Written by Liz Buckley

Arts

7 Wonders: Harvest Festival

Liz Buckley is back in charge of the Standard Issue Spotify account and this week’s she’s off to Moseley Folk Festival.

The Unthanks photo by Schorle, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Unthanks photo by Schorle, via Wikimedia Commons.

Without realising it, I’ve grown old with someone. Or rather, something – a constant in my life since I was 15. As with all the best relationships, it just happens without noticing: you look back and suddenly realise you couldn’t imagine life without them; they were there for you through all the best and the worst times of your life. They held your hair while you were being sick in a ditch behind Joe Banana’s blanket stall or suddenly proposed to you while you were trying to find the Reading pizza bus using only the position of the sun (like you’d know). Yes, I’ve just realised my life partner is ‘getting drunk at music festivals’.

These days festivals are so common/often/normal you can buy festival-recovery shampoo from Asda and anyone who avoids going to one is more of a miracle worker than TRESemmé. But back when I was a music-obsessed, gig-going teenager, the idea of a whole flipping festival was far more unusual; there were only about four of them, they were way smaller, you waited all year for them and they blew my tiny mind.

Not only could you see more than TWO bands in a day on one stage, Reading Festival had TWO STAGES. I’ve always admired Reading for never bowing to the current trend of having a stage for every family member present, just keep it to two: one big, one small, one in a field, one in a tent, don’t complicate things. Reading also has TWO BARS, and now there’s the Leeds Festival (I’m old, Leeds will always feel like a newcomer), TWO SITES. It’s the Noah’s Ark of festivals, not least of all because it’s always a shower, in every sense.

Now I’m nearer the twilight of my relationship with festivals, I’m not going to Reading, or Glastonbury or any of my usual draws this year, I’m going to a folk festival. I still want to hold hands with my darling Getting Drunk In A Field (GDIAF), I’ll never leave that guy, but these days I want to do it in a small, well-kept local park that you can only access by keycard, with a visitable duck pond, and do it while drinking a reasonably priced wine box and wearing comfortable knitwear. Yes, I’m going to the Moseley Folk Festival, and we’re celebrating its 10th anniversary. The romance hasn’t died.

“Jason Pierce has a uniform of white jeans, silver trainers and wraparound dark sunglasses to be worn even in bed; he’s always backed by a full gospel choir and/or string quartet – even when he’s having a piss in a Portaloo – and he absolutely always makes the most beautiful music known to man.”

Spiritualized – Soul on Fire & She Kissed Me & It Felt Like a Hit

The headliner on Friday night at Moseley is Spiritualized, who I love with all my heart and yours too. I will never go off Spiritualized either, they are completely safe on that, as singer Jason Pierce doesn’t speak so it’s impossible to get annoyed with him. He is the anti-Twitter.

He also never varies anything at all, so is completely reliable. He has a uniform of white jeans, silver trainers and wraparound dark sunglasses to be worn even in bed; he’s always backed by a full gospel choir and/or string quartet – even when he’s having a piss in a Portaloo – and he absolutely always makes the most beautiful music known to man, while every single song he’s ever written contains the words ‘soul’, ‘fire’, ‘space’, ‘higher’, ‘veins’, ‘hit’, ‘kissed’, ‘Lord’, ‘sad’, ‘broken’ and ‘heart’ just in various different orders.

I got INCREDIBLY overexcited watching their Glastonbury set earlier this year because Jason Pierce was standing up, a man who hasn’t stood up on stage in years; that’s how reliable they are. In a state of shock at the change of stance, I launched into a 15-minute theory about what he was up to.

Something else I appreciate about Jason Pierce is his music puns. For a man with sunglasses who doesn’t like standing up or speaking, the man has some bare jokes. Under the guidance of Phil Spector, as so many questionable things were, 60s girl group The Crystals recorded their paean to domestic abuse He Hit Me & It Felt Like A Kiss… Let’s all shudder at that sentiment for a moment. But our Jason turns this horror around with his modern retake She Kissed Me (& It Felt Like A Hit). My ideal man! A Phil Spector nerd reference, a lyrical re-empowerment for women AND a being off your face joke! Marry me.

