Festival assessment: Highest Point 2019

Highest Point

17th – 19th May possibly 2019, Williamson Park, Lancaster

Words & Photography: Gary Lambert

It is under no circumstances the huge headline performances that make you fall in enjoy with particular festivals.  They’re in fact superfluous to generating the occasion really feel particular. Rather it is the small items, the efforts produced by the organisers and employees that leave you feeling that individuals want you to be there rather than they solely want your revenue.  Well Highest Point Festival went all out to get my enjoy like I was asking the inquiries on Blind Date, and effectively let’s just say we will be seeing each and every other once again for certain.

What have been the components utilized to charm me?  Well it would get quite boring if I listed all the things but I’ll inform you some of the most important things.

The venue.  Williamson Park is a wonderful park situated above Lancaster city centre.  Whilst the huge slope in the middle of the festival is going to leave you with burning thighs if you pay a visit to the Chris Glaba Memorial Stage on a regular basis, it also implies that the festival has loads of fantastic spots to watch the bands play as effectively as enabling spectacular views more than the city, the Irish Sea, and the soaring peaks of Cumbria.  This was also without having a shadow of doubt the cleanest festival I have ever attended, hardly a piece of litter was observed across the web page.

A wonderful music festival is pointless without having the sound to go with it and the sound was immaculate at each the Most important Stage and at the BBC Introducing stage.  The clear consequence of this was that all of the artists seemed to be in a fantastic mood when playing rather than worried about the high quality of their output. I can not even bear in mind a moment of wincing feedback.  Which is uncommon for a gig of two or 3 bands, let alone an whole festival.

The employees at Highest Point have to have a lot of credit paid to them.  Whether they have been in the scrumptious and varied meals stalls (I could create a assessment purely on the meals I had), on the gates, the ticket workplace or the generating certain the each aspect about the stages went completely, all of the employees on duty have been friendly, talkative and prepared to enable you as most effective they could.  This produced a relaxed and friendly atmosphere all through and that snowballs all through a festival. A really hard nosed strategy to browsing individuals at the gates usually has a knock on impact to how individuals begin their day, so possessing a laugh and joke while you get your bags searched tends to make a distinction.

Now on to the cause that I was there in the initial location, the music.  Whilst dance music is not definitely in the Popped Music field of knowledge, I would have liked to have taken in some of the offerings, but I just did not have the time to go to The Dell and throw some shapes.  The acts on the BBC Introducing stage alone would have produced me content to have caught all through 1 day at a bigger metropolitan festival, so to have some festival and private favourites on the Most important Stage in addition to that saw me quite excited in advance.

1 of my favourite acts at the moment are King Nun.  If you have not but had the fortune to capture 1 of their ruthless reside performances, I would say you require to speedily.  Musically they are most akin to the Up The Bracket era version of The Libertines but with heftier guitar sound that you would count on from bands like Wolfmother and The Raconteurs.  Given their age, it is superb to see how the band owns the stage as well. Theo, the singer in King Nun, treated the BBC Introducing Stage as his personal kingdom as he leapt and kicked while his band mates played furiously alongside him.  It was a functionality of a band from whom larger items can be anticipated. It feels all-natural that they are going to progress.

Typically when a photographer recommends for individuals to take in a band it is mainly because initial and foremost they appear cool on stage.  That’s not getting derogatory towards snappers, but rather mainly because that is the initial factor that naturally captures their interest.  For that cause, I was expecting something other than a singer behind a host of electronic gear and a bassist from Sound of Thieves as I had turned up to see them on the recommendation of a fellow photographer.  What was lost in drama and showmanship was additional than gained by way of the wonderful and revolutionary sonic weavings of this duo. The basis of their operate was the vocal loops produced by singer Phoebe which she would then sing more than along with the bass operate of Jan.  It sounds comparatively easy, but it was complicated, layered and wonderful. Thinking of the artistic nature of their operate, it was heartwarming to see so lots of of their audience keep for the whole set. It showed how creativity can be valued by a mixed audience rather than focused on a niche crowd when the finish solution is of such higher high quality.

The Friday evening headliner at the BBC Introducing Stage was Cabbage.  This is frequently a band I have a rather fractured internal monologue relating to.  On the 1 hand, I enjoy their energetic and raucous reside shows and open assistance for left wing politics, but on the other hand I have on a regular basis described them as “The Fall without having a tune”.  Well I can place my hand on my heart and say (not actually as it’d cease me typing) that this was the set which has produced me alter my thoughts on Cabbage.

I nevertheless stand by my earlier criticisms of the band, but they have enhanced their sound so substantially that I am searching forward to the subsequent release from them.  It sounds like I am damning with feint praise, but it sounded to me like Lee Broadbent has been functioning significantly on his vocals. He nevertheless dominated the sound of Cabbage, but this time he sounded smooth and a lot additional pleasurable to the ear. I had usually believed of Cabbage sounding like The Most Mancunian Band Ever, but now I feel they have reached a point exactly where they are beginning to sound like Cabbage rather than an amalgamation of their heroes.  And do not be concerned, the modifications have not been paid for with a loss of their bombastic reside shows. They are nevertheless incendiary, but even additional thrilling.

