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All The Way LIVE: Splendour Festival 2010

August 21, 2010

A 16th Century country house, a hilarious gorilla, thousands of gallons of cider and Terrorvision. Yes, it must be Splendour 2010 – Nottingham’s biggest, and cheapest, family music festival.

We were narrowly too late to see electro siren Ronika open up the main stage due to missing the bus, but managed to glimpse the last couple of tunes from local band Long Dead Signal. The winners of Trent FM’s Notts Unsigned competition really made up for the small early doors crowd by having their Company Contrare burlesque backing dancers recreate on stage the kind of party the Flaming Lips would co-host with Tim Burton. Another Nottingham act, Fists, wowed with some punchy alt-pop-folk-punk-rockabilly with megaphones! Following them was another band to look out for, Frontiers. This was guitar driven stuff sounding like a cross between U2 and the Pixies. Choo choo!

Representing the LeftLion courtyard stage was some seriously hot local talent. If you haven’t heard Nina Smith yet, then make sure you do so right away, please. Unless you are in the middle of an operation or flying a plane. In which case, why are you on the internet? Accompanied by regular partner in crime, beatboxer MotorMouf, Nina’s sultry vocals made her cover of Sex on Fire perfect for the summer’s day. Liam Bailey was one of the highlights of the day, though, and he was the first set we actually managed to see in full. Shades of Finley Quaye, Ben Harper and Al Green on songs like Save Some Love and You Better Leave Me show why Liam’s just been snapped up by Polydor.

Dog is Dead’s reputation precedes them nowadays, and they certainly lived up to their name (which is one of the best band names, ever). Their energetic indie-funk, boyish good looks and rolled-up sleeves made them a hit with the youngies as well as us oldies. The Glockenspiel Song and Even If You Don’t Like It got the crowd moving despite beginning to drizzle ever so slightly. Top marks for enthusiasm.

World music fans were well catered for on the day. Asere brought the Cuban heat with a barrage of maracas, trumpets and guitars, while Cajun folk duo Bayou Seco dazzled just as much with their jumpers as they did with their traditional swamp music. There was also a brilliant bit of reggae and dub from T and Latouche and their rendition of Night Nurse, while the Jaipur Kawa Brass Band came correct with some traditional Indian horn goodness.


On to the big guns. We missed most of Guillemot and current housewife-crush, Fyfe Dangerfield, while queuing up for the portaloos but managed to catch THAT Billy Joel song, so were not too bitter. Athlete’s back catalogue was perfect festival fare, ending with the anthemic Wires. Frontman Joel Pott gained extra points by remarking how the grounds of Wollaton Hall were a “hidden gem”, and you could see where he was coming from.

Suitably liquored up on Castle Rock’s Preservation ale, it was time for a dance so we headed over for Calvin Harris. He played all the faves like Acceptable in the 80s and Ready for the Weekend before finishing with the massive I’m Not Alone.

By now, the thousands who had stuck the day out were in such high spirits that headliners The Pet Shop Boys could have come on stage and played a tape of New York City Boy through a one-speaker decorator’s radio and still got a cheer. As it happened, their stage show was an incredible mix of giant screens, beaming lights and sexy girls with cardboard boxes on their heads. Being Boring, It’s A Sin, Always On My Mind before the encore of West End Girls – these guys are the most successful duo in chart history for a reason. Their perfect pop nuggets capped off a day that, at £15, is amazing value for money. That’s without seeing OKGO, The Noisettes, Terrorvision, Shed Seven etc too. And you get to sleep in a nice warm bed at the end of it.

Originally published at on July 26, 2010.

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