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Festival review: Blissfields 2012

3rd July 2012

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Arriving at Blissfields the relaxed family friendly atmosphere washes over you before even stepping off the shuttle bus. As well as the two stages, there is a sports day area and hammocks, so when walking into the field you are greeted by a variety of colour and sound.

Many musicians had a similar musical feel, experimenting with pop and indie, with the best performances given by those who bought a high level of energy to the stage. The best example of this was Man Like Me, performing new hits, 'Peculiar' and 'Oh My Gosh'.

The band made themselves festival favourites not only because of singer/rapper Johnny Langer’s tendency to take off an item of clothing during every tune and his climbing the scaffolding on the stage, but the way their eclectic music style was brought to life by incorporating electronic instruments and a live trumpet player into the mix.

Man Like Me

The most raucous the crowd got was during the sets of Spector and headliners The Noisettes, where crowd-surfing over shadowed some tunes. 

Performing on the Saturday, big beat stalwarts Dub Pistols, delivered a lively performance incorporating different genres with their own material and covers. From old school ska to rock ‘n’ roll, all tunes were packed with energy, an upbeat tempo and some amazing, well-timed glissandos from the trombone.

The slickest performance of the festival was delivered by the brilliantly kooky Noisettes, complete with acrobatic moves from lead singer, Shingai Shoniva. From a musical point of view Shoniva on bass, together with the lush harmonies between her and the backing singers, made it an electrifying performance. It was refreshing to see an attractive female singer who also knows their way around an instrument. The band incorporated the most improvised set of the festival, by adapting songs for the audience to sing along in a call and response motif.  

Standing out for the variety of instruments used in performance, was Patrick Wolf who performed an acoustic set. Clearly an accomplished musician, on stage Wolf played three instruments (harp, grand piano and ukulele) himself, as well as performing with a cellist and violinist. Although it was the instruments that led to Patrick's rather prolonged diva moment on stage, making the set slightly awkward for the man in charge of the microphone volume for the grand but even more of a show for the audience.

The Hidden Hedge stage lies in the heart of the festival, showcasing lesser known musicians such as Caitlin Stubbs, an excellent singer and keyboard player. Second stage, Bradley Bubble, was good for being introduced to new musicians who stood out in energy and musical originality, such as Arp Attack and Citizens. Another young energetic performance on the main stage was Charli XCX, tipped by many to be the ‘next big thing’. (Read more about her here.)  

Blissfields 2012 definitely encapsulated what a live music festival should be: young energetic musicians supported by welcoming (albeit drunken) crowd. The festival stands out from competing events, not least this year due to the fact, as succinctly put by the singer of Dub Pistols ("It’s pissing it down everywhere else apart from here") but also for the clear focus on bringing live music to all ages and promoting new exciting artists.

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