this, as half the crowd seemed to treat The Proclaimers as the headline band and leave. So, by the time Dexys came on, there were huge gaps in the crowd. Dexys then performed what could only be described as a sort of West End show for the next hour and a half. They were very disappointing, and even seemed to play one of their classics, Geno, badly. What was even more surprising was they performed Come On Eileen with 20 minutes of their set to go and even more people left. The set was described perfectly from someone near me as "Meh."
Again the festival was a huge success and the organisation of the event was fantastic. They even learned lessons day-to-day and changed things as needed as in the minor changes to the toilet set up after there were large queues on the Saturday night. The only downside was it ended a bit lamely on the Sunday, but that was unfortunate because if the days had been swapped people would have been walking away on a high. Overall, it was an excellent weekend that we thoroughly enjoyed, and look forward to seeing what next year's event brings.
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Stockton Weekender 2014 review
Stockton Weekender 2014 review