This weekend sees one of the last festivals of the year and as well as being a local one, it's also one of the best. Set at Ramsbottom Cricket Club and with a selection of great national bands as well as some of the best the North West can offer as well as a great selection of other activities, food stalls and beers and with the new addition of camping facilities, it's made itself one of the highlights as it enters its fifth year. We will be previewing fifteen of the bands we recommend to see over the next three days starting with Black Rivers, Space Monkeys, The Magic Numbers, The Sundowners and The Moulettes.
We'll always have a soft spot for Ramsbottom Cricket Club. If you hear someone telling an uninterested bystander about scoring their first hundred here, that'll be us. The setting with the backdrop of the hills and the clever use of the club's facilities makes it a perfect setting for an intimate boutique festival that's a celebration of all things local as well as drawing in bands of national acclaim. The food isn't your usual average run of the mill five pound cardboard burger but carefully selected from local companies - we'd recommend Tibetan Kitchen and the black pudding scotch eggs but avoid the chilli juice challenge especially if you're on the all-new camping facilities just fifteen minutes walk from the ground.
To us, festivals are all about the music and we've avoided talking about the three headliners who you'll all know - The Wonder Stuff, Idlewild and The Proclaimers - and focused on fifteen acts we'd recommend. We expect some almighty clashes when timings are revealed, but these are our picks over the next three days.
With Doves on indefinite hiatus, brothers Jez and Andy Williams teamed up and released one of the surprise great albums of the year in their self-titled debut. The album is full of chiming rhythms and imposing song structures that mark them out as more than just an extension of their old band without losing touch with it completely - and they usually throw in at least one of the Doves songs that Jez sang. They're working on a second record already which suggests that they'll be here for a while.
Black Rivers' official website can be found here. They are also on Facebook and Twitter.
The Space Monkeys were infamously signed to Tony Wilson's Factory Too label, which in hindsight may have been a poisoned chalice, and released their only album Daddy Of Them All in 1997 before splitting up in 2000. Their second album was finally dusted down for release in 2013 before they reformed this year to play a series of shows including a headline slot at Manchester Academy in October. Often criminally maligned as an after-thought to the baggy scene, Daddy Of Them All was a magnificently uplifting summer record soaked in delicious harmonies and melodies perfect for festival fields.
Space Monkeys' official website can be found here. They are also on Facebook and Twitter.
THE MAGIC NUMBERS
When they burst on to the scene in 2005, The Magic Numbers charmed everyone with their big summery hits such as Forever Lost, Love Me Like You and Love’s A Game. Whilst they haven’t quite managed to replicate the commercial success of that self-titled debut album, their subsequent three albums Those The Brokes, The Runaway and Alias have offered more of the same in terms of songs perfect for festival singalongs. Taking a break from recording their fifth album, The Magic Numbers are guaranteed to bring a smile to the faces of the Friday evening crowd.
The Magic Numbers' official website can be found here. They are also on Facebook and Twitter.
The Sundowners have the perfect vibe for a festival field. Sun-drenched psychedelic and contrasting vocals shared between Niamh and Fiona run throughout their self-titled album-of-the-year contender debut with the guitar works of Alfie Skelly creating the palate on which they weave their magical patterns. They’ve been hidden away in the studio recording the follow-up for most of the summer so this is a rare live outing for them but one that’s sure to bring them a whole new set of fans.
The Sundowners' website can be found here. They are also on Facebook and Twitter.
It feels like The Moulettes have been around forever. They formed in 2002 and have undergone a number of line-up changes around band leader Hannah Miller. Their sound is multi-faceted, making use of both electronic and acoustic instruments with most band members interchanging instruments during their thrilling live shows. Their last album Constellations is their best yet and they've started work on their fourth album ahead of a big UK and European tour after the festival.
The Moulettes' website can be found here. They are also on Facebook and Twitter.
The official Ramsbottom Festival website can be found here. Tickets are available on a day and weekend basis. The festival is also on Facebook and Twitter.