Gig review: BEARDED THEORY FESTIVAL – Catton Hall, Derbyshire, 26-29 May 2016

BEARDED THEORY FESTIVAL - Catton Hall, Derbyshire, 26-29 May 2016

Bearded Theory  A field full of happiness…

In May 2013, Bearded Theory festival captured a piece of my heart and has steadfastly refused to give it back since.  It’s impossible not to love this place and I’m not the only one with this opinion.  Everyone who has ever attended the festival has fallen in love with the magical world that is Bearded Theory, and love it a little bit more every time they visit.  This year was no different.

The Dub Pistols - BEARDED THEORY FESTIVAL, Catton Hall, Derbyshire, 26-29 May 2016

Thursday 26 May

On Thursday, after setting up our home for the next four days and making friends with the neighbours, I headed over to the Maui Waui stage, a new addition this year where there were circus acts, live bands, fancy dress and a whole heap of fun.

Thursday night’s headline treat were The Dub Pistols who got the whole tent jumping along to their bouncing, skanking and on stage pogoing.  The atmosphere both inside and outside the tent, where I found myself chatting and laughing like old friends with people I’d only just met, was one of jubilation that finally, we were in this enchanting place once more.

Mr Motivator - BEARDED THEORY FESTIVAL, Catton Hall, Derbyshire, 26-29 May 2016

Friday 27 May

Stumbling out of the camper van on Friday morning we were greeted by glorious sunshine and clear blue skies.  Perfect.  So after a bacon buttie and a cup of tea I made my way to the Woodland stage where Mr Motivator was running a morning workout to help clear foggy heads.

It was a great way to start the day.  Mr Motivator had the crowd joining in, young and old, and everyone had great fun, Mr Motivator’s infectious smile and warmth spreading through the crowd and enchanting woodland area.

BEARDED THEORY FESTIVAL, Catton Hall, Derbyshire, 26-29 May 2016

Friday afternoon saw Zombie Met Girl rock The Pallet stage while Stevie, One Man One Mandolin beguiled The Woodland Stage with his acoustic loveliness.  There really is a wide variety of music tastes catered for, so I was in my element as I’m a lover of most music. Music either has to move me, or make me want to move my feet, and both are in abundance at Bearded Theory.

I spent most of Friday hanging around The Pallet stage enjoying The King Blues, and Reverend & The Makers, both acts receiving a good turnout and warm reception from an audience who were keen to dance.

Killing Joke - BEARDED THEORY FESTIVAL, Catton Hall, Derbyshire, 26-29 May 2016

These were followed by Terrorvision, who were one of my personal favourites, singing songs from my mis-spent youth such as ‘Alice, What’s The Matter’, and a laid back funky rendition of ‘Tequila’. Killing Joke took to the stage with definite intent to wake the audience from their sun soaked lethargy.  After their energetic set, they made way for the day’s headliners, The Levellers.


At night the Woodland stage takes on an even more magical atmosphere, strewn as it is with fairy lights and bunting, with lights in the trees, lighting the whole clearing like a fairy grove.  Utterly breathtaking.


Always a welcome act at Bearded Theory, The Pallet stage was packed with revellers there to see the Levellers.  The Levellers were on top form and performed a set full of favourites such as ‘Dirty Davey’ and ‘Riverflow’.

Levellers - BEARDED THEORY FESTIVAL, Catton Hall, Derbyshire, 26-29 May 2016

A definite personal highlight of the festival. I danced til my feet were sore and sang ’til my throat was hoarse.  A fantastic way to finish my working day.

Unburdened of my camera gear I unwound with a tipple or two while enjoying the lilting sounds of Turin Brakes at The Woodland stage.  At night the Woodland stage takes on an even more magical atmosphere, strewn as it is with fairy lights and bunting, with lights in the trees, lighting the whole clearing like a fairy grove.  Utterly breathtaking.

BEARDED THEORY FESTIVAL, Catton Hall, Derbyshire, 26-29 May 2016

Saturday 28 May

Saturday began for me with more sunshine and the beautiful Moulettes and their soothing music and songs of sea creatures on The Pallet stage.  I followed this with True Deceivers at the Woodland stage. Restful music to allow pause and reflection.

Cockney Rejects - BEARDED THEORY FESTIVAL, Catton Hall, Derbyshire, 26-29 May 2016

After this short rest I went for the total opposite end of the spectrum with Cockney Rejects on The Pallet stage.  They exuded energy and punch, quite literally at times with front man Jeff Turner shadow boxing on stage.

Next on the main stage was Wilko Johnson, and I had a tough decision to make as Senser were playing The Woodland stage at the same time.  As I had seen Wilko Johnson recently and Senser twenty years ago I went to see what Senser have to offer.

Black Uhuru - BEARDED THEORY FESTIVAL, Catton Hall, Derbyshire, 26-29 May 2016

What they had to offer was a thumping set littered with past hits from back in the day.  The crowd were delighted and were soon singing and bouncing along. Myself included.  Black Uhuru rounded off the afternoon on The Pallet stage, providing music perfect for a sunny afternoon in a field, laid back reggae to make you bend your knees and sway.  Nice.


Public Image Limited.  Far from going down a storm, they went down like a cup of cold sick. 


