Sunday, August 31, 2008


Sing Ye From The Hillsides, Britain's smallest festival, was always going to be different but in addition to the bands and the advertised activities (see here), there was still a few extra surprises. Who would have expected being able to fly a Harris Hawk, wonder which yurt Mark Ronson would be sleeping in, and or discussing how to repel a siege of journalists and Arctic Monkeys fans?


Arriving at Friday lunchtime at Tan Hill Inn, it was only proper to enjoy a few pints of Black Sheep bitter with a baguette and chips before putting up tents. Exchanging tickets for wristbands mid-afternoon, with the first bands not on until 8pm what else was there to do but head by in to the pub to enjoy a bottle or two of British Ale Power specially brewed for the weekend by the Dent Brewery?
The music on Friday started with The Witch and The Robot. I'd seen them before supporting BSP at the Brudenell in Leeds and the memories weren't that positive. Second viewing didn't change that opinion. The three piece plus drum machine (malfunctioning tonight) are joined on stage by plastic snakes, feather boas, helium ballons, a papier-mache headed stage 'dancer', projected images (more of papier-mache head man running around the Lake District alternating with 'prose-poetry' - I'm being kind) and an entourage of more dancers wearing paper chemical suits and masks inviting the audience to write on their bodies with felt pens. So you can imagine what the music is like: a messy collision of too many ideas. They finish with song 'More Mackerel than Mineral' and this sums it up really.
The next band were completely new to me: Silvery. They are a four-piece who look like a blend of two-parts 90s indie band to one-part 60s Carnaby Street. But they sound like an update of 70s Sparks - fairground keyboards, jittery rhythms, falsetto vocals, and great fun. Very English eccentric, very arty glam rock that deserves a listen even if that description sends shivers down your spine.

British Sea Power had advertised tonight's set (the first of three over the weekend) as 'gentle': so guitarist Noble advised the crowd that they could go "double nuts" tomorrow night. However this wasn't the quiet, acoustic evening this might suggest.

The set featured lots of little played songs and old favourites all kicking off A Wooden Horse. Great to hear Childhood Memories and The Lonely live (it's been a long time for both) and Tugboat (from Rough Trade's Stop Me If You Heard This One Before compilation) was magnificent.

The crowd and the band both seemed a bit cautious in the first half of the set - it was going to be a long weekend and some sensible pacing was required. But by the end of the main part of the set, a trio of songs (Larsen B, Favours in the Beetroot Fields and A Lovely Day Tomorrow) sent everyone wild. And then the crowd-suring (band and audience) started. The final song was an extended Lately/Rock in A that took in all sorts of extras and detours - I caught a snatch of Out of My Mind and Dope and Speed but everything else flew past - it was glorious.

The Setlist:
What better way to cool down than a few more beers and to indulge in further discussion of the day's main festival gossip: that tomorrow night Sing Ye From The Hillsides would be the location for James (Simian Mobile Disco) Ford's stag-do with members of The Klaxons and Arctic Monkeys (probably performing a secret set) and Mark Ronson in attendance. Ronson would be flying in by helicopter. And probably be bringing Lily Allen. Eh?!

Part Two to follow ...

British Sea Power
[BUY] or [BUY]

Galaxie 500
Today [BUY]

PS A big THANK YOU to Ms N for providing us with a gift to take for the band/the weekend/the hell of it. Of course what else could it be but a cake. Of antarctic coastal ice-shelf Larsen B. With Great Skuas on.

1 comment:

Cheap Men Suits said...

I love The Hillsides. And I want to form a band wearing designer men's suits.