After attending last year’s inaugural Godney Gathering, the one-day festival taking place in a farmer’s field near to Glastonbury, I had high hopes for this year’s event and a clear idea of what to expect.
However, the south-west’s infamous summer rain had other ideas. Just a week before the event photos of the site began circulating. Rather than looking like a field capable of hosting hoards of music fans and bands the waterlogged site looked more like the venue for an Olympic rowing event.
The event could so easily have been cancelled, but the organisers pulled out all the stops and with just days to go announced that a new venue had been found big enough to cater for thousands of festival goers – the nearby cattle market and conference venue The Venue @J24, North Petherton, Somerset.
With the cows and business types safely removed the show went on, with psychedelic rockers Goldray providing a high energy opening ahead of Stringer Bessant, the surf-folk project of Reef’s Gary Stringer and Jack Bessant. The pair had provided a low key and engaging set at last year’s event and this year they were showing off a new live sound, with bassist Dominic Greensmith and drummer Amy Newton added to the line up. With Reef being one of the area’s most well known acts they benefited from an enthusiastic home crowd, which was clearly delighted by their mellow country rock set and frequently sang along word for word
The Hoosiers were next up and despite not gracing the singles or album charts since 2010 their hits from the last five years such as Worried about Ray and Goodbye Mr A got a fine response from the cheering crowd.
Among the most exciting festival acts of recent years is The Subways, who were famously booked to open The Glastonbury Festival’s Other Stage in 2004 after the indie-rock trio sent organiser Michael Eavis a demo. They’ve gone on to play Leeds and Reading and their debut 2005 album Young for Eternity has now gone gold. Having seen them a couple years ago play at nearby Bridgwater Palace, I was certain they would play a breath taking energetic set and was not disappointed.
They entered with a mash up of music from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and 2001: A Space Odyssey, which helped build up tension and garnered a huge roar from the crowd. From the first song guitarist Billy Lunn was great at getting the crowd involved; seeing who could scream the loudest and making everyone sit down then go crazy. In this set I really saw the energy in the Godney Gathering and it was amazing. The Subways opened with their 2004 single Oh Yeah and the energy didn’t let up. This is definitely a band to see more than once.
Young Aviators may not have the back catalogue of some the earlier acts but proved a worthy headliner with their fusion of new wave and surf music. It was an intense and surprising set and they clearly gave it all onstage.
Despite the excellent line up there were a few areas of criticisms. The acoustics at the venue were not great, and while organisers had kept the price of drinks down (£2.50 for a pint of beer or cider) the same could not be said for the food, with festival goers asked to pay £2.50 for a small portion of chips. But considering the event nearly didn’t happen at all these are very minor gripes about what proved to be another successful Godney Gathering.
Such small festivals are an important and cost effective way for people to enjoy music in their local area without forking out heavily on a weekend of camping at the likes of T in the Park or Reading. They deserve to be supported, especially when the organisers manage the seemingly impossible task of moving a festival venue with just a few days to go. We are certainly looking forward to next year’s, which hopefully for the organisers will coincide with some better weather.
Review by Ryan Perry, Pictures by Mathew Danby