As the amazing Beth Ditto is catapulting herself on her back towards the edge of the rain soaked stage, a group of excited ravers shift awkwardly, this is not what Creamfield veterans have come to expect.
Just in front of the landmark main stage is a merchandise stall selling ‘Gossip Sucks’ T-shirts, but the sales remain remarkably low. It turns out, you see, The Gossip have managed to pen the anthem of a generation of madcap dance addicts who belong at this special 10 year anniversary bash, and as the final song ‘Standing In The Way Of Control’ begins, so does the weekend.
The legendary event, now held in Daresbury, Runcorn, has extended to two days for the first time to celebrate its tenth anniversary with its most adventurous line up to date. Tents like Ape drop drum'n'bass beats, The Skins live tent showcases some hot new indie and dance artists and the swanky hospitality tent is hosting the visual feast which is the Hacienda reborn, where Peter Hook is playing an amazingly diverse set in front of a tipsy mixture of guests and VIPs. The decorations are all Fac 51, the renowned Hacienda branding, and the yellow and black banner in front of him reads ‘The Hacienda Must Be Built’. It’s a powerful message that echoes throughout the weekend, as most DJs are working ‘Blue Monday’ into their set. One man who has been a loyal Creamfields goer since 1998 told VF: "It’s weird, it’s almost as if Joy Division have haunted this place since the off."
As a mixture of neon-clad fairies and fancy dress maestros, including ‘Buzz Lightyear’ and the ‘Tellytubbies’, shuffle their way around the site, Fatboy Slim takes to the main stage with his typical swagger. His backdrop, featuring the lyrics from Willy Wonka’s ‘Pure Imagination’ song (‘We’ll begin/With a spin/Travelling in the world of my creation/What we’ll see/Will defy/Explanation) seem incredibly poignant as the heady mix of poppers and cider stains the heavens. Just as mixed up is his set, which visits Dan Le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip's ‘Thou Shalt Always Kill’, Arcade Fire's, ‘No Cars Go’ alongside some of his favourites ‘Praise You’ and ‘Right Here Right Now,’ his rock star resembling presence delighting the masses.
As final track, John Paul Young’s ‘Love is in the Air’ plays, we prepare ourselves to join the lovefest and dance the night away to 2 Many DJs over in the Chibuku tent. The party doesn’t stop until a limb aching 4am whilst the more hardcore of us manage to catch some big names such as Eric Prydz, Felix Da Housecat, Lisa Pin Up and band of the moment Midnight Juggernauts.
"Rock and fucking roll", screams one excited Liverpudlian, providing the motto for the weekend. For 10 epic years Creamfields has managed to stay true to its roots by combining a dazzling mixture of notorious clubland DJs alongside a handful of acclaimed bands and live acts, and the final day is certainly no exception to the rule. Kicking off the days antics are Kissy Sell Out, who performs live. With a garish ensemble of hideous blue shorts, stonewash Levis and an oversized New Kids On The Block t-shirt it seems unlikely the trio of scamps bouncing about before us can have anything credible to add to the weekend, but the sun basqued gang certainly brighten up a rough Sunday morning.
A brief walk around the arena later and VF can be found partying outside the vintage fairground. With a full size fun house, waltzers and dodgems, it’s not long before the hangovers are left at the portaloos and the party begins again, for some almost instantly. Of course there’s nothing that says 'festival' better than a group of 20-somethings pushing each other to the edge of sanity, but finishing it off on the bungie ball is not to be recommended. One of the more under-dressed of the group staggers around in a circle before collapsing into the mud grinning like a Cheshire cat after trying to defy the dizzy-inducing ride.
Next up on the main stage is Chic featuring Nile Rodgers, a bold and unusual choice by all accounts. Fronted by a diva in long gold boots shouting, "Only take pictures of my skinny side", and running over 15 minutes late, they know they are descending into a downwards spiral. Redemption comes in the form of ‘Le Freak’, which sees the crowd exploding into a dance extravaganza. Following closely is ‘Rappers Delight’ which induces an insane crunk fest.
It’s truly a miracle that the white suited Soulwax take the stage after what seems like an eternity of sound checking, completely untouched by the mud. A medium sized crowd gathers to see what electro delights they have in store for our precious ears. The crowd soon begins to multiply as they drop some wicked tunes, ensuring glow sticks are pointing from every direction.
The shift from hardcore dancers to indie scenesters is jaw dropping as the usual suspects hoard into the packed Cream tent to watch Tiesto. However the biggest beats are reserved for Kasabian's long awaited headline set. Opening to ‘Shoot the Runner’, lead man Tom Meighan riles the crowd shouting, "Come on you fucking ravers, let’s see you!" as he struts around stage looking as lively and wired as most of those below him. With a set that spans both albums including ‘Processed Beats,’ ‘The Doberman,’ ‘Empire,’ and new song ‘Fast Fuse,’ the Leicester band provide a finale worthy of any festival fan.
Tens years on then, Creamfields is still vital. It's weathered the odd storm and conquered the inevitable cultural shifts that define any decade, but it still comes out on top. The frenetic spirit still remains despite it being split into two full days and the mix of music continues to impress. Here's to another 10 years.
by Lyndsey Green