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Bearded Theory Festival 2018

We arrive slightly later than expected due to other commitments and so with disappointment, I hear what sounds like a fantastic set from Sleeper. The band have finished by the time I actually reach the stage but we are in time at least to see The Coral, who blast straight into CHASING THE TAIL OF A DREAM, persistent drums layered with rocking riffs to get our Friday night started.
The crowd down at the front are dancing, despite the light splattering of rain. This is Bearded Theory Festival; nothing dampens this crowd’s spirit.
SECRET KISS is a swirling, spooky rhythm that has the crowd waltzing to FM’s effortlessly compelling vocals. The summery sound of JACQUELINE keeps the crowd dancing and then singing along to PASS IT ON, the chiming melody flooding the field with positive vibes.
BILL MCCAI has a joyful tune despite its dark lyrics and is followed by the incredibly sparkling IN THE MORNING that turns the field into a huge outdoor indie disco.
HOLY REVELATION, from the last album, is a belter of a tune that has the crowd stomping their feet along to the prevalent beat and MILLION MILES, with its racing riffs, keeps the gig high octane.
Latest single SWEET RELEASE has an infectious melody and evokes a positive crowd reaction before a furious rendition of ARABIAN SANDS echoes across the revelling festival goers.
The riff laden GOODBYE has the crowd dancing again and the set ends in an eruption of dancing across the crowd to the brilliantly bouncy beat of DREAMING OF YOU.

The next band up on Main Stage is JESUS AND MARY CHAIN, who I’m looking forward to seeing after catching them recently on tour. They certainly do not disappoint, launching straight into the dance inducing ROCK AND ROLL AMPUTATION and then the beat of APRIL SKIES has everyone dancing along and me singing rather loudly under a rapidly silvering sky.
HEAD ON was constantly on my playlist and so again I’m singing along and it already feels like JESUS AND MARY CHAIN are going to be one of my festival highlights.
A high octane performance of BLUES FROM A GUN has the crowd dancing before the repeated refrain of BLACK AND BLUES has us all stomping our feet along as frenzied flames shoot into the air from either side of the stage.
Riffling riffs keep everyone moving through FAR GONE AND OUT as the fans around me join in with the ‘hey, hey, hey’ under strobing lights. BETWEEN PLANETS has fans at the front jumping around like they are also been driven crazy, followed by CHERRY CAME TOO in an ecstasy of flashing lights that has everyone around me dancing.
ALL THINGS PASS is melodic warning about hedonism with a pounding conclusion and is followed by SOME CANDY TALKING, which turns into a sing along.
HALFWAY TO CRAZY keeps the pace frantic until the swaying symphony of JUST LIKE HONEY soars through the field.
The dance inducing CRACKING UP creates an atmospheric auditory backdrop to the slowly darkening sky before the band plays WAR ON PEACE, ending a brilliant set at this year’s Bearded Theory Festival.

Rushing over to the Woodland Stage, we were soon dancing along to INTERNATIONAL BRIGHT YOUNG THING in the enchanted forest setting that is always a delight at Bearded Theory Festival. We are feeling very happy as JESUS JONES play NEVER ENOUGH and the melody has the Woodland Stage crowd dancing along and this continues as they play a dancier song and then follow it with REAL, turning the forest turns into dance floor.

Heading over to Main Stage for some melodic indie rock courtesy of THE BLOSSOMS, the shimmering HONEY SWEET showcases frontman’s soaring vocals.
The racing rhythmn of I JUST IMAGINED YOU is performed on a smoke swathed stage and TEXIA is an atmospheric indie ballad that has the crowd swaying to the beat. BETWEEN THE EYES keeps the crowd moving with its insistent drum and repeated refrain. Continuing with pathos laden HOW LONG WILL THIS LAST?, The Blossoms confirm their ability to write catchy emotive indie rock songs and the crowd cheer their appreciation as they perform CHARLEMAGNE and then everyone boos Owen, who has recently finished with his girlfriend before the band continues with a clutch of heart felt sincere indie rock tunes that round off the first evening of Bearded Theory Festival melodically.


