I saw a post on Jamie N. Commons face book page “win tickets to The Apple Cart Festival“, I entered, and yes, I won….fantastic!!!

Neil was due to go on Holiday to Devon, but managed to postpone it for a day so he could come along.
The plan was to get into London early, get the tickets and see as much as we can! The email with the instructions had a really funny bit in it, I think it will stick:

YOU WILL NOT NEED:
– Your friend. You can go back outside to meet him/her and enter the festival together. We DO NOT need your friend, as there will be enough people already.

Hmmmmmm, it didn’t make my friend feel terribly good….hehehehehehe

Be aware, as this is a one day Festival it will be a long read, if you only have 5 minutes, come back later.

Of course we arrived later then planned, the weather just wasn’t on our side it was drizzling, you know that rain that pretends not to be rain but you are soaked through before you know it. We got to Victoria Park at around 12pm; we should just about make it to see Jamie N. Commons. I went to get my ticket at the deserted guest list booth, and as instructed I didn’t take my friend…lol!
It was straight forward, showed the email, got the tickets, oh, 3 of them….I thought it was a pair!?! Ok, quick scan through my phone book, couple of phone calls, but everybody is already busy….shame, it would go to waste. I see a young man going to the “buy ticket” booth, I stop him and ask if he would like one of mine, I explained I won them and would hate it to go to waste. He happily accepts and gives me a tenner…… that is lunch then…lol!

We make our way inside, right, where do we start? Sadly we have missed Jamie’s slot, he was on early and by the time we found the tent it was over :-(, I’m really gutted, I so love his voice!

We decided to have a look around and find some food before deciding on a plan of what to watch. Little did we know that that decision was going to be taken out of our hands! Somehow we walked straight to the Herrman the German stand, that must be a sign that it’s time for a curry wurst, haven’t had one of those for a while…yummmyy! Next we decide to have an Eton Mess as dessert, what a fab idea to have this at a festival, beats the usual nutella crepes every time!…….
Looking at our little timetable we agree to go to the main stage tent and get in position for Gaz Coombes, it’s another 40 minutes before he is due on stage, but it’s still drizzling and we do want to get as near the front as possible. We manage to get into the second row, more or less in the centre. A couple of people up are die-hard Adam Ant fans, the boy is wearing all the paraphernalia, he is looking really good, I bet he has been here since 11am and is not going to move!  Neil ask me to turn around so he can take a photo of me, as he is trying to get it right I can see the guy to my left grinning and saying “say cheese”…….cheeky.
I get talking to him, his name is David and he is from Chalfont St.Peter, not far from me at all. From what he says he is just as mad about live music as I am, takes himself off to random gigs all the time. I knew there must be more of us out there :-).
François and the Atlas Mountain were still playing, a French Indie/Pop group from Saintes, and the west coast of France. I really like them, they make you want to dance and have that feelgoodfactor. We do only catch the tail-end of their set, but the crowd seem to love them and they go off stage to a roaring applause, I will look out for these guys!

Just then the 3 youngsters that were in front of us moved away, leaving the barrier free for Neil, David and myself, brilliant……..

Next on stage will be Gaz Coombes, formerly from Supergrass, Neil had won tickets at some point to see him filming a show in London, but it was afternoon and I just haven’t got enough day’s off any more. As it happened, due to our lovely London transport Neil got there too late and wasn’t let in as the filming had already begun. Still, we seeing Gaz now and right from the front…..!
David next to me seems to be familiar with him, I have to admit I have seen the name, but that is as far as it goes. It takes ages getting the stage ready for him, they must be an hour behind schedule by now, boring!
Finally, Gaz appears on stage to a roar of clapping, he starts his set straight away and I must admit, he sounds good, I’m sorry I can’t tell you which songs he plays, I just don’t know his stuff, but I may well do in the future. I do get the feeling so that he may be a bit difficult to work with, I saw him getting a little annoyed because his guitar wasn’t tuned properly, I half expected him to throw it at his Techie, who takes it away just to return it a few minutes later  fully tunes I expect. Somehow this guy reminds me of Brian Molko from Placebo, he has this arrogance and a “aren’t you lucky I’m here” kind of attitude, I personally don’t care much for that sort of attitude. I wonder if his brother, who is playing the keys has the same attitude. One thing I did notice though was that the sound being pretty perfect at the beginning of the set suddenly increased its volume, the second to last song sounded terrible, it seemed to get turned down again half way through the last track. All in all a nice performance, not outstanding for me but as I keep saying “you can’t win them all”.

Next up is a pretty young girl called Lianne la Havas,  the first thing you notice about her is those huge puffed sleeves….:-)
She looks a little nervous but confident at the same time if that makes sense at all. The tent is packed full, it is absolutely pouring with rain outside, and Lianne is obviously thrilled, she says things like: “look at you all” “so many people” “I must take a photo of you all for my Mum”, with that she pulls out her mobile and snaps away. She has a lovely voice, and considering I’m not keen on female voices she manages to keep my attention. she has written some lovely songs about ex-boyfriends and lost love…….well done girl, I really enjoyed your set and you fresh open attitude, don’t lose that! 🙂

