May 13, 2015 by Robb Powell
The recent announcement that Beautiful Days 2015 tickets are close to selling out comes as no surprise at all. I’ve been going to this since 2010 and every year since, and even all those before it, tickets have sold out. I have mentioned before how this particular festival is special to me. It is mine, my own. Myyyyy precccccciiiiouusssssss. Going to Beautiful Days is like returning to a long lost home you never knew you had but was always there. The sense of community is unlike anywhere else I’ve been, either before or since. Others have a degree of this, yes but at Beautiful Days you really do feel like you belong. As if you are a part of the very earth on which it takes place. Everyone, no matter who, from where or what creed – EVERYONE is kin.
This is a perfect festival for families as well. There is so much available for kids to get involved with and to keep the little ones occupied thanks to a huge children’s area. The addition of the Theatre Tent a few years ago has proved a huge hit and is of course back this year to entertain children and adults alike. There’s also specified family camping so you’re able to set up base separately from perhaps some of the more louder and rowdier revellers. With comedy in addition to the theatre, licensed real ale bars from Otter Brewery serving quality beer that is actually affordable, unlike so many of the other UK festivals, what more could you want? Oh yes, the music! For me, the live music is still possibly the most important aspect of any festival. But you need all the other wonderful mix of stuff to ensure that music is enjoyed in the true festival spirit! Beautiful Days delivers this every single year. What’s more is that there is no sponsorship, branding or advertising. Go grab your tickets now, before it is too late!
Let’s share some music from some of those gracing the stages down in Devon this August. As will become abundantly clear, I perhaps should have opted for a 3 part Beautiful Days preview but you know the score with the quantity of music I have to cover. Had I gone down that route, the festival would likely have been over before part 3 was up.
It certainly isn’t on purpose this band seemed to drop off my radar and playing list these last few years. I have just been so damned busy and so caught up with the tons of music speeding at me. What a band to welcome to the festival this year, though!
One thing is certain, their set is going to be mental. Cannot wait! It may just be the case the crowd end up moshing even harder than to the mighty Levs. Although we still have the closing Sunday night set from the festival founders to work on moshing harder. Bring on the mosh-out challenge.
The dreaded festival clash meant I missed this band last time they were at the event a few years ago. Naturally I will do my best to see them this year but the potential for clashes is one tricksy thing that can never be completely avoided, sadly.
I think it was band member Roddy Woomble at the festival a few years ago, not the full band but again due to the clashes I missed him.
I will grow a clone to not miss Idlewild this year! Seriously, quality music like this cannot be missed live! As mentioned, you best hurry to get tickets now. Quick!!
These boys have been working tirelessly putting out their debut album not so long back and touring like crazy. I was lucky enough to see them at Beautiful Days 2013 and very much looking forward to repeating the experience this year.
They were gaining a strong fan base two years ago and following their progress since then, this has swelled exponentially. With quality like this, it is no wonder.
Finally, I will get to see this sensational prog-rock band play live. They were booked for last year but then got picked up for some tour over in the US. Quite rightly they could not pass up such an awesome opportunity but naturally I was disappointed they wouldn’t be playing.
I reviewed the band’s debut album On An On, which quite frankly blew so much of the other stuff coming out at the time clean out the water. Indeed, they have continued On An On, releasing second album Sound Mirror last year.
As a pretty huge Led Zeppelin fan, I relish the Zep-type atmosphere the band conjures up and the kind of wild musical ride they take you on. Now let’s do some full prep and step through that hearing glass.
NOTHING on this green earth is going to keep me away from that main stage when this guy plays. All kinds of WOW! Cannot wait to be well and truly mesmerised by his awesome musical and vocal talents. I mean, just check this video out for a start!
As they open the festival in true style with their iconic acoustic set (see below), so too do they close proceedings on the Sunday night with an electrifying full electric one.
After such an awesome weekend of wonder, I can think of no more perfect a way to bring things to a glorious end. The legs do often hurt a bit on Monday morning though. As does the head. Totally worth it though. First class!
