Lunar Festival hits new heights

Laura J Martin performing at the Lunar Festival

Laura J Martin performing at the Lunar Festival

By April Stoneman

Lunar Festival, Umberslade Estate, Tanworth-in-Arden

It’s hard to believe there have now been just two Lunar Festivals, given the fact it has matured so much since it started out two years ago.

Festival-goers could be forgiven for thinking that was a one-off, as it was a low-key kind of event that aimed to capture the spirit of legendary singer-songwriter Nick Drake, who spent some of his formative years in Tanworth-in-Arden and is buried in the village churchyard.

But just as the Moseley Folk and its spin-off the Mostly Jazz Funk and Soul festivals have grown in size and stature this third member of a local festival family is following in their footsteps.

In fact Lunar could well be poised to eclipse them all if this year’s showing is anything to go by.

Unlike the other two, which take place in Moseley Park and don’t offer camping on site, Lunar offers the full-on festival experience – in fact it is already being referred to as the Midlands’ mini-Glastonbury.

It’s difficult to imagine an event with a more fun and feelgood factor – in fact its real problem will be not to grow too much and risk losing that essence which makes it truly special.

Lunar really offered a truly eclectic mix, with a well-chosen selection of bands old and new who seemed to complement each other perfectly.

Tim Burgess and British Sea Power were the co-headliners on the first day, following a selection of excellent acts throughout the day.

Former Charlatans’ frontman Burgess has a sound these days that’s closer to the laid-back country of Gram Parsons than the indie-pop band who gave the Stone Roses a run for their money back in the early nineties and he was a perfect choice for this event.

The more rousing anthems of British Sea Power brought the first-day proceedings to a fitting close and they look to be a band destined for big things having built an impressive reputation on the festival circuit.

They’re also a really great live act, who put on an impressive show whether you’re familiar with their music or not.

The big names on the Saturday included Donovan and Temples. Donovan still sounds fresh and classics like Jennifer Juniper and Mellow Yellow are songs that will always light a festival up.

Temples are a band who sound like they’ve been teleported to the present day from 1968 but they have some great catchy songs and really know how to entertain.

Goodnight Lenin (local lads with lots of Irish connections) also got the crowd going on the Saturday. Make sure you catch them somewhere if you get a chance. Laura J Martin’s turned in an impressive performance too.

Some of the nightclubs running at the festival also helped to make the event, including the psychedelic sounds of the Sensateria and Magic Door, as well as Don Letts’ storming reggae set on the first night.

The festival certainly had something of a psychedelic flavour and who better to have to reinforce that than Arthur Brown on the Sunday. The God of Hellfire is a performer who has lost none of his sparkle since the sixties and his voice, with its incredible range, has to be one of the best in the business.

There were many more great musical moments at Lunar, The Polyphonic Spree being the perfect act to close proceedings and promising to be back again – next year hopefully.