For the second year in succession, the Saturday immediately following my birthday was spent in the wonderful surroundings of Splendour – Nottingham’s immensely likeable one-day festival.
It knows its audience and books acts accordingly, so a largely lower end middle-aged crowd were able to enjoy a clutch of acts they loved in their more youthful days plus a couple of relatively newer stars kept their kids entertained.
Unfortunately with each passing birthday I get more into the upper middle-aged bracket and was delighted to see The Specials added to this year’s bill as they continue to mark their 40th anniversary with a very long jaunt.
Getting there wasn’t without its hiccups as regular Tony was forced to cry off in the morning with illness, and a torrential downpour on the way saw me and Gill head for shelter while it passed over.
But on arrival we found the site looking resplendent in the sunshine and that’s how it stayed for the rest of the afternoon and evening.
With Manic Street Preachers, Rag n Bone Man, All Saints and Ash filling out the bill across two stages it was little surprise the event sold out, but this contributed to a slightly less welcoming environment than the two previous Splendours we’ve been to.
The site struggled to cope with the 25,000 strong crowd and there was no policing of the `No camping chairs or blankets beyond this point’ notices, so large swathes of available land were taken up by commune-sized gatherings where a couple of people looked after 20 chairs, two or three play tents and numerous blankets and cool boxes.
Grinchy comments aside, the music was pretty good once again with Ash overcoming the handicap of sounding like someone had thrown a duvet over their PA to rattle through some corking greatest hits tunes like Burn Baby Burn and, of course, Girl From Mars.
We could only see 20 minutes of Roland Gift before heading for The Specials but still had time to hear him add that marvellous warble to Johnny Come Home and Suspicious Minds – both major hits for his band, Fine Young Cannibals.
The Specials are very much elder statesman these days and in the hot sun they seemed to be a tad more reggaefied that ska-ed up, but ending their set with a clutch of songs that included Too Much Too Young, Gangsters, Nite Klub and Monkey Man exempts them from criticism.
Most fun of the day were All Saints who have been a surprise on the comeback trail and reminded us just how good they were back in the day when they were the Spice Girls it was OK to like.
I have to admit for having a great fondness for their singles album and from the opening of I Know Where It’s At to the closing notes of Never Ever they were great value.
Their dance routines were a bit clumpy and they could have done with ditching the choreography and just strutting around the stage but, hey, what do I know. As the owner of two left feet I’m not exactly Kevin from Grimsby.