The Charlatans drew the biggest crowd on the second day of Guilfest for a dazzling set that didn't so much keep the rain at bay as kept it out of our minds for an hour. Brian Wilson, Athlete and Lightning Seeds were among the other highlights.
Campers awoke to the pitter patter of raindrops on canvas this morning as the second day of this year's Guilfest got off to a drizzly start. It would a great deal more than a bit of rain to dampen the spirit at this festival, though, and it wasn't long before the site was heaving with people and the atmosphere soaring.
Every corner was bustling, from the bars and markets to the Kidzone to the Funk End Dance tent to the six live stages. The 70's Disco Tent remained rammed throughout the entire day!
"Whooooo!", yelled a sprightly Tim Burgess as The Charlatans burst onto the main stage and kicked straight into 'You Cross My Path'. If the whole arena wasn't on its feet then, it certainly was for 'Weirdo' which followed.
"Are you having a good time?", asked the singer rhetoritcally, "Because we are!" And he wasn't joking. Ten years ago, this band headlined Reading and Leeds. Today they're playing second from top at much smaller family festivals. They couldn't be happier, it seems, with Tim and his bandmates appearing more relaxed than we've ever seen them, clearly enjoying themselves in spite of the unremitting rain. Burgess was especially animated, bouncing around the length of the stage in his unique way. It all had an uplifting impact on the audience and the weather disappeared from significance throughout the performance – surely the greatest triumph for any British festival act.
The set continued through rousing renditions of 'Happen To Die', 'I Like The Way You Touch Me' and 'The Only One I Know'. After a particularly thumping 'One To Another', which had Burgess himself noting "that was so good!", the band swaggered into 'North Country Boy'.
"Hopefully it will all dry out for you after this one", chirped Burgess as the stage was drenched in green lights for sprawling finale 'Spronston Green'.
It didn't, sadly. The rain just got heavier and even Brian Wilson's 'Good Vibrations' were not enough to keep it at bay. The stately Beach Boys singer seemed oblivious to the weather, or even where he was, which added to the surreal spectacle of seeing the (albeit reduced) crowd singing and dancing along to 'California Girls' with waterproof ponchos and umbrellas.
The majority of festival-goers, meanwhile, were attempting to squeeze into the Funky End dance tent for a Pendulum DJ set – a throbbing, heaving, pulsating, pounding, very hot retreat from the damp conditions outside.
Over on the second stage, The Lightning Seeds managed to hold a sizeable throng as they bounced through a singalong collection of their hits, including 'Life Of Riley', 'Pure And Simple' and 'Sugar Coated Iceberg', plus a cover of The Ronettes' 'Be My Baby' ("Probably the best song ever written", according to frontman Ian Broudie, "And surprisingly, I didn't write it!".
Earlier in the day, Athlete delivered an impressive return to the festival stage after an extended absence, the highlight of which was a tender and uplifting finale in 'Wires' which faded into a solo acoustic outro with singer Joel Pott repeating the line "I see it in your eyes, I see it in your eyes", accompanied by the crowd. The day also saw performances from Toploader, Trans-Global Underground, Eddi Reader and Joe Bonamassa.
Guilfest continues today with Happy Mondays and Will Young headlining, plus The Wailers, Goldie Lookin' Chain, DJ Yoda and a solo outing from Levellers guitarist/ songwriter Simon Friend.
Stay posted for our updates as well as a full review and photo galleries from Guilfest 2009.