Updated: 25 August 2009
RHYTHM FESTIVAL, CLAPHAM, BEDFORD, 23 AUGUST 2009
Ouch!! This one turned out to be rather painful - but only because of the sunburn. As we'd been deprived of Shrewsbury I decided to take in this one. Being an outdoor festival I checked the weather carefully: 'rather blustery, some cloud'. I read 'some cloud' to mean 'quite a lot of rain' and threw a brolly, wellies and a raincoat to cover up my summer frock into the car and off I went. As it was August I did not take sunscreen or a straw hat but I should have done. We had a rare treat - clear blue skies, hot sunshine and a light breeze.
The Twinwood Arena, just north of Bedford, is an ex-RAF base on the top of a hill (or what passes for a hill in Bedfordshire) and the old RAF buildings now house a WWII museum dedicated to Glenn Miller who flew from the base on his final, fatal flight. The main arena is a grassy amphitheatre, partly shielded by trees - a very pleasant setting. The Rhythm Festival is billed as Britain's 'friendliest' and I wouldn't dispute that: the security is effective but low-key; young children are particularly well catered for by the provision of various activities and entertainments; catering is reasonably priced and varied and real ales provided by the local micro-brewery, Potbelly. The only slight reservation I had was that one stall was selling 'legal highs'. They may be legal but are they appropriate for a family festival? (Perhaps that's the middle-aged prude in me).
To the music - as at Doncaster Acoustic Strawbs had to follow a very, very loud and very, very energetic band whose lead singer leapt around (and off) the stage like something not right. I worried a little how the assembled crowd would react to such a raucous (and rude) performance being followed by three blokes sitting on stools, one of them clutching a banjo!
There had been no cause for concern, of course. If you measure success by the chorus of cheers and calls for an encore AS beat the others hands down, as they had at Doncaster. There were no surprises in the set list. I had a daydream whilst listening to 'Devil's Beat' on the way down that they might just slip in "Copenhagen" or "Grimsby" but no such luck. Lovely versions of "Benedictus"/"Simple Visions" and "Midnight Sun" were followed by gripping deliveries of "New World" and "Hangman" and a glorious "Glimpse Of Heaven".
The 'gift for an elderly relative', 'twisted knickers' and 'perfect pitch' jokes were funny and very well received, as were all the songs. Despite many calls for an encore time-keeping at these events deprived us of this. We were also able to catch Wishbone Ash on the smaller stage a short walk away - an enjoyable show but I rather smuggly thought their voices, especially harmonies, were not a patch on DC, DL and Chas. Of the others the most impressive was t he strangely, and lengthily, titled Gandalf Murphy and the Slombovian Circus of Dreams. Gandalf (!) and friend had sought out DC earlier in the afternoon to congratulate AS on their performance. He was fulsome in his praise, describing the sound as 'mystical ' (or was it 'ethereal'? something like that). Many thanks to one and all for being so friendly. Must go now and rub in some more Cocoa Butter to prevent peeling.