Billy Bragg‘s turn now, I did see him supporting Frank Turner not long ago, I think not being English prooved to be a handicap as a few things went straight over my head, and we were very preoccupied with the fundraiser that happened at the same time (see Frank Turner blog).
The stage is set, and there he comes, again, I can’t remember what song he started or finished with, but he is such a nice guy, he talks and sings about issues that should concern each and every one of us!
He tells the story of when he attended the rally in Victoria Park demonstrating against racism, homophobic and general medieval behavior at the “Rock against Racism” (Neil was actually there and still has the badge in mint condition), he tells us that as a young man of 19 in a new job he thought it was only he that felt people (specially in his office) had a real bad attitude towards important issues, so he never said anything. but on the day of the rally, he only really went to see the Clash, he realised he wasn’t alone and started standing up to the bully’s. He proudly told everyone that we are the generation that made this world a better place, and I think he is right :-). He also had his cup of tea on stage, talked about age and man boobs…..lol, “speak for yourself” I hear David muttering next to me! I remember him singing “forever blowing bubbles”, and the Woodie Gutherie song “All you fascists bound to loose”and “Milkman of human kindness”, suddenly people walked into the pit chucking huge green yellow and red balloons (the colours of apple cart of course) into the crowd, it was brilliant, everybody bounced them on and up. I managed to hit Billy twice with one, but undeterred he carries on……!
He mentions his EP and that he will come to the barrier afterwards to sell and sign them…..David and I buy one, and patiently wait for him to come along and sign it. But, the security staff won’t let him :-(, we would have to go to him, fat chance, I’m not leaving my spot, Kid Creole is next…lol! I do manage to persuade one of the photographers in front of me to go and get it signed….wooohooo!!  Billy Bragg, I really enjoyed your set, great vibes, great sound, great fun!

Kid Creole and the Coconuts took ages to set up the stage, there are so many players and instruments. We are looking forward to this one, make-you-feel-good vibes coming up!!! 🙂
Kid Creole is wearing a bright purple outfit; he brings on the coconuts and explains these girls are obviously not the original ones, more like their grandchildren….lol!! As soon as the first few notes were played you wanted to dance, well, I did, I might have been showing my age, but who cares! The winning song “Annie, I’m not your Daddy” is being dedicated to all illegitimate children out there. You could feel the energy in the tent rising, most people knew this song….so everybody joined into the singing and clapping.
And that was it, set over and finished, is it me or was that really short? I just got into the groove and they say good night…whatttt? What happened there? Shame, I would have liked a little more!

While the stage was prepared for the next band Stornaway, a couple of girls tapped on my shoulder, they wondered who I was waiting  to see and that they came from Germany and Belgium to see Stornaway, “was there a chance to swap places just for the next band?” I did say yes, I have already been at the barriers for the past 3 or so hours and I know how exciting it is to be near the band you adore. When Stornaway came on I took a couple of photos and we changed round, the tent was getting packed more and more, and the weather was mad, rain coming down hard and fast. I had forgotten how much more tiring it is being in second row with nothing to lean on, amazing what difference it makes. I can see Neil getting a little squashed, 2 girls in the space of one, it’s tight! But they seem to be really enjoying themselves, know all the songs and take loads of photos. For me, not quite, they perform well and obviously have a following, but their music doesn’t speak to me. The lead singer coped quite well when a new instrument didn’t want to work, techies are running around the stage and he did brilliantly filling in time. They managed to make it work, and all ends well. When their set finished I swapped places with the girls again and I was back in my rightful place.

Right, Adam Ant next, now that should be a treat, the guy at the centre front has been there all day waiting for him, all dressed up and ready to party. I have never seen Adam Ant, it’s one of those artists you always knew about it but never really looked into, for me anyway. He arrives on the stage dressed in his Kings of the Wild Frontier finery, he is looking good! He plays hits like “Stand and Deliver”, “Antmusic”,”Car trouble” and “Prince Charming”. He leaps around on the stage, a young attractive lady joins him, and they do delivery a rather good show. David next to me makes me laugh, I think he is giving away his age here, singing along and knowing all the lyric! But hey, he is enjoying himself that is what it is all about! Adam Ant finishes with a brilliant cover of the T Rex song “get it on“, even I have to sing along to that one…lol!

The rain is still lashing against the tent roof, and we may have been standing here at the barriers since 1:30, but that beats running around in the rain and mud. It is just about coming up to 9pm and Noah and the Whale is about to come on, hopefully they are as mind blowing as they were at the Royal Albert Hall not long ago (see previous blog). David tells me he won’t be able to stay all that long as he has to catch the last train back to Gerrads Cross, don’t you just love British public transport? Neil is kind enough to agree to give him a lift back, we do pass Gerrads Cross on our way home anyway, and that gives David the chance to see the end of the gig….win win situation!
It is time, Noah and the Whale are on stage, starting with “Life is Life”, followed by “Just before we met” and yes they still sound amazing! This band has definitely come on in leaps and bounds; it is great to see everything working out for young bands. It is obvious there are many fans in the audience, everybody is singing along to “tonight’s the kind of night”, “5 years” and ” L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N.”
The show is pretty much the same as at the Albert Hall, but it doesn’t bother me, as the atmosphere under this canvas is fantastic.

This has been a great festival, shame about the rain which stopped me looking at everything else on offer, but hey, I managed to see some great bands from a prime position, and met some nice people……

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About FrontRowStef

Following months of putting in the necessary hours of research, I have been bullied into writing a blog about my gig experiences! I can’t claim in-depth technical musical knowledge, or a massive CD collection, but, I know what I like and what doesn’t sound good in a live setting. I’m not intending to write great reviews about bands, but more of stuff that happen to me while out and about. Like when a dear friend of mine pointed out that it looks like I’m putting my towel down when I hit the barriers at the front and claim my spot with my jacket draped over the railings. What does he mean? Is it because I’m German? Enough introductions, you will get to know me sooner or later! Oh and apparently I’m going to be referred to as Front Row Stef, simply because that is my rightful place!

One response »

  1. Martina says:

    That’s nice to have so many band playing there ..hip hip hurray for festivals … V fest here I come in August !

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