Bearded Theory In Review – Part 1 of 2.
Braving the early morning frost, we anticipated an excellent start to day two of the Bearded Theory Festival with a band that I first saw at the Live and Unsigned auditions at Derby The Life and Times of the Brothers Hogg. They had impressed me with their quirky style and memorable melodies and it was now time to see if they could live up to that early promise with a full live set. We would have a longer wait, however, as technical problems led to a stage change.
In the interim, we were well and truly woken up by the frenetic performance by Faintest Idea, opening the day on the main stage. With angry punk vocals over a ska beat, the band set a raucous partying tone for festival goers who really know how to party.
Next, a trip to the Tornado Town tent tantalised Lyric Lounge’s musical taste buds with the bluesy, reggae-tinged tones of Dan Days; a perfect way to build upon the start of what was ensured to be a musical melting pot of a day.
Firmly re-ensconced in the open mic tent, it was time to see if The Life and Times of the Brothers Hogg were worth the wait. They opened with the beautiful Lunacy or Laudanum; a song with haunting harmonies and the excellent bittersweet statement ‘I love you and hate you and I’m never sure which one.’ Followed swiftly by a song that is allegedly about sex, murder, death and whisky, Hawk and the Wren starts with a romantic lilting Celtic fiddle melody which you just can’t help but tap your feet to. Reminiscent of Mumford and Sons, The Life and Times of the Brothers Hogg have penned the perfect summer sing-along despite the dark theme. Josephine is a melancholy ballad to the woman loved and lost whilst Lover and the Thief has an upbeat rhythm and sounds like The Faces if they had spent a whisky soaked youth in the southern states. Two covers, a harmonious version of Ticket Taker and an extremely popular rendition of Fisherman’s Blues had the crowd dancing along and calling for an encore! A resounding success indicating a bright future for this unconventional band. (Pocast interview with band available on Lyric Lounge).
Over on the Main Stage, Ferocious Dog keep up the energy with their blistering brand of folk punk. Belting out their songs with passion and plenty of people practising their pogo move; the band obtained a ferociously enthusiastic response.
A quick dash back over to the Tornado Town Tent (with a brief stop to consume a delicious cake from Kindred Cakes in the Angel Garden) to see Gaz Brookfield. We were certainly glad that we did; with his witty lyrical lines and a musical nod to Frank Turner, Gaz Brookfield is a modern minstrel with tales of excess, revenge and unbreakable bonds. Under the Table is a harmonica infused ode to extremes whereas Tell it to the Beer is a anecdotal ascent into an acknowledgment that friendship might be more valuable than fame, although if the crowd participation during Thin is anything to go by, the future for this brilliant balladeer will have both. Be the Bigger Man is a rollercoaster ride through childhood torment into a future opportunity to wreck revenge and a realisation that the oppressor was a bit pathetic after all. Brookfield’s rant against manufactured music, with its brilliant subversion of boy band lyrics might just have to become The Lyric Lounge’s anthem. If fame had anything to do with ability, Gaz Brookfield would be at the top of the music charts. We eagerly await his new album and urge you to check out a live set if you have the opportunity. A real highlight of our festival!
Back at the Main Stage, Credit to the Nation entertain the dance and hip hop lovers, an indication that Bearded Theory Festival really does offer an eclectic mix of genres across the weekend, with something for all tastes. This was swiftly followed by Go Go Cult over at the Tornado Town tent, with their frantic rockabilly meets punk rhythms reverberating through the air and The Hedgerow Crawlers on the Main Stage with their lilting lyrics lamenting the loss of a way of life threatened by our soul-less society.
Heading over once again to the Tornado Town tent (the variety and number of acts are one of the aspects that makes Bearded Theory Festival so special), the exhilarating, foot stomping fusion of folk and world music of Flat Stanley really help to get the festival goers into a dancing mood. The Main Stage, meanwhile, offers a haven of haunting high notes courtesy of Cara Dillon; with Keddleston Park being the ideal chill out location to share with this soulful singing siren.
The Tornado Tent is the venue for the eagerly anticipated ‘What a beautiful guest.’ After performing a song backstage for Bearded Theory television, Mark Chadwick from The Levellers performs solo after Jon Sevink’s detached tendon enforced the band’s withdrawal from the headline slot last night. The tent is overflowing with Levellers’ fans; all enthusiastically singing along to Fifteen Years and dancing with delight throughout the set. Just the One goes down a treat with a crowd that may be nursing hangovers from the Friday night’s revelry…dancing has now ensued on a large scale. A new song that is performed sounds like an upbeat sunshine-speared classic and creates an air of anticipation for future gigs when the full band are expected to perform. Carry Me then kicks off a trio of sing-along songs, reminding us all of just how fantastic these records are as What a Beautiful Day almost convinces us that it is…there was in fact at this point a hint of sunshine, summoned by Chadwick’s soaring vocals. A perfect performance was concluded with one of my favourite songs of all time One Way, a fitting anthem for Bearded Theory Festival and all that it represents. The summer starts here.