As the summer get under way and all the bands prepare for their trek around the festival circuit, once again Blackthorn Festival provides the perfect springboard for the smaller bands on their way up the music ladder.
Set in the beautiful Cheshire countryside Blackthorn is a smallish very friendly festival where band, fans and music business types all mingle and chat together with no real backstage areas.
The four stages see more than sixty acts over the festivals three days with many bands returning from previous years as they move up to the larger stages.
This years head liners were Reef, Space and The Lightening Seeds but Blackthorn is more about younger bands, headliners of the future. No Hot Ashes who played the small Meadow Stage last year returned to play a storming set on the main stage this year bringing with them a huge following, clearly a band going places.
Blackthorn is also about discovering new bands and for me October Drift were a revelation the intense powerful set from the west country based group drew people into the Paddock Stage. The Paddock stage, smoothly run by Mr Peeps, was the place for many of the weekends memorable performances, Factory, the Runcorn lads, cocky as ever played early Saturday afternoon and hung around all day. Stillia, St Helens great hopes played better than I’ve ever seen them showing how much they’ve improved since last years appearance. Jess Kemp on the main stage at tea time was confident and assured but it was back to the Paddock for what for me was the performance of the festival.
The Blinders from Doncaster but firmly based in Manchester are, along with Cabbage, one of the most fancied young bands around give an incredibly incendiary performances which leave the crowd as well as the band exhausted. Tonight is no exception with both Tom and Charlie in amongst the crowd and at one point Tom was high above the crowd as he climbed to the top of the main support pole of the tent!
Sunday, a bit wetter weather wise, saw more of the same. The Claremonts who previously hadn’t made much of an impression on me, played an amazing set, they’ve improved so much in the past few months. Similarly Saytr Play and Sly Antics both played brilliant sets and have clearly upped their game in the last few months.
Just a quick mention for Space who I confess I know little about, in the pouring rain they gave a perfect festival performance full of fun, charming the crowd and Tommy Scott staying behind chatting and having photos taken with anyone who wanted one summing up the feel good vibe of Blackthorn.
There were loads of other bands , to many to mention, who all played excellent sets to appreciative audiences making Blackthorn Festival an excellent showcase of new talent. Well worth a visit, thanks to Karl and Laura Hancock for organising it all, long may it continue.