Camp Bestival- Review

It might seem the safe option for hardened festival goers but for family music fans Camp Bestival proves to be the perfect mix

There's kids...lots of kids.

If you are not a fan of small screaming people then Camp Bestival may not be for you but if you can put up with some very tired little soldiers and getting your shin whacked with the corner of a trolley every so often then there is much to commend this do.

If there's a more perfect example of a business that has firmly worked out what it is there to do then I haven't seen it. Camp Bestival sets out to provide entertainment for all the family with the full knowledge that just because you've had a munchkin or two doesn't mean to say you're brain dead.

In fact there's so much going on at this music festival (with the emphasis on festival) that you can easily miss stuff and it's an event where you have to be fairly philosophical.

One of the main attractions for me of this place is the warm welcome we get from the PR team. Chilled and helpful they really got my weekend off to a good start as did the chance to meet up with some mates I hadn't seen for a while.

First act of the weekend was one of my first ever favourite bands - Squeeze. If there's a definition of professional then this must be it with a perfectly ordered set including all their greats and some of their latest album (which is very good BTW). Mummies and daddies all over the grounds began to sing along to the sounds of messrs. Difford and Tilbrook whilst kiddiwinks looked on bemused.

What was good to see up close was that the chaps looked like they were really enjoying playing together again and I was also able to snatch a couple of half decent photos of drummer Simon Hanson who always obliges with a gurn for the  camera.

Headliner for the night was one Jess Glynne who has been the bane of my life as the girls in the office insist on listening to radio stations that feature her music on a continuous loop. I'm sure she's very good but for me, meh.

In need of a bit of a laugh I headed off to the big top where The Cuban Brothers were doing their stuff. Now then, here's the thing. They're a bit near the knuckle and for little ears they could be a bit much so putting them on late was a good idea but the big top? They really should have been main stage as punters crammed in to the smaller space to see the guys do their stuff. One wonders how much could actually have been seen from the back.

Anyway they were great fun and because they were on the smaller stage we got to shoot all the way through and I think I got some half decent pics. I can't emphasise how much fun these guys are and Kenny the Bastard did a DJ set before and after and he was  really very good.

Off to bed we went in the remarkably tidy camping ground to the sounds of late night DJ sets and banging portaloo doors.

Squeeze at Camp Bestival
Jess Glynne at Camp Bestival
The Cuban Brothers at Camp Bestival

An easy Saturday morning dawns and as the tents around us head off to the massive amount of activities for kids we enjoy a leisurely full English whilst planning the day.

Plan formed we wander round the grounds buying our hand knitted focaccia and artisan hand carved ice cream. All very nice and Waitrose.

It's a great location for a festival with wide open spaces and the magnificence of the castle right in the middle. The atmosphere continues in its chilled vein and there's no trouble. in fact chatting with the security who do the whole festival season, it appears that this is one they all look forward to as there are so few issues.

We see a group of Indian performers that turn out to be Circus Raj - apparently an elite circus troupe who's act consist of music and pushing people through implausibly small hoops. An occasional libation is taken - and it has to be occasional at £5 a pint and £30 for a bottle of wine.  With increases in food prices this year and a rise in the price of already expensive booze I'm afraid this is where CB lets itself down.

Anyway back to the music and we're pleased to see local band The Jimmy Hillbillies on the travelling Barn stage. The guys behind CB also do Common People and we were impressed with the amount of local bands they had on the slate there. This is something that maybe they can look at for Camp because it's important to introduce families to the great music we have locally.

Meanwhilst on the main stage are country act Ward Thomas. I hate country but could possibly get to like it.Maybe.

With the missus dozing in the hot sun I go and make a nuisance of myself shooting dad dancing and random costumes amongst the crowd.

Dawn Penn was a must see for me and I wasn't disappointed. An excellent set from someone who has been there and done it. She didn't play the big one though.

I was looking forward to shooting Arrested Development who it turned out deigned not to appear due to illness. On the plus side  Django Django took their spot and take it they certainly did. They were one of my favourite bands of the weekend and properly owned the main stage. Looking forward to seeing them again.

Katy B was amazing. She was able to dance and jump about with absolutely no effect on her voice. What control, what skill. anyway the little people enjoyed it. Was she really deserving of a place that high up on the main stage?

