Sign up for our weekly newsletter

Live Music Review: Splendour Festival

23 July 19 words: Becky Timmins and Eileen Pegg
photos: Jake Haseldine

Bleddy hell, what about those showers at Splendour this year? We got soaked to the bone, duck. Thankfully it cleared over just in time for some skanking to The Specials. In all seriousness though, what a spectacular day for music. Here’s the sets which got our Music Editors proper hyped….

All Saints. Photo Jake Haseldine

All Saints
“Who’s here to see All Saints then?” The comperes on the Confetti Stage ask this question a lot throughout the day, and despite the plethora of local talent and heavyweight rock acts bolstering this year’s Splendour line-up, they know. We all know. Guilty pleasures don’t come much bigger or better than girl group All Saints, and while rumours of miming and mechanical dancing may have tainted the girl group rep since the nineties, All Saints tear it up with style and sass by the bucket load today. Whether it’s their individual party gal reputation or collective back catalogue drawing Notts folks to the Confetti Stage, they are here in droves. Supported by a full band, the gals sing a stellar set sprinkled with all the solid gold pop bangers you could dream of. Pure Shores delights the crowd big time, as does their quirky cover of Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Under the Bridge (yeah, we forgot about that one, too – it’s a bit of a tune). There is a deliriousness to the crowd – nobody can quite believe how much their hips are swaying or how loudly they’re singing along. And it’s because these babes are just so good. It’s a pretty special place to be when they unveil Never Ever – who could forget that iconic spoken word intro and those killer harmonies? By the end of the set, the consensus is very much one of ‘long live nineties girl groups’. Makes me wonder why I ever stopped wearing combat trousers and giant hoop earrings to be honest. BT

Blessed by some unexpected early sun, there’s a real buzz around the Confetti Stage for AVA SAINT’s opening set today. Dubbed ‘one of the coolest cats in Notts’ by another cool cat - compere Jackie P – Holly Taylor-Gamble and her band emerge onto the stage, the young frontwoman clad in platform Dr Martens, hot pink flares and an enviable bleach blonde crop. And Jackie P ain’t wrong - glam, heavy and very cool indie is the name of the game with AVA SAINT. Holly’s commanding voice and the delectable swagger of guitar riffs certainly make for a storming live presence. They have undeniable style, and play a plethora of original tracks today which show off their rock ‘n’ roll energy and sheer musical cohesion - I Killed a Man being a particular highlight. Comparisons have been drawn between AVA SAINT and Florence Welch, but I’m also reminded of The Donnas and Hole; there’s a definite punk spirit to it, and I’m speedily hooked. Then comes an absolute treat: a cover of Pink Floyd’s Another Brick in the Wall. And hot damn, it’s good – a ballsy move for any band, but one which firmly cements the astral potential of AVA SAINT. Neon Music recently suggested their sound is destined for arenas, and I’m inclined to agree; keep your eyes on this whirlwind of a band, and hold onto yer hats while yer at it. BT

Camille Christel
I’ve seen the pair of pink neon C’s a few times now - the backdrop to every Camille Christel performance – and each time I feel a slight shiver before she takes to the stage. Camille Christel and her band are taking their string of recent single releases - each named after an international city – and forging a seriously electric path. Her opulent voice, paired with the technical finesse of her band, make for one hell of an idiosyncratic sound, and it bewitches the audience on the Courtyard Stage today. Whilst I was a little unsure of how the atmospheric sound would translate on an outdoor stage for an opening festival set, my doubts are quickly shattered. Camille’s voice is powerful, whilst maintaining a delicacy and noir that belie her age. The breadth of sentiments traversed by this young performer is pretty astounding; Copenhagen is haunting and hypnotic, whilst latest single Chicago – penned by Camille whilst on a plane presumably to Chicago - is a sedate yet glamorous ballad that sends listeners soaring through the clouds. There is little exchange with the audience between songs, but it’s totally apt; to do so would disrupt the allure. Today’s elegant set asserts Camille Christel’s occupancy of a melancholic dream world that you will not want to leave in a hurry. This is one Notts lass with an abundance of talent. BT

Do Nothing
Having had the pleasure of seeing Do Nothing perform multiple times over the past few months, I’m astute to the anticipation audiences now reserve for this band. It swells with every show, and today’s drizzly slot on the Confetti Stage is no different - if anything, it’s more fevered. This local quartet’s brand of swaggering post-punk indie is unadulterated; acerbic guitar riffs, strapping bass lines and playful drumming coalesce to form the perfect platform for frontman Chris Bailey’s vociferated vocals. Whilst aggravated ranting is a key element to his performative streak (and we are treated to a double helping of it today), he can bleddy sing, too. Fits is a standout track during today’s rain-smattered set, as is Handshakes – a tousled tune that layers rickety melodies with a right juicy chorus, and which loads of audience members know the words to. An energy subsequently surges through this corner of Wollo Park, leaving me feeling this set could have come several rungs higher up the bill. Once again, recent single and closing track Gangs steals the show – do yerself a solid and whack this tune on if you’ve yet to let it grace your eardrums. With comparisons to The Fall and Talking Heads justified, Do Nothing are actually doing something a bit different. They’re ambitious as hell, and I’m totally addicted. BT