Naturally, there just isn’t enough time or space to feature something from everyone on the line up, much as I would like to. Here’s the full line up for the Main Stage this year:
DROPKICK MURPHYS * HAPPY MONDAYS * LEVELLERS * GOGOL BORDELLO * IDLEWILD * HOUSE OF PAIN * THE DHOL FOUNDATION * KATZENJAMMER * HOFFMAESTRO * HUDSON TAYLOR * SLAMBOREE * COCO AND THE BUTTERFIELDS * THE BEAT * MAD CADDIES * DIZRAELI & THE SMALL GODS * SYD ARTHUR * KIM CHURCHILL * THE SKINTS * BIRTH OF JOY * THE SUNDOWNERS * CC SMUGGLERS
THE BIG TOP
Ah, that lovely beautiful Big Top. As much as I’m zipping all over the festival site while there to try and really take in as much of the awesome live music on offer, I cannot deny that The Big Top stage has a very special place in my heart. Perhaps it was that first year being really blown away by Oxford-band Stornoway. Or the nice gentle Friday afternoon chill out the following year soaking up the music of Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman (for the first ever time live) and Caroline Herring. Or even the monumentally funny (and incredibly clever with it) Tim Minchin. Or more likely a mix of all this and lots more but there is just so much quality contained within this particular area it is not unusual for me to spend more time here than at the other stages. And it has nothing to do with it being under a roof, either.
Even though I cannot feature something from EVERY act below, you must forgive me my bias in including a few more than for the Main Stage. The Big Top is my own little lounge/living area of the festival. Be nice to shift one of those comfy sofas from The Bimble Inn for me though. You know, for just when the drink really starts setting in and I need to rest the legs for a little while.
Opening the entire festival every year is of course founders the Levellers with their unmissable acoustic set. The cliché phrase ‘sardines-in-a-tin’ is completely applicable here too because for so early in the live music festivities to get so many people there for this is testament to its quality. It is the one and only place you are guaranteed to see this kind of set every single year even though they have of course recently been out on the road promoting the A Curious Life film about the band following it up with just such a set.
On my radar for quite some time it will be fantastic to get to see the good Mr Savoretti play live this year for the first time. It was his critically-acclaimed second album Before The Storm which catapulted him out into the world back in 2011, shortly after a point he was about to throw in the towel. As music loving folk, we are all of us better off that he came back to doing what he was clearly born to do. Write and sing quality songs of his own workmanship.
REV HAMMER’S FREEBORN JOHN LIVE (EXCLUSIVE)
MADDY PRIOR, KATHRYN ROBERTS, SEAN LAKEMAN, RORY MCLEOD,
PHIL JOHNSTONE & THE LEVELLERS
This is going to be a truly special event this year. I have a feeling it will be necessary to pitch up early to ensure I get a decent spot for it though. Just look at all the quality names on the above list bringing this iconic classic project back to life here. Very excited about this!!!!!!!!!
What is even more special of course and something you British history buffs will know is that Freeborn John tells the story of John Lilburne – the leader of the Levellers.
RICH HALL’S HOEDOWN
Very excited about seeing this funny awesome chap. He’s a well-known staple of the UK comedy panel show and impresses with a razor sharp wit with which he could cut concrete. I’ll admit I’ve not seen much of his songs so this will be a brilliant way to come to those.
Thinking back to seeing Tim Minchin on the Big Top a few years ago, that was packed and everyone was crying with laughter. Admittedly he very cleverly near-offended a lot of people singing ‘a new song’ before then telling the audience he hadn’t opened up the second page on which were the rest of the lines of the lyrics. It was brilliant! Looking forward to that kind of thing again with Rich Hall this year.
I was fortunate to see Eddi Reader at Beautiful Days a few years ago and was completely captivated by her wonderful intimate style with the audience. It was almost like being in conversation with her. Punctuated with some amazing live music. Long punctuation of course but, yes, looking forward to seeing her again.
NAHKO AND MEDICINE FOR THE PEOPLE
I will admit I had not heard of these before seeing them announced on the line up. This is the beauty of going to festivals. Even before I was a blogger I would make some effort to check out some music from anyone on the line up I hadn’t heard of. Just to make sure I really didn’t miss something I would kick myself for later. It doesn’t always work out as any festival goer will attest. Sometimes you just go with the flow and see where you end up.
There has not been a year yet I haven’t discovered something brand new that excites every facet of my music-loving mind. Needless to say I’m feeling complete excitement at the prospect of seeing Nahko and Medicine For The People.
Another awesome band from the more traditional end of the folk spectrum I was fortunate to see a few years ago. I recall some kind of clash, however (or could perhaps well have been drink-induced exhaustion – it is a festival, after all) and didn’t see their entire set. A folly to rectify this year.
SHE MAKES WAR
Hugely excited about catching the set from this indie gloom-pop-grunge chic. She Makes War aka Laura Kidd provides music that bends your mind back in on itself, where it sets to work at some kind of voodoo origami that will always astound! Not to be missed!
