MSP
It’s noon, it’s Sunday, we’ve battened down the hatches. Aaron and Kate are our neighbours from Brixton. Kate’s tent has been decimated by the weather, the fly sheet is flapping like a green flag in the gale force wind. Aaron and myself run repairs while she sleeps inside, oblivious to the carnage going on outside. We retreat to our own tents to weather the storm… And this is a storm… The Estuary Stage has already been closed today – the elements are pounding it straight off the sea… Unoccupied tents have been blown and are pinned up against the campsite perimeter fence. Armageddon is upon us, I knew I should have prayed at Sunday School… Now we sit in our canvas tombs and wait for the Four Horsemen of The Apocalypse to take us all…
mud

Ok, so a slight exaggeration there, but the weather did send a few people packing, whereas had they been better informed they’d have learnt that it was going to pass by 4pm.


We had earlier dined in our favourite canteen, and juiced up the phones and met an impromptu band doing the same… They are called Natural Causes and they hail from Torquay, London, Marsden and Lancaster and play in the woods at this festival (but not today!). We get a performance in the canteen (just for me and Sarah), we choose a title (I chose Wet) and we had a bespoke song – an instant song, an instaSong. Hugh from the band also collaborates with Meilir of Race Horses, Neon Neon and you can find more about them here…

The Festival bubble is showing signs of bursting – prices hike each year but our wages stay the same – there’s more competition – and you can choose which festival to go to as there are plenty of reasonably priced ones… Festival No6 has to be careful… First up, it’s a brilliant festival, unique concept and the line up is carefully chosen to ensure ‘the wrong elements’ are not attracted. You don’t want thousands of teenagers tearing the place apart to see some utter garbage that Cowell has artificially stuck in the limelight to make more money for himself than an Arabian Prince. You don’t want every trackie bottom wearing cokehead scally from Manchester here robbing your tent and picking your pockets and starting fights to see Beady Eye or Shaun Ryder…
Yes, they have to attract the right clientele and yes they have to pay the artistes and also make money themselves… £15 park and ride, £10 for a programme..? C’mon, why not charge us a £6 ‘booking fee’ as well.. oh you do that already don’t you…
The formula is quite simple.. Overcharge and people will stop spending. People stop spending and you will stop earning… Festivals and gigs are getting cancelled as promoters, agents and bands get greedy – CDs don’t sell anymore, bands release music (often for free) to push their concerts. Ticket prices rise drastically and the venues these bands play in get smaller and smaller as the crowds decrease, kept away by the rising cost of going out. The big names cost money, the lesser names get on the bill, but don’t get paid as much as a result of ‘the bigger acts’.
There are of course exceptions to the rule, venues do sell out; usually when a band first reforms to board the gravy train and some will milk that cash cow until it’s dry. Festivals are much the same, people get put off by the astronomic prices and have the option to choose. Glastonbury, Reading and Donington are no longer your only choice, and you can choose your ‘Holiday’ (that’s how much a festival costs these days, the price of a holiday), and people are getting cleverer as they have to be more frugal with their earnings… (Does any of that make any sense at all…? Probably not…)


With a tree going AWOL in the Main Arena, they had to clear it. This meant a two hour delay to it being opened as people queued and queued, eager to get in. We took the opportunity to visit Tim Peaks’ Diner where that Svengalist South Walian with journalistic qualities, Simon Price read excerpts from his book, Everything – It’s an old book now; a lot has happened to the Manics since it’s publication, but its relevance and importance in telling the early MSP story still stands strong.
It’s quite funny a (shit) critic like me writing about a (less shit) critic, and Simon initially seemed nervous talking in public, which is a far cry from that wry cutting wit we read in the Independent and the quips we see on Twitter, but after the first extract he got into his stride and the session was both informative and entertaining.

sean walsh
Sarah went weak at the knees later talking to ex-Pyw Dall drummer turn Welsh celeb comedian Tudur Owen. I did the same talking to Dyl Mei ha ha..!
With weathered stage times all over the shop, where’s Viv Albertine? I was going to pluck up the courage to talk to her, having seen her 3 times previously… Someone said the Estuary Stage had moved up to the Comedy Tent so we sludged up there in search of, and in the quiet hope that she’d be making full use of all his mud and re-enacting the photoshoot for The Slits album cover!
Nowhere near as attractive as Viv, we bumped into Mark Thomas and asked him why he didn’t show up yesterday… ‘Someone made a cock up along the lines, but I’m on at six.’ It was 5.30pm now, so we tucked into the Comedy Tent at sat with my sister Jane and SteveF and enjoyed a short set by Sean Walsh before Mr Thomas himself alighted the stage…
mark thomas
Mark Thomas ignited a spark in a lot of people today, and will be doing so as he tours up and down the country over the next two months. His set is called 100 Acts of Minor Dissent and simply put, it’s about not putting up with all the crap we put up with. It’s about pissing off the corporates, the big businesses, those in power by committing 100 Acts of Minor Dissent in One Year. That’s two a week and short of breaking the law, it can range from photographing policemen for a calendar, changing signage in big supermarkets, putting stickers on books in the major bookstores like ‘She dies in the end’ on Thatcher’s biography, or ‘Also available in charity shops’ on any Jeffrey Archer novel to sending back junkmail from where it came from… It was both funny and inspirational and we as a people have become slaves to the advertisers and corporations, in fact, I fucking work for one… I might just give up my job and sabotage motorway services and supermarkets instead…

public service broadcast
Johnny Marr
was jingaling and a-jangling in the tent next door and then Chic did some disco dancing with the rapists, both acts not only passed us by today but also in life… But it was evident they struck a chord or three with the thousands of smiling faces… We were more interested in catching Public Service Broadcasting along with a few hundred like minded head nodders. What a great act… Bringing the electronic elements of modern day 1940s, 50s and 60s Britain into your life. A superb concept, brilliant visuals, spot on sound, excellent arrangement and I’m jealous of those going to see them when they support the Manics next week…

manics
Talking of which, the Manic Street Preachers, now back after their two year self-imposed live UK exile are here in a setting that is very dear to them. This Is My Truth is now 15 years old, with that vast expanse of sandy beach cover shot taken just down the road at Black Rocks. They plundered the album for Tsunami, The Everlasting, You Stole The Sun From My Heart, Ready For Drowning and If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next, which was directed at you and I about the Tory Government and in particular ‘The ugliest politician ever’ Michael Gove.
HawleyThe Manics also have a new album to boot, Rewind The Film, which was represented by the magnificent This Sullen Welsh Heart, the new single Show Me The Wonder, the trumpet laden 30 Year War, the almost 50’s romantic Anthem For a Lost Cause and also the far too long, but damn fucking catchy title track, which prompted a guest appearance from that crooning Longpig, Richard Hawley.
manics1

With eleven albums to choose from and a limited time to play them there was going to be some glaring omittances from the set, there’ll be no Australia, Everything Must Go, Roses In The Hospital, Yes, Masses Against The Classes, Billion Balconies, Hazleton Avenue to name but a few…
The set seemed, as Adam Walton described it, ‘Clunky.’ That’s in a good way, and yeah, not so polished, which is good. James Dean Bradfield was full of energy and really up for it, even sticking in Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau (which he still hasn’t perfected!) before Motown Junk. It was all over too soon, just as I was getting into it…
As bold as it sounds, I can say that 30-Year War and This Sullen Welsh Heart are as good a song that this band have ever written; ok there’s a bucket full of those songs in their repertoire but you can’t say this is a return to form when they never left it…