Pennfest, The Big Park, Penn, 21st and 22nd July

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Venturing into the home counties for a Music festival is a new one for me.

The Festival has been running for the last six years in the small village of Penn, Buckinghamshire, it draws on established acts as well as showcasing up and coming acts.

This year saw an interesting line up with Primal Scream headlining on Friday night, with James close to the top Saturday Night.

The festival had a capacity crowd of 10,000 people piling into the arena, not only were there two live music stages, but a further two stages of dance music, definetly something for everyone.

Opening on the Friday were a band from Bristol Cantaloop who brought their own style to the party, as their backdrop simply stated ‘In Funk we Trust’, despite being the opening act the crowd that were down the front enjoyed their set.

Checking over the band line up, next up for me was Alex Francis, a singer songwriter originally from Hertfordshire. His music could be described as soulful rock, fresh from touring with Mel C, Alex is undertaking a small tour of UK festival to promote his new EP Sound Experiment.

EMF was a band I’d not seen before, curiously as I was brought up close to where the band had started. The only link I had to the band was their guitarist, Ian Dench, who was also in another band I followed at the time Apple Mosaic. EMF played an interesting set that had the audience captivated especially when they sang Unbelievable, but for me the fun song of the set was EMF.

Following EMF on the main stage was Maverick Sabre, someone completely new to me, but as always I like ‘new to me’ music, and with his soulful voice, he won me over. He has a great voice and manages to incorporates rap into his style effectively, he had the audience enthralled and ready for Friday’s ‘bigger’ acts.

The Charlatans hit the stage, for want of a better phrase at 7:40, an Indie band although associated with the 90’s Manchester scene has it roots in the west midlands when Martin Blunt on bass wanted to form a band in his local area, before moving North. Vocalist Tim Burgess has remarkable stage presence. The bands set includes singles: The Only One I Know and Plastic Machinery, many tracks from their recent album Different Days indicate this is a band in it for the long haul, rather than living off the Nostagia factor that many other bands of this era do.

Fridays headliners Primal Scream came on stage with a great version of Movin’ on up, their set included many of the singles from their back catalogue; Jailbird, Country Girl, It’s Alright its OK, and Come Together. Bobby Gillespie resplendent in a bright red suit, and the rest of the band put together an interesting set that spanned many years. One of the things I’ve always loved about Primal Scream is their constant evolving sound. Are they Indie, Psychedic or Alternative, who knows, does it matter? Either way they put on a great set and were worthy headliners for the opening day.

Onto Saturday, opening proceeding was Thousand Yard Stare, a band from Slough that have been rocking since the 80’s, despite a 20 year hiatus the original line up returned in 2016 and have since released two albums.

The south coast’s Wild Front, fresh from their recent EP Physics launched onto the stage next, being lowdown on the bill, unfortunately meant they didn’t get the exposure they deserved, they put on a great set and guitarist Joe gave his all.

Cast; a band I’d not taken a lot of notice in their hey day featuring John Power formerly of The LA’s. John worked the crowd fantastically well, giving the festival quote for me; “I’d like to dedicate this to Theresa May” as the band launched into Walk Away, wherever your political allegiances lie it went down very well with a crowd that appeared awe struck. I must admit a great set, well received, that set the bar for the rest of the day.

Maximo Park were next up on the bill, the band arrived onstage first, while vocalist Paul Smith appeared underneath an umbrella, I think we all realized it was raining, especially the capacity crowd. Their set included a good mix from their back catalogue, especially the new album Risk to Exist, although, that said I enjoyed The National Health from a previous album.

Following Maximo Park were The Coral, an indie/psychedelic band from The Wirral, whose sound inspired several bands on The Liverpool Music scene, they played a varied set that included a few tracks from their recent release Distance inbetween, they also played some from their first few albums including the well known in the morning. From where I was the sound wasn’t up to the usual standard and came across ‘boomy’, unfortunately it didn’t do the band any favours, none the less the crowd loved their set, and that’s what was important.

James arrived to an enthusiastic crowd and ran through a great set, although I hear some of the audience were a little put out they didn’t play Sit Down, I understand they rarely do these days, none the less they played a varied set that started with a fantastic version of Getting Away with It. I don’t think they were getting away with, they owned that stage. Tim Booth is a great front man and was clearly into his music as he swayed his hips in time with the music. Most certainly a great band, that put in a fantastic performance.

At that point with the weather looking the way it was, and the prospect of driving out of a muddy field, I made my retreat. I had, had a great weekend of music, made new friends and it’s a festival I’d love to attend again.


We rate:
5.0 rating

Enjoyed live music for ages, from intimate gigs to the bigger stadiums. More recently adding photographing those gigs. I guess If i had to sum it up I just love keeping music live.

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