Splendour Festival at Wollaton Park Nottingham on Saturday 23rd July 2016

Images and Review by Kevin Cooper

This year’s Splendour Music Festival did not need wellies, but flip flops. Nor were rain ponchos needed but fifty factor sun cream as over 23,000 people visited Wollaton Park for the ninth annual Festival.

Joining the special club of headliners whose previous members include The Specials, Tom O’Dell and Jake Bugg, this year it was the turn of Jess Glynne to headline on the Main Stage and she did not disappoint.

With several long queues to access the venue throughout the day, this eager crowd were not deterred as rumours were rife that it was taking in excess of an hour to get. They did what the British do best; queued calmly and drank the fluids that would have no doubt been confiscated at the entrance.

Making the tea time slot their own was London band Turin Brakes, who delighted the crowd with a selection of songs from their latest album, Lost Property. Showing that they are certainly an underrated band as the combination of Gale Paridjanian’s guitar skills, Olly Knight’s distinctive vocals which were driven along by Ed Myer’s bass and Rob Allum’s drums made their distinctive acoustic sound reverberate around this lovely park.

In a thirty minute set which included new tracks 96, Lost Property and Jump Start, this crowd were well and truly entertained. New track Save You, has the potential to be an anthem in the making, whilst oldies Long Distance, Underdog and fans favourite 2003 hit Pain Killer prompted a mass sing along.

With sensible timings from the organisers it meant that the crowd were able to make their way across to The Confetti Stage to catch the artists appearing there and there were not any disappointed fans of Belfast punk band, Stiff Little Fingers. Opening with Barbed Wire Love, there was no doubt that Jake Burns and Co have lost none of their sense of justice and their anger in their thought provoking, uplifting and emotive songs such as Strummerville, Tin Soldiers, and Wasted Life, before bringing their appreciated set to a close with Alternative Ulster.

Fresh from an appearance at Glastonbury was Jamie Lawson who, when he appeared at Rock City earlier this year, the queue to get in went all around the block. Coming onto the Main Stage with his band, he was immediately swathed in smoke. But once it cleared Lawson emerged with just his guitar and that incredible voice. Opening his set with The Only Conclusion; this was the first of a string of catchy and often achingly beautiful songs. Cold In Ohio from his self-titled album was given an outing as was the hopeful and upbeat Someone For Everyone.

Finishing his set with Wasn’t Expecting That, this crowd either sang along to what has become a momentous first single for Lawson, or they just stood and listened. But he lightened the mood when he threw in a verse from Van Morrison’s Brown Eyed Girl which absolutely delighted this overheated crowd.

UB40 needed no introduction, even though the line-up may have changed and there was no Ali, Astro or Mickey. But some do say that this is the real UB40 and despite the legal wrangling’s between the brothers, what are instantly memorable are the songs which this band have been performing since the 1980’s as they rose to prominence as being the first British reggae band to achieve mainstream pop crossover success.

If the audience were flagging as the temperatures reached the mid 20’s, they were instantly revived when the strains of Homely Girl, Cherry Oh Baby and Kingston Town just begged to be sang along to. A cover of Jimmy Cliff’s Many Rivers To Cross together with the band’s 1980 debut single Food For Thought brought back memories of those early days whilst set closer Red Red Wine had everyone of all ages singing along.

With the main stage now dressed in white, it was time for Sheffield’s 80’s giants, The Human League to take their turn at entertaining. Opening with Mirror Man, those in the audience will have immediately remembered lead singer Phil Oakey with his hair drooping over one eye, yet still looking remarkably cool.

Taking this audience on a trip down memory lane, they were treated to the classics which included Love Action (I Believe In Love), The Lebanon and Tell Me When. With band members Susan Tulley and Joanne Catherall having three costume changes, it was Oakey who moved the set along with his pitch perfect vocals. Finishing with Don’t You Want Me Baby and Together In Electric Dreams, the atmosphere was simply that; electric, as a packed audience danced and provided backing vocals to a set which had ended too soon.

It would have been a pity to have missed The Darkness on the Confetti Stage and many decided that they were too good to miss. With enigmatic lead singer Justin Hawkins, they were pure entertainment. Dressed in a purple jump suit, Hawkins knew how to entertain. They were the most energetic, simply bonkers band to grace the stage of Splendour and kept the temperatures way up there.

With a set list that started with Black Shuck and Growing On Me, their set also included One Way Ticket and Love Is Only A Feeling. Running from one end of the stage to the other, The Darkness were definitely not Stuck In A Rut, but as they finished with Love On The Rocks With No Ice, it was clear that this audience would have appreciated a little ice to just cool them down.

Back to the Main Stage for headliner Jess Glynne, the evening was brought to an end with the sun having set over a fantastic setting, with the lake and its inhabitants finally getting some sleep. Having appeared at the No Tomorrow Festival two years ago as the featured vocalist for chart toppers Clean Bandit, it was some of their covers which were given the Jess Glynne treatment.

With a set that included all of her hits, Glynne brought a Festival that was very successful, full of fun, and hugely entertaining, to a close. As this capacity crowd made their way to the exit, they would still have been singing Hold My Hand; a reminder of what was a truly brilliant day.