Good to have the Guilfest back after the previous company running it went into liquidation after 2012’s festival. Last year they had two one day line-ups sponsored by Magic FM. The amount of stages has remained the same with two stages providing the popular end of the festival and then the niche tents doing great business in the shape of Big Cheese (metal, thrash, hardcore) and Viva Le Rock (mainly punk bands).
After parking and picking up those all important wristbands it was time to sample some music on a glorious summer’s evening. Sadly arrived just as The Jokers were winding up their set on the second stage, however I did manage to grab a listen to Paper Boats. If it was the mid-80’s again this band would clean up with their synth heavy, breezy indie pop. Ideal for a balmy summer’s evening.
Never liked the Doors I am afraid, very overrated in my book so with Doors Alive I lasted two songs for before the food vendors were calling. Good thing about Guilfest and any festival really, is the sheer variety of food available and most of it seemed appetising.
Slim Chance played a good set of classic rock and the musicianship was top notch as you’d expect from a band that used to back the late Ronnie Lane. The Rock Choir are a Guilfest staple and are a Marmite act as many like them, whilst other festival folk think they are overused. They are good at what they do, so I guess I am a Marmite lover in this instance (although not the real thing; can’t stand the stuff!).
Newer bands get a decent look in and watched Drive Exit for a little while as they were busy flyering the crowd to get them along to their gig in the Surrey Advertiser local bands tent. Not great I am afraid, like five musicians all playing in their own bands but not together as one. Still full marks for giving it a go!
I’d highly recommend the theatre tent as you see some interesting performances and tonight I enjoyed a Gilbert and Sullivan medley. The stars though were a group who did a selection from the hit musical Avenue Q and they did the songs justice with a spirited and entertaining performance, even adlibbing adding in a Nick Clegg puppet for some topicality.
Back to the bands and Fun Lovin’ Criminals were blowing the watershed out of the water with two mutha-you-know-what from Huey Morgan within the first five minutes on stage and it wasn’t even eight o’clock!
Their cover so many musical styles from hip hop, jazz, blues, funk and rock, so are a perfect festival band. Highlight was ‘Scooby Snacks’, a great tune and great to the crowd singing along in full voice.
Headliner clash overload so my idea was to start with Sham 69 in the Vive Le Rock tent and then see how it went. It was the original line-up and Jimmy Pursey was having a good time leading the band and crowd.
After three songs though I had heard enough, as although I like some punk rock, it was a little samey. So next up Boomtown Rats and good to see Sir Bob Geldof having fun onstage after his recent personal bereavement, music was indeed proving a good tonic.
I watched the first few songs with good natured banter about their old stage clothes and the fact they were the best band around. Of course the hits were played like ‘Rat Trap’, ‘I Don’t Like Mondays’ and ‘Lookin’ After No. 1’. A perfect main stage headliner for the opening night of Guilfest.
Over on the second stage I made a musical discovery and this is why I love festivals and in particular Guilfest, hearing new music and then becoming a fan. Tonight I discovered the delights of Public Service Broadcasting, a duo who play music interwoven with public information films dialogue.
It is best described as say Kraftwerk playing indie rock and I loved it! How can you not like a band who did a song about Dutch ice skating in Dutch? A very visual show with archive film footage used to enhance their stage presence. They didn’t even talk, instead used samples to say ‘Thank You Guilfest’ in that classic BBC public announcer from the 1940’s/1950’s era. Biggest compliment I can pay them was I was so impressed I went and bought their CD from HMV the next day.
Great to have Guilfest back and although it did seem quieter audience wise tonight (there were certainly fewer stalls sadly), those there were having a good time and the music tents were rammed, especially for The Blackout in the Big Cheese tent.
Review by Jason Ritchie
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David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 7 February 2021 and includes the Top 10 albums at www.getreadytorock.com for that week.
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Featured Albums w/c 22 February 2021 (Mon-Fri)
09:00-12:00 RADAR Lost In The Atlantic (Escape Music)
12:00-13:00 DURBIN The Beast Awakens (Frontiers)
14:00-16:00 ANNEKE VAN GIERSBERGEN – The Darkest Days Are The Brightest (InsideOut Music)
Power Plays w/c 22 February 2021 (Mon-Fri)
DEAD REYNOLDS Bright Lights
ALLY VENABLE Road To Nowhere
JASON SWEENEY She’s A Fighter
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