Boom! There he was

So for the second year running I finished the summer with back to back weekends of Creamfields and End of the Road.

And the contrast could hardly be greater between the two events.

Where the former is a massive communal celebration of getting lost in (dance) music, the latter is a much more cerebral – although at times no less joyous – gathering of music fans.

This year Gill agreed to go and spend the entire weekend on site – a festival first. OK, it was in the boutique camping area, but who’s keeping score!

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She did, however, remain slightly disappointed not to have seen one of the fabled peacocks that roam the festival’s Larmer Tree Gardens venue. Maybe the rain which poured down on Saturday kept them sensibly sheltering.

We arrived on Friday just in time for the wonderful Field Music who, despite having had problems getting their gear to the site, still fashioned a set worthy of their reputation and sounded like what might have happened had Prince stumbled into Talking Heads’ rehearsal room and asked to sit in on a couple of tracks.

The nature of EOTR is that for every beard-stroking Louisiana porch merchant on one stage there will be something heading in a radically different direction somewhere else.

Hence we found ourselves watching Shura and Cat’s Eyes in the Big Top neither of whom could conceivably be placed within much of the festival’s roots and Americana agenda.

Shura had impressed at Sound City earlier in the year and here made a compelling case to be a very big deal indeed with a clutch of great synth-washed tunes. Cat’s Eyes were more playful than I expected and their four-piece backing choral singers took many of their songs to great heights.

While not eating, drinking gin-based cocktails or watching engaging Irish comedies at the festival’s cinema – Sing Street if you’re interested – then we also had a good time watching Broken Social Scene, The Big Moon, the bit of Cat Power we saw, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard and Bill Ryder-Jones.

But, for us, the highlight was certainly Sunday night – again in the Big Top – where both Scritti Politti and Teenage Fanclub were playing.

I can barely state how excited I was to see Scritti Politti having only seen them once before in their entire getting-on-for-40-year history and that was only a short support set.

As with Echo and the Bunnymen, I’ve always found Scritti’s lack of ongoing mainstream recognition somewhat baffling.

I’d take their debut Songs to Remember to a desert island with me if I was only allowed 10 long players and, thinking about it, I’d slip Cupid & Psyche 85 into the same sleeve just to get two to listen to on the beach.

Effectively Green Gartside and accompanying musicians they plucked gems from their four decades including the big 80s hits such as Wood Beez and Absolute, the indie beginnings such as The Sweetest Girl and Jacques Derrida and later work like The Boom Boom Bap.

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He told a story about seeing Tito Puente in New York with Kraftwerk and introduced Asylums in Jerusalem by saying `as you’ll recall from Nietzsche’s critique of Christianity…’ I don’t think most of us did but it wasn’t important.

It was an hour of utterly brilliant polished pop that I’d go a long way to see again and again.

After Scritti had finished there was then a hiatus in the Big Top while Joanna Newsom did her thing on the main stage, but once she’d finished, Teenage Fanclub strode onstage in the tent to a heroes’ welcome and drove through a greatest hits set plus a couple of new songs from their forthcoming album.

Stylistically they plough a similar furrow throughout, but they do it with charm and songs like Star Sign and Sparky’s Dream are genuinely great.

 

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