The Monkees photo by Entertainment International.

The Monkees photo by Entertainment International.

The Monkees – (I’m Not) Your Stepping Stone

I have so much respect for the Monkees and so should you. They’ve sold more than 75 million records, their daft-as-brushes 60s TV show is still utterly charming and all but invented the music video and, at the peak of their powers, they’d outsold The Beatles and The Rolling Stones combined. Not bad for four jobbing actors hired to play a fake band. While they began as someone else’s project, their natural talent was such that the Monkees themselves ended up writing, playing, producing, touring and controlling their own musical output. All while playing an instrument that wasn’t their preferred choice. Never underestimate a manufactured boy band. They also went on to discover Jack Nicholson in their brilliant film Head, but that’s for another day.

My personal favourite thing about the Monkees is that music journalists Bob Stanley and Pete Paphides were once mistaken for Peter Tork and Micky Dolenz and asked to sign autographs. Once told, you can never unsee the likeness. I’m going to double check who’s actually on stage this Sunday, that’s for sure.

“I love Idlewild, they’re ab-solut-ely adorable; I want to pick them all up and hold them in front of me like surprisingly long cats.”

Anna Calvi – Desire

Ahhh, Anna Calvi, like a Lana Del Rey that doesn’t annoy me. Both of her parents are therapists so she must be really bloody together. Playing violin from an early age and teaching the guitar to kids right up until a few years ago, it’s good to see her on a big stage rather than an assembly hall. And my, has she moved up fast. She co-produced her Mercury-nominated debut album with PJ Harvey associate Rob Ellis, toured with Nick Cave side project Grinderman and Brian bloody Eno sings backing vocals for her on her track Desire. It’s safe to say we all want you to like her.

The Unthanks – Annachie Gordon

The Unthanks write and sing beautiful, atmospheric folk tunes and I almost hope it’s tipping it down when they’re onstage to get the atmosphere of ships at sea and smugglers’ caves. They also have the honour of organising the coolest tours I’ve ever heard of. Every year, the band host six weekends of singing, eating and walking around the Northumberland coast, with mini concerts from them while you have a pub lock-in or Sunday roast. The farmhouse they hire out even has underfloor heating. Whattaband!

Idlewild photo by Paul Hart from Glasgow, Scotland, via Wikimedia Commons.

Idlewild photo by Paul Hart from Glasgow, Scotland, via Wikimedia Commons.

Idlewild – Live in a Hiding Place & When I Argue I See Shapes

The last of the headliners at this year’s Moseley Folk Festival is dear Idlewild. I love Idlewild, they’re ab-solut-ely adorable; I want to pick them all up and hold them in front of me like surprisingly long cats. Singer Roddy Woomble is not only called Roddy Woomble, which is more than enough for me, but he has an incredibly pressable button-nose, organises tours of the Orkney Islands and wears Aran sweaters. Back in my 20s, on a first date with a man I was already deeply taken with, I was describing such a list of just how adorable I find Idlewild. His eyes twinkling and nose wiggling like Samantha in Bewitched, he said, “I can do all that,” and I went out with him for a year.

Assuming you too are won over already, another thing which we should all now find adorable about Idlewild is they sing songs in the round, something you don’t often hear outside of infant schools. Most of the band sing different sections of each song, as do the audience. If you look around during an Idlewild set, one of your friends is doing the “ba bas”, the more traditional ones are singing the main melody and the lairy one is shouting “SHAPES!” at weird times. Idlewild basically make me want to stand on a low table and conduct groups of school children, and there’s not many bands you can say that about.

The Songs of Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart, the writers/producers for the Monkees, is available here: http://acerecords.co.uk/action-the-songs-of-tommy-boyce-bobby-hart

@liz_buckley

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Written by Liz Buckley

Department manager at an independent record company. Liker of Frank Sinatra and Nick Cave. Very sudden laugh. Pasty but tasty. Quite tired.