Thursday, 30 August 2012

At The Edge Of The Peaks Review

At the (G)Edge of the Peaks
Sunday 26th August 2012

Sunday saw the latest northern instalment of David Gedge’s boutique festival, which has found a home in the quaint surroundings of Holmfirth’s Picturedrome. The old cinema retains many of its original features but has had seats stripped out, new bar areas built and a bit of a cosmetic makeover; meaning that it makes the perfect location for the first band on the main stage, David Gedge’s ‘other’ band, Cinerama.

Now I’m not a massive fan of this band and their chamber pop output, but I absolutely love The Wedding Present - more on them later - yet I enjoyed today’s opening spot far more than when I have seen them previously. I don’t know if it is that the current lineup just seems to work so well together or that the material has grown on me, but they impressed me and I found myself humming some of their tunes between acts, not that I had very long to wait.

Now this is the best bit about At the Edge of the Peaks: there are two stages, the main stage and a second stage up on the balcony, so that while one is in use the other is cleared and set up for the next act, meaning very little time spent watching sound checks! The openers upstairs, Cornelius Crane from Manchester, kicked the afternoon off with a fine repertoire of songs about life on the other side of the Pennines; they worked hard and put on a good show, despite the fact that their front man had to perform around a number of strategically placed buckets that were steadily filling up as the biblical deluge outside made its way through the ancient roof!

Queenie & The Pawns followed these lads, performing after Cinerama vacated the main stage and they couldn’t have been more different, soulful folk rock with a sense of humour and some truly skilful playing captured and held the balcony area’s attention throughout a set which could only be criticised for being too short.

As David Gedge curates the festival, this is also an interesting insight into what he enjoys. There are bands with links to his own bands like Yaz Bebek and The Evil Son, bands he enjoys himself like Nightmare Air and, in booking Cud, bands he grew up with!

He also invited Catriona Child along to read from her novel Trackman, which explores the ways that music can link into our emotions and create a soundtrack to the ups and downs of our lives; the chapter she chose to share with us featured The Wedding present’s song My Favourite Dress, obviously!

She was followed onto the main stage by Nightmare Air, a California noise trio but by now we were preparing for the first of the main events. By the time Cud hit the stage the audience had focused its energy on the main stage. Opening track Purple Love Balloon started the crowd bouncing in delirious unison and they didn’t stop until the band left the stage a sweaty, steamy 45 minutes later. It now appears customary for somebody to cover Kennedy to save TWP the bother of playing it. Last year it was the all-girl J Rock outfit Pinky Piglets (now known as Toquiwa) but this time Cud integrated it brilliantly into their final song, Only A Prawn In Whitby. A glorious return of the original line up in front of a more than happy crowd set the stage for the headliners perfectly.

Unbelievably, it’s 21 years since the release of Seamonsters, the Steve Albini produced follow up to Bizarro and tonight, as with every night on the current tour, it was performed in full. Now, that’s not the easiest listen you could come across and David himself acknowledged that, ending with the classic You Should Always Keep in Touch With Your Friends to both lighten the mood and reinforce the message of an afternoon of exactly what it says on the tin, Mr Gedge and friends having some bank holiday fun.

The verdict: while maybe it lacks the festival feel in terms of size, it’s a great day out because of the venue, the quality of the acts and the opportunity to see something different; where else can you get yourself added into a Lee Thacker limited edition cartoon strip! Another reason it’s a raging success is the relaxed atmosphere with the bands hanging around to see the other bands and chat with their fans. See you there next year?

Matt Rhodie

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