Family festival heads in right direction

Richard Hawley performing at No Direction Home festival i

Richard Hawley performing at No Direction Home festival i

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No Direction Home Festival

Welbeck Abbey

THE sight of people dancing on the grass in front of the Lake Stage in the early Sunday evening sunshine to Slow Club’s Giving Up on Love was something unimaginable to first day arrivals pitching tents in a howling gale and lashing rain.

But the weather slowly improved as time went on although it took until the last day for North Face ski jackets to cease to be the fashion item of choice although that probably says as much about the demographic of this new family-friendly festival on Sheffield’s doorstep.

George Waites, lead singer of The Crookes who followed Nat Johnson and the Figureheads in the second music stage, the Electric Dustbowl, marvelled how Sheffield seemed to have taken over the festival (Martin Simpson and Wet Nuns having performed on previous days).

And the steel city provided the true star quality in headliner Richard Hawley. Wheeled on stage by young son Danny he explained that he had incurred his injury in Barcelona. His wife had urged him “break a leg” and she must always be obeyed.

He went on to play stuff from new album Standing at the Sky’s Edge plus some classics including Tonight The Streets Are Ours and Open Up Your Door.

It was a great set which earned a great reception.

Before that the Unthanks and the Brighouse and Rastrick Brass Band crowded the stage and as if that wasn’t enough the folk outfit’s brother came on and sang his version of Manhattan Transfer’s Queen of Hearts with which he used to serenade them on the coach, apparently. The brass band got an ovation for the famous Floral Dance and the collaboration worked well with lovely ethereal voices set against the instrumentals.

Former Fleet Foxes drummer Josh Tillman singing to his guitar (and imaginary band Father John Misty). Django Django, Lanterns on the Lake, Euro Childs, and The Cornished Sisters were others to impress.

There was also a comedy tent, cinema, real ale tents, lots of food concessions, and clean toilets (it helps that it’s a comparatively small festival – around 5,000 tickets were sold), the organisation was smooth and the atmosphere friendly. Tickets for 2013 have already gone on sale this week.

Ian Soutar