It was that time of the year again when Myrtle Park braced itself for a weekend of loud music, heavy bass, drunk attendants and cup-collecting children: Bingley Music Live had returned for 2012. The first day’s weather was not as charitable as previous weather forecasts had suggested. It was rather miserable in fact.
This year saw the introduction of the Raise the Roof Stage that saw a pool of talented performers play in a much more relaxed atmosphere than that of the Main Stage. Largely I found it to be very successful. However, the Musician’s Centre Stage, dedicated to local unsigned acts, needs work. Every time I went over, the sound would cut out or change in volume constantly. It’s also tucked away a little, and could benefit from better exposure.
One thing to say about this festival is that it caters for all ages. I saw every age group imaginable grace Myrtle Park with a smile on their face. With a Kids Zone now up and running, they can take a well-earned rest between all the cup-collecting for those ten pence returns. The festival certainly does have a family feel to it, but at the same time is not too tame that you can’t go a little crazy. Urine is still thrown, people still wrestle and boobs still flash, but in a more friendly environment.
The first act of the weekend was Spirit of John at the Raise the Roof Stage. Their earthy music was reminiscent of last century’s wave of Country. This two piece and their guest performers filled the air with a blues-country-folk tang that wetted our lips for the weekend. It was a nice and easy introduction to Bingley Music Live. Then we were off to the Main Stage to watch Driving Lolita, a favourite from London’s BBC Introducing Stage at Hackney Weekend. They weren’t my particular cup of tea I must admit, and they swore a little too often and aggressively for me to find them admirable, but musically they were sound. Mainly grime-sounding, they infused the start of the festival with a bit of attitude that riled people up. StooShe then brought their girl-power attitude to the stage. It seemed very reminiscent of the era of girl-bands such as Girls Aloud etc. Their music was a little too female-focussed for my taste, but they were received remarkably well by both genders. Kids in Glass Houses then took to the stage with an energy that supercharged the crowd. Their music was relentless, and frontman Aled Phillips gathered the crowd in the palm of his hand with expert showmanship. They were certainly one of the most entertaining acts of the weekend .I was then taken to a different world; a world before my time. Martha Reeves brought the 60’s back to life with classics such as ‘Jimmy Mack’ and ‘Dancing in the Street’. She brought that feel good sensation to the festival and proved that even at 76; she still has what it takes to move some hipbones.
Closing Friday night were The Charlatans. After twenty two years on the scene, you would expect them to lose some of that quality that made them popular during the 90’s, but that is not the case. They can still end a night with a bang. Tim Burgess was on form, his vocals electrifying the crowd into a tame frenzy. They may be more of a cult band, but whether you followed them or not, they certainly ended Friday well.
Opening the Main Stage for Saturday was The Scandal. These lads were the winners of the Battle of the Bands competition. Hailing from Leeds, they brought a refreshing brand of Funk-Rock that I found very pleasing. It started the day on a high. I can honestly say that their performance could easily have rivalled that of the established pros performing alongside them. The Milk is a band that I have followed closely over the last year. I have been treated to magnificent performances in the past, but this one took the cake. Playing favourites such as ‘Danger’ was enough to get me all giddy, but the best part was the mix tape they played. Covering an ensemble of their favourite songs with such fluidity is deserving of much praise.
It was at this point that my point was proven about the friendliness and hospitality of this festival. Stood on my own , I was greeted by a man named Andy. Andy, then proceeded to invite me to his little group, where a subsequent other two Andys subsided as well as others. I aptly named them the Three Andys & Co. This crazy bunch reminded me of how nice people can be at this festival, offering me chicken, JD and Coke and most of all, company whenever I wanted. So to the Three Andys & Co, thanks for some cracking moments. I was also able to find out about the story of Kev and Susie. They met at Bingley Music Live 2010, their “eyes meeting across a river of piss”. Inseparable since, they then became engaged at Bingley Music Live 2011, which was announced to all spectators and gained them a small degree of fame within Myrtle Park. It was also respectful to put up a portrait of Rachel, the woman who introduced them to each other, who sadly passed away. This made me think; this festival has that bit of magic about it that makes it memorable. You always take something away with you from Myrtle Park.
