Tuesday, September 18, 2007


End of the Road Festival was my first festival in 14 years. The line-up alone across four stages was pretty compelling but the exceptional organisation, the fantastic setting of Larmer Tree Gardens, the friendly atmosphere and intimate scale (5000 people capacity) all meant it won't be another 14 years to the next (small-scale) festival. In fact by my reckoning it is 360 days to the next End of the Road Festival and I would heartily recommend putting this in your diary now.

First up at the Local (probably my favourite stage for seeing bands) was It Hugs Back a four-piece from Kent - a nice jangly Wilco-esque start to the day. They have already posted some photos from the Festival on their website including a lovely pic of one of the peacocks roaming the gardens.

Next to the Garden stage for Willard Grant Conspiracy who were joined by Jackie Leven on guitar. Gothic songs of death and despair whilst sitting in the sunshine - lovely.

Willard Grant Conspiracy
Let It Roll [buy]

From here back to the Local to see 30 lbs of Bone - more gothic but with indie guitars and folk music tale-telling. They have a debut album out on Drift Records (failed to buy this from the Rough Trade Shops stall on site so nothing to share) - read a review here.

A quick turnaround brought Indigo Moss to the same stage in a matter of minutes. Expecting a five piece based on the photo in the programme this was the 'core' of just two acoustic guitars and voice (Trevor and Hannah-Lou I found out later). Delicate and folky - and matched the mellow mood. However things were about to take a turn for the worst as the next stop was the Somerset Cider Bus. Beer in the sunshine was one thing but the dry cider was another (The advice given but not taken was: "if you are in any doubt have the medium - not the dry").

This meant arriving late for Jim White and starting to feel a little worse for wear now. Jim was suffering from laryngitis so had to abandon a couple of songs in favour of others his voice could cope with and complemented this with some great entertaining stories. A real crowd-winning performance. He is touring in October - dates here - at small-scale venues and could be unmissable.

Jim White
Transnormal Skipero (out 1 Oct 2007) [order]

My recollection now really becomes hazy - I definitely remember catching the end of John Parish in the Big Top Tent but had NO MEMORY WHATSOEVER of seeing Mary Hampton in the Local when I was told I had on Monday. However this photo taken by me does provide empirical evidence of my presence. I wish I could tell you more - you'll just have to check her MurdochSpace site.

Common sense of some sort intervened and the search for sustenance other than alcohol began. Fortune sent me to the heavenly Pieminister. Hand-baked pies topped with minty mushy peas and mash served in its own box inscribed with the legend "This pie belongs to ......................". I never saw the queue for Pieminister shorter than 20 or 30 people all weekend.

With something other than alcohol in my belly things improved slightly so I do remember Robyn Hitchcock accompanied by John Paul Jones. Sadly he didn't play The Yip Song but this felt like another crowd-winning performance.

Robyn Hitchcock & The Egyptians
Respect [buy]

And then to the headling Yo La Tengo on the Garden Stage. After a slightly petulant - it appeared - moment from Ira they then turned in a vintage performance mixing the poppier songs with extended riffing and jams. Great energy and an inspired end to the day.

Yo La Tengo
I Am Not Afraid of You And I Will Beat Your Ass [buy]

But despite the headliners finishing the night wasn't over. On to The Bimble Inn to sample the Barbus Ale and listen to Eugene McGuinness. However don't expect any insight from me on this experience - all I remember was the Barbus ale tasted divine.

I then ended the evening slumped on the floor listening to the "house band" who were all dressed in red devil outfits playing bad heavy metal. An unfortunate low in an otherwise exceptionally good day.

Please check out the websites and MurdochSpaces for all the bands especially the ones you may not have heard on. All the bands with the exception of the 'comedy' devil house band are well worth checking out and then throwing some hard-earned cash their way.

More on the next two days of the Festival later this week.

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