Couldn't be arsed to stick around for a bloke with a laptop so I went off to the big top to see The Brass Funkeys (liked) then spent what seemed like several hours waiting for some band or other to tune up then got so tired I couldn't wait for Loyle Carner which was  a shame.


Ward Thomas on the main stage at Camp Bestival
Dawn Penn on the main stage at Camp Bestival
Brass Funkeys in the bigtop at Camp Bestival

Sunday is a funny day at Camp Bestival.

There's a bunch of very tired mummies and daddies looking like they really don't want to whittle a gun from a piece of silver birch and thousands of kids who really do.

So there's a shed load of stuff happening like a wall of death and bmx displays and we go and find the farmers market for a nice healthy salad before bagging a spot in front of the castle stage.

We chill out a bit then I drag the better half over to the big top to catch  a bit of comedy.

First up is the lovely Kerry Godliman who is as good as ever and proceeds to teach small people some new words and prove to the adults that they are bad parents.

One of the draws of the weekend was Jasper Carrott. I'm in two minds about this as he's a big favourite of mine. In fact Funky Moped was one of the first singles I bought.

The problem is that he hasn't been on our screens for a while and it was distinctly possible that his humour may not have aged well. I needn't have worried as he had the tent in stitches and the photographers in the pit stayed for the whole set which is highly unusual. his humour is of a different time as it doesn't have the vicious edge that much of today's comedians use.  Instead Carrott relies upon well crafted observations and great timing to provide a treat for a massive crowd that extended well outside the confines of what is a very big top. Definitely a highlight of the weekend.

Brand New Heavies may have a brand new line up (almost) but they were indeed pretty good. I like.

next up is diminutive songstress KT Tunstall. Another of the acts who have passed me by for no apparent reason and I was to be pleasantly surprised.

Looking great in a pair of remarkable trousers and carrying some stunning guitars she showed some of the other female acts of the weekend how it should be done. Her set was well crafted and much more rocky than I expected and she really made the stage and the audience her own.

Probably the revelation of the weekend for me, which is slightly embarrassing as she's such a well established artist, nonetheless she's a staple on my Spotify feed now.

A treat for us photographers was that she started to play about with us and I know that we all got some great shots.

Gentlemen of a certain age will remember well the days when Bananarama wore ra-ra skirts and sang with the funboy 3. The girls (or at least 2 of them) took to the stage and took us back in time with a medley of their hits and one or two covers. Sadly the afternoon sun was right in their faces which meant that pics look bleached out and pretty poor.

The ladies will no doubt have been pleased with the amount of people on the lawn that sang back their set and they were another group that looked like they were having a great time.

We ate overpriced but tasty food and wondered how parents of families could possibly afford to feed their kids then watched Anne-Marie who was better than I expected.

Finally headliners of the weekend Tears for Fears made their entrance.

For people who at one time couldn't stand each other (allegedly), it seemed that they were either awesome actors or really were enjoying being on stage together.

The set was outstanding and everything that I had hoped it might be. The crowd had thinned a little as the children were being put to bed so we were able to get to the front once ejected from the pit after our three songs.

T4F did a fairly long set that included all of their best stuff plus a fair few of their newer songs. They worked the crowd well and were worthy headliners. Top marks.

Finally for me was Rat Boy.

I'd seen them at Bestival last year and enjoyed so made a point of trotting over to the big top after the fireworks on the castle.

Full of energy, loads of attitude and music that deserves to be heard live rather than recorded. IMHO it loses something when committed to vinyl (or indeed digital) and Rat Boy is at his best live and direct.

The guys were on form and water and beer was shed, the crowd almost had a circle pit going and the set provided the perfect closer for a great weekend.

So the good bits;

Tears for fears, KT Tunstall, Rat Boy and a rather superb burger from the courtyard. Plus Aidan and the gang in the press tent.

The bad bits?

Beer and food prices are frankly a piss take. Parking is now £25 for the weekend. too much.

I'd recommend you go though. It's great,especially if you have a famalam and you can take your own food and stuff to make it a reasonable weekend away.


Jasper Carrott in the big top at Camp Bestival
Brand New Heavies on the main stage at Camp Bestival
KT Tunstall on the main stage at Camp Bestival
Tears for fears on the main stage at Camp Bestival
Rat Boy in the big top at Camp Bestival

That there gallery

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