Bingley Festival 2017 – Review
The 11th Bingley Festival took place over three days with tens of thousands of music lovers coming through the gates to see some big names come to the West Yorkshire town. It was my first visit to a festival that’s always had great reviews, with the town of Bingley seemingly being proud to host such an event.
We arrive at BML2017 on Friday afternoon in attire suitable for the end of summer, but the sun is soon beaten away by an angry cloud that descends over Myrtle Park, and provids us with a two-hour torrential downpour. Hordes of us scramble for cover under trees, putting hands over the tops of our drinks, and race to be at the front of the queue of the stand that sells Ponchos. We end up with a couple of bright blue ones – very fetching we look in them too!
The rain might have dampened Myrtle Park, but nothing is dampening the mood. Spirits are high, and Maximo Park’s impending appearance under a double-rainbow certainly makes everyone forget about the rain.
Their 16-song set is littered with classics such as ‘Our Velocity’ and “’Girls Who Play Guitars’; alongside tunes from their new album Risk To Exist. And they are great, they could have headlined one of the days for me.
However, for those of us who aren’t affected by Friday’s train strikes (the last trains leave Bingley at 7:30pm!), Welsh rockers Manic Street Preachers are here to closeup day one of the weekend – and as ever they don’t let anybody down.
Announcing their arrival with the unbelievably 25-year-old “’Motorcycle Emptiness’ and ending with everyone’s favourite drinking ballad ‘A Design For Life’, their ever encore-free, 20-song strong set is a selection of hits, big album favourites, and acoustic game changers. The crowd love ‘You Stole The Sun From My Heart’, ‘Kevin Carter’ and ‘If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next’.
Their performance is as raucous and lively as you might expect, and the fact they’ve been going for over a quarter of a century means their live performances are always a highlight. As lead singer James Dean Bradfield lavishes praise on the ability of Yorkshire athletes and the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, he gives a nudge to us that had braved the elements with a fitting solo rendition of ‘Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head’, accompanied by Gavin Fitzjohn on trumpet.
It ends a great day-one of the three-day spectacle.
The excitement of waking up to another day of it on the Saturday is intensified by bright sunshine coming in through the window, and Google Weather promising a scorcher. And it isn’t lying to me either. Saturday is a lovely, sunny affair. The 15,000 revellers that are here today certainly have the summertime spirit in them.
As well as the big-hitters on the main stage, Stevie Parker and Anteros are worth a special mention for their performances on the Discovery stage, who are worth going to see as a nice break from the main stage area. A number of 14-16 year old groups of kids are acting a bit on the over-exuberant side around here, in amongst the thousands of adults who have pitched up and are enjoying the sunshine.
We take in the excellent British Sea Power and Sundara Karma – who I haven’t heard of before – but they have won a new fan in me with a brilliant twelve songs that sets us up for the last four groups of the second day.
Sheffield lads Milburn are the act of the day. Singer Joe Carnell Jnr has the patter with the crowd, and is the showman that everyone likes on a warm summer afternoon with good music. ‘Cheshire Cat Smile’ and ‘What You Could Have Won’ were highlights in their 13-song set.
They are followed by Pete Docherty and what can you say? The guy is extremely talented and he goes down well with the swelling crowd at the front. But is he entirely sober? I don’t know… does anyone ever know? Stopping mid-song for a few minutes and directing the crowd to form a space for medics to get to someone taken ill in the crowd would suggest he was… but ending the set by saying “Thank you Lancashire” after throwing a cup of lager in to the crowd would suggest otherwise! In any case, it was a performance I was glad I was there for.
Headliners for Saturday are the Kaiser Chiefs, lead by singer and The Voice judge, Ricky Wilson. They play for 90 minutes and rock the crowd with their regular mainstream hits such as ‘I Predict A Riot’, ‘Ruby’ and ‘Every Day I Love You Less And Less’.
It is a bouncing audience for the Menston band, and I take up a spot towards the back of the park to watch them. I must say the sound is still loud and clear, pretty much to the same levels as I found it was nearer the front.
The toilets are found at the back of the park, and they are typically festival like. Plenty of them, but plenty more people wanting to use them. The queue for the loos aren’t as bad as some places though, and I am told that the women’s portaloos were pretty clean.
Over the weekend, the bar tent goes through thousands and thousands of pints, and I find the service to be really good. Very swift, cheerful people, and the longest I have to queue for was about 15 minutes. I do hear that they ran out of cups on the Saturday night, and at one point there was a bit of queue jumping, but on the occasions that I visit the bar I don’t see anything like this going on (and my pet hates are queuing and queue-jumpers… so if I was happy).
Sunday brings an overcast final day, with spots of rain and lots of cloud; but it is still warm enough to call it a good-old British summer.
Your Illuminations kick off proceedings as the crowds begin to filter through for the final day, and they are followed by Little Comets and High Tyde. Badly Drawn Boy who, except being a little greyer, looks identical to how he looked 18 years ago impresses with a fantastic, well-received set. But band of the day is 80s-90s soul group Soul II Soul, who throw a much needed “easy like Sunday…afternoon” twist in to the BML2017 equation. The band fit in nicely to what seems a more laid back day at the park. After all, people have work the next day, and are perhaps feeling the after-effects of two days of festival antics!
Feeder play the penultimate set of the weekend with a strong and tight performance, which includes three of my favourite Feeder songs: ‘Feeling A Moment’, ‘Come Back Around’ and ‘Buck Rogers’. Their 16 songs leadd us nicely in to The Wombats. They are a brilliant choice of band to close this year’s show; and their short 12 song set ends with a firework display to celebrate another good year for the Bingley Music Festival. It’s now attracting people from all over the country and is one of the serious gigs on the festival circuit.
And for me, I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s ridiculous to think that this is done pretty much on my doorstep – just a nine-mile drive away. It offers a great vibe, and the value for money cannot be argued with at just £70 for a weekend ticket.
Bad points? Not many. There are lots of kids between the ages of 14 and 18 who are there having a great time, but there are a lot of noticeable large groups of the same age-range who were play fighting, pushing their friends in to people, and generally taking it above the levels of having fun and being a bit silly. Some of them are thrown out for their behaviour, but it might be that the organisers need to look at an age-restriction of some sort in the future to combat this kind of thing as the festivals popularity grows.
The position of the majority of the (really good) food stalls could be a little better too. Placed right at the front next to the stage means they are hard to get to as the day goes on and the crowds go down to watch the bands. Perhaps they could be spread about a bit more next time.
Other than that, I’ve seen why the town of Bingley, and the rest of West Yorkshire is proud of this annual event. The names they’ve had this weekend and in the past are a testament to what a great weekend it is – and I think the facilities and organisation has been superb. Other large-scale Yorkshire events could do worse than take this weekend as a model for their own shows.
Well done Bingley, and thank you. See you next year.