Bingley Music Live, or HASHTAGBINGLEY! as the very enthusiastic teenagers in my train carriage screeched on the way towards the site, has become firmly established as a key player on the end of summer festival calendar. Punching well above its weight in terms of music to location ratio, a friendly crowd of locals and visitors from further beyond enjoyed a fantastic weekend of music and weather that provided a shot of Dutch courage to those requiring one last blow-out before returning to the post-summer routine.
The full weekend line up held its own on each day and managed to provide something for everyone. From the families with children in tow, teenies who had escaped curfew for the weekend right through to the hardcore festival lags and musicados of all ages, genuinely excited by the line-up, the delicate balance of appealing to the punters whilst providing a credible music base was definitely struck this year.
The big name headliners, as always draw in the ticket sales, but the lesser-known bands provide the atmosphere that keeps everyone happy on-site. The location of the second, Discovery stage, directly next to the ticket entrance provided a fantastic and upbeat introduction to the thousands streaming through the gates all weekend.
Coupled with the music were the additional facilities that every festival is now judged for – rightly or wrongly. However, with junior reviewers in tow, it was a good opportunity to see the festival from a smaller point of view. The glade-like children’s area was absolutely fantastic and provided a thoughtful mix for children of all age groups to let off steam and enjoy the outdoor space. With all activities provided for free, thanks to Bradford Council, children could learn circus skills with friendly facilitators, get brave on the inflatable challenges or build dens with ‘real’ tools. Counterfeit’s junior reviewers, already spoilt by the never-ending sweet supply in the press tent declared it BRILLIANT and demanded our hard-working photographer spend the best part of an hour documenting theirs and their friends escapades.
But, back to the music. As the Friday after-work crowds streamed in and the aroma of pizza filled the early evening air, beautiful vocals from Rae Morris encompassed the Discovery Stage, while over on the main stage The Beat set the tone with a tribute to Joe Strummer with Rock the Casbah. With which, the mood was set. As the sun dipped over the tree tops surrounding the main festival arena, John Power , fronting Cast with the enthusiasm and bounce he displayed in 1995, announced he was voting for Jeremy Corbyn to great cheers and launched into the beautiful Walkaway. A beautiful moment that felt very special.
The excitement for James was evident and Tim Booth and crew lived up to expectations. A born in Bradford boy, Booth embraced the crowd as they in turn embraced his vocals – both reaching higher and higher crescendos as the set went on. James finished the night on a real high, echoed by the singing throughout the crowds as they spilled out at the end of the night.
Saturday’s line up was targeted at a younger audience, with excitement towards Ella Eyre and Labrinth growing throughout the day. At points, the excitement in front of the stage was bigger in between sets as the DJs hyped up the crowd into a frenzy.
Ella Eyre did not disappoint. A lively set filled with her distinctive soulful vocals coupled with a fresh, dance undertone pleased the crowd enormously and somehow led seamlessly into Ash’s set, at their final festival of the summer. Looking and sounding as angsty as their 90s heyday, they took the audience with them through a punk pop tour of their classics, with Jack Named the Planets and Kung Fu as particular highlights. In a nod to their music and geographical roots, a Teenage kicks cover went down well with all ages.
Labrinth as headliner took to the stage with aplomb and gave a soulful and melodic finish to the night. His vocals carried beautifully across the natural bowl that is Myrtle Park, with a flowing set that provided funk, soul and dance to a crowd who were absolutely up for it.
Sunday was unofficially the hot day, officially the superheroes day. Walking onto site surrounded by Wonderwomen, Supermen and assorted Power Rangers gave a fun, upbeat atmosphere that can sometimes be lacking on the final day of a festival. That’s not to say the hangovers weren’t in full force. Many took full advantage of the sun to lay and enjoy the music and the echoey vocals of Nothing but Thieves provided the perfect soundtrack, but it wasn’t until Peter Hook took to the stage that the hangovers lifted and the rave began again. Grown men running to the front of the crowd, some with children in tow to experience Joy Division Classics such as Transmission and Love Will Tear us Apart was emotional. The whole field dancing along to Blue Monday was just fantastic. Hook himself was on fine form – appearing to love it all as much as the crowd loved him. A contender for a returning headliner in future years perhaps?
In the theme of the previous two nights, Super Furry Animals carried off the 90s revival with style – musically and sartorially. Long-time fans were not to be disappointed, whilst the newer crowd were well introduced to the SFA classics, finishing the weekend on a real high.
In addition, the periphery stuff that often gets ignored added to a real sense of how special this festival is. The disabled facilities were outstanding, with excellent viewing and access support, as were all staff and crew on site. From security on the gates to Bradford Council staff in the play area, everyone was friendly, enthusiastic and completely part of the event.
Local festivals have a tough balance to strike. Putting on a high quality event that pleases the many whilst maintaining music credibility is tougher than it seems. This year, Bingley Music Live achieved it with ease, with the atmosphere all weekend and the diversity of the crowd speaking volumes.
A real end of summer treat.