We arrive to a whirling storm of scarves at the Woodland Stage and join in a muti-coloured conga weaving through the woods. I adore the Woodland Stage. It feels like a secret eclectic festival within a festival and the pretty surroundings always attract a genial crowd of revellers.
We catch some of JAKE AND THE JELLYFISH’s auditory storm of a set with dance inducing tunes and punky vocals, the gorgeous fiddle flying through the passionate performance before heading to the Pallet Stage for UK SUBS.

The band keep everything furiously fast, very loud and brilliantly belting. Starting with a full throttle opening to their set and then launching straight into song after song, UK SUBS certainly make sure that the Saturday crowd have come to pogo and they also seem to have brought glorious sunshine.
YOU DON’T BELONG sees CHARLIE HARPER stridently singing over a pounding rhythm and some vicious riffs.
ROCKERS has HARPER punching the air over the speeding melody to applause and screams. The crowd then sing happy birthday to HARPER, who admits to being somewhat worse for wear, although you wouldn’t know it from his energetic performance.
The set keeps hurtling along and the crowd down at the front are dancing wildly. I, ROBOT is a screaming indictment of modern life with the crowd singing along to the repeated refrain and the cascading riff creating a beautiful backdrop to the growling vocals.
Rapid fire vocals and the stop/start rhythms echo across the field and probably up to the stratosphere as UK SUBS ensure that everyone on the festival site is well and truly awake.
HARPER tells the crowd ‘the secret of our survival is that on stage we drink beer’ which causes an eruption of cheering and everyone holding their alcohol aloft under the sapphire sky.
There is some friendly moshing at the front to CITY OF THE DEAD and the riff laden songs that follow have the crowd at the front singing along and dancing with a greater intensity than you would have though possible at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, and still manage to keep the singing going through TOMORROW’S GIRLS.
The rocking riffs of TEENAGE have everyone stomping along to the repeated refrain and pogoing to the beat. The bassy beginning of WARHEAD has the crowd singing the title back at HARPER a drum beat and keep it up whilst HARPER delivers the spoken word protest and we are again reminded of the enthusiasm and friendliness of the Bearded Theory Festival crowd.
The set draws to a close with STRANGLEHOLD and the incendiary fury of riffs in this final song has the crowd screaming their appreciation. UK SUBS have shown us how to kick the festival up a gear.

