Even The Stars made the short trip from Manchester to the suburbs of Stockport for Blackthorn Festival. Headlined by Reverend And The Makers, the Saturday night also featured a selection of our favourite local bands in a great setting and a contrast to the big rip-off corporate festivals.
First up for us are The Slow Readers Club. Quite why they're on at 3.45 is a mystery to us. What's even more mysterious is that set times have been pulled forward from those advertised around the site so we almost miss the start. We immediately notice they've got a different bassist, but Aaron tells us later that Chris is just a stand-in for the weekend's show so there's no line-up change going forward.
The Slow Readers Club played Sirens, Fool For Your Philosophy, Grace Of God, Days Like This Will Break Your Heart, Don't Mind, Feet On Fire, Forever In Your Debt, Block Out The Sun, Start Again and One More Minute.
The main stage then gets taken up by a number of bands playing a mix of covers and originals that no one seems to have ever have heard of and the tent is pretty much deserted and those still there aren't paying a great deal of attention, which is a shame for the bands as well as the paying punters. We wander off across the site to the very bijou acoustic tent where we're treated to alcoholic slush puppies and a ten-piece ukulele covers band, apparently called Levenshulme Uke Up, with some interesting takes on Born To Be Wild, Eye Of The Tiger and Teenage Kicks.
Fed and watered, we make our way back into the barn for Puppet Rebellion. After their sold-out show at the Deaf Institute last month there's a growing buzz about them, but tonight they're beset by sound problems. Vocalist Simon, not allowed to wear his in-ears, can't hear himself singing and guitarist Craig's monitors aren't working properly. They make the best of a bad lot though as people scurry around trying to fix things, although it means a number of alterations to their setlist as well as not being able to play certain songs because of time and the need to be able to hear themselves.
They still sound like a band on a mission with something to say. We get songs from their two EPs to date Chemical Friends and No Means Yes as well as a splattering of new songs they've been putting down in the studio this year. There's an intensity to Simon's lyrics, a venom directed at ex-girlfriends, ex-bandmates and X-Factor contestants that marks them out, but it's matched by the intensity of the band, close-knit with an almost intuitive chemistry that pulls them through a potentially difficult situation. They'll have made a bunch of new fans tonight despite everything.
Puppet Rebellion played Chemical Friends, Time To Lie, Pirouette, Chasing Fame, Green-Eyed Monster, The New Twenty, It's Gonna Be OK, Tame Imposter and The Greatest Lie Ever Told.
It seems ages since we last saw The Tapestry, but immediately it's like being reacquainted with an old friend. They've got a new logo resplendent on a banner at the back of the stage and they're being watched by their new youngest fan, guitarist Dyna's daughter and they've pulled a very decent crowd into the barn for their set.
They have the perfect on-stage chemistry for a band. Liam is a strong confident frontman, Katy is a jack in the box on bass and provides backing vocals that perfectly compliment Liam's lead. Dyna is the band's maverick, waffling randomly between songs about the next one being by Steps and visually enthralling as he performs gymnastic movements with his guitar and drummer Zara, hidden up in the corner of the barn, being the driving force and the missing link that transformed them from one of a number of might be bands to one of the real genuine contenders coming out of Manchester at the present.
The Tapestry played Beating Heart, Look Out, We Talk, Take Turns, My Phoney War, Infatuation, Right As Rain and Rode Your Luck.
Reverend And The Makers played Bassline, The State Of Things, Shine A Light, Devil's Radio, Open Your Window, Heavyweight Champion Of The World, I Spy, Out Of The Shadows, He Said He Loved Me and Silence Is Talking
So did we love Blackthorn? It's a well-run festival in a beautiful setting just outside Manchester with reasonably priced and a good selection of food and drink. There's little of the idiot element you get at festivals although there's one incident that gets blown up as security let it get past the point of resolution. We'd have liked a more coherent line-up in the late afternoon and early evening on the main stage despite loving the bands we've reviewed and they need to ensure they work on the sound as it was a problem for a number of bands. But, all in all, a great little festival, an antidote to the big corporate money making schemes. It supports local talent and the local community and we'd definitely go back next year.
The Slow Readers Club can be found at their website. They are also on Facebook and Twitter.
Puppet Rebellion's official website can be found here. They can also be found on Facebook, Twitter and Soundcloud.
The Tapestry have two Facebook pages - here and here and are on Twitter. They are also on Soundcloud.
Blackthorn Festival can be found on the festival website.
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