It’s Sunday mid July, a bit grey and overcast and we’ve ‘arrived at destination’ aka Haigh Hall Festival, Wigan, Lancs – yep the one up North famous for ...well we’ll skip the pie thing this time...
So, we’re stood in a growing crowd, in the distance we can see a sizeable stage, with a big video screen, we hear the first chords of an electric guitar strike up and then..... security eventually decide to start letting us in, but they’re checking everyone’s bag and confiscating offensive materials like.....hairspray.... so it takes an age, meanwhile the band Social Icons are strutting their stuff to, well, an almost empty field.
The crowd eventually amass about 200 and we manage to catch the last 3 tunes of this heavy rock lot from Wigan. The band are relaxed with the growing audience as they rip through ‘Lately’ which they inform us is available on iTunes, ‘Tonight’ and finally ‘What’s It Gonna Take’. These guys definitely favour the metal end of rock; if that’s your ‘thang’ check them out at www.myspace.com/socialicons
Just as I’m wondering if we’re in for a day of heavy rock onto the stage bounce Boomin in a flurry of garish acid colours akin to an explosion in a paint factory! First up is their new tune ‘Buckaroo’. They work their way through an upbeat energetic set, with ‘Get Off My Microphone’ and ‘You Never Reach Your Destination’ with an obvious nod in the direction of McFly. Mid set, bassist Rory dispenses with his purple tee, much to the delight of the teenage crowd, and the band have a musical swap around, with drummer on bass, guitarist on drums etc. Overall I can’t knock this band for the enthusiasm and for antics so entertaining I didn’t notice the rain. Boomin has a packed gig schedule this year – catch up with them at www.myspace.com/boominband
Next up are Chaos Theory, who are probably the youngest band to be playing this year. Singer/Guitarist Jonny Youle has the makings of a young Josh Homme. The set was quite varied, from the American rock vibe of ‘Confusion’ to the reggae backline of their latest offering ‘Stay With Me’. These are a confident bunch with obvious talent and plenty of time on their side to develop their own vibe.
If you fancy a bit of Chaos in your life get it at www.myspace.com/thisisachaostheory
I’d read rave reviews about Inside View so my expectations were running high but sadly I was a little disappointed. Kicking off with ‘Judas’ the vocal simply didn’t come through which I suspect was more fault with the technical set up than with singer Ant who clearly has talent and a decent voice. The band persevered but looked a bit lost at times as the mainly ‘rock type’ crowd didn’t engage. ‘Picture Perfect’ is beautifully written and deserves to be listened to. Billed betwixt two rock bands perhaps they were wrong footed from the start. I’ll be giving these guys another shot and I urge you to do the same www.myspace.com/insideview
‘Have you ever listened to a heavy band before?’ enquiries Adam – Oh bugger this is where I know I should have stayed at home knitting shreddies! The answer from the majority of the crowd I suspect is “no” never the less Element launch into ‘Corrupted’ and the devastatingly loud, ear splitting assault begins. I’ll hold up my hands and admit that stood in my bohemian garb I am out of place and the least qualified to comment on this band so I simply won’t, other than to say they took ownership of the stage and are clearly comfortable with their genre regardless of their audience. Ending the set with ‘Downfall’ the moshpit went mental! If Metallica / Down / Slayer are on your iPod then hook up with these guys at www.myspace.com/elementsound
Clad in a Union Jack shirt I’m expecting mod inspired set from Tiredness Kills who open with ‘The Sun Won’t Rise’ but no these guys are definitely Indie/Pop. ‘Devil In Me’ delivers a smattering of twangy guitar riffs whilst the popular ‘Muesli’ has occasional echoes of Brett Anderson [Suede], overall it’s a comfortable inoffensive performance. More from them at www.myspace.com/tirednesskills
The Portlands turn out to be the first and only band to indulge us with a few semi acoustic numbers mid set, and it’s a welcome change to the, so far, rock heavy menu. ‘Three Spaniards’ piques interest with its melancholy melody whilst ‘Sunshine And Stars’, and ‘Shackles Of Time’ are laced with a subtle measure of angst by the slightly gravelly voiced singer Dook. These are a captivating lot, not frightened to express their individuality, who clearly enjoy what they do. The uplifting, gritty delivery of ‘The March’ with its military drum beat and rousing guitars is an inspired finish to their set. Think Young/Dylan/LaMontagne and you won’t be far off. Jump aboard at www.myspace.com/theportlands
The youngsters have had too much sun and the grass is littered with squashed chips and empty burger cartons, enter The Empire. Front man Michael Lawrence adopts an engaging stance laden with Jagger attitude and delivers ‘Tell Me Your Name’ and ‘Seein’ Red’ with a Gillespie like vocal. The assembled masses love it. The set delivers on many levels with plenty of delicious guitar licks and a drummer who didn’t miss a beat. Concluding with riff rich ‘Devil in Me’ was genius. Indulge all your senses at www.myspace.com/theempireuk1
The Relays take to the stage and the vibe morphs into one more indie with the catchy hook of opening song ‘Nothing to give but love’. Regardless of who they sound/look like (Zutons/Enemy/Weller) we’re all foot tapping through a set of bright catchy tunes including the new ‘Stealing The Words’ ending with punchy ‘When The Music Stops’ which seems very apt. Pick up the baton at www.myspace.com/relaysmusic
The sun has dipped behind the stage as E.C.D joins us sporting a variety of ‘unique’ eyewear. The five piece open with their new song ‘Too Tired To Sleep’ going straight into ‘Gotta Find A Way’ and I’m immediately struck by the distinctive vocal of Tommy J, and the vision of uber coolness-guitarist Mike. With a perfect combination of discernable lyrics, synth, guitar and punchy drums they take us through an engaging 30 minute set which ends far too soon with ‘That Someone’. Don’t leave sanity behind go to www.myspace.com/ecduk
The end is upon us as Wigan’s stalwarts of rock The Hicks arrive to close the festival. I’m assured that as they strike up ‘TV rules the world’ that the ensuing rock/reggae/metal combo is going to be a winner. Clearly their aim is to entertain, and that they do, after all what else would be the purpose of donning an auburn granny wig for the penultimate rock reggae tune ‘You F**kin Pig’, as the fluorescent men on horseback look down on the crowd from the hill. We head off smiling after the last notes of ‘Riot Song’ drift into oblivion. More stomping info at www.myspace.com/thehickswigan
Like ‘em or loathe ‘em the bands who played Haigh Fest 2010 deserve high praise for their efforts, especially as they all provided their services for FREE. It’s clear that there’s an abundance of talent around, the very least we, as music fans, can do is support them. £1.50 parking, £3 beer, £5 burger n’ chips – Surely there's enough being made to pay the bands that play, after all without them there is no music – Fair pay 4 musicians - even if it's a bucket at the gate to make a voluntary donation!Review by Joanne Poole