Corbridge Festival. 30.6.19

Nicely warmed up by gentle sounds from Hadrians Union, Key Greyson, Martha Hill and Saytr Play it’s perhaps Blocked Beats who are the first act to get Corbridge festival’s Saturday crowd up and shaking off any remnants of Friday’s hangover.  Full of cleverly enacted beat boxing, Blocked’s re-creation of popular hits (Seven Army Nation, Sweet Dreams) provides an almost karaoke opportunity for crowd participation, dancing and sing alongs.  Led by it’s booking strategy, Blocked are not the first act today who help us glimpse into the festival’s vision of creating a family friendly, inclusive, event; a theory supported by an afternoon roster of similarly crowd friendly artists including local folk/pop act Dennis and dance along friendly Panjabi MC.  With both acts putting crowd interaction and encouragement ahead of music snobbery there’s a real buzz in the crowd by 5pm.

Supporting the trade-off between serious musicianship and family friendliness, Gomez’s Ben Ottewell takes the tea-time spot in an acoustic set perfect for sunny weather and picnics.  Full of trade-mark soul, and presented with gentle song introductions, Ottewell’s set is both peaceful and moving as he skips through solo and Gomez work; Tijuana Lady standing out as perhaps the track of the day.

Swapping acoustic for electric, it’s locals lads The Futureheads who take to the stage as main headlining support around the 7.30 mark.  Immediately altering the crowd atmosphere from gentle to excited, the Heads set is a powerful justification for their recent reformation and is sound-tracked by edgy, post punk guitars, and the expected three part ‘oh oh oh’ vocals.  Hounds of Love stands out as an obvious highlight, as do tracks from their forthcoming new album proving that their four-piece magic is still very much alive and well. 

Headliners the Fun Lovin Criminals close out the day with their blend of enthused hip-hop/jazz and sing along standards.  Led by charismatic frontman Huey Morgan, who provides both the laughs and also some often overlooked guitar skills, the Criminals hour set is full of fun and humour; Morgan himself joking that he’s been made aware to be mindful that this is a family set, which he does, at least up until the Scooby Snacks sampled intro.

Putting inclusivity and community at it’s heart, The Corbridge Festival proves that if you are mindful of which artists you book, the rest takes care of itself.

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