Festival Review: Shambala
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It's sometimes hard to tell where the festival ends and the punters begin. Although the 'Police Rave Unit' driving around seemed to be an official festival act, the two gentlemen riding around on pianos appeared to be doing so of their own volition. Suspend your cynicism, slip into hippy-tolerant mode and forget about the world: this is Shambala 2012. From the moment you walk onto the site it's clear that Shambala is not your average festival. Small, indie and perfectly self-contained, it's a long way from the Festival Republic behemoths of Reading & Leeds which take place on the same weekend. The organisers describe it in their mission-statement as “A space to play, to reinvent, revitalise and then to return to the world fuelled-up on the beauty of being alive. “It's so much more than just a monumental party. It's a haven, a think-tank and a happening all infused with a heartfelt, purposeful hedonism.” Billy Bragg headlined Friday night and he captured perfectly the ambience of the weekend – optimistic, bouyant and activist. A cover of One Love was politicised with lyrics changed to “Let's drop the debt and it will be alright.” In the real world it might have seemed a bit pretentious and lacking in subtlety. At Shambala, a thousand people felt all warm and fuzzy. He ended his set with a huge singalong to New England, dedicated to Kirsty McColl.
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