What a great time we had at this year’s Larmer Tree
There was so much going on that I've had to split the review in two!
Other commitments meant that I could only turn up for the evening shows on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday before spending the weekend on site but it was well worth it.
Walking onto the site things were both comfortingly familiar but also interestingly different if that makes sense.
The Big Top and the Arc were where they should be and the traders and extensive food sections were in the same places but with new additions. There was also a funky huge wooden Larmer Tree which I totally neglected to photograph.
Showing remarkable strength of mind I marched past the large selection of ales to the press tent where I met up with some old tog friends and the lovely Lucy and Cassie from Flint Pr and Abby from Larmer Tree. It would become a theme of our weekend that Al and myself would spend our time seeing friends, some of who we expected to see and other that were a nice surprise.
Wednesday saw an excellent The Shires performance on the striking Garden Stage. The stage, built at the end of the 19th century entirely from wood was designed as a 'singing' stage, meaning that it is formed in a bowl shape to project sound. It's decorated with an impressive mural which is both beautiful and also annoying as it can give a confusing background for photos. See what you think.
The Shires are one of these groups that are too good to be true; talented, good looking and as I was to find out when I did an interview later with Ben, really nice people. Things have massively taken off for them in the last 12 months and the set proved why as they gave their particular brand of soft, poppy country that was well appreciated by the STJ crowd waiting on the lawn. If they haven't seen a bump in their facebook likes I'll be amazed.
Having seen Sir Thomas before I wasn't that keen and the prospect of signing a photo release to shoot pics that I wasn't that bothered about was a mild annoyance. As it turned out the release didn't try and pinch any rights other than a single use from them if they liked any pics and for them to have a look at the photos after the gig. I shot about 300 on purpose thinking that the PR would get bored looking at them all and hung back to the end only to find that she had more stamina than I expected. She didn't object to any shots though which was kind because there were some shocking bits of work there.
Last up for the night was the one I really wanted to see. The Beat are one of the bands from my early past, in fact I roadied a stage and some bars at some student gigs they did in 1980 ish and they were a good laugh then so I was looking forward to hearing them play.
Time is sometimes unkind to us but not The Beat. Sure there have been line up changes over the years but the sound is certainly still there if not better than it was in the last century. I took a few pics then spent the rest of the time enjoying the gig which made my night.
All in all Thursday was a very satisfying night with some great music and half decent pics. I'm not sure I made a lot of sense at work the next day though!
Friday saw the excellent Magic Numbers on the main stage. To say they have a cosmopolitan background is an understatement as this band of brothers and sisters have lived and worked in many countries over the years. They are a band that I really got into a few years ago then lost track of completely for no apparent reason. I'm pleased to say that the reunion was great and I felt their set did them proper justice.
Continuing the cosmopolitan theme, headliners for the night were Gabriela y Rodrigo, a Mexican guitar duo who actually started off playing in Dublin.
The pair play a heady mixture of flamenco, rock, metal and anything else that crosses their path and have featured in a number of TV and film soundtracks as well as having a song on Breaking Bad. Awesome.
Good to photograph I thought they were technically good but for me got a bit samey as they set went on. I did love the way they got a load of people up from the crowd onto the stage for an impromptu disco though.
I did promise myself that I'd check out the comedy this year having completely ignored it last and so we made our way over to the Arc to check out Carl Hutchinson, Gareth Richards, David Trent and Sarah Pascoe.
All good, they seemed to struggle with the Larmer audience that may have been feeling a little tired and emotional. Indeed this was to be a theme for the comedy all weekend. I particularly enjoyed Trent's thought inducing angry comedy and Sarah Pascoe was a worthy headliner for the night.
All in all a terrific couple of days at Larmer Tree, we returned to our tent looking forward to a great weekend ahead.
Check back for part 2 in this erm.. 2 part series.
Thursday was probably the night I was most looking forward to and the most frustrating. I'd had to forgo the chance of seeing at least five bands that I really wanted to see to do some proper paid work in the day so I was ready for a good night out.
First band for me of the day were the remarkable Bellowhead. Their high energy folk set hit just the right note and I had an excellent time photographing a band that look good and like to have fun with the photographers in the pit. Moving back into the crowd later I sat and enjoyed the remainder of their set and it thought was a perfect match for the evening.
Headliners were The Levellers and as it turned out I wasn't to be disappointed.
The guys kicked off a set full of hits and we could see that they were on form. I'm not sure about their substance intake nowadays but they certainly seemed to be on their game on this night with hit after hit mixed in with great songs new and old.
We shot some pics from down in the pit then fellow tog Seb and myself made our way up to a semi secret platform. I'd been tipped the wink that there would be pyros and paper cannons and sure enough there was. We pinged off many a shot, (one of sebs is the first pic you see on the Larmer site now) and then sat back and enjoyed the show in company with a couple of members of security who had also discovered our hide. A very pleasing hour or so.
The first few days of Larmer Tree but in photographic form just to prove I was there!