We then head back to the Woodland Stage to catch a bit of HOLY MOLY AND THE CRACKERS whose music is genre defying, dance inducing, hypnotic fun performed with furious vitality. ‘On your way down’ is a gloriously reeling melody that has the crowd dancing followed by a gypsy twister of a tune that creates a party atmosphere under the forest canopy.
The sultry swaying rhythmn of WOMAN FROM SPAIN has a tumbling drum beat that recalls fiesta time and fits the carnival atmosphere of the Woodland Stage well and is followed by a brassy swirling symphony that is very upbeat.
A combination of beautiful melodies and upbeat tunes complete the set. Ending with THE DEVIL AND THE DANUBE, HOLY MOLY AND THE CRACKERS are the kind of band that adds the cosmopolitan craziness to Bearded Theory Festival and makes it so different from many of the commercial festivals throughout the summer and is one of the many reasons why we keep coming back.
Another reason to love Bearded Theory Festival is the likelihood of being able to dance deliriously to the frenzied folk of THREE DAFT MONKEYS.
Their performance is always compelling, whether they are creating swaying and soaring melodies like SOCIAL VERTIGO, with a fiery fiddle furiously flying through the forested air or the wonderful I LOVE YOU which builds to a fast paced, crazy, reeling melody with a ska backbeat that has the Woodland Stage area whirling in a reeling mass of laughing revellers.
It doesn’t end there though, as dancing with wild abandon is the order of the day when THREE DAFT MONKEYS perform DAYS OF THE DANCE, the gypsy folk melody seeing accompanying dancing from a pair of elegant waltzers that whirl past us to the reeling family in front of us who only seem to have one set of dance moves but plenty of enthusiasm. As always, the band leave us breathless with their brilliant set.
The lovely Lucy Spraggan is always able to create a fabulous festival atmosphere with her powerful and memorable melodies, so we head off for her scheduled set. Shimmering symphony
LIGHTHOUSE has the crowd bouncing along to its upbeat melody whilst the emotive GROWN UP is indicative of Spraggan’s versatile song-writing and fabulous vocal power.
PUPPY DOG EYES has fans in the crowd singing along as Spraggan elegantly turns heartbreak into a pathos laden anthem for anyone who has ever been dumped before performing the heartbreakingly beautiful TEA AND TOAST, which I don’t mind admitting often makes me cry when it is performed as the affectionate anecdote outlines real everlasting love.
Spraggan certainly knows how to pen anthemic sing along songs and LOADED GUNS is no exception. The crowd enthusiastically accompany Spraggan on backing vocals as they sing this powerful protest song for social cohesion.
Anyone who has followed Spraggan from the early songs will also know that she is something is a comedy genius, so it is great to see LAST NIGHT with its litany of alcoholic mistakes and JEREMY KYLE, the hilariously passionate poem to the talk show host, included in the set.
UNSINKABLE is another great sing a long with a positive message of optimism delivered during Spraggan’s passionate vocal. Bluesy DON’T KNOW NOTHING ABOUT THE BLUES is one of the best come backs to a heckler that has ever existed and Spraggan’s set draws to a end as the crowd cheer ludicrously loudly in appreciation of a storming set.

WILL VARLEY has unfortunately been timetabled at a point where we can only catch a couple of songs before going to the Pallet Stage for ROBERT PLANT, which is a real shame because his heartfelt vocals and gorgeous melodies are enchanting in this lovely forest environment. ALL THESE STARS is a shimmering anecdotal ode and is followed by a huge cheer as VARLEY explains that he has just become a father.
THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH is a solemn song that showcases VARLEY’s stunning vocals in this tragic tale of the desperation of illegal immigration.
The brilliant lyrics of I GOT AN EMAIL have us laughing all the way over to Main Stage for ROBERT PLANT’s performance with the SENSATIONAL SPACE SHIFTERS.
The descending riff of WHAT IS AND WHAT SHOULD NEVER BE opens the set, promising a liberal sprinkling of Led Zeppelin songs as well as PLANT’S solo tunes and the sound of psychedelia reminds us of the legendary status of the performer on the stage.
TURN IT UP is a poignant ode to disillusionment that is beautiful and emotive, followed by THE MAY QUEEN, with its rolling rhythmn providing the perfect backdrop to PLANT’s soulful vocal.
RAINBOW has the crowd clapping along to the beat and dancing joyfully with one another during the band’s high octane performance.
The tumbling tune of GOING TO CALIFORNIA echoes through the air as Plant sings with passion and the allure of these wonderful compositions is evident when glancing at the mesmerised crowd.
PLEASE READ THE LETTER, from the Raising Sands album of duets with Alison Krauss, is a heartfelt harmony of winsome charm and resonates with poetic lyrics as the fiddle flies through the darkening sky.
PLANT explains the impact of LEADBELLY before performing the lively GALLOWS POLE that has the crowd reeling around and dancing deliriously. Some small children in front of me are jumping around in glee and remind me that this festival really does cater for all ages, establishing a love of live music in the very young.
The ethereal sounds of CARRY FIRE sound amazing as they permeate the field and the riffs that follow are stunning as they float across the field.
Led Zeppelin number BABE, I’M GONNA LEAVE YOU is hauntingly emotive and as the music melding melody chimes from the stage, the crowd are cheering and singing along.
The wandering melody and flying fiddle of LITTLE MAGGIE has the crowd dancing before an eruption of foot stomping and reeling to the fast paced FIXIN’ TO DIE.
A screaming crowd insist upon an encore and they certainly get one as PLANT returns to the stage and storms into a rocking medley of BRING IT ON HOME, WHOLE LOTTA LOVE and SANTIANNA. The legendary acts that play Bearded Theory Festival are always guaranteed but this was something truly special indeed, I contemplate through my exhaustion as the dancing finally comes to an end.

