Saturday begins with the up-tempo disco beats of Sister Sledge. They’re one of those band you know had a hit with more that We Are Family but it’s not until they launch a full scale attack on the crowd with back to back classics that I’m reminded just how many there were. With Lost in Music, Frankie and All American Girls all working their way into the set, and a live sax to fuel their sound I’d marked them down as a band who were probably better in the past and end up eating my words. Inviting the crowd onto the stage for He’s The Greatest Dancer, it might be nostalgic, but it’s faultlessly delivered.
Making my way over to the big top, I take a bit of time to revel in the fancy dress theme (and sulk that I’m lacking a costume). Whether it’s the umbrella turned into an octopus, the 6 foot guy who decides to dress himself as a bee (complete with tutu around his beer belly), the inflatable shark or the array of onsies it’s clear that nearly everyone has embraced the theme. This extends to Jessie Ware, who arrives on stage in a cat costume, drawing in the crowd as the enters the stage.
Within minutes her recent mercury nomination makes sense, opener and title track of her album, Devotion instantly draws my attention with it’s rhythmic drum heavy sound. Meanwhile Talking In The Water highlights her diversity, a more soulful number it demonstrates the power of her voice as does her cover of Bobby Caldwell’s What You Won’t Do for Love. Nevertheless it’s Running which is the stand out moment of the set, both soulful and ballsy, despite it’s lack of chart success it captures the heart of the crowd, who sing along to every word.
At this point I’m drawn by the promise of Gay Bingo in the Grand Palace of Entertainment, but get distracted by the promise of cake in the Lost Picture Show. Suffice to say, I settle down with a plate of sugary goodness, only to nearly throw it as I jump out of my skin whilst watching Jaws. It makes a welcome retreat from the constant bass beat which hums around the festival site, offering a small bit of respite and a much craved cup of tea. It’s at this point I realise I’ve aged 20 years in the space of just 20 minutes and decide to leave before I need the assistance of a zimmer frame to exit the tent.
On the main stage, Two Door Cinema Club and their stadium rock sounds create the perfect backdrop for the sun’s descent. Having never paid much attention to the band before now, I’m shocked at how accessible and likeable it is to a newcomer. This is perhaps not surprising with songs like Do You Want It All making an early appearance in the set, but despite it’s simplistic lyrics, it boasts a great rock vibe which delights the crowd. My personal favourite comes from latest album Beacon, with Pyramid holding both poignant lyrics and an intricate musical styling.
The unexpected highlight of the day comes in the Knees Up tent, where I stumble across a beat box version of Postman Pat on the way to Josh Kumra. It seems I’m not the only person who revels in the obscurity of this moment and as the tent begins to fill with passers by, I’m sad that I miss the promised reggae version of the same song, which is promised.
Josh Kumra might have a small crowd given his clash with New Order, but he quickly becomes my top act of the day. Reminding me a little bit of Ed Sheeran, if he’d stuck to songs like The A Team rather than going a bit Craig David. His voice is soulful and backed with drums and electric guitar, it’s granted a heatbeat pulse which carried the set. though the crowd deliver their biggest cheer for Helicopters & Planes, it’s Josh’s personal favourite The Answer which makes me realise his debut album is going to be one to watch. Soulful, yet edgy Josh holds my attention for the duration of his set and his gutsy cover of MGMT’s Kids marks his ability to reinvent hit songs, as well as crafting his own chart worthy number. At this point I realise I’m unlikely to find anything to top Josh’s performance and decide to call it quits in preparation for the final day.
Photos © Jo Cox and must not be reproduced without prior consent