Friends of Mine Festival: Capesthorne Hall, Macclesfield

Grey skies beckoned us over the Pennines to Capesthorne Hall, Cheshire, and the first Friends of Mine festival. A three-day event that promised us music, fun, camping and a great warm up to the festival season. Arriving late Friday evening and once passes had been obtained, tent set up and drinks in hand we found the music.

It all started, for us at least, with the Lightning Seeds on the main stage. A band who for the last 20 years never go wrong with at a festival with their happy go lucky vibe. As we left the sounds of ‘Lucky You’ we mooched around the festival site. Incorporating two arenas consisting of seven themed stages and a variety of food outlets, outdoor events such as zorbing, stalls and even a Spar there was plenty to see and do which led us back into the music. A seemingly Manchester heavy line up across the stages brought up sets from The Kites of San Quentin, Pegasus Bridge, Unabombers, Bad Lieutenant, Liam Frost and the mental as fook jazzy Correspondents.

As Saturday raised its grizzly skies and huge gusts of wind our list of bands to check out read like a hurricane. It was time to set loose and shake the tail feathers. On entering the main arena it was a case of a wide-open space and the wonder where everyone was. Still as we delved from stage to stage.

Music wise we kicked off with Syd Bozko, a band with a proper old skool indie feel. Having played the original Friends of Manchester festivals they were keen to get involved. Despite a few technical hitches at the start they managed to sail through a sterling set. Legging it over to the Lake Stage, we caught Parisian duo Call me Señor. They have that keen catchy simple electro-vibe that makes you smile. It’s kind of charming but then again isn’t that what the French are about?! I enjoyed muchly it has to be said. In the same ilk but without the Korg were Get Cape, Wear Cape, Fly playing on the main stage, again kind of charming. If it were a contest Call me Señor would have won even just for the devoted girlfriends dancing in front of the stage. In contrast were boys with guitars, Airship. They managed to raise the tempo a little, but followed by Emmy the Great it dipped back down. Currently being promoted left, right and centre Emmy is, basically, a girl singer with a guitar, it wasn’t great but I wait to be proved wrong in a blast of greatness. Maybe the main stage wasn’t right for her and a more intimate setting would do her ability justice?

Now for something completely different and totally wrong, that’ll be Kong. Tight tight lyrca, plastic faces and thrusting at guitars. It was some kind of awesome freak show, totally awesomely tasteless but you just couldn’t turn away.  From Leeds to Manchester and Kid British with their ska fuelled reggae beats, a little sunshine appeared when they took the stage. Bouncing around mixing old and new tunes they even managed to make Adele’s Someone Like You sound palatable. A quick fire run and Cherry Ghost, Twisted Wheel and Black Lips kept us mildly amused before we hit up the Bowl Stage and the welcoming sounds of Renegade Brass Band. They mix brass, beats and hip hop with an MC fronting, it had the crowd dancing with the highlight being a young boy who was locking and popping in front of the stage. The boy had the moves! We ended the evening with the aged punk outfit Buzzcocks, the man with the hat Badly Drawn Boy and The Cribs. The evening also ended with huge torrential downpours and gales, which continued into Sunday morning.

So a soggy Sunday and it seemed rain had stopped play. Two stages were closed due to health and safety reasons leaving things in disarray. No one knew who was playing, who wasn’t playing and where, but still the show had to go on. American outfit Toro Y Moi started us off. It seems the Americans playing at the festival are well into the electro vibe at the mo. I have to admit it kind of matched the gloomy weather at times in a mood setting way. Never the ones to be held down we stopped moping and stumbled across Black Daniel. With songs such as ‘Song For The Fat Lady’ and ‘I Love You But Don’t Touch Me Cos You’re Sick’ it was an aural feast of peculiarity, very tongue in cheek and a hell of a lot of fun. It was a shame we only caught the end of the set. The weather, once again, decided to rear it’s ugly head and a great cloud of doom appeared as we headed back to the press area it didn’t just rain it proper pissed it down! Reluctant to leave the warmth, Counterfeit photographer Jamie Boynton decided to check out the rumours that Kong were doing a secret set in the House Party tent. Unfortunately when he reached the destination he found they were cancelled last minute as they were too raucous to play such a small tent and they branded the festival as ‘a shambles’. So the day hadn’t gone to plan for the festival but you can’t control the weather. There were still more bands to see and music to hear including legends of the Madchester scene A Certain Ratio. A career spanning almost 30 years, they still have the magic that influenced a generation. The band were introduced by Terry Christian who told a gushingly told story of when he tried to interview them as a kid and was simply told by the band to ‘piss off’, they still say that to him now it seems.

From old to new and Yuck, a band that have been pimped quite a bit in recent music press, why not they have Seth Rogan and Karen O lookalikes in the band. Music wise, they make it look more energetic than it is, that’s not a bad thing. They hold melodic upbeat songs with an edge of depth. It’s pretty pleasant, unlike and I’m sorry to say this but The Fall. Legends yes. Influencers of generations, yes. It’s safe to say that age hasn’t dealt Mark E. Smith a good card and he appeared more like a local WMC bingo caller. It was easy to feel sorry for the rest of the band who simply continued playing. The final headline for the weekend was The Charlatans. A band who, for me at least, just seem to make it look so easy. With a huge back catalogue of tracks it was safe to say this was the highlight performance of the weekend. From My Beautiful Friend to Weirdo, they could have played all night for me and by the look of the crowd pretty much all of them too.

So the first FOM fest ended, I’m sure the organisers would admit it wasn’t as successful as they’d hoped but not bad for a first affair. Focusing on the good points although attendance numbers were low it was family friendly, a good mix of people and there were some pretty good bands playing. It’ll be interesting to see what 2012 offers those at Friends of Mine.