Next we were entertained by something a little more eccentric, or should I say out of this world? Space played music very much like a jukebox from another dimension. It was fantastic to hear their unique slice of dark, comical pop lift through the Bingley air. It certainly brought a smirk to my face. Jake Bugg is a young man I have been very much looking forward to seeing for a while. Looking tiny upon the stage; he more than made up for it with his powerful, folky voice. His sound is very much like that of Bob Dylan, which made me stop and pause for a moment’s thought: “Could this be the Bob Dylan of our time?” I suppose only time will tell. I wouldn’t be lying if I said I was only moderately excited to see the Pigeon Detectives take to the stage, as I always have believed they were not my particular cup of tea. I have never been so wrong. Their performance was outstanding. It had the right amount of energy, frontman Matt Bowman swinging his mic and jumping on any nearby objects in a frenzy. Even inviting the crowd to hit him with a bottle of water for the money in his pocket was a treat to see (Nobody hit him. Useless). The music was also top notch, covering songs from many of their albums. That performance has completely overhauled my opinion of them, and now I am going to buy every album. More eccentricity was around the corner in the form of King Charles. This man (and his magnificent moustache) is as unique as they come. His music carries with it a sort of classic feel. The tone of some songs sound like the beautification of Charles I’s last moment before he reached the scaffold, full of suspense and a building atmosphere. I have to say that his performance was extraordinary and a joy to watch.
Finally, the headliners, Razorlight, met a packed out Myrtle Park all eager and excited to see them. I was expecting a performance that I would never forget from such a prolific band, but unfortunately for me, they fell short of the mark. All day there had been a rising energy about the place (probably due to an increase in intoxication) and what Razorlight seemed to do was merely consolidate this rather than crank up the voltage. They were good, don’t get me wrong, but fantastic is not a word I feel I can apply, There were moments during the classics such as ‘America’ when I thought, “This is more like it”, but as previously stated, they, for me, came up short of my expectancies.
Sunday saw the sun finally radiate upon Myrtle Park. It was a glorious day where the jackets could finally come off and T-Shirts were aplenty. We began the day by watching Juan Zelada, a man who had graduated from Paul McCartney’s Liverpool Institute. He was such a delight to watch, with an invigorating folk-pop sound that got people prepared for the day. The crowd were subdued to some degree, but Juan forced all to their feet for his last song to dance. This gave the day the kick-start it needed. Next we saw Hard Fi, a band with a rather harsh reputation on their live performances. Well I can safely say that they silenced all critics with a brilliant set that got everyone pumped. It has just the right amount of quality music, crowd interaction and stage presence to merit a completely solid performance. Yes Sir Boss is a band that I have wanted to see for some time. Unfortunately, frontman Matthew Sellors was feeling under the weather, and so a replacement singer was drafted in. He was still excellent, but it was slightly disappointing. Yes Sir Boss are a band that makes you stomp your feet. They are enthralling in their fun brand of music. I saw some of the strangest dancing in my life during their set. It almost felt like I was at the circus. Next came possibly my favourite act of the weekend. White Lies took up the role of supporting act for Sunday. Their music is euphoric and uplifting. I see it as “powerful stuff” with frontman Harry McVeigh’s haunting yet forceful voice enveloping the crowd. They are gloomy, but exhilarating at the same time. The climax came with the song ‘Bigger Than Us’, which saw the crowd go a little crazy, wearing emotions on their sleeves. I think the only way to describe their performance was that they absolutely smashed it. It was time for the comical portion of the weekend with the Idiot Bastard Band. What more could you want than Phil Jupitus, Ade Edmondson, Neil Innes and Rowland Rovron all standing present with a musical catalogue of laugher? Just seeing these characters was enough to get me excited, but their witty and sometimes daft songs brought a big smile to my face. They were undoubtedly excellent and something to add a bit of variety to the festival.
Sadly, it was time for the final act of the weekend. But we were certainly going out with a bang. Nero, and their prolific tower of speakers, wub-wub-wubbed all night to a frenzied crowd. I saw heads thrown around like flails, and bodies spasm uncontrollably. With lights blinding you in every direction, and the bass popping your ear-drums, you were completely drowned in chaos. I never thought I would enjoy feeling like I have so little control as I did, but I loved it. It was undoubtedly the perfect, dynamic end that was needed to make Bingley Music Live memorable.