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Anton Lockwood on the Second Decade of Splendour

8 March 19 words: Becky Timmins

Splendour forges on into its second decade this year, with a mega quartet of headliners already confirmed, including Manic Street Preachers and All Saints. To mark the occasion we grabbed Anton Lockwood, one of the masterminds behind the annual Wollo Park party, for a chat. Here’s five things you need to know about Nottingham’s day-long answer to Glasto…

Photo Marcus Holdsworth

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it…

You’ll be relieved to hear there has been no major shift in approach to the festival this year.

“We see Splendour as a great family friendly day out with fantastic music – that’s really all we’ve ever aimed for and we think we’ve been reasonably successful in doing that. There are always things that you tweak as you go forward, but the overall festival this year is as we’ve always envisioned it.”

Planning the festival is a fine balancing act…

Splendour manages to be both a local festival which Notts folks feel real pride in, whilst also having major-name artists on the bill. And there are two contributing factors to that.

“We do have a lot of Nottingham artists involved – the majority of artists on the Courtyard Stage are from Nottingham. The stuff we do with Nusic and Future Sound of Nottingham for the mainstage also helps. We quite often have Nottingham artists who have broken through as well – Jake Bugg being a great example of someone who played all the stages and ended up headlining. Then through our partnership with Nottingham City Council, we’re able to offer cheaper tickets for city residents, which encourages local people to come. So that’s one side of it.”

“We then have a constant wish list of people we’d like to see, and it will always be a case of who is actually around. For example this year, The Specials have a new album, and so they’re out doing things. But sometimes you approach acts and they’ll be in Australia, or having a year off. We always know we want that mixture, a bit of something for everyone – we need acts where people are going to know the songs and want to sing and dance along. So we write a list of around 15 to 20 artists to approach.”

Photo Ami Ford

You might just see the next Jake Bugg…

The Confetti Stage has helped to launch the careers of many a local talented musician and band.

“I think that’s where our connection to Nusic comes in, and some of the things that have happened in Nottingham over the last few years. There’s now a bit of a story that we tell people: go and see the first band playing, because they might just be the next Jake Bugg. Seeing Jake come out to headline the event was such a big moment – for him, for Nottingham music and for Splendour – and it’s hard to beat that one really. Some people aren’t bothered about that, they just come to enjoy the headliners, and that’s cool too. But it’s often a big gig for local artists to come and play Splendour, so they’ll be getting excited and telling people to come down to see them play at Nottingham’s biggest music event.”

The organisers do some serious maths to make sure there’s something for everyone. Just don’t go expecting Coldplay to turn up…

“So we have our wish list of artists that we think are in the right ballpark, and we’ll then send emails out to see if they are interested and available on that day. And of course, see how much money they want – we have a budget. People sometimes come to us and say: “why haven’t you got Coldplay?” And we say because we can’t afford them; they want millions of pounds and we haven’t got millions of pounds. So we have to think about who’s going to fall into our budget, also ensuring we’ve got enough to book a varied selection – we wouldn’t want to blow every penny on one huge headliner that would only cater to one part of the audience.”

Watch out for The Specials this year. We hear their new album is a banger…

“You’ve got to hand it to The Specials really, they’ve been around a long time. They’ve gone out and made a new album, which I first thought was going to be really bad, but is actually brilliant. They’ve got a song called Ten Commandments with Saffiyah Kahn, the Birmingham activist whose image went viral when she held back a leader of the English Defence League, and I’m hoping she’ll come along and sing that with them. That will be pretty special if she does that.”

Splendour takes place at Wollaton Park on Saturday 20 July 2019

Splendour website


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