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Staxtonbury 2013
A selection of performances from Staxtonbury, reviewed by the Yorkshire Coast Gigs Team
Contributors include Kirsty Hannam, Jonny Greenwood & Greg Boddy.  Edited by Katherine Dunn-Mines.
 
The Fifth Annual Staxtonbury Festival
Friday 5th, Saturday 6th, Sunday 7th July 2013
 
FRIDAY
 
Jonny Greenwood - reviewing Evelyn
 
Serenading the acoustic tent on the first evening with a flawless set was young female duo Evelyn (Beth Christlow and Emma Button), whose divine pitch-perfect harmonies and gentle, finger-picked guitar playing had their audience silenced in admiration. Complimented by a sublimely selected set list, every cover (some old, some new) was given a uniquely crafted take, many of which even sounded superior to recordings from the original artists. EQ and sound mixing by Scarborough Blues Club legend Tom Townsend also gave slick resonance to the performance. Sadly running to the end of the allotted time slot, a beautiful rendition of a breakthrough hit by The Staves, 'Facing West' closed the set. Without doubt a pair to look out for in the future.
 
 
Staxtonbury
 
Greg Boddy - reviewing Alabama Paydirt
 
The band came out suitably dressed for the glorious weather we were blessed with. 'Rock and Roll Crazies/Cuban Bluegrass' by Steven Stills was the first song, grooves that set the mood perfectly for an ethos that mirrored the glorious backdrop we were witness to.  The band were the essence of cool, their laid-back vibes washing over the expectant crowd.  There was some beautiful metronomic drumming with a scat streak.  Tom Petty's 'Last Dance with Mary Jane' featured Matt Dunn creating harmonies which were delicate and well timed; inflections on his guitar in perfect juxtaposition to the superbly gifted hyperactive style of Jesse Hutchinson's guitar-playing. The whole band were aware of every cadence and crescendo.  Bass player Mike Dunn looked effortless as he proceeded to carve intricate sub-frequencies at will.  As the set closed, it turns into a momentous jam that encapsulated everything the modern music festival is about. 
 

Staxtonbury

 
SATURDAY
 
Kirsty Hannam - reviewing Soul Rida, Snatch, Huge & Friday Street. 
 
The sun was shining, the beer was flowing and the sunburn was well under way by Saturday afternoon. With three stages to choose from I headed straight for the main stage which had a large crowd intent on having fun - not a spare hay bale seat was in sight! Soul Rida were playing up a storm with a selection of up-beat covers and dance floor classics and the best looking brass section of the weekend. Nick Pinkney’s vocals have a soulful quality that really suit the choice of songs and vocalist Laura Welburn has the strength and power to belt out any crowd pleaser you can name. The group are all accomplished musicians and it showed in the slick delivery and tightness of their set. 
 

Staxtonbury

 
Scarborough’s resident anarchists Snatch were on fine form as ever, playing a selection of covers in their inimitable style! The ‘newcomers’ tent was disappointingly empty to start with but as the volume increased and the beer flowed it soon filled up. With sing along versions of 'Kids in America' (or Kids in Staxtonbury as it was re-named) and 'Believer' there was a lively vibe throughout. The adults in the crowd may have been shy about hitting the dance floor but a mini-mosher more than made up for it, including a stage invasion, which of course no punk gig is complete without. Snatch’s version of 'Walk like an Egyptian' is a particular favourite of mine, along with a cleaned up cover of 'American Idiot' mixed in with covers of punk classics like 'Babylon’s Burning'. If you like an element of chaos and comedy along with great tunes, go find yourself a bit of Snatch!
 
As the sun was setting Huge took to the stage to the biggest crowd of the day so far; this excellent Big Band feature 12 of the best musicians the area has to offer including the sax king Dave Kemp and Big Ian Donaghy on vocals, a true showman in his own right. The crowd were in full party swing after the first song and the party atmosphere continued thanks to polished performances of classics like James Brown's 'Take It To The Bridge' and 'Mustang Sally'. Madness also featured along with the legendary Dolly Parton’s '9 to 5'. With the full audience participation of boys vs girls singing and an - albeit slightly disorganised - conga line, a great time was had by all.  With time running short Huge made ‘pretend’ exits from left and right before their encore; a great plan in my opinion - why bother to get that many musicians off stage only to come back on again!
 

Staxtonbury

 
Friday Street had the headline slot on Saturday; a slightly delayed start led to a new member in the shape of a mini air guitar hero who continued on and ‘played’ through most of the set! A surefire crowd pleaser, the set was made up of classic rock covers; Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, The Rolling Stones and the Black Crowes to name but a few. At the back the crowd was dancing and having fun in a typical festival style, however if you made your way to the front you could be forgiven for thinking you were at a much larger gig in a stadium / arena.  Dan Green has the front man persona to hold the crowd’s attention with a natural laid-back style, and although there was a little disappointment that he didn’t repeat last year’s stage dive (it has become legend), he and the rest of the band gave a polished performance which more than made up for it. After a day of covers, the best was definitely saved for last.
 

Staxtonbury

 
SUNDAY
 
Kirsty Hannam - reviewing Samurai, Tyler Smith & Dan Cooke
 
Sunday was a slightly more chilled out affair and I arrived just in time for Samurai on the main stage; a strong female vocalist, Sammi Lee soon had the crowd up and dancing and when before a band even starts to play and the bass player is getting asked if he’s available by the women in the crowd, you know it’s going to be fun!  With a good selection of the usual suspects of rock and pop covers the hangovers started to ease and the main stage started to fill. Covers of Pink songs and an interesting version of 'Sweet Child o' Mine' added something a different to the set; refreshing as one down-side of having mostly covers bands is the repetition of material, particularly evident on the Saturday.
 
A quick wander to see what was happening in the newcomers and acoustic tents on the way home led to some excellent discoveries, the first in the shape of Tyler Smith, a very talented young keyboard player and vocalist. I only caught the very end of his set but will certainly be keeping an eye out for any future gigs; Tyler has a great voice and is a mature performer despite his youth.  
 
In the acoustic tent the gravelly, bluesy voice of Dan Cooke caught my ear, a laid back artist with an undisputable talent and natural rapport with his audience, playing original material.  Few that passed by didn’t stop and come in to listen.  Songs like ‘What Goes Up’ and ‘Playing with Hearts’ - a great song inspired by a ‘psycho’ ex (I think we can all relate somehow!) showed a real talent for writing, not just performing.  Dan ended his set with ‘Pursued by Crocodiles’, possessing a catchy sing-along chorus that was still going round my head three days later.  It demonstrated a diversity to Dan’s songwriting, and next time I’ll be going out of my way to see him, not just chancing upon him by happy accident.
 
Jonny Greenwood - Summary
 
A side-effect of a majority line-up of cover bands was the inevitable repetition of many songs. This was however not fully to the detriment of festival goers; after all, “crowd pleasers” are thrown in for good reason and with intended effect. In previous years, a certain Kings of Leon song referencing combustible copulation has been an aforementioned crowd pleaser employed by most acts on the line-up.  Thankfully this has since become a “forbidden song” and not once did I notice it slip through the cracks of a set list. Occasional power outages, PA channels cutting out and feedback noise gave limited disruption to the proceedings, and were speedily rectified each time.  Staxtonbury’s popularity has grown year on year since 2009, and version 5.0 has unquestionably cemented this venue into the festival circuit for years to come. In my view, I reckon this is the best 3-day music festival you’ll experience for under fifty quid. Bring on 2014, we’re all waiting!
 
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