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6 music highlights from Festival No 6

23rd September 2013

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In amongst the tsunami of cultural experiences of Festival No 6, at the centre is a music bill, is that whilst not being as ‘cutting-edge’ as other events it is lovingly and expertly pieced together to compliment the unparalleled surroundings.

Chic at Festival No 6In a weekend of highlights, some things on our agenda stood out as must-see – here are six of the best from Festival No 6.

  • Chic (featuring Nile Rodgers)
If all you know of Nile Rodgers is his guest appearance on that rather dull disco track with Daft Punk – you are missing out! To a packed tent, disco legends Chic (led by Rodgers) brought the funk with hit after hit after hit. Each musician from the disco legends is on the top of their game as they drop their own legendary tracks such as ‘Le Freak’, ‘Good Times’ and ‘Everybody Dance’ through tunes they wrote and produced like Sister Sledge’s ‘Lost In Music’ and, an epic version of ‘We Are Family’. The only downside is some of the big hitters are reduced to a medley format, but that is necessary to fit in the sheer number of ‘must include tracks’.

A live rendering of David Bowie’s ‘Let’s Dance’ (produced by Nile Rodgers) is an awesome surprise, proving that Rodgers and his Chic Organisation have an impeccable record of churning out the best in pop. This is perfect pop performance, and the perfect party moment of the weekend. It ends with a massive stage invasion, a brilliant mass expression of joy. All hail Chic!

  • My Bloody Valentine
Few acts divide opinion like My Bloody Valentine, especially the aural endurance of their live efforts. ‘Ear drudgery’ is one opinion offered as the wave of layered sound fills the main tent. For those unenamoured by crushing noise, that is all it is, ‘noise’ - but for those who revel in the possibilities of sound, the nuances that can be etched out of the cacophony MBV are the best there is. They are nothing to watch, they fit the mould of the ‘non-performance’ tradition of shoegaze, but the sheer volume and noise is spectacle enough. The new material adds extra depth to the set list, but doesn’t match the sheer brilliance of their finest classic moments.

  • Manic Street Preachers
The Manic’s sole UK festival appearance of the summer was somewhat of a coup for Festival No 6 – and it is immediately apparent why the band chose to play this special shindig on home turf. The band themselves have said this is the only event they would forgo their self-imposed hiatus from British gigs for, and it shows. The rain abated for a few hours leading to this set putting people back in high spirits for a classic festival headline set. Under the Welsh flag, they blast into ‘Motorcycle Emptiness’ as opener. Newer material from their latest album, whilst strong, gets a somewhat muted response, other than Richard Hawley joining them on ‘Rewind The Film’ - but the Manic’s have enough gems in their back catalogue to produce an epic set. ‘You Stole The Sun From My Heart’ and ‘You Love Us’ are as crowd pleasing as ever. Following a burst of the Welsh national anthem the indie rock legends close on the double-whammy of ‘Motown Junk’ and, epic sing-along ‘A Design For Life’ proving why they have had such enduring appeal.

  • Brythoniad Welsh Male Voice Choir
Brythoniad Welsh Male Voice Choir at Festival No 6

Yes, a traditional male voice choir beats the competition to sit in our ‘highlights’ list. After being one of the surprise hits last year, with their colossal version of New Order’s ‘Blue Monday’ the classic Welsh voice choir drew increasingly growing crowds over their three nightly sets. The pure power of the human voice is impressive, and brings appreciation from the accepting crowd. Bringing in modern renditions to the set makes it relatable to all the crowd – Chic’s ‘Good Times’ and an improved version of ‘Blue Monday’ bring the house down (well not a house, as it is in the beautifully lit outdoor Piaza). On the Friday night set we see they end with an epic version of Muse’s ‘Uprising’ to rapturous applause. The openness to embrace different sounds and ideas is what makes Festival No 6 so interesting, and this set is one of its shining examples.

  • Radiophonic Workshop
You might not expect a selection of old men in white lab coats to provide a stunning highlight to a music festival, but this group of legendary innovators have never been what you’d expect. As the experimental sound wing of the BBC they pioneered the groundwork for much of what dance and electronic music is today. Surrounded by equipment including a tape loop machine (no samplers here) the group compose rather than play their career spanning set. With visuals from BBC footage, you get a real sense of just how important these guys are – ‘the British Kraftwerk’ the programme calls them. This does them a bit of a disservice as they even paved the way for the German legends sound. The highlight comes with an extended, funky version of Delia Derbyshire’s ‘Doctor Who Theme’ where the addition of live drums really adds something to the piece.

  • Public Service Broadcasting
PSB are almost the perfect modern musical hybrid. In a time where the past is the present, and in a lot of cases, passed off as the future these audio boffins span time. A sound built on old Public Service Broadcasts (see what they did there), modern electronics, live drums and, erm, banjo it is thoroughly engaging stuff. Live they have developed into something of a spectacle, under a giant retro TV screen displaying the footage they draw from, dressed in 40s style suits the trio perform as silent ‘operators’ of vision and sound rather than performers. The crowd interaction comes from a posh computer voice, activated after each track. Musically it spans techno, post-rock and ambient sounds that is equal food for both brain and dancing feet. 

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