Sunshine Festival is in its seventh year this year, billed as a family festival and catering for your every need, 'The Festival for Every Generation' apparently.
Previous acts over the years have included UB40, Gabrielle, Suzi Quatro, Slade, The Christians and Toyah, this year boasts acts such as Beverley Craven, Bad Manners, Midge Ure, Fine Young Cannibals, Mari Wilson, and T'Pau.
That's not all, there's a couple of other stages on site, other than the main stage, there's a variety stage with mainly comedians, including Bobby Davro, Jimmy Cricket, Mick Miller , Roger De Courcey (Nookie Bear!) and Paul Boardman to name but a few., And for the kids there's the Little Sunshine Stage with a bubble party and disco all day for all the sproglets.
And if that's not all, there's two more stages – One for tribute bands and one for local bands., it probably needs 3 photographers to cover the event there's so much to snap. It really is the real deal as far as variety goes and there's so much packed in to each day, it would be hard to find something you didn't wanna do or see.
Campers were allowed on to the site on Thursday, with their early bird tickets, festivities kicked off on Friday with a few acts on the main stage, including headliners Mud to get everyone suitably warmed up for Saturday and Sunday.
The music kicked off on Saturday at around middayish., boasting nearly 70 acts across the weekend, a weather warning had been issued for Saturday with thunder storms and torrential rain forecast, wonder if this was gonna come true, wet weather gear at the ready!
After reading the fan forums and the fan face book page for the festival, it seems there have been problems accessing the site over the years, with traffic galore, so I better leave home early, nothing worse than being stuck in a tail back when all you wanna do is let loose.
This is our last festival of the season, so many festivals happening over this bank holiday weekend including 'Creamfields' and 'Reading/Leeds', I might opt for one of these next year, BUT fancied a change this year with a bit of 80's easy listening cheese.
The attractions for me this weekend were seeing Midge Ure again, he blew me away at Lets Rock – Birmingham, I couldn't believe how good he was so I wanted a second helping. Fine Young Cannibals, last time I saw these was when they headlined what is now the Genting Arena, my brother and I paid £10 to stand at the front of the stage, so I'm looking forward to seeing Roland Gift. Lastly T'Pau, I've been a fan of theirs since the early days so I can't wait to see them again.
I just hoped the festival would live up to my expectations.
Saturday morning, set off early as on a lot of the forums it said traffic was terrible, surprisingly I got to the venue in 40 mins, no traffic whatsoever. The only minor issue for me was the signage once you got on site, trying to find the box office/guest services was a nightmare, I was walking around in circles for half an hour and that's not fun at all when you have a 20/30 kilo back pack on full of camera gear and the sun is blazing down.
Passes sorted then off into the arena, the site was busy, apparently they'd sold approx 6,000 tickets for the weekend, the thing I did notice was there must've been 2/3 fields full of tents, caravans and camper vans, never seen so many.
The first thing that struck me about the festival was its similarity with Isle of Wight Festival, so family orientated and very chilled out, I liked it.
Saturday was the better day for the line-up's where I was concerned with the main attractions being T'Pau, Midge Ure and Fine Young Cannibals for me, first act upon on the main stage was supposed to be around 13.00 hours, but unfortunately due to traffic in London Harry Cambridge (Luther Vandross Tribute) was a no show until later in the day. A few people scattered back to their abodes on the campsites as they weren't prepared to sit around until 15.00 hours for Mari Wilson.
Most of the bands did an hours set which is quite unusual at festivals, the lower the band on the line up usually suggests the less time on stage, but not in this case.
Mari Wilson came on stage at 15.00 hours and did a full set of all her hits, she left the one everyone knows until the last song 'Just what I've always Wanted', the nice touch was after her set, she sat down in front of the stage and signed copies of her latest offering and was only too pleased to oblige with a selfie or too, this was lovely and fans lapped it up.
I wanted to sample the other stages so I went over to the Variety Stage and caught a glimpse of Bobby Davro, he was excellent, the tent was rammed, I managed to squeeze to the front and the audience were in barrels of laughter, I've never seen so much laughing. It was well worth the visit to the variety stage.
I then popped in to Stage Two to see Stone Cold Killers, and Soul Stripper (AC/DC Tribute), well all I can say is I'm glad I went in this tent, the calibre of these bands was astounding, lots of balls and stage prowess, the crowd were lapping it up. I think Soul Stripper must've had the fullest tent of all the tribute bands all day, it was like a sardine can, even a few dogs were head banging! Definitely both must see bands.
I stayed at the main stage the rest of the day/evening as I didn't wanna miss out on the bands I'd gone mainly to see.
Odyssey were up next, I'd seen these a few months back at The Jam House and they were good then. Tonight didn't disappoint either, they were on form, lots of dancing by the audience, they weren't scared to swing their pants, even the damp conditions didn't dampen their spirits at all.
T'Pau came onstage at 18.00 hours, or just after, I was excited as they were gonna play a decent 60 minute set with some of their stonkers.
Carol Decker graced the stage and there was a massive cheer, a few T'Pau devotees on the front row lingering on her every word. Dressed in black, apart from her flame red hair and red full length leather jacket. She gave the whole set some clout and proved she's still got it.
The set was packed with hit after hit from all five studio albums, obviously 'Bridge of Spies' being the most successful and probably the one everyone has in their record collection (Or CD, Or MP3).
Everything was well received by the audience: 'Made of Money', 'Valentine', 'The Promise', 'I Will be With You', 'Say You Will' , everyone was waiting for 'Heart and Soul' and 'China', these were the last two songs in the set and created a couple of goose pimply moments when the audience sang back the lyrics to both songs.
One of the sets of the day for me and it was well worth the ticket price alone.
Midge Ure Formerly of Ultravox was up next and boy he was absolutely amazing, I didn't realise how many hits I did know of his until I watched the set.
He's an absolutely magician on the guitar and totally blew me away with his mesmerising skills.
Gems of the set were 'If I was', 'Loves Great Adventure' , 'Dancing with Tears in my Eyes' and classic 'Vienna', which made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck it was that good. I totally loved it, I am so in ore of this guy, especially after being a closet fan for years but never actually seeing him live.
Fine Young Cannibals, Roland Lee Gift who was the original lead singer of the Cannibals back in the day was here tonight. I did see FYC back in the day at the Getting Arena, which was sold out, I went with my younger brother, we're both old farts now, but there's nothing like reminiscing.
We were treated to some of the old classics 'Suspicious Minds', 'She Drives Me Crazy', 'Good Thing', 'Johnny Come Home', which is what I wanted to hear. These were the icing on the cake for me on the whole set.
The sets had run over somewhat and the timings were running half an hour late., the band stage turnarounds were around 20 mins or so it was already 10.45 by the time FYC had gone off stage and I couldn't wait for Bad Manners as it was gonna be after 23.00 hours before they graced the stage, so I toddled off back to my car before I turned in to a pumpkin, as it was I never got back home until after midnight, so it had been a very, very long day.
This festival is well worth a punt, tickets are already on sale now for 2017's festivities, it's a bargain at £65 for the whole weekend. If you're looking for quality music with a family atmosphere and chilled vibe this is the one for you, for sure. Do yourself a favour and book it.
The kids are definitely catered for on every aspect and can I mentioned the food, I had the most amazing Pizza here, all handmade and wood fired for £5.50 and it was lush.
Book it and book it now.
latest on this festival
festival home page
line-ups & rumours
line-ups & rumours