Not quite though, as we can still catch THERAPY?’s Woodland Stage. The last time we caught THERAPY? was at Beautiful Days doing an acoustic set so this is somewhat louder and as energetic as you would expect from this high octane band.
Starting with their take on JOY DIVISION’s ISOLATION, the dead pan lyrics and furious riffs have everyone dancing, including us despite the fact that our feet are now killing us after two days of dance inducing music.
Rocking riffs and high energy are guaranteed as the band rattle through racing tracks DIE LAUGHING, NAUSEA, which has the crowd at the front singing along and then the screaming intensity of STORIES and INNOCENT X.
The crowd are singing along and dancing wildly to UNBELIEVER and jump around to the pounding beat of MISERY.
The melancholic melody of TURN and the menacing lyrics of TRIGGER INSIDE seem particularly dark in the midnight forest air; the atmospherics of the late night forest stage are perfect for a band like THERAPY?
A shout out to everyone from East Midlands and to Stiff Little Fingers and The Stranglers precede TIDES and the crowd dance enthusiastically to the crashing beat before RUST has the crowd pogoing to its wall of sound.
Announcing ‘Fuck the motherfuckers who have brought this country to its knees’ to huge cheers from the audience, THERAPY? launch into INSECURITY as a damning indictment of inequality that the crowd can mosh and jostle to and then sing along to the repeated refrain.
DIANE is dedicated to GRANT HART from HUSKER DU, who wrote the melodic rock ballad and the band’s passionate delivery do the song justice.
CALLOW is a timely reminder of the awful society we now live in and is dedicated to anyone with mental illness issues as no one in the government seems to care even though people need help. The driving rhythm and powerful vocals are a forceful protest against the apathy of those in charge of the country.
TEETHGRINDER has the crowd jumping and screaming before the band launch straight into STILL HURTS, which rockets through the Woodland and then everyone is chanting about James Joyce’s sexual escapades as the band perform POTATO JUNKIE.
A thundering rendition of KNIVES sees the creation of a friendly mosh pit, whilst NOWHERE has the crowd singing along again to the melodic rock riffs. Ending with the ultimate anthem about angst SCREAMAGER, THERAPY? end a set that was a real festival highlight.

Funhouse Comedy have a slot this year for some post midnight fun and compere BARRY DODDS warms up the audience with crowd banter and proves himself the heckle king with put downs of a hilarious nature.
Scott Bennett has amusing relationship advice, masculinity thoughts and the absurd nature of parents is explored, with the crowd laughing throughout. Anecdotes with plant based innuendo are very funny and the trials of parenting are discussed in an amusing manner.
Barry is back and we are laughing again to his road based rants.
Chris Brooker introduces himself with a couple of jokes that are puntastic before acknowledging his gingerness and keeps the crowd laughing into the night with his West Country woes. The addition of comedy in this fabulous setting is an excellent idea and has left us laughing into the early hours.