One more thrilling and energetic reside act from Manchester was The Moods.  With dance-heavy cocktail of each genre the substantial band has ever listened to, you are not going to really feel relaxed through their set.  It requires location at a breakneck speed and is a continuous supply of noise and kinetics, but the enthusiasm and togetherness the band show on stage soften the energy of that. As extended as you hadn’t turned up at the gig straight following a funeral or getting dumped, I would bet that anyone would love watching The Moods. If you watch them at a festival, I would recommend you go for some meals afterwards as you are undoubtedly going to require some time to chill out.

An excellent band to adhere to them in the future would be Ovvls.  Their gothic take on minimalistic electro would be the great palette cleanser following such power.  Another beneficiary of the willingness of the Lancaster festival audience to take in acts which are additional arty than celebration, the pair thrived on the healthier crowd watching them and place in as substantially energy as their music would enable.  In reality, as the completed the set with the crowd in front of them rather than at the back of the courtyard, it seemed like they had grown a couple of inches by way of self-assurance.

The Saturday evening headliner on this Chris Glaba Memorial Stage was Anna Calvi, and the set she supplied was intense, brooding, and totally magnificent.  With a stage drowned in moody red lights, it was the great backdrop to her great solo functionality. I had not observed Anna Calvi play ahead of, but there is no way I’m not going to watch her once again, and once again, and once again.  She was hypnotic and masterful, and irrespective of whether it was her bluesy guitar playing or beautifully dark voice that was filling the moment, the audience was consuming out of her hand.

While the BBC Introducing stage was developed for an audience prepared to take dangers, the Most important Stage was set up for individuals to have enjoyable.  The earlier bands in the day have been there to lift spirits with the likes of Show Hawk Duo playing acoustic guitar versions of dance music classics and the later portion of the day was filled with acts assured to get individuals going.  That’s not to say it was a succession of security initial picks with 1 act in distinct standing out for their daring.

I assume that the organisers of Highest Point should enjoy Stealing Sheep as substantially as I do mainly because there is no way you would place them on a bill if you wanted to encourage a singsong.  But if you want to blow people’s minds with an act that they are probably to have under no circumstances observed ahead of, then this artistic 3-piece are the most effective option doable. With their heavily choreographed performing, and simple on the ears tracks, you are not going to come away from watching Stealing Sheep feeling unhappy.  It could not be what you want to indulge in with a cider in 1 hand and a portion of chips in the other, but they are nevertheless going to grip you and gradually draw you in. This was actually accurate as the audience sneaked closer and closer to the stage as the set progressed so that by the time we reached set closer Shut Eye, everyone not sitting blissfully on the hill was stood underneath the band dancing.  And they have been in a excellent shape to dance offered the mid-set minute of Gig Yoga we had. Namaste Stealing Sheep. I have stated more than and more than and more than that regardless of what bill they play on, Stealing Sheep are usually the greatest act that performs there. And Williamson Park in Lancaster was but an additional place that this rang accurate.

The Friday evening headliner was an additional all-female 3 piece alliterative dance act, but Sister Sledge are from fully the other finish of the spectrum.  With their disco classics, which even the youngsters in the crowd know the words to, you can usually be assured a enjoyable time by watching them. Even when I slipped out early to drive to my hotel, I could hear the crowd singing along to them about half a mile away.  It was in all probability the similar earlier in the day as 1 of the accurate legends of music, Grandmaster Flash, took to the stage to drop crowd pleasing record following crowd pleasing record, bear in mind the quite a few close friends in the market he has observed slip this mortal coil, and fill the floor with power.

The Saturday evening headliner was the most up-to-date gig in the comeback of The Zutons celebrating the legacy of their debut album Who Killed….  This gig had me each excited and terrified. This was 1 of my favourite ever albums, but a band generating a comeback usually fills me with dread.  I’d say I was feeling relieved by the high quality of their functionality, but in fact that would be unfair. I was totally buzzing at how excellent The Zutons have been.  

Tight, confident and filled with character, it was as fresh as it had been when I was younger. In reality, I was impressed with the level that The Zutons have been capable to push their songs so that rather than churn by way of the recorded versions of the tracks, they performed them like a headliner ought to.

Feeder have been about longer than The Zutons even and their Saturday evening set was a reminder to even a person like me who grew up with them getting on each festival bill below the sun of what a catalogue of tunes they have.  It could appear like semantics, but as their set progressed and they drew in an ever expanding crowd, I kept on pondering “I’d forgotten they’d accomplished this one” with quite substantially each track rather than “I didn’t know they had accomplished this”.  It was surprising that a band renowned for mainly for the line of “drink cider from a lemon” had so lots of songs which brought a roar from the crowd from the opening guitar riffs.

There was one thing inherently wonderful in the simplicity of Lucy Spraggan’s set.  Primarily her voice and her acoustic guitar are the only components that you notice when she plays.  At least musically anyway. The most dominant aspect is undoubtedly her character in which she tends to make songs about the significance of her wife be without having cheese, songs about mental issues really feel comfortably relatable to all (not just us who share these occasions), and the song she sang initially on X Aspect final evening (Beer Worry) appear enjoyable rather than tacky.

The final word on Highest Point Festival 2019 has to go to a band who are recognized for 1 of the most evocative and fitting Television themes of all time, Alabama three. Woke Up This Morning was 1 of the stand out components in The Sopranos, a show that changed the art kind of tv massively. Anytime they play it is usually the highlight for the crowd, and this gig was no exception.  Sadly, Highest Point marked the finish of an era as it turned out to be the final gig that founding member Rev. D Adore (Jake Black) played with the unit as he passed away a handful of days following the occasion. He was 1 in a million and had burn to shine.