Guilfest 2012 festival review
'An eclectic mix of old and new'
John Bownas - 16 July 2012
The weather has not been looking great. In fact – many potential festival-goers sold tickets in advance of this
year’s Guilfest after a significant downpour only the day before the event was set to kick off. Cher Lloyd and Tulisa fans don’t look like the mud type.
Despite the apocalyptic clouds above, and mud below, Stoke Park once again provides Guildford town with an eclectic mix of old and new – a careful mix of one-hit wonders with some real class acts.
“We’d like to say thank you to Tony Scott, the organiser, for booking us for this year.” Republica singer Saffron stops mid-set to express her gratitude, a feeling which is evident for a number of the main stage acts across the weekend.
It definitely didn’t start as intended. During the first two sets on the Vive Le Rock stage, the power cut out; the day fortunately saved by a top-notch electrician, a drum solo and an acoustic guitar, courtesy of all-round nice guys The Trellicks (8/10).
You can’t deny – the mud was horrendous. Not only wellie sucking, but a stench that makes Glastonbury feel perfumed, graced the park from start to finish. Normally when balls and inflatable objects are flying through the crowd, at worst they are a hindrance; covered in mud? Off putting to say the least.
Friday night was a tent night for most, with Welsh rockers Kids In Glass Houses (8/10) taking full advantage of the foreseeable mud baths outside and performing hits from their growing discography to a packed audience. Jools Holland and Friends (9/10) still manage to please a significant portion of the crowd, but had a modest sized audience comparatively to Saturday night headliner Olly Murs (8/10).
Saturday is commonly the strongest on the Guilfest line-up and this year was no different. Tribute acts Bjorn Again and appropriately named Take Fat entertain the early arrivals before Republica (6.5/10) add a touch of electronica to the main stage. Cher Lloyd (7.5/10) then entertains the backwards hat, high top wearing young audience with recent chart hits and lesser-known album tracks.
Bastille (9.5/10) and Tim Minchin (9/10) perform on a normally underwhelming Good Time Guide (Second Stage); Bastille undoubtedly the most original, charismatic and exciting band to play across the weekend.
Then there’s Tulisa. With an empty stage awaiting the N-Dubz star it was left to a poor local radio presenter, given the unenviable task of informing the crowd that Tulisa would not be making an appearance due to illness. Recovering from a birthday in Ibiza, she has since tweeted her sincere apologies, but the crowd were less than impressed when earlier performers Take Fat stepped up to replace her. McCavity’s Cat (9/10) crack the most topical gag of the weekend when they observe sharply that given her record for not showing up to work Tulisa's next job may well be as a security guard with G4S.
Sunday was the day of dance, albeit to a much smaller crowd than the day previous. There was an entertaining start with Penance (7/10) attempting what must have been the smallest ever circle moshpit early on at the Surrey Advertiser stage. Six people don’t make a pit by anyone's standards.
Alvin Stardust (6/10) may be showing signs of age as he announces a Nat King Cole number before launching into Johnny Kidd and the Pirates' 'Shakin' all over'. King Cole's 'Pretend' was next, but given that it was one of Stardust's bigger hits he had no excuse for confusing the two.
Huge highlights included surprisingly endearing ‘collective’ Stooshe (8.5/10), absolute legends Chic (feat Nile Rodgers) and iconic diva Candi Staton (9.5/10).
Elsewhere, The Wurzels (7.5/10) came armed with some terrible gags: “Any lads here who’ve seen us before? I don’t know about that, but I can see a few girls out there who can come see us after!” Sadly, one girl had come all the way from Dubai to see them but was gutted to find they played earlier than published in the programme.
Not quite wrapping up the festival, but closing off the main stage, Bryan Ferry (8/10) doesn’t surprise anyone by leaving his t-shirt and jeans at home and suiting up for the occasion. With Johnny Marr playing guitar by his side this was a mature ending to a festival often notable for its excessively high quotient of teenage tearaways.
For the first year in a long time, Guilfest proves itself to be a festival that doesn’t just focus on the star attractions, but is relatively strong across the line-up, and an event that growing in attendence. Tulisa says she wants to come back next year, will there be room on the bill and can Guildford forgive her?
By Mel Lewis and John Bownas.
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