Beat-Herder Festival 2012 review

'A must for those in the know'

Beat-Herder Festival 2012 review

Photographer:Mark Allan

Anne-Marie Douglas - 02 July 2012

Imagine you’re in a church for 6pm service, the pews are fit to burst, prayer books have been given out and the Vicar leads the choir into the service from the altar in front of a beautiful stained glass window. Then imagine you’re singing along with the congregation to ‘Sweet Dreams’,  ‘Heard it Through The Grapevine’ and ‘Relax’, amongst some very, very tall trees in a field, near Gisburn, Lancashire; this could only be a scene from the beautiful and bonkers Shire of Beat Herder! Now in it’s sixth year after being started by a group of friends wanting to create a unique vibe without the corporates, this little festival is a must in the season for those in the know.

Masters of ambience The Orb (5/10) played an afternoon set in The Toil Trees mixing in nineties hit ‘Little Fluffy Clouds’, and perhaps they are tired of it, but you get the feeling when you leave there was space for more.  Fortunately you can find fun and frolics in the least expected places elsewhere around the site.  See a red phone box in the Toil Trees? It’s not the Doctor’s tardis but it is a teleport tunnel for you to explore, take the wrong turn and you’ll end up as a jailbird looking out at everyone having in the town. And Beat Herder town consists of a proper pub, an electronic shop, a garage, a demon barbers, and tattoo parlour, if only every town could be this much fun.

1970’s themed Ken Dodd loving Beat Herder Working Men’s Club hosted their annual ‘Beat Herders Got Talent’ (7/10) and showcased some extraordinary acts, including a man with a particular talent for hat dodging and flipping.

Electro-indie three piece The Whip (8/10) get everyone nicely warmed before Saturday’s main stage headliners.  Playing transcendent hit ‘Belfast’, their 1989 first release  ‘Chime’ and ‘Never’ from new album ‘Wonky’; it’s 8 years since Orbital’s (10/10) last album and they are back, and triumphantly on form. Known for their light shows and exciting live performances Beat Herder was the first live outing of ‘Wonky’; if you are lucky enough to see them at another festival this summer, enjoy the journey, it’s really quite something. Mash ups include sampling Belinda Carlisle’s ‘Heaven is a Place on Earth’, apt.

At Stumblefunk, Nineties drum and bass legend Goldie (8/10) delivered a down and dirty bass heavy set, meanwhile Black Lace (7/10) decked out in  Hawaiian shirts play the heaving Beat Herder Working Men’s Club at midnight. ‘Agadoo’, ‘Do The Conga’, ‘Superman’ were introduced to an audience that could easily be guests at the evening do of a family wedding. Black Lace are loving it, as are the crowd; it’s so very wrong but yet so very right in this 70’s themed bar in Lancashire. They throw a few other non-Black Lace ‘party hits’ in for good measure and it’s living proof that people will dance to anything when they’ve had enough to drink.

Bush-Rocker Soundsystem got us all excited for the imminent arrival of reggae king Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry (9/10), the atmosphere is electric and it’s like no-one can quite believe it.  Reggae is the Beat inside Beat Herder’s heart and it’s fitting that such a giant should close 2012’s festival so magnificently.

Time spent sat around a campfire, being restyled in a pop up fancy dress shop, playing diddy golf, shisha’s and bass, children playing, armadillos and angels and the most fantastical tall sculptures. Yes, it was a muddy one, a leg straining, lose your wellies muddy one, but it was Beat Herder and it’s my kind of religion.


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