The Wychwood Music Festival 2006 - Reviewed
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Oh and this year it has been sun and more sun after the showery festival of yesteryear. As came the sun, so came the people; more than twice the turnout for last year is here already and the prospects for day ticket sales on the doors have to be good with weather like this.
Next up on the main stage was England’s national treasure himself Billy Bragg. Delivering his trademark mix of new songs, old songs and old songs made new with scathing lyrics — “I don’t believe in putting smart bombs in the hands of dumb people” — his set was greeted as part religious service, part rock concert. Some people smiled knowingly as he went off on a few sermons between songs but the hectoring has been upgraded into smart, funny and often erudite stories to make his point. Adding an unusual spice to his set was ex-Faces Hammond B3 legend ‘Sir’ Ian Maclaghlan.
Mr Scruff began his set to quite a large crowd inside a tent but whether it was the call of Dreadzone outside, the squelchy ground in the tent or his mash-up jazz, many drifted off to catch live bands. It was a shame really and the practice of putting DJs like Gilles Peterson and Mr Scruff on at 9pm is one that needs reviewing. After 11, the tent went all wireless headphones with what is accurately called the Silent Disco. Certainly a novel way to get round the problems caused by grumpy old gits ling nearby but not quite the party it could have been.
Dreadzone rocked the main stage big time and the large crowd loved it. And what a crowd, young old, multicultural, all classes and creeds. If there is a friendlier festival or a more childcentric one, I don’t know it.
Polar Bear’s brand of no-frontiers jazz was a revelation. Forget the obscure marketing tags, this is fast, hard and contemporary jazz on a big scale. Doreen Thobekile funked the Big Top with her own brand of Afrogroove. A stunning backing singer adding sparkle to an already polished performer.
For many, though the big conversation is who stole the show? Was it Martha Wainwright in hotpants and folk in your face attitude, giving full range to a surprisingly agile voice or was it the Ed Motta / Gilles Peterson double header? Ed Motta is like a Brazilian Stevie Wonder. Amazing vocal range and a shit hot funky band got everyone going and Gilles seemed to be having the time of his life when he came on afterwards.
A short but quite dazzling set over at the Other Stage from Lautrec benefitted from Julia Biel on vocals and a rain shower that helped fill the tent nicely.
The evening saw the irrepressible Amadou and Mariam share a stage with the Bays and Eliza Carthy over the course of the night.
For friendliness, great bands, and facilities generally up to the task, it is hard to fault this fledgling festival. A bit more on the global music front next year would be nice though.
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