Mrs Green
Nottingham’s much loved grooving-granny from Basford is a Splendour regular that’s not to be missed. While (minus the beard) Mrs Mabel Green may look like she’d welcome you into her home with a grand selection of tea and biccys, you’re more likely to get passed the whacky backy from this cheeky all-singing all-dancing nanna, while settling in for a musical education in funk, soul and beyond. Thanks to the help of her backing singer and guitarist from the Sheep Soup theatre crew, which Mrs Green is part of; she brilliantly takes to the Fringe Stage as the afternoon grows sunny. They perform a selection of original songs from their musical productions, including tunes about hoarding, sung in character as a dead cat, as well as covers from pop songstress, Lizzo. Going further than just being funny though, these lot have a massive set of lungs on them and know how to put on a flippin’ good show - friend and fellow Splendour artist Rob Green even pops on stage for a bit to join Mabel for a singsong, much to the audience’s delight. Finishing off their act with a mashup/medley of bangers from the day’s headliners, including All Saints’ Never Ever, The Specials’ Ghost Town and Rag and Bone Man’s Human, Mrs Green and co are a guaranteed smile-jerker, and the perfect interval amongst the selection of (slightly more) serious acts that punctuate the rest of the festival. EP

Rob Green
You can read all the interviews and reviews you like, and hit his tracks as hard as possible on Spotify. Neither will prepare you for the utter joy that comes from seeing a live Rob Green set. He has excitingly graduated to the Splendour Mainstage this year, following a massive series of shows in 2018 and a steady rise through the Splendour ranks since his Courtyard Stage debut back in 2012. A one-man show with enough charisma to fill Wollo Park several times over, you can instantly tell that Rob’s on cloud nine today, and despite the rain (which is almost biblical at times), he is quick to haul everyone up there with him. He kicks his trainers off and declares he’s home, before delivering a stomping version of 2017 release Belief, met by huge applause - not bad for an opener. He flirtatiously coerces the crowd into singing along and dancing with him at multiple intervals throughout his set, but the encouragement isn’t required – Rob Green has this Splendour crowd in the palm of his hand. A total expert at fusing acoustic pop with spoken word and rap, particular belters today include funktastic track Headstrong, and Blue, a strong and heartfelt ballad up there with the best. Rob is moved almost to tears at this crowd’s rapturous response today – it’s proper humbling to see. His party piece medley, featuring Whitney Houston, Aloe Blacc and Jessie J, is the spot-on way to close this sexy, sharp and soulful set, which is over all too soon. One thing’s for sure - Rob Green has risen far above and beyond the occasion today. Move over Robin Hood, there’s a new hero in town. BT

Velvet Blush
This insatiably cool guitar soaked girl-group are a testament to what can happen to a bunch of talented people once the city gets behind them. Though they secured their place at the Courtyard Stage after winning the NTU / Confetti Battle of the Bands earlier that year, the months in the run up to the festival had seen them play a steady stream of gigs, acting as the perfect place to practice and refine their grunge / Riot Grrrl show. And you could tell. Velvet Blush might be young but their song writing skills and performance as a group is as mature as any band you’d grab a ticket to go see on a Saturday night. Effortlessly strumming through a set of original tracks, spearheaded by Jess Beer’s vocals, you can’t help but feel transported back to the hazy, beer-soaked 90s era, where you might have spotted a young Courtney Love peeking out from behind the curtains, supporting her mates as they play. A particular highlight is their crackin’ cover of The Breeders’ seminal banger Cannonball, a mean feat to pull off, but delivered by Velvet Blush with style and conviction – and which gets this Splendour crowd boppin’. There is the odd discernible nerve here and there, but heck, they’re only just starting out - once they’ve got a few more months under their belts, they’ll be flying. EP/BT

Splendour Festival took place on Saturday 20 July 2019 at Wollaton Park

Splendour website

We have a favour to ask…

LeftLion is Nottingham’s meeting point for information about what’s going on in our city, from the established organisations to the grassroots. We want to keep what we do free to all to access, but increasingly we are relying on revenue from our readers to continue. Can you spare a few quid each month to support us?

Support LeftLion now

You might like this too...


You might like this too...