Photo credit: Bingley Music Live Facebook Page
Just a quick write-up rather than a review, as it wouldn’t be fair to judge based on only one day! It was a great day, however: Maxïmo Park and the Manic Street Preachers on the same stage on the same evening? Yes please, how did you know? First time I’ve been to (or heard of) Bingley Music Live, but it was worth missing a friend’s 30th in Italy for (and much cheaper) — sorry Alice. I may go again, line-up depending: this festival is great value, and much larger than I expected, packing quite a punch in its short line-ups. Sure, it’s September in Yorkshire and it’s going to rain, but it’s warm, end of summer rain, and who cares if you get a bit damp when the tunes are this good…
We rocked up a couple of hours after the gates opened to catch most of this set at the Discovery Stage for new bands. With a pint of fresh Butcombe Bitter in our hands, a beach ball being bounced listlessly around the afternoon crowd and a sense of glee at being at our first festival in about six/seven years, we quite enjoyed Dead Pretties. The tunes were good, rhythm section-driven indie, and the band members proved quickly that they were competent enough with their instruments to make a three-man band sound interesting. Shades of Nirvana and early Libertines were there, and the final track began with an entertainingly-Jim Morrisson-esque ramble by the singer, even if it sadly forgot where it was going about three-quarters of the way through. Taking themselves a little less seriously would help, but the singer has the voice and the presence to mostly compensate for that.
tbh I wasn’t really listening to the end of their set on the main stage; I was too busy wondering who would get a tattoo done at a music festival, why the tattoo guys weren’t selling healing cream, and why on earth the main stage bar wasn’t selling the Butcombe, only Carlsberg. Still, I think I caught some heavy bass-drumming, which I’m always a sucker for.
It pissed it down during their set: the photo above was taken about mid-way through, but doesn’t show the full double rainbow we all saw. Still, there was enough space in the crowd to dance, which is what you have to do, especially with the new tracks like What Equals Love and The Hero, so there was no time to get cold. As when I saw them in Cambridge, the crowd responded really well to the new tracks, and the set was heavy with them. Paul told us about his trip to Salts Mill (unsurprising), had a dig at the local bus services, and even allowed himself to get political in the intro to Work Then Wait again — to which he got a resounding cheer from the audience. It was a pretty similar set to the Cambridge one overall, but tracks like By the Monument always sound about ten times better at a festival, and I’m just so thrilled to hear Risk to Exist getting such a good response. Hopefully the Manics fans clinging to their barrier spots enjoyed themselves even half as much as I did…
Manic Street Preachers
Last time I saw them was on tour for the album they’re currently promoting the ten year anniversary of (Send Away the Tigers). It was also seated, in the gallery at Cambridge Corn Exchange. And the only time before that was the Lifeblood tour, in a huge arena, playing a set I don’t remember much of other than the fact that JDB had a flying V for a few tracks… So it was fun to see a full set I knew, at the front of a crowd full of fans all bellowing their heads off to everything from Ocean Spray (dedicated to the NHS, naturally) to You Love Us. They’ve obviously got an immense back catalogue to draw on these days, and they were never going to play everything I wanted to hear; still, it was a set surprisingly heavy on tracks from This is My Truth Tell Me Yours, with not a single one from The Holy Bible. Presumably this balance was designed for a crowd that was as likely to be at the festival for Saturday headliners the Kaiser Chiefs, as for people who’d come specifically for the Manics. And there were still some surprising highlights for me: No Surface All Feeling turns out to be an excellent live track, and it was a treat to hear My Little Empire as well as all the singles from TIMTTMY. Oh yes, and the acoustic Masses Against the Classes: excellent, along with the inevitable Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head. Complementing Paul Smith’s tales of Hockney pilgrimmages, James Dean Bradfield chatted about the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and merrily nattered to the audience about how they must get sick of ‘fucking tourists’ and the like. Obviously, Nicky Wire is the mouthy one in interviews, but it’s JDB’s genial stage presence that keeps an audience rapt, eating from the palm of their hand. The crowd were a generally good-natured bunch too, barring the usual drunk school kids, drunk middle aged women, and the men who stand stock still at the barrier, determinedly ignoring the short people behind them who are desperate just for a hand hold on the railing. Nevertheless, a cathartic sing-along to A Design for Life under a spray of Welsh-flag coloured-confetti will smooth over pretty much any differences.*
*Yes, I know the confetti at the end was white; I can’t remember what track the red, white and green stuff came down on. You Stole the Sun from My Heart?
So, better value and a better setting than Newcastle’s Times Square gigs (one of which I went to last summer). I mean sure, someone else would have had to pay me to attend the line-up on Saturday or Sunday, but I lucked out and Friday’s two headliners were two of my favourite bands. It was a great end to summer (what summer?) and on the whole had a fantastic, friendly atmosphere. Pull off a line-up like that again, BML, and I’ll be back. (Could you maybe get Kate Bush next time, too? That would really cover all my bases).