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Festival review: No Tomorrow Festival


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No Tomorrow sits in Nottingham’s Wollaton Park, home to Wayne Manor from The Dark Night Rises, lots of deer and for a few days in June some of the best new music around.

Over two stages No Tomorrow brought together recognisable names and up and comers, including the headliners Jessie Ware, John Newman and man of the moment, James Bay.

Ware had the privilege of finishing the festivities on the Saturday, and indeed her honeyed precision, jazz-infused tones and hypnotic stage presence soothed the crowd considerably after a madcap first day.

Ware’s set was perfectly pleasant, with her heartfelt rendition of ‘You & I (Forever)’ being a highlight. However, as undeniably polished an act as Ware is, her set felt too stilted to be a closing headline set and the crowd visibly stilled and quietened as a result - so the day went out with a whimper rather than a bang.

Newman, on the other hand, inspired quite the opposite reaction the following evening.

When the singer left the stage, before returning to launch in to ‘Love Me Again’, the crowd unanimously sang almost the entire song in an impassioned plea to coax Newman back to the stage. This, of course, succeeded, and Newman swaggered back on to rapturous cheers. Delivering a surprisingly raucous and energetic set, the notoriously ‘difficult second album’ may not prove to be so difficult after all, judging by Newman’s notably assured performance.

Current Brits Critics Choice Award holder, James Bay, preceded Newman, and his effortlessly skilful set made it not too difficult to see why he stole the coveted prize this year.

No one could doubt his genuine humility as he remarked on the spectacle of Wollaton Hall atop the hill: “That thing up there, and you lot… what a beautiful sight.” Heartfelt a statement as it was, it took a lot of restraint not to point out that “that thing” happens to be Bruce Wayne’s manor and that Mr Bay was technically performing in Batman’s back garden, when we caught up with him backstage after the set.

The surprise stand-out award of the weekend must go to singer, MNEK; throughout his unfortunately short half-hour slot, we were unable to suppress the infectious grins permanently spread across our faces as MNEK delivered a performance as colourful, vibrant and relentlessly upbeat as his gloriously matching tribal outfit. At one point, the singer launched into an eclectic throwback mash-up of ‘A Thousand Miles’, Cher’s ‘Believe’ and, er, ‘Love Shack’.

A recipe for disaster on paper, a crowd-pleasing delight in reality. This soulful crooner with a House inspired twist is certainly one to watch over the coming months.

The Stealth/BB Records stage was housed under a massive tent and had an incredible atmosphere. It was packed full of happy people, everybody was noticeably having a great time. This tent saw the likes of Bondax, Gorgon City and Hannah Wants, play, over the course of the weekend, and the large space, but intimate atmosphere, made for an unforgettable experience.  

Up and coming DJ, Hannah Wants, in particular drew a sizeable crowd on the scorching Saturday afternoon, that only increased in size over her hour and a half set.

The latter was segued to perfection, to the point of the transitions between beats becoming all but unnoticeable, and the atmosphere was the most potently electric of all artists featured on the Stealth stage over the weekend. Female DJs are unfortunately somewhat sparse on the music scene in spite of the domination of House based tunes in the charts currently, but judging by Wants’ blistering performance that may hopefully be about to change sooner rather than later. 

by Charlotte Pick and Anna-Marie Higgins

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