Cotton Clouds Festival 2017, Saddleworth

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With the problems seen at a couple of festivals recently it was great to see a new one day event, Cotton Clouds Festival, pull off an outstanding day.

Arriving at the site, Saddleworth Cricket Club, just up the road from Mossley (Cabbage country) there was a certain amount of trepidation as it was raining and having played cricket there in my youth, I knew that the ground could be wet.

However, once on site the rain stopped and for once the weather was not a problem with warm sunshine all afternoon.

With three stages spread over the site everything was close enough to move between easily but without any problems of sound leakage. The line up was an eclectic mix aimed at a variety of tastes from young indie types to the families with young children (of which there were many).

Jimmy’s Stage hosted a number of local and upcoming bands, the highlight of which for me was The Blinders who played yet another “blinding” set to a packed out tent,these boys can’t put a foot wrong at the moment. They were followed by a set from Howling Rhythm, Manchester’s premier funk and soul clubnight with an added brass section, and the night in Jimmy’s ended with a raucous set from Pins.

Tim Peaks Diner kicked off the day with hotly tipped Proletariat playing a strong set which drew people in despite being so early in the day and The Sundowners beautiful summer tunes drifted over the site late in the warm afternoon. The early evening belonged to G-O-D who with a recently expanded line-up managed to fill the tent  despite being in direct competition with The Blinders in Jimmy’s.

The main stage was obviously a focal point for the day and St Helen’s band Stillia had the honour of kicking things off with there infectious blend of rock and roll highlighted by their infectious single Let Me In. With a big tour down under coming up Stillia are definitely on their way!

Other highlights of the main stage during the afternoon were Rogue Emperor a band formed by ex Elbow drummer Rick Jupp and former Doves keyboard player Martin Rebelski playing a electronic dance oriented set, and the perfect ever present festival band The Everly Pregnant Brothers with their comedy covers.

The evening got underway with a lively set from the reformed The Whip,featuring new material as well as old favourites, followed by a DJ set from the legendary Clint Boon before the first of the head liners took to the stage. Nick Heyward front-man of 80’s band Haircut 100 played a crowd pleasing set of hits and was an inspired choice for this kind of festival with most of crowd joining in on Fantastic Day.

With the crowd well and truly warmed up,The Coral strolled on to the stage to play a set just made for Cotton Clouds, hit after hit had the crowd up and dancing enjoying a great sing-along as the sun set behind the stage, almost one of those Glastonbury moments!

Final band of the night, again with a nod to the older elements of the crowd were hip hop pioneers The Sugarhill Gang who hit the stage running and didn’t pause for the whole of their 45 minute set. Known mainly for their 1979 hit Rappers Delight the band had the whole crowd jumping as they blasted through their set,covering everything from Run DMC’s Walk This Way, to Jump Around and their own version of Apache. By the time the set finished most of the crowd were exhausted, great end to a great day.

So the first Cotton Clouds Festival was a great success, well organised and executed, the one hitch was probably the long queues that formed in the early evening for beer and food but this wasn’t such a massive problem and can easily be solved for next year with the addition of a couple more bars. The main thing was everything was safe, well managed and above all, great fun, congratulations to Rick Lees and everybody involved.

That my first ever gig was The Who at Belle Vue which shows how long I've been going to gigs. However despite always being interested in photography it's only in the last few years I've been fortunate enough to shoot gigs.

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