We trek from the car park and moan about the weather, which is beautiful but not when you are carrying three jumpers for later, just on case. A jolly mood is bound to be re-established, however, as the ebullient EVERLY PREGNANT BROTHERS are soon to take to the stage with their wonderfully witty pastiche of popular songs performing the melodies superbly whilst we are all laughing and dancing along.
SHEFFIELD CALLING is a brilliant re-write of the punk classic which I find particularly amusing having lived in Sheffield for years.
The bouncy riffs of FAT TWAT have the crowd dancing and doing surely the most amusing call and response of the weekend, singing along to ‘lardy bastard’ and continuing the sardonic sing along with PORK PIE. Sunday’s festivities are now certainly in full swing as the smiling crowd are loving THE EVERLY PREGNANT BROTHERS ode to pork pies.
After praising the festival, and also the staff, Franz Ferdinand get a somewhat salacious make over with LET DOG OUT and have the crowd bouncing around with the band.
STUCK IN THE LIDL WITH YOU is a brilliantly funny review of the cheaper end of supermarkets. The dancing continues to I’M A LITTLE BIT GAY.
A new song is performed to The Ramones and is a praise of hedonism on West Street called PISSED UP and again has full crowd participation because you come to a happening with THE EVERLY PREGNANT BROTHERS, not just a gig.
Bowie satire, REGGIE SPRAYED ME CAR has everybody laughing uproariously
Ending with two ultimate sing-a-long tracks, the opening ey by gum of NO OVEN, NO PIE and the hilarious ME CHIP PANS ON FIRE, with its ludicrous imagery of BIG SHAUN running into the street with a flaming cooking pan in his pyjamas after misjudged late night culinary fiascos, THE EVERLY PREGNANT BROTHERS prove themselves to be one of the ultimate festival bands for anyone who wants to have a great time whilst listening to some brilliantly written and delivered satire.

Frenetic punky rock performed with a vicious vitality is next on the agenda as THE RUMJACKS entertain us. Rifling riffs emanate from the stage as the band launch into a rocking stomper before a pipe start heralds the next song, a rollicking tune that has the crowd dancing.
The high octane performance continues with dance inducing belters that make the band such a great Bearded Theory Festival act.
The bouncy beat of BLACK MATILDA has the crowd around us dancing delightedly to the full on performance; it is somewhat surreal as there is a dancing unicorn next to me, reminding me that many festival goers have dressed up today to be part of the Bearded Record attempt, which is always a visual feast of surprises.
The next song is a melding of rock and ska and keeps the crowd dancing before a reeling whirl of Gaelic punk that keeps the party going.
With a reggae style song, the band are ecletically entertaining and keep the racing rhythms going to the end of the set.

The next band, CRAZYHEAD, keep the crowd rocking loud with IN THE SUN, the blasting bass getting the crowd up on to their feet.
The blistering set has the crowd at the front dancing as the band provide foot stomping melodies under beautifully sunny skies. Motown cover TIME HAS TAKEN ITS TOLL ON YOU keeps everybody in their feet with its riff laden melodic ferocity and the bassy resonance of OUT ON A LIMB keeps the pace racing.
EVERYTHING’S ALRIGHT has revellers near us dancing in an interesting manner (alcohol is likely to have been consumed but they are having a great time) and RAGS, with its rock and roll riffs, keeps the pace rolling.
Funky hit HAVE LOVE, WILL TRAVEL has everyone dancing around and singing along.
I DON’T WANT THAT KIND OF LOVE booms across the field with its dominating drums and intense vocal delivery followed by BABY TURPENTINE, a furious belter performed with energetic exuberance.
DRAGON CITY has ricocheting riffs which we dance around to whilst keeping one eye on the increasingly ominous sky.
BANG, BANG has the crowd singing along to the melancholy melody with varying degrees of success as some festival goers near us are clearly tone deaf but still join in lustily.
Finishing with a fast paced riff laden tune, WHAT GIVES YOU THE IDEA THAT YOU ARE SO AMAZING, BABY?, CRAZYHEAD keep our minds on the stage rather than the apparently impending storm.

A birthday party in front of us share the most delectable cupcakes I’ve ever eaten during the DUB PISTOLS. The band provide ska dance with lots of energy and the crowd are soon skanking to the upbeat tempo despite the splattering of rain.The highlight of the set for us had to be GANGSTERS by THE SPECIALS as we are super excited by the

thought that we will see them support The Rolling Stones next week. This high octane band keeps the rhythmn flowing with dance inducing zeal.

