Revelers rejoice at Camp Bestival

Johnny Marr performing at Camp Bestival

Johnny Marr performing at Camp Bestival

Festival fever seems to have hit Britain in recent years – so much so you can almost trip over the plethora of musical gatherings taking place up and down the land each summer.

All have their own character, with Camp Bestival flying the flag for family friendliness – offering a feast of entertainment designed to appeal to children and adults alike.

In fact there’s probably more served-up for the younger generation than the adults, with all manner of activities and workshops, as well as entertainment.

Another great bonus is that unlike some festivals, which can be a bit manic and crazy at times, Camp Bestival’s the sort of place where children can do their own thing in complete safety.

It takes place over four days close to the start of the school holidays each summer and somewhat magically always seems to be blessed with brilliant weather, even when we’ve had some pretty poor summers over recent years.

This year was no exception and despite a gloomy forecast in the days running up to it the rain pretty much held off, with the exception of a downpour on the Saturday morning, but just a couple of hours later you’d never even have known it had rained at all.

Entertainment-wise, Camp Bestival offers an eclectic mix that appeals to all ages, so there’s everything from the likes of Mr Tumble for the toddlers to acts fondly remembered by parents who let their hair down watching them several decades ago.

Headliners included Johnny Marr, James, De La Soul and Basement Jaxx.

Johnny Marr was without doubt one of the festival highlights. Whether you’re a fan of the Smiths or not there’s no doubting the influence they had on music in the eighties and many of their songs have become synonymous with the era.

While it might seem hard to imagine those songs being sung without the distinctive voice of Morrissey, Marr managed to put his own stamp on them and carried off the vocal duties remarkably well. His solo material mingled well with Smiths’ anthems and memorable tracks by another of his outfits – the supergroup Electronic.

Panic, Stop Me, Bigmouth Strikes Again and How Soon Is Now? sounded as good as ever and Marr’s inventive, inspiring and truly unique guitar-playing is simply a delight to behold.

Marr attibutes his musicality in part to his Irish roots (he changed his name from Maher to Marr to avoid confusion with John Maher from The Buzzcocks). His parents both hail from Athy and he was the first member of his immediate family to be born outside Ireland.

Marr was a kind-of co-headliner on the first night with James, though his fellow Mancunians were actually the last act to take to the stage that day.

They seem to have had a resurgence of late and hits like Sit Down and Come Home still resonate with audiences after all those years.

As the festival progressed some of the highlights were Laura Mvula, the Brummie-born emerging singer shaping up as a real talent to watch and eighties indie hip-hop act Pop Will Eat Itself, also from the Midlands.

Irish singer Sinead O’Connor put in a memorable performance. She might still be renowned as much for her eccentric behaviour as her music but she seems to be in a pretty good place at the moment and her voice sounded as good as ever.

Two lesser-known acts who lit up the festival included Public Service Broadcasting and musical cut and paste wizz DJ Yoda, the latter really getting the crowd going when he was joined by the Trans-Siberian March Band, fusion modern DJ-ing with a very traditional musical form to great effect.

Chas & Dave were surprisingly good and really got the crowd onside, while Basement Jaxx rounded the festival off in true style, putting on areal show in the way few bands seem to do these days. They’re actually coming to Digbeth’s Institute in December and no doubt a great night will be in store. They were followed by the customary firework display that continues to be one of the best you’ll see anywhere.

All in all this year’s Camp Bestival was a good one that will live long in the memory, though die-hard festival-goers, for whom it is an annual event, are no doubt already looking forward to the next one.