Birmingham’s smallest festival gets bigger and better

Johnny Marr

Johnny Marr

Moseley Folk Festival continues to one of the undoubted highlights of the Birmingham musical calendar, as well as being one of the country’s best small festivals.

Although it’s grown over the years it still retains its quintessential charm, something which is helped by its setting in Moseley Park. Frankly it’s difficult to imagine a more perfect place for a musical gathering.

As ever the musical mix is eclectic rather than pure folk. Highlights on the Friday included Sonic Youth guitarist Thurston Moore performing solo and Doves’ Jimi Goodwin, who really got the crowd going.

Headliner Johnny Marr is one of those must-see acts and if you think he’s going to be a watered-down version of The Smiths then think again.

Marr is one of those entertainers who clearly loves what he’s doing and his strong connection with the audience was evident from the start.

Smiths classics performed lacked none of their lustre and truth be told one barely noticed the absence of Morrissey.

‘Panic’, ‘Stop Me’, ‘Bigmouth Strikes Again’ and ‘How Soon is Now’ met with a delighted response, The Cult’s guitarist Billy Duffy even joining him on stage for the last of these played as an encore.

Electronic’s ‘Getting away With It’ proved another memorable moment while Marr’s solo material was also well-received, particularly ‘The Messenger’ and ‘Easy Money’.

Saturday probably had more of a folk feel and among the best acts were New York country folk outfit the Felice Brothers and Scottish traditionally-inspired trio Lau.

You could have heard a pin drop when Saturday’s headline act Richard Thompson took to the stage and the audience seemed entranced as he played through a selection of his songs spanning the decades, finishing on the epic ‘Beeswing’.

I was kind of expecting Sunday headliners the Waterboys to be in full-on folk mode, rather like last year’s ‘Fisherman’s Blues Revisited’ tour when they played classics from the legendary album, as well as others that didn’t make the final cut.

Though they did play ‘The Raggle Taggle Gypsy’ and the famed title track from the ‘Fisherman’s Blues’ album, this was more of a big sounding and rocked-up performance that saw them performing everything from ‘The Whole of the Moon’ to a smattering of new material that certainly sounded worth a second listen.