Splendour Festival, Nottingham (July 20, 2013)

If ever a name was more appropriate than Splendour for a festival, then I can’t think of one. With it’s beautiful backdrop of the magnificent Wollaton Hall (Wayne manor in the latest Batman movie) and set amid acres of lovely rolling countryside, fields, stables, courtyards and enclosures in addition to a great views of Nottingham from it’s highest point, this park is one of the areas must see attractions.



To utilize it as a venue was inspired, and despite initial concerns from local (dead posh) residents, it is becoming an annual fixture to the local music scene, and this year saw another pop focused, family friendly line up, spread over a couple of stages, with a  relatively diverse bunch of acts set to cater for different generations of fans.

It took until mid afternoon until something special kicked off, a band with the unassuming name of Kagoule, turned it all up to eleven, with a set of arresting blasts of paint stripping three-piece punk rock. From noisy kids to slick middle aged ex- new wavers; Squeeze have come a long ,long way since their days at the forefront of the school of clever English post punk pop. Always a magnificent singles band, they dropped hit after classic hit, middle aged women swooned liberally and dropped their strawberries as they perfectly executed Black Coffee in Bed, Take Me I’m Yours and Pulling Muscles From a Shell. It was so nice to see the band’s songwriting duo Chris Difford and Glen Tilbrook back in the pop saddle again, evidently crazy happy that they are cherished for the institution they so definitely are, oh and the icing on the cake was a great version of an almost forgotten classic, Slap and Tickle.

Peter Hook

Peter Hook

Ok, admission time. The last time I saw Peter Hook live was on the 22nd of October 1979, when Joy Division blew The Buzzcocks off stage in Derby. To see him here tonight with his band, was a tear jerking trip down memory lane. Good god, I thought, as they started with Joy Division’s  Atmosphere. It was middle aged men going apeshit time!

This was then followed by, yes you guessed it, the greatest tune ever in the annals of rock music, my song, and probably yours as well, Love Will Tear Us Apart. But that was merely the beginning of a seventy minute set that then went on to cover everything fantastic that New Order ever recorded, including Your Silent Face, Regret, Senses and Temptation went to another level, prompting a mass sing a long with added hat throwing and pogoing. His finale with Blue Monday was just astonishingly sublime.

Jake Bugg from a safe distance

Jake Bugg from a safe distance

KT Tunstall played some pretty pretty rock ‘n’ roll, Dog Is Dead proved to be merely competent, but Maximo Park caused sparks to fly with a spiky set of jerky pop that caused much silly dancing and teenage girl hysteria. But they couldn’t compete crowd wise with the much anticipated headline appearance from local kid makes good, Jake Bugg. He certainly drew the biggest crowd of the night, but I remained distinctly unimpressed by his lack of  tunes, zero stage presence and  underwhelming voice. Neonfiller photographer Arthur Hughes even remarked that he sounded a bit like Lonnie Donegan At least Lonnie Donegan had at least two great songs, this guy hasn’t got one. We decided to move on and see Ryan Keen on the other stage. Now this guy has it all, a presence, a winning personality, superb acoustic guitar skills and a fabulous voice, very mellow, very beautiful, very laid back. This chap should be on your radar, a previously unheard gem of a discovery. More than compensates for the over priced jacket potato earlier that afternoon. All in all a grand day out, me duck.

Words by John Haylock, pictures by Arthur Hughes.



  1. Did you ever wonder why you are so out of step with Jake’s popularity.He is a troubadour in the tradition of Dylan, Woody Guthrie,Richie Havens etc.None of these guys ever danced, had light shows.It’s the message.People relate to his stories and message.Listen to the words,”Simple as This”,All My Reasons etc.People relate to his poetry.What you said about Jake is exactly what critics,who didn’t get it, said about Dylan at the beginning of his career.Rolling Stone said it best about Jake”His potential for magnificence is almost as exciting as his existing songs”I am sure in a year or 2 you will be embarrassed by your criticism of Jake.

  2. Possibly not as embarrassed as you comparing Jake Bugg to Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie, but I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree on that point. 😉
    I’m sure we can agree though that this was an excellent event and full of some marvellous music. Something for everyone, Jake Bugg fans and not-so-fans alike.

  3. Not as embarrassed as the writer should be for describing a young musician as ‘eye candy’ in 2013. Maybe stick to reviewing the music?

  4. Actually, I agree with you there. I’ll change. Apologies, that should have been removed in the edit.

  5. In 1966 Dylan wrote a song called Visions of Johanna, it contains some of the most potent lyrical imagery ever conceived in a song, last year Jake Bugg wrote a song about some lightning.

  6. Review was fine, but just want to mention one performer you missed out and one performer I totally agree with! Indiana, local girl from Long Eaton was stunning. Amazing voice, unique talent, shades of Evanescence, Bo Bruce, etc i’m sure if she can continue writing evocative songs like she has so far she will go a long way. Indiana did extremely well on main stage in spite of being kicked throughout the performance, she is currently havily expectant. The performer I would agree with is Ryan Keen. For me he was the star of the day and you summed it up totally with “Now this guy has it all, a presence, a winning personality, superb acoustic guitar skills and a fabulous voice, very mellow, very beautiful, very laid back. This chap should be on your radar, a previously unheard gem of a discovery.” Well done! 🙂

  7. It’s a little bit premature to compare an artist with 1 album to his credit to trailblazing and influential figures like Guthrie, Dylan and Havens. After all, those guys ripped up the blueprints for modern folk music and rewrote them all over again.

    This guy is treading a very rutted path created by those very artists and having heard his milquetoast Dylan impersonating shtick, would advise critics to leave off the reviewer (who is stating opinion rather than fact anyway, as is his right according to the freedom of press act). Based on the lack of originality displayed thus far in his short career, I find it very difficult to imagine that there will be calls for his nomination for the Nobel Prize for literature any time soon. However, he is young, and perhaps one day will have had enough experiences to write songs that speak to and inspire entire generations as opposed to youngsters and coffee table fairweather radio listeners who don’t know any better.

    Perhaps when he has written a song as insightful and zeitgeist capturing as ‘Blowin’ in the Wind, we can all eat our words. Until then, I remain doubtful, impressed with the PR skills of his label and saddened that so many people are so excited by something so damned bland and uninspiring.

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