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By: Laura Johnstone

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Last weekend, 10,000 people gathered over two days to enjoy the Splendour in Nottingham Festival.

(click to enlarge)

It’s been six years since Wollaton Park last played host to a live music festival, and with Nottingham having an amazing music scene, a big comeback was obviously expected by fans. With a line up featuring Kate Nash, Paolo Nutini, Ocean Colour Scene, and The Charlatans, a fantastic music weekend was certainly delivered.

Although these were the big names selling the tickets and attracting the crowds, the point must be made that it was Nottingham bands dominating in terms of the number of acts on. Nottingham has a great music scene, with a lot of support from promoters, venues, and press. This was reflected in the fact that Splendour put on two stages… it really was all about the music.

Over the two stages we saw a full 18 hours of live music, and even comedy. But, having spent the weekend there in the sun, listening to music, and drinking the cool cider with the rest of them, there were definite highlights….

Opening the entire festival, The Beetroot Kings proved to be a surprise to all of us. Having won the opportunity through a competition in local radio, you could be forgiven for dismissing them as yet another battle of the bands winner. However, this band really had something to offer within their 30 minute set, and didn’t look at all out of place on the main stage. The unique addition of a fiddle really produced and energetic and intriguing show. One music fan I spoke to actually said they were one of the best bands he saw over the weekend.

The courtyard stage (run by regional magazine Left Lion) was solely dedicated to local acts. Although the Nottingham scene can often be indie dominated, there were a mixture of styles put on. We had everything from the experimental pop of Fists, and the alternative indie of Palace Fires, to internationally renowned beatbox champion, THE PETEBOX… the top of Nottingham’s talent were there to be showcased.

The highlight from this stage has to be indie rock band, Mint Ive. Well known on the Nottingham circuit, and now Manchester.

I have never been disappointed by a Mint Ive gig, and Splendour was no exception. I have a lot of time for this local band who genuinely work hard to get their opportunities, so to see them on the Splendour line up was reassuring.

The Charlatans

The band put on a 30 minute set up to their usual standard, and attracted a decent crowd. It was nice to see a combination of their loyal fans, and some fresh faces being riled up by Mint Ive’s pure passion for what they do.

Playing all the usual tracks, including current favourite ‘False Idols’, front man Will Lillejord put in the effort and attitude of those well known ‘Madchester’ bands, whilst the others reflected this through rock n roll mannerisms,  melodic guitar and drum work… and sunglasses. Mint Ive put on what I can only call a professional set, showing just why they are one of the top in the Nottingham league.

Down on the main stage, Ocean Colour Scene stole the festival in my opinion, delivering as always a smooth, tight, and professional set which will stick with me for a long time.

With their presence came an amazing atmosphere of togetherness, and excitement. This could not have been felt more than when they played ‘Profit in Peace’. To have thousands of people all singing the chorus and waving their arms in the air, with the world in its current situation, was quite powerful.

Having been around for 17 years now, Simon Fowler really knows how to work a crowd. Pausing to pose with the mic stand, making jokes, and casual banter with the crowd reflected that fact the OCS are comfortable up there, and are out to deliver a good time.

Tracks everyone knows are always going to be crowd pleasers, but dedicating ‘Robin Hood’ to the host city only raised the excitement. Screaming, chanting, and even a bit of jumping at the front proved that even after 17 years, Ocean Colour Scene remain the indie brit pop icons. They will never lose it, or their fans.

By now Ocean Colour Scene know how to end a gig on a high note, literally leaving us craving for more. Finishing with ‘The Day We Caught the Train’, Fowler had us all singing, and raised the tempo towards the end creating a really excitable stir. We were all left singing ‘oh oh lala’ long after the band had exited the stage.

With that performance, Ocean Colour Scene should have headlined, but as their manager is from Nottingham I’m sure they will be back. Brit pop good times live on!

Paolo Nutini

The Charlatans have to get a mention if only to show that nothing will keep them down. Having had a few problems to deal with, the band proved that they are still as good as ever.

Tim Burgess practically strutted onto the stage, and his style could not go unnoticed. Think typical indie skinny jeans and cardi combo meets Johnny Depp in Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. I genuinely liked it, not many could carry this look off, but with the cheeky confidence Burgess had throughout the set it really worked.

Playing up for both the crowd and the cameras, Burgess had us all eating out of the palm of his hand – mesmerised by his thrashing of the mic to the beat of the drum.

With a new album to plug, many songs were new, but it wasn’t long before the classic Charlatans tracks of the nineties came out… and the crowd went mad! ‘Just When You’re Thinkin’ Things are Over’ was a particular hit.

Nothing can be said against The Charlatans, a great set to enjoy as the night started to come to an end.

By all accounts the only slight disappointment appears to be Kate Nash. Although she did regain the crowds confidence as she went on. Headlining after the performance put on by Ocean Colour Scene would have been hard for anyone to follow though.

Paolo Nutini came as a real surprise to me. Expecting a lighter set reminiscent of ‘Last Request’, or ‘Rewind’, well he is acoustic in style, I was completely wrong. Although some slower tracks were played, Paolo Nutini can really rock a live set when he wants to.

Screams from girls at the front (and even a few boys) reassured Nutini that he was on top form, and this appeared to give him a new confidence. Beginning with lesser known tracks from recent albums, we saw a rockier edge to the acoustic sweetheart… I think we will be seeing a lot more from him in the near future.

With Splendour 2008 already deemed as a fantastic success, Nottingham City Council has already set the budgets for the next two years. I’m there!



All opinions expressed by Laura Johnstone are solely her own and do not reflect the opinions of Stay Thirsty Media, Inc.

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