Review and photos by Noel Buckley
Day 1 Friday 26 April
What a difference a year makes, last year we arrived in Butlins in Minehead in the pouring rain, which lasted the whole weekend, this year we arrive in glorious sunshine, which lasts the weekend. A very easy check in eased us nicely into the weekend. The great thing about Minehead is everything is so close, accommodation; dining and the 3 stages are all within a three minute walk.
After a quality meal at The Deck dining hall, we made our way to centre stage for the first band of the weekend, The Salford Jets. The band you may recall had a minor hit back in the day with ‘Who you looking at’ and also features ex Capital Radio man Mike Sweeney. I would have liked to have seen some more of this band, but unfortunately, unlike last year bands on both stages started at the same time.
So a quick trek to the Reds stage for The Lambrettas, a favourite with the many mods in the crowd, and of course their album ‘Beat Boys In The Jet Age’ is regarded a Mod classic. Doug Sanders who has taken over the main vocals since the sad death of Jez Bird back in 2007 does a great job, proving that sometimes picking up a poison chalice isn’t always a bad thing.
The Ruts DC or what I saw of them proved to great entertainment, playing much material from their new album ‘Rhythm Collision vol 2’ and of course ‘Babylon’s Burning’
The reason for cutting The Ruts show short was next door in Reds was a band I have never seen give a poor performance…Eddie & The Hot Rods and tonight they didn’t disappoint. Playing exactly what the crowd wanted to hear….’Do anything you wanna do’ and ‘Gloria’ had most of the chaps in the crowd dad dancing for the first time this weekend. In Barrie Masters the band have one of the best front men in the business?
Day 2 Saturday 27 April
After a hearty fry up, we are joined for the rest of the weekend by Classic Rock’s acclaimed photographer Kevin Nixon.
Today’s entertainment kicked off in the giant Skyline Pavilion Stage.
Ed Tudor Pole starts the day off. I like Mr Pole, he seems to have a very punky, country style with unlimited energy and wit. With songs like ‘Throwing my baby out of the Bath’ ‘Who Killed Bambi’ and of course ‘Swords of a Thousand Men’ he was the perfect act to start the day of.
Next up in The Skyline is a band I waited a hell of a long time to see…The Rezillos…still with original members Fay Fife and Eugene Reynolds they incorporate punk with glam rock. Another outbreak of dad dancing for the classic ‘Somebody’s gonna get their kicked in tonight’ Miss Fife went right to the top of the pops with their version of ‘River deep mountain High’ The Rezillos turned out to be one of the best bands over the weekend.
With a few hours to kill before the evenings events, we popped into the Inn on the Park, for a quick pint….Six pints later, with grumbling stomachs we made our way for another one off Butlins top notch meals.
With bellies full our little gang of three wobbled over to Reds to watch Pete Townsend’s brother Simon play an acoustic set, a nice laid back set to start the evenings fun off…
The reds stage was now looking like a ghost town as people headed for centre stage for the original rude boy and founder of rap….Neville Staple fronting his own Neville Staples Band. Newer material mixed in with classics from his Specials and Fun Boy Three days had the crowd lapping up every moment. His days of jumping off speakers may be over…..but what is left…is pure class.
One of the great things this festival has to offer is the audience. We have rude boys, punks and skins all mixing together in a party atmosphere’s what, you might say…..well the next band on centre stage couldn’t be further apart musically from The Specials….Anti-Nowhere League are one of punks most influential bands. They delivered a set of pure attitude, but 30 years has passed since they set off to piss everyone off and get banned from everything, they have matured into a highly slick professional outfit. With Animal (Nick Culmer) commanding the stage, ANWL were one of the best bands over the weekend.
Alas with the ANWL being so good I missed Secret Affair and The Truth on the Reds stage, but by all accounts both bands played good sets.
Chants of “You Fat Bastard” echoed around Centre stage, building into a crescendo to greet the next band…Bad Manners.What can you say about this band, they are the perfect party band, and Buster Bloodvessels, larger than life stage persona is worth the admission money alone.
Max Splode helped the show along, covering a few punk classics, and of course ‘Two Pints Of Lager & a Packet of crisps Please’ were giving an airing. As you would expect, ‘Special Brew’ ‘Lip up Fatty’ ‘My Girl Lollipop’ were all in the set…….but it was ‘Can’ that had the whole house jumping…… Bad Manners are a great act and without doubt the band of the day.
DAY 3 Sunday 28 April
As todays entertainment didn’t start till 3pm, our little gang had time on our hands…..The hours were filled with, One Little Piggy going steam train spotting, Two Little Piggy just slept and had no knowledge of our room being deep cleaned. The wise little piggy went to the pub…
Mark E Smith’s The Fall was a band I was looking forward to seeing…but I’m sorry. I just didn’t get it….But judging by the reception they got, I was in a minority of one.
Returning to a more upbeat mode next, with one of Birmingham’s finest….The Beat…..now with only one original. Ranking Roger, ably backed by his son, Ranking Junior. The Witch is Dead, announced Ranking before kicking off with ‘Stand Down Margaret’…’Mirror In The Bathroom’ ‘To Nice to talk to’ ‘Can’t Get Used To Losing You’ and ‘Hands Off She’s Mine’ has Ranking and the band literally running through a greatest hits show.
One of the great things about festivals like this is being blown away by a band you have never heard of. Jeremiah Ferrari fit this bill perfectly. A young four piece from Manchester, promoting their new CD ‘The Dubby Rock EP’. Influenced by Roots Reggae, Rock, Punk and Ska, they have a great sound. Playing mainly their own material with the odd Bob Marley cover thrown in…..a young band with a big future.
As at all festivals it had come to the dreaded clash…Centre Stage…The Blockheads…Reds….From The Jam…..Myself and what seemed like the majority chose Reds, and Mr Foxton.At this point myself and Kevin Nixon had our Spinal Tap moment. The venue was full to bursting, with no chance of getting down to the photo pit; security suggested we went in round the back.
After spending what seemed like hours wandering the Bowells of Butlins, we ended up in a corridor face to face with Bruce Foxto…Just go through that door and you will be by the stage, Bruce told us….It wasn’t quite by the stage, it was on the stage…
Imagine the look of horror on the crowd expecting From The Jam, and getting two doddering old men completely lost…….As for, From The Jam, themselves….They are very simply, awesome.
Russell Hastings does a fine job replacing Paul Weller, Bruce Foxton’s bass lines are thundering, there cannot be many better bass players around than this man? Newer tacks are well received, but it’s The Jam’s classic songs that the crowd want to hear, and of course the band don’t let anyone down by playing them all……As well as paying a touching tribute to Wilko Johnson…For me the band of the weekend…
With midnight approaching we come to the last band of the weekend…Ex-Sex Pistol/ Rich Kids man Glen Matlock, with his band The Philistines. Over the years Glen has developed into a pure rock n roll performer, and unlike many of his contemporaries at this festival, his set consists of mainly newer stuff. Saying that ‘God Save the Queen’ and ‘Pretty Vacant’ received two of the biggest ovations of the weekend. The Blockheads joined Glen onstage, as he paid homage to The Small Faces, with a spot on version of ‘All or Nothing’.
This, like the Rock n Blues festival in Skegness are fantastic weekends….Good value…good food, clean apartments and above all fair prices at the bar.
If I had one small gripe about this festival. It’s why do Butlins let the stag and hen parties in on the Saturday night.
Ps…To any Butlins executives who may be reading this……..Our little group would be happy to cover any Butlins weekend….you may care to ask us to….
Review and photos by Noel Buckley
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