Confirming it’s growing reputation as a festival catering for a roster of artists with important, meaningful, messages to deliver, recent Hardwick Live’s have tended to find a line-up which blends artists with feet in the punk and soul genres. The type of artists who pour their messages out into either rollocking guitars or intimate emotion.
Accordingly, it’s Sheffield’s Sherlock’s who kick Hardwick Live 2019 off properly with the opening chords of new track ‘Nyc’. Aggressive, and full of attitude, The Sherlock’s take aim at the main stage and deliver a rousing set which sets a high benchmark for the weekend. Passing the ‘punk’ baton across to ‘soul’ legends Sister Sledge, Cathy Sledge carries on communicating social messages. Choosing upbeat disco as her weapon of choice, Sledge takes us into a high energy feel with standouts being ‘Everybody dance’ and ‘Greatest dancer’. Passing the baton back into guitar, and punk, territory Stiff Little Fingers finish off the Saturday tea-time spot with a blend of intensity few can match; Jake Burns finding both humour, and tragedy, in the core messages of the bands work.
Jumping across to the smaller stages The Joy Formidable and Yada Yada Yadas put up strong sets with strong pop melodies and swagger before Saturday headliners Manic Street Preachers return for a punk finish. Stealing the show ‘Motorcycle emptiness’ and a cover of ‘Sweet child of mine’ the Manic’s nudge us into punk rebelliousness with a set so full of meaning that it brings tears to the eyes of many around me.
Bringing the soul to Sunday it’s Craig Charles who kicks off the day with his travelling dj decks and ‘good times’ before Billy Braggs takes us higher on the main stage with his acoustic political messages and commentary. ‘Woke up my neighbourhood’ steals a fine set.
Taking us into the climax of the festival Ziggy Marley, of course, brings the sun back out with his dub political messages before soulstress Lisa Stansfield, and her ten piece band, leads us on a trip into funk and soul. ‘People hold on’ and ‘Never gonna give you up’ steal an impeccable show which, shamefully, also acts as reminder of how many hits Stansfield has.
Talking about music with messages, it’s James who close the festival with typical intensity by Tim Booth and commentary of the need of togetherness.
What Hardwick Live has going more than anything else is its curation of acts who remind us of the influence music has. Whether that’s punk or soul, its powerful stuff.