Wow. Almost 20,000 people packed out Wollaton Park this weekend for what was a festival to remember, despite the somewhat ‘dodgy’ weather conditions the great British summertime threw at people at times!
Andy Afford from the Nottingham Evening Post was there with this review!
Wetting rain. Thundery rain. Straight down rain. Rain that fell with the drops joined up. Rain that was both cat and dog. Rain that never looked like stopping. Rain deemed good for the garden. And rain good for nothing. In fact, Wollaton Park – home of Splendour 2014 – witnessed pretty-much every style of precipitation, bar that cold November type sung about by Guns n’ Roses. But the bands played on.
Now a staple of the Nottingham events calendar, Splendour’s strength lies in its setting and the almost euphoric response of the 20,000-plus crowd. The natural fall towards the lakeside stage at the rear of ‘Wayne Manor’ offers easy vantage points. The variety of act it attracts – from chart hopefuls to rock legends – means all points of the compass are indexed, with an appearance this time round by world champion boxer Carl Froch thrown in for good measure.
Future Sound of Nottingham talent show winner Joy Mumford opened proceedings on the Main Stage. Under near biblical skies, the West Bridgfordite’s soul-inflected set for the early risers includes a jazzy reworking of the Spice Girls hit Wannabe. Much is expected of the 20-year-old singer-songwriter, given the success of recent graduate Indiana.
New Yorker Ron Pope is followed by The Beat. The heavily-bearded son of Brooklyn’s muscular Classic Rock is well-received by a now swelling crowd, as is the Ranking Roger fronted version of the classic ‘80s ska combo, so long in existence the line-up now boasts son-and-heir Ranking Junior on vocal duties.
Saint Raymond is the nom de band of Nottingham’s own Callum Burrows. A favourite of Radio 1 soothsayer Zane Lowe, this 19-year-old indie rattler performed as a collective for the first time at Splendour just 12 months ago. That time on the Jagermeister Stage (now named after local music hub Confetti); this time the buzz around the Main Stage sees things ratcheted up a notch. Even Mrs B makes an appearance, administering a final change of guitar before being man-handled to the mic by a doting son. It was Dog Is Dead’s turn to shine in this mid-afternoon slot in 2013. Another baton has been passed.
As Foxes appear, so does the kind of rainclouds generally only witnessed in Hollywood epics. End of Days comes to mind, but it fails to knock performer Louisa Rose Allen off stride. Dance hits Let Go For Tonight, Right Here (recorded with Rudimental) and the Grammy Award-winning Clarity (with Zedd) all go down, ahem, a storm…
Splendour loves Scouting For Girls. And Scouting For Girls loves Splendour right back. In front of a now massive crowd, the warmth of the band is infectious, as is the sing-along nature of the material. No act tries harder on the day. None receive a better response. With a Greatest Hits album released in 2013 and two covers tacked on this afternoon in the form of Rudimental’s Waiting All Night and Wings’ juggernaut that is Live And Let Die, it all makes for a smile-wide set of perfect pop.
Celebrity Big Brother winner Bez appears first, talking a bit of politics and shaking a trademark maraca. He’s followed on stage in dribs and drabs by more musicians cum Reality TV stars that includes hardman/frontman Shaun Ryder (I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! 2010). The Happy Mondays original line-up cuts a curious jib. Their style is definitively Madchester. The uneasy on-stage banter indicates this is a reformation with a fractured history. Every song a blissed-out dance groove, with added entertainment to be had when the notoriously ‘well-refreshed’ Ryder attempts to recall the album and year each upcoming number appears on, with backing vocalist Rowetta Satchell (finished fourth, first series of X Factor 2004) playing arbiter. Ryder’s success-rate, it has to be said, is marginally lower than the sound of whale song. His insistence in counting the band in at the start of songs is also unilaterally ignored. None more entertainingly than by po-faced drummer Gaz Whelan.
Tom Odell is this year’s closing act. His is a sound of scale, hope and ambition. An emotive vocalist and a merciless punisher of the keys, Odell and his brilliant backing band are as good a modern pop act as there is. To refer to this talented singer-songwriter as ‘the young Elton’ is to damn with faint praise. Despite Odell playing the EJ classic Your Song, he says, for the first time on stage ever, tonight sees a powerful band sing and play beautifully together. Forget the hype; Odell at Splendour is a coup.