Rob da Bank’s Bestival Festival came of age this year. And this was only the third one he’s done…
Held on the Isle of Wight on the Robin Hill Country Park, the Radio 1 DJ and boss of Sunday Best records has firmly established Bestival as the last chance of the summer to enjoy the festival vibe.
On the very positive side, the 15,000 or so at the event all seem in a joyous, relaxed, party mood. By now you’ll have seen reviews the have said how good it all was with the Pet Shop Boys headlining the big Saturday night fancy dress party and the Scissor Sisters on the Sunday night. As regular readers might guess, I missed all that fun and games and still managed to have a brilliant time.
Due to unforeseen circumstances, I arrived a little late on Friday night but you could have seen loads of Fly types like James Yorkston, Jamie T, T.M. Juke / Alice Russell, Blackbeard, Dr. Rubberfunk and Ashley Beedle just to name a few.
Best of all was New York’s Mark Ronson with Doc Brown. Mr. Brown just kept on looking at Ronson as he kept dropping the big ones. In the Big Top tent, I caught the end of NME’s darlings of the moment, Klaxons and Kelly Polar. I still think the Hectic remix of Klaxons ‘Atlantis to Interzone’ should have made the b-side of the single but I’ll forgive them as its still a great track. They are trying hard to be the next Test Icicles and it might be better just being the Klaxons. Like Kelley Polar who are just Kelley Polar! Their electro-disco with strings was ideal pre-late night cabaret and the talk of the tent.
Saturday looked like an equally busy day starting off with the rejuvenated John Martyn. Soon to recreate ‘Solid Air’ live (Sold Out), this was still a rare live performance. Pushed on in his wheelchair he went straight into his set and was sounding as good as ever (I’ll have to dig out that Talvin Singh remix of ‘Sunshines Better’). It was a shame I couldn’t stay longer but I had to see The Eighteenth Day of May.
They were in an ideal position at the Bandstand stage, which was bedecked in bunting and surrounded by a Farmers Market and Women’s Institute tents. While the sun had been shining all day, the only thing that was spoiling this was a blustery wind. Not to worry as all were on form even though there was a Mule in mirror shades and an Iron Maiden t-shirt in the crowd (remember this was fancy dress day). And how times change. Back in the 70s at the IoW festivals you might have got bad acid PA announcements. The Eighteenth Day of May get interrupted with a sniffer dog warning. Luckily, the accepted counter measure is to keep lots of liquorish and aniseed in your pockets. Whether Mr. da Bank wanted to know all this is another matter but fair play for him coming to check them out on such a busy day for the old hippy.
There will be separate review of da Bank’s ‘Folk Off’ coming in the near future, which features Eighteenth Day Of May, Tunng, James Yorkston and many more.
Saturday night was another mad dash to get in as much a possible with Skream and Switch in the Big Top, Kid Creole and the Coconuts, Loose Cannons and Rachid Taha Band with Brian Eno on the Main Stage and Kanda Bongo Man and Metronomy in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Tent.
Rachid was on top form in his silver suit but legend Eno looked a bit out of sorts and his biggest contribution was to point out how lovely the moon looked as it was setting in the distance.
Earlier on in the Fat Tuesday Tent, we’d just managed to catch some of Rob da Bank going 7″ head to 7″ head with the Trojan Sound System, the end of Dennis Alcapone with the Blood & Fire Sound system and a bit of Crazy P’s set.
Dennis Alcapone was in super cool form in terms of sound and looks (white suit with white bowler hat!). Blood & Fire gave us some exclusive cuts as it was taking some time for Max Sedgely and The Shoots to set up but it was worth the wait. They played most of album From The Roots To The Shoots and by the time they played ‘Happy’ the place was overflowing.
I’ll be covering Archie Bronson Outfit (Lost & Sound stage) and the Dubstep DJ’s separately but tunes of the day, I kept hearing The Cuban Brothers ‘A Million Stories’ (Sunday Best) and a track by Syrius off Devil’s Masquerade (Pepita LPX 17439). Much respect to John ‘Dope On Plastic’ Stapleton for that last one via the appropriately entitled ‘Inspired by Rizla’ Blue Pavilion Tent.
With no Mixmaster Morris to keep us going to 5.30am, it was time for an early night. But strangely enough the non-stop MMM was up by Sunday lunchtime checking out a great set on the El3gtikz pyramid tent by the enigmatic Phabius. It’s not the same size as Glastonbury’s pyramid but it does come with eight giant shell shaped speakers. Ideal for the chill session on the grassy knoll opposite.
While Phabius was setting us up for the day, ‘One Deck’ Pete (aka Madtone) and Popular were doing the morning show on Bestival Radio. Between the reggae 45s, Pete was top breakfast show form with public information on the quickest route to Coventry and a competition to win a night out in Peckham!
Luckily, the pair of them were on again in the Hidden Disco tent later on. It wasn’t’ that well hidden as it was packed immediately beforehand by the Loose Cannons [again] with the Justice vs. Simian ‘We Are Your Friends’ karaoke show. But thinking about it, it’s not many times you’ll here ‘We Are Your Friends’ followed by Madtone’s latest remix of E3 (see Garden Of Earthly Delights). I’ve not heard ‘Nephews Of Phela’ sounding so appropriate as in the dustbowl and just to show they’re as much in touch with the kids, ‘Young Folks’ by Peter, Bjorn and John got the place jumping. Last year, they brought Hey-eer-yah along to jam on harmonica and it was a shame he couldn’t make it this time. Perhaps next year?
And would you believe it, in the adjoining tent, Herbert was playing a live set kicking off with ‘The Movers and The Shakers‘ but before all that we had Tunng on the main stage (Main Stage and brilliant as usual), The Young Knives (cheeky upstarts who’ve had some great singles out; Metronomy, who have recently remixed ‘Weekends Bleakdays’), a bit of Hot Chip, Devendra Banhart (with Brighton’s Rob Miles taking over at one stage, Banhart was later seen in crowd with video camera so he seemed to be having a great time), Amadou & Mariam (brilliant as usual but please drop ‘Give Peace A Chance’), Breaks Co-op (unfortunately without Zane), Soul-Jazz/Pete Reilly and the Dub Pistols with Rodney P smashing it up (almost literally).
Due to more unexpected circumstances I had to miss Biggabush and Black Grass but you’ll be hearing more about them very soon indeed on Fly.
So all in all, a brilliant time was had. I tried to cover all bases from world, indie, folk, rave (its back), reggae, dubstep, house, electro, psychedelia (oh yeah, Amorphous Androgynous finally played on the Sunday), disco and jazz. My personal highlights were split between the bands and the DJs in a particularly hectic fashion (Klaxons, Phabius, John Martyn, One Deck & Popular, Tunng, Mark Ronson) but one thing is for sure, I don’t want to miss it next year.
Well done everyone at Bestival, you’re the best.
–Photo of Tunng by Damian Rafferty–
The Herbert Museum
Justice vs. Simian ‘We Are Your Friends’ on You Tube
The Garden Of Earthly Delights 7-4-06 www.gardenofearthlydelights.com