The amusing introduction to Bosnian DUBIOZA KOLEKTIV had the crowd laughing and then the craziness began.
I have no previous experience of Bosnian ska but this was so much fun. The joyful frenetic melodies have the crowd in a party mood as they dance to brassy dubstep ska delivered by the most enthusiastic performers that we have seen in an extremely long time. When they are enjoying themselves this much, it would seem churlish not to get on board and start jumping around crazily to the tunes as well and so we do. Although Lyric Lounge Review believe strongly in focusing on the positive and promoting music that we love, it is rare for us to insist that you absolutely MUST go and see a particular band, but I would be doing you a disservice if I didn’t stress quite how brilliant a time you are likely to have if you manage to catch this band on tour.
FREE has the crowd singing along to the belting brassy ska and laughing to the lyrics as orange streamers fly through the sky
With call and response pitting the crowd against each other in a sing off under the relentless rain and then encouraging wild dancing to their brassy beats, DUBIOZA KOLEKTIV are a band that can keep a crowd happy despite the inclement weather.
There are now people dressed up as bees on stage dancing around to the compelling dub ska melody and I don’t even question why anymore because DUBIOZA KOLEKTIV are so brilliantly engaging that everything they do seems perfectly amazing as the field floods with lightning and nobody cares as we all dance along in the deluge to the charismatic bands’ music. If you have a chance to catch this band on tour, grasp it with both hands. You will not regret it.

Our day continues to be full of fabulous music thanks to ELIZA CARTHY AND THE WAYWARD BAND who start with gorgeous traditional folk that echoes through the woodland.
DEVIL IN THE WOMAN, with its gypsy folk melody, has the crowd singing along to this tale about a ‘charming little woman’ as MCCARTHY sings passionately over a flying fiddle.
THE SEA is a hypnotically beautiful ditty with a driving beat and GOOD MORNING MR WALKER is a swirling symphony that has the forest crowd dancing to the vibrant band.
Ending with a frantic tune that has everyone dancing, ELIZA MCCARTHY AND THE WAYWARD BAND have chased away any rainy blues in the crowd with their sunny charm and infectious performance.
We then catch the early parts of THE RUTS DC’s set on the Woodland Stage where THE RUTS help to confirm that this is a festival that the rain just cannot stop. TALKING BOUT THE POLICE has the crowd dancing to the crashing tune as SEGS layers vitriol over the pounding drums, showing why THE RUTS were an important part of the punk scene.

The crowd in the forest stage area are soon chanting along to THE RUTS DC’S stomping songs about social justice and the pounding drums inspire pogoing down at the front. A whirlwind of energy onstage, THE RUTS DC have stormed the second stage.

The Main Stage, meanwhile, has Jamaican legend of reggae and ska, JIMMY CLIFF.
The whole crowd are soon singing along to RIVERS OF BABLYON and then THIS IS MY LOVE SONG sees a confetti canon glitter through the air as Cliff’s gorgeous vocals fly over the dance inducing melody and harmonies.
The crowd then attempt some adventuorus dancing, getting down as close as they can to the floor, although in can only go half way now or I will never be able to get back up again. The crowd are singing along, the rain stopped ages ago and Bearded Theory Festival are in full voice and high spirits.
RUB A DUB PARTNER has the whole crowd swaying along to the swinging reggae beat.
IT’S A WIDE WORLD is obviously beautiful and paper streamers fly through the air to the gorgeous vocals and the whole crowd are swaying their arms along to the outro.
WONDERFUL WORLD, BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE has a call and response element and lots of families dancing together throughout the crowd to this ode to optimism.
The music continues with VIETNAM and the brass section are dancing around the front of the stage with enthusiasm before the crowd start dancing too until the amazing drum solo ending.
The singing along continues during THE HARDER THEY COME; THE HARDER THEY FALL before an emotive rendition of MANY RIVERS TO CROSS is followed by a joyful version of YOU CAN GET IT IF YOU REALLY WANT with the crowd in full voice.

Tanya Russell

Editor of LLR since 2005

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