This will be another first for me but I have been familiar with Duke Special‘s outstanding work for a few years. Ever since being sent his album Oh Pioneer to review I would definitely count myself a fan. I just haven’t had the opportunity to see him play live yet. Until now.
This outstanding eclectic collective well and truly blew me out into the stratosphere when I caught them in 2013 (I think it was) so I actually cried out with uber excitement – there may have even been several whoop whoops – when I saw them on the line up for this year. Seriously! I still regularly lap up their last album Constellations since its release last year. There’s just so much sensational sound to The Moulettes. They have a beautiful serene classical feel, but they do somersaults via mighty genre-bending acrobatics to leave you feeling like you’ve had a very extensive musical workout indeed. Perfection!
He was an absolute SENSATION back on this stage in 2013, visibly stunned he had packed out the Big Top Tent and so wonderfully humble with it. Looking forward to seeing him again but will need to ensure I get in that tent earlier this time so I can get a good spot up near the front.
REV HAMMER’S FREEBORN JOHN LIVE (EXCLUSIVE) FEATURING MADDY PRIOR, KATHRYN ROBERTS, SEAN LAKEMAN, RORY MCLEOD, PHIL JOHNSTONE & THE LEVELLERS * WILKO JOHNSON * RICH HALL’S HOEDOWN * THE UKULELE ORCHESTRA OF GREAT BRITAIN * NAHKO AND MEDICINE FOR THE PEOPLE * OYSTERBAND * EDDI READER * JACK SAVORETTI * DUKE SPECIAL * PEATBOG FAERIES * THE MOULETTES * RORY MCLEOD * KESTON COBBLERS CLUB * HOBO JONES & THE JUNKYARD DOGS * PHILIP HENRY & HANNAH MARTIN * GAZ BROOKFIELD * KILL IT KID * SHE MAKES WAR * WILDWOOD KIN * A CURIOUS LIFE FILM (15) * LEVELLERS ACOUSTIC
THE BAND STAND
STEVIE ONE BLOKE ONE MANDOLIN
Utterly thrilled this hugely talented musician is back at Beautiful Days again because when he last appeared playing The Bimble Inn I was unable to get down that way to see him. I had wanted to after catching him supporting Simon Friend’s Seismic Survey on their tour in late 2012. Pure acoustic quality!
UNDER A BANNER
It is ridiculous how long it will have taken me to see this band live considering they come from my own neck of the woods back in the Midlands. Well, a bit further up out there in the Hampton of Wolves but you know, it’s all the same place to us (okay, some I understand exacerbate the Brummie/Yam Yam divide but we’m all peace loving folk here who just get along ay we?).
As one of the very first to feature on my first ever podcast back in April 2012 back when Under a Banner were only a duo, they have since grown and blossomed into a full five piece outfit with a sound that has developed into something indierocktastic!
Another new one for me this will be so I don’t know much about the chap just yet. Still doing my research but as you can tell from this video, my research is a nice place to be right now.
Also lots more on at The Band Stand (full line-up below), including the regular brilliant and entertaining John Robb in Conversation with special guests. I remember fondly my first Beautiful Days seeing Leveller Mark Chadwick and Howard Marks in such conversation at different times over that weekend. Oh and also catching performance poet Murray Lachlan Young after The Wailers had closed the main stage on the Friday night. Just go buy your tickets, folks!
ATHENE ROBERTS & TIM ASHTON (FROM 3 DAFT MONKEYS) * THE BAR STEWARD SONS OF VAL DOONICAN * STEVE POTTINGER * LUKE DANIELS * JOHN ROBB IN CONVERSATION WITH SPECIAL GUESTS * GILLI BLOODAXE * PHAT BOLLARD * O’SHEA & O’GAUKROGER * STEVIE ONE BLOKE ONE MANDOLIN * NATALIE SHAY * DRUMSCAPES * HYDE & BEAST * KING SIZE SLIM * MAELOR HUGHES * GLENN HODGE BANNED * UNDER A BANNER * PARSONS LOT * SWEET CHUNKS BAND * OPEN MIC SESSIONS * THE 2015 FANCY DRESS COMPETITION
Well, I best stop there for now or else your day will be over by the time you have enjoyed all the music I’ve packed into the post. So much so you might have missed tickets. And if you haven’t you better go buy them RIGHT NOW! Before it’s too late. Quick! Click >>here<<.
There is still the announcement of the line up for The Bimble Inn. I do enjoy taking a bit of a rest down at this lovely joint at a few points throughout the weekend. A few years ago I enjoyed the incredible Luke Jackson as well as the excitable Dan Donnelly on this smaller stage so looking forward to seeing just who will be gracing it this year.