|Something for everyone at Splendour - photo by Helen Gellion|
Splendour has always been pitched as an event for all ages, and this year’s bill was an enticing roster of emerging local talent and established stadium fillers to suit all tastes. Anyone who said “oh, it’s not my kind of thing” was probably mad or lying. Summery dance fun with a grime edge? Check. Swaggering chart rock? Check. Camp Scandinavian disco anthems? Err, check and check. Heck, there was even an appearance from the Levellers to appease the crusty crowd.
|Rob Green on the LeftLion stage - photo by Dom Henry|
LeftLion had taken over the whole courtyard for the day, promising a broad showcase of proper Notts music. The Wollaton Hall grounds (which double up as Batman’s pad Wayne Manor in new catnip for comic book geeks blockbuster The Dark Knight Rises) were basked in sun, and there was a very real threat of actual warmth as things kicked off.
|Opie Deino - photo by Helen Gellion|
One of the first to take to the stage was West Bridgford songstress Opie Deino, who showed off her sweet but powerful falsetto on numbers like the excellent Tightrope. Heartfelt stuff. Indiana continued in the same vein, with only a piano to accompany her Florence Welch-like vocals and stylish image. Unfortunately we missed another great Nottingham soulstress – Nina Smith – but we were assured she was on form with her usual brilliant performance, with the addition of some talented backing singers.
|Saint Raymond on the LeftLion stage - photo by Helen Gellion|
There was more on the singer-songwriter front from the lads too, as Saint Raymond played Days Like These, one standout from an excellent acoustic set; and the charming Ryan Keen went for some soundbox and cajon slapping on a rousing cover of the Killers’ All These Things I’ve Done. Like Ed Sheeran but really, really good.
Another Nottingham singer making waves right now is Rob Green – his brilliant single Cardinal (Watch the video right now), funky, soulful tracks like Magnetic, Over and Done, and Playing with Fire sound even better when done live with bongos, backing singers and Rob’s hefty dose of charisma.
|Natalie Duncan- photo by Helen Gellion|
Then tying up proceedings on the LeftLion stage was Natalie Duncan, whose standout natural talent has seen her garnering plaudits from the broadsheets. This was probably the last time we’d hear that big, sassy voice and classy piano in such an intimate space. Live anyway, her new album Devil in Me is out now.
The local goodness wasn’t just confined to the courtyard though. After winning the NUSIC Future Sound of Nottingham contest, The Afterdark Movement were rewarded with a main stage slot to show off their live full-band hip-hop, with MC Bru-C’s tight raps adding some edge to a cover of Radiohead’s Street Spirit.
|Jake Bugg - photo by Helen Gellion|
After that, it was time for the hotly tipped Jake Bugg, and his unique voice. Adding a Dylan-esque twang to classy 60s-era guitar pop gives Jake a style somewhere between Alex Turner and John Lennon, all decked out in Fred Perry. New single Seen It All is a well-written story about gangs and knife violence where the 19-year-old Cliftonian claims “Nothing shocks me anymore”. He doesn’t talk much throughout the set though, preferring his music to do the talking, as with closing song Lightning Bolt, the brilliantly breezy tune currently a firm favourite on radio playlists.
|Kappa Gamma - photo by Dom Henry|
Those who prefer something a little more alternative were also well catered for over on the Jagermeister stage. The intense performance of The Barnum Meserve, all thrashing at keys and frenetic drums, made it hard to resist lining up a few lunchtime Jager-bombs, while Kappa Gamma brought some more rocking stuff like their new single Just Another. Vadoinmessico a little later on, were a revelation, incorporating hypnotic Spanish lyrics, ukelele and cowbells for a sound something like the Big Pink jamming with the Gypsy Kings. And, always worth a look-in, electro minstrel Ronika got things a little funky with some sexy riffs nodding firmly to influences including Goldfrapp and the whole of the 80s.
|Ronika - photo by Dom Henry|
In terms of big names on the main stage, you had Hard Fi (this year's "whatever happened to..." band) who belted out indie anthems like Cash Machine and Hard to Beat, and then Razorlight. Whatever your opinion on Johnny Borrell, you can't deny his sheer rockstar-iness, running through big hits like America with a suitably aloof scowl.
|The Lightning Seeds - photo by Dom Henry|
The Lightning Seeds were a bit more charming, but the most smiles and of the afternoon came from Bjorn Again, whose very faithful covers of all the Abba biggies, dance routines, comedy accents and a rap breakdown on Take a Chance had all ages dancing. Katy B was more one for the kids and - apart from a cringey lap-dancing segment with a boozed-up audience member - chart smashes like Lights On and End Too Soon were excellent fodder for the neon-painted young-'uns to mosh to.
|Dizzee Rascal - photo by Dom Henry|
Headlining the main stage though, was the self-proclaimed Bonkers star Dizzee Rascal. Those expecting a squeaky-clean, T4 on the Beach-style performance were a little shocked to hear the energetic Road Rage as entrance music, and he continued effing and blinding with panache over grime anthems I Luv U, Fix Up, Look Sharp and Just a Rascal. It wasn't until near the end of his set that he actually broke out the more poppy, summery stuff like Holiday and Dance Wiv Me, ending on a rousing rendition of Bonkers, complete with laser show and pyrotechnics.
Not wanting to risk a Boss-and-Macca moment, everything finished bang on time, with the PA system limited to loud, but not too loud. With so much going on during the day - aside from the music acts, there was also the Dave Twentyman-compered comedy stage and stalls like Bantum Clothing selling local wares - there really was something for everyone this year. The sun didn't hurt either.
Splendour festival 2012 took place at Wollaton Hall Nottingham on Saturday 21 July 2012.