Unfortunately I didn't get there until halfway through Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman's set, missing Tyde due to a hold up on the motorway. Kathryn and Sean join the ranks of married folkies performing at festivals, and do a steady, if slightly uninspiring, English folk set. It suited the audience, who were happy to sit in the sunshine eating their picnics and soaking up the atmosphere, but proved too much of a contrast to Adrian Edmondson and the Bad Shepherds, who were on next.
In a curious twist of planning, Bella Hardy followed the Shepherds, leaving the audience to wander back to their picnics and settle back down again. I've never quite understood the pecking order in line ups; whilst I appreciate my own taste is different to everyone elses, on this occasion Bella's beautiful English folk would have sat much better next to Sean and Kathryn's, helping the atmosphere to grow. Supported by the superb Anna Massie (understated as always), Patsy Reid, James Lindsey, Bella worked hard engaging with the audience, chatting between songs. She has a lovely voice, perhaps not fully appreciated today, displayed to its best on self penned modern folk songs like 'Amsterdam', taken from her new album.
Show of Hands, the band who can do no wrong, were next, their fans crowding around the stage to see them. Steve Knightley, confident and relaxed, encouraged them to join in the singing and the audience needed no second bidding. Steve, Phil and Miranda make performing seem effortless, producing such a full sound it's difficult to belive there's only three of them on stage. Then there's the banter, the jokes at (usually) Phil's expense and the political comment that make Show of Hnads as popular as they are. Even I was singing along to 'Arrogance, Ignorance and Greed' as I went off to the Flying Burrito van for my Mexican supper
There were several food stall scattered around, as to be expected, although the emphasis was definitely on bringing picnics. There were a few craft stalls,a Show of Hands stand (yes, really!) and the opportunity for a massage. What was slightly more unusual was the healing tent (I didn't dare venture in) and the opportunity to have a go at pottery, dreamcatcher making and archery. Archery. One hundred metres from the stage! Seemed to be popular though,and all thse different activities kept different family memebers entertained while still being able to see/hear the music.
Drever, McCusker, Woomble with Heidi Talbot were next. It's important to say that I really like all of these people, just so as you know I'm still able to write a critical review, but honestly, I don't really understand what's going on. I've seen Drever, McCusker, Woomble many times and they're excellent, all taking turns to sing/play each other's work. I've seen Heidi too, sometimes with John, sometimes with Boo Hewerdine, and she's excellent too, with a lovely soft tone to her voice. But when they're all together I'm not too sure what the aim is. Whose band is it? With people walking on and off stage it had a strange disjointed feel to it, despite the addition of three unnamed backing musicians. Several things remain clear though- John McCusker is a very talented man ( playing with Dylan and Knopfler this autumn), Kris Drever, sporting a handsome haircut is a force to be reckoned with- just listen to 'Pooerest Company' and you'll see what I mean, and Roddy Woomble writes wonderful emotive songs.