After a bite to eat it was back to The Woodland stage for Three Daft Monkeys, a regular at Bearded Theory and always guaranteed to get the crowd on their feet and dancing to their lively folk tunes, and again, they went down a storm.

Public Image Limited - BEARDED THEORY FESTIVAL, Catton Hall, Derbyshire, 26-29 May 2016

Sadly the same could not be said for the day’s headliner on The Pallet stage, Public Image Limited.  Far from going down a storm, they went down like a cup of cold sick.  Late on stage John Lydon proceeded to spit water over the stage in a vague attempt at punk behaviour and delivered a performance that was half-hearted at best. Disappointing.

I hung around for the three songs that we photographer types are allowed in the press pit then headed back to The Woodland stage.  I was so very glad I did as Jack Savoretti was headlining.  The performance the audience got in the woodland stage could not have been more different from the performance underway at The Pallet stage.

Full of passion and enthusiasm, Jack charmed the crowd with his captivating songs and flawlessly effortless singing.  Without a doubt a definite highlight of the festival for me, and many others in the crowd that night.

BEARDED THEORY FESTIVAL, Catton Hall, Derbyshire, 26-29 May 2016

Sunday 29 May

Sunday, feeling slightly broken and crumpled after two days of racing around the festival site trying to take in and soak up as much as possible, I needed a pick me up.  And what better pick me up than Keith’s Big Uke Jam at The Woodland stage?

From humble beginnings in what used to be The Lock Inn at the previous site, Keith’s Uke Jam has grown to be quite an event in the Bearded Theory festival line up.  Festival goers are invited to come along and bring ukulele’s, guitar’s, kazzoo’s, any instrument they can lay their hands on and jam with Keith.  It really is great fun and a highlight for many.

The Bar Steward Sons of Val Doonican - BEARDED THEORY FESTIVAL, Catton Hall, Derbyshire, 26-29 May 2016

But how to follow the Uke Jam?  The Bar-Steward Sons Of Val Doonican, of course!  Another festival favourite and Bearded Theory regular they never fail to put a big grin on my face.  Always lively and entertaining with songs such as ‘Lady In Greggs’, ‘Jump Ararnd’ and ‘Walking In Man P*ss’, their amusing and quirky re-writings of songs always delights the crowd.

Bad Manners - BEARDED THEORY FESTIVAL, Catton Hall, Derbyshire, 26-29 May 2016

Bad Manners were next on my list and they played an extremely energetic set everyone there couldn’t help but bounce along to, singing ‘Lorraine’ and many other hits at the tops of our lungs.

From The Jam - BEARDED THEORY FESTIVAL, Catton Hall, Derbyshire, 26-29 May 2016

From The Jam, with Bruce Foxton, picked the crowd up and transported them back in time by thirty years for a set jam packed, (bad pun I know, but I couldn’t resist) with songs we all knew and loved.


As the sun set on our final day Stiff Little Fingers took to The Woodland stage, and if there was a roof, they would have blown it off. Wow! Punk in a fairy grove is the most surreal but superb experience. 


Squeeze - BEARDED THEORY FESTIVAL, Catton Hall, Derbyshire, 26-29 May 2016

And if our voices weren’t hoarse enough, in a change to the announced line up due to stage timings, Squeeze kept us in a sun hazy bubble of memories and times gone by for a while longer. Sublime.

As the sun set on our final day Stiff Little Fingers took to The Woodland stage, and if there was a roof, they would have blown it off. Wow! Punk in a fairy grove is the most surreal but superb experience.

Asian Dub Foundation - BEARDED THEORY FESTIVAL, Catton Hall, Derbyshire, 26-29 May 2016

Punks of all ages, from toddlers to OAP’s filled The Woodland stage to capacity, everyone there to dance with their tribe.  And the tribal leaders, Stiff Little Fingers, owned the crowd and Woodland stage, entirely. They completely blew everyone away.

To round off the festival I paid a visit to The Pallet stage for the now headliners, Asian Dub Foundation, and the fireworks display that closes the festival.  Asian Dub Foundation managed to get the crowd to dredge up whatever dance they had left in them at the end of the weekend, with their high energy, dub heavy set.

BEARDED THEORY FESTIVAL, Catton Hall, Derbyshire, 26-29 May 2016

And so, another fantastic May bank holiday weekend at Catton Hall came to an end.  And I was left wondering how I was going to fit the entire weekend into just 1500 words.  Not a single frown was worn all weekend, only smiles.  Some small contented smiles, some great big grins.  But I’ll leave you with this to sum up what Bearded Theory is to me, Bearded Theory is not just a family festival, the festival is family. Until next year, you scallywags!

Review and photos by Hollie Latham


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Power Plays w/c 13 February 2017


PAUL MENEL & THE ESSENTIALS Hey, Did You Hear About Paul? (indie)
PRIDE OF LIONS Freedom Of The Night (Frontiers)
ALIVE IN THEORY Unconditional (Ultraviolet Records)
RAINBREAKERS Living Free (indie)


Featured Albums w/c 13 February 2017 (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 PRIDE OF LIONS Fearless (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 THE MURDER OF MY SWEET Echoes Of The Aftermath (Frontiers)
14:00-16:00 EZIO Daylight Moon (Jazzhaus Records



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