Returning for another year, Hardwick Live, the North East’s largest music festival carried on this year building up it’s reputation whilst focusing on its core values of hosting live music at affordable prices.
Saturday sees The Discovery Stage (main stage) kick off around mid-day, seemingly a perfect time for those with camping tickets who’ve already slept out for one night and need time to sleep off any excess.
Local(ish) songsmith ‘Lucy Spraggan’ starts us of with her blend of acoustic soul. Wrapped in lovely melodies, tracks like ‘Tea and toast’ are well received by the crowd. It’s a great show and a perfect warm-up for the uber excited ‘Jake Shears’ who glams and glistens his way into a performance which not only promotes his new album, but showcases his glorious falsetto vocals. Blending Scissor Sisters tracks with new material, and incorporating great storytelling, Shears steals the crown for the most passionate performance of the weekend.
Art rockers ‘Ash’ are up next, packing their show into 50 glorious minutes, the perfect amount of time needed, seemingly, to play almost one of their classic tracks and showcase some great work from their forthcoming album. Always blazing on the live scene, it takes a lot to upstage Tim Wheeler’s guitar playing, yet bassist Mark Hamilton does so with his aggressive style of bass playing. He’s a revelation from the start, particularly on ‘kung fu’.
‘Vintage Trouble’ take up the tea-time spot with their blend of soul and funk. Heavily influenced by the Mo-town sound, and the JB Band, the 5 piece burn through upbeat tracks underpinned by Stax narratives about love and freedom of speech. Ty Taylor, the former INXS Rockstar man and vocalist with Dave Navarro, puts on the performance of the festival with his style of funk dancing, duck walking and stage diving. His energy alone is worth the price of the weekend ticket.
It must be tough to play after ‘Vintage’ but headliners put in their all with the type of show you’ve come to expect from them. Loud, relentless and thought-provoking on their less well-known tracks, they play with huger stage presence and humour. A cover of The Who’s ‘Pinball wizard’ ironically steals their show.
Sunday we’re back for more with great Sunday vibes from funk brothers ‘Smoove & Turrell’ and soul sister ‘Heather Small’, both soundtracking upbeat grooves and creating music to move to.
Public Image Ltd, Feeder and Echo & The Bunnymen follow in quick succession in the afternoon, each showcasing different styles of guitar driven music; PiL with their electronic effects and reverb, Feeder with their hard rock/punk style of playing and The Bunnymen with their haunting emotion. What we get is three superb bands, each still on top of their game and each choosing wisely from their treasure trove of hits. Pil’s ‘Open up’ and The Bunnymen’s ‘The Killing Moon’ prove standouts in three great hours of music.
Spicegirl Mel C, across on the 2nd stage, draws a huge crowd for a lively and charismatic set, followed quickly by Shed Seven who hit the main stage with Rick on great vocal and humour form. They may well draw the loudest call and response singing from the crowd all weekend before passing the baton to Sunday headliners ‘Happy Mondays’ who close the set in their typical brilliantly shambolic style; lively, humorous and full of the type of music which, seemingly, never dates.
Take a bow the organisers of Hardwick festival, this has been a great line up and a great atmosphere. Another Hardwick live. Another great Hardwick live.