It has been two weeks since I had the pleasure of gracing Parsonage Farm with my good friend Stuart. A week of reflection, epic tunes on repeat and the rehashing of our glorious meet with Sophie Ellis Bexter. Even though I am a writer I am finding it hard to put into words why Watchet Festival was such a special occasion. Although it possessed a stellar line up with the likes of The Lightning Seeds, Hot Chocolate and Peter Hook & The Light, it was more than just that, it was the people who came together to support great music, the beautiful backdrop of the sea and all the people behind the scenes ensuring everyone was looked after. For me there is also another reason why the trip to Watchet Festival became something of a bigger deal than it normally would. Music Journalism is a tough one, just like being a musician, trying to fit everything in around ‘the day’ job and finding the balancing act a little draining. I had this slump, I won’t bore you with the details but after a succession of weird and hard going weeks I found myself losing interest in things I am normally incredibly passionate about. I really wasn’t sure what I was going to do. I know it is one of the cheesiest clichés but Watchet was a reminder of why I love music and acted as a catalyst for my revival. But that isn’t what you want to hear about so here are my highlights!
It is always tough when you attend event such as this especially when you know so many of the performers. My rule is, I need to pick people who I rarely see, or I haven’t seen yet, if I know I have ample opportunities to see the others then they are way down on the list. I don’t want to upset anyone by not supporting them, but I also can’t be everywhere. That being said over the course of three days I witnessed Hobo Jones & The Junkyard Dogs’ ‘Family Friendly’ opening of The Udder Stage, Sophie Ellis Bexter provide her best dancing shoes and Peter Hook & The Light bring the truth faith to a crowd who reveled in the nostalgia. Then there was Hot Chocolate, a band who have a history older than my 29 years, who complimented the sunny backdrop with their mix of sing along classics. The perfect blend of powerhouse musicians, entertainment and dance.
Among the great discoveries of the weekend were Skimmity Hitchers, a band I knew very little about but recognised the name from many local events. A band I wish I had stumbled across sooner. Funny, unapologetic and cider lovers to the core, they acted as a reminder of why it is important to not always take life so seriously. In a World currently in a deep chaos, Skimmity Hitchers are the light relief we so crave. If you are yet to listen to their delights then I urge you to check them out. Others on the list include Vrillon, a young Bath based grunge band who had the Nirvana vibes and Placebo swagger, there is a lot of potential in this young band. I look forward to following their career on an uphill trajectory.
My surprise of the weekend came courtesy of Sophie Ellis Bexter, a lady who I have been very aware of over the years but never really paid close attention to. Murder on The Dance Floor was the hit I knew all the words to and can recall the video but that is the extent of my knowledge. After being pleasantly surprised by Mel C of the Spice Girls I knew I could trust Watchet Festival to throw a few curve balls out there regarding acts however I don’t think I was quite prepared for how awesome Sophie Ellis Bexter is live. A powerhouse on stage, a master of dancing graciously in some rather high heels, the kind of heels I could barely walk in let alone parade a stage in. I felt like I was in a sea of converts, people who had the same idea about her. Uncertainty. Not only was she vocally superb but she fully engaged with the Festival crowd, knowing exactly what we wanted, knowing she was so very cheesy but also making us dance and sing along to every word. She had Watchet in the palm of her hands, even offering to take us home.
Then there was Samantics. A guy who I had only discovered just two weeks previous to Watchet, a guy who had me hooked from the start to finish of his set. I was extremely excited to hear he was going to be performing a session of poetry as well as a musical one later on in the Something Else Tea Tent. Of course I attended both and yes it made me love his even more. A quirky guy with the ability to make me believe in every word he raps, in everything he preaches and quite frankly even ‘the pop song’ is one for the party playlist.
Last but not least I have to give a big shout out to The Lightning Seeds who played Coming Home to round off their stonking set. I wasn’t sure if they would go for it but as the speakers began the it’s coming home chant we knew it was coming. And what a moment it was. It is fair to say I lost my voice that evening and it was totally worth it.
Thank you to everyone who puts on such an incredible event, the people who give up their time to make sure we get a weekend to remember. To the performers who put their heart and sole in to their performances and to Scott Doonican for getting back on the crowd surfing wagon.
Until next time Watchet. You were the best.