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ROCHDALE FEELGOOD FESTIVAL 14/08/10 BY JO POOLE

It’s mid August and typically for British summertime we’ve had a fair few weeks of rain, so with the prospect of “Live Music, good food and great times” we head north to Rochdale’s Feel Good Festival. The preceding weeks have been peppered with warm up events with battle of the bands, Motown & Indie nights, fun day & beer festival hosted by venues in and around Rochdale. We arrive mid day as the market is bustling, the trapeze artist is hanging upside down and celebrity chef Gino D ‘Acampo is apparently cooking up a storm.
The stage is set up in the car park area of the Town Hall, close to a number of restaurants, shops and bars, some of whom have free live music on offer from 12pm.

First to take to the main stage at 3pm are young local 4 piece band Dead Kestrels who kick off with ‘Elephant’, a song they tell us they haven’t played before which has echo’s of twangy 80’s guitar riffs  (The Smiths, Bunnymen).  Middle track ‘Vice’ has a slower tempo and swings between grunge and pop. Overall their seven song set delivers a variety of lyrical and musical styles. Having not been together long and with youth very much on their side it’s fair to say the band have plenty of time and reference to drawn on in order to develop their own sound. http://www.myspace.com/deadkestrels

Leeds based Ellen and the Escapades are next up and as the petite brunette assumes position centre stage with her acoustic guitar and four bands mates, it’s clear the musical direction is about to change.  There’s a rustle of surprise and the chattering crowd stops to listen when Ellen starts to sing, [Without You] for the little lady has one heck of a voice. This is honest to goodness Indie / Folk reminiscing of the great Joni Mitchell with a contemporary pop twist. Each of their seven songs is deep and engaging, with complex arrangements delivered perfectly with apparent ease. ‘Preying on your mind’ is notably upbeat and harmonious, ending the set with ‘Coming back home’, this is worthy listening indeed.  http://www.myspace.com/ellenandtheescapades

“How ya feelin’ Rochdale” enquires the beaming Kirsty Almeida who strides to centre stage through her foot tapping, hand clapping trombone/guitar  playing seven piece band- the crowd hoot in response. By the time she sings the first line of ‘If you can’t make me happy’, the assembled masses are already on board.  Dancing and hanging on to her feather / jewel / stuff adorned black top hat in the wind, we’re taken on a journey of Latin meets jazz meets blues meets soul performed by a band whom without their singer are polished and entertaining performers in their own right, they move in time, play in tune,  and look like they’re enjoying every minute.  The crowd willingly oblige when invited to ‘bounce’ in time to the music as Kirsty does a great rendition of Plan B’s ‘She said’ at which point one over enthusiastic  fan manages to break through the stage barrier only to find himself swiftly ejected from the photo pit. This is big band sound with a vocal mix similar to that of Faith/Winehouse/May/Cilmi/Jones. The artistic, eccentric, eclectic, set ends all too soon with the mystical ‘Spider’and we have been thoroughly entertained. Kirsty Almeida has been tipped as one of the ones to watch for 2010, with her intriguing mix of soul, jazz and folk songs http://kirstyalmeida.co.uk/

7pm the weather is good, the mood is light, spirits are high and returning to the stage for the second consecutive year are The Travelling Band a curious looking rag tag bunch who hail from Manchester and appear to share a passion for...hair; long bearded or both.  Clearly popular with the now considerable crowd, the six piece launch into an Americana -folk-rock melee of uplifting, happy tunes that many sing along to word for word.  Vocal duties are split between guitarist Jo Dudderidge and keyboard player Adam Gorman who are similar in style but tonally different. ‘Horizon me and you’ is their newest single released as limited edition vinyl. Somehow one of the keyboards manages to hit the deck, and is quickly lamented by Jo until Kirsty Almeida appears with a quid to start a whip round for a new one. There are smiles and dancing all about and I’m sure if they so desired the band could easily swell their numbers a la Polyphonic Spree. Forget running away to join the circus, jumping in The Travelling Band gypsy caravan looks like much more fun. They conclude with the harmonious ‘Sweet City and queue to buy their self funded album grows nicely. http://www.myspace.com/thetravellingband

I’m busy gabbing to Jo (TTB) as The Herbaliser  appear on stage and confess that I half missed their first tune which was instrumental and easily passed for a sound check.  The earlier folksy crowd gave way to a more hardcore audience and the vibe darkened as the sun went down.  The swing style band is numerous and has instruments a plenty from sax to horn via scratchy electronic mixing reminiscent of Herbie Hancock. The set was mainly lengthy, indulgent electronic-jazz-funk instrumentals interjected a couple of times by a female vocalist Jessica Darling, who had a voice not dissimilar to that of Tina Turner.  Like art it’s subjective and for me this was music that you can hear but don’t listen to and whilst I appreciate their talents and applaud their longevity I found the set monotonous and unimaginative so I wandered off up the hill to watch from a far.  http://www.myspace.com/theherbz

 

By 9pm all the crowd were baying for the main act to appear. Smiles abound and raring to go, both old and young joining in the throng of merry making.

The headline slot goes to The Lightning Seeds of whom only Ian Broudie and Martyn Campbell survive from the original 90’s line up, although Broudie’s son Riley appears on guitar. Welcomed on stage by a choice ‘scouse *******’ expletive from a lone voice in the crowd the set kicks off with ‘Sense’ and predictably runs through the bands most notable hits of the nineties, ‘Sugar Coated Iceberg’, ‘Life of Riley’ ‘Lucky you’ etc. ‘Ready or not’ was cringe worthy; out of time and out of tune in places but being The Lightning Seeds they got away with it. Overall it was competent but not amazing, and ended with ‘Pure’ from their first album Cloudcukooland, which is where the majority of the crowd chanting ‘It’s coming home...it’s coming home’ were now at. http://www.lightning-seeds.co.uk

Concluding yet another great day for regional music this event was well publicised, and well organised with an abundance of programmes, posters and good natured stewards around the town, not to mention normally chargeable parking being free for the day.  It would be quite tragic to see this festival fall victim to government cutbacks, fingers crossed we’ll see it on the 2011 calendar.

Hop on over to their official facebook page http://www.facebook.com/feelgoodfestival

Review by Jo/photos by Mel/videos by Vanessa - an all girl production.