December 21 2013 Latest news:
Chris Britcher & Nick Ames
Monday, July 9, 2012
The Canterbury festival survived the weather to stage another three-day extravaganza
Quite aside from anything else, you cannot say the Lounge on the Farm weekend ticket holder didn’t get their money’s worth.
There was hot, warm, sun and cold heavy rain showers, international superstars and bands for whom only their mothers truly appreciate their worth.
There was something for the young and the old and a range of cuisine on offer which allowed you to tour the world – starting from the farm’s own home-grown beef – several times over if your constituent was strong enough to stomach it.
But beyond its eclectic line-up beats a heart which is difficult to find fault with. It trades so much on that all important ingredient ‘atmosphere’, and appeals to such a diverse audience it is perhaps the epitome of a modern-day, niche, festival.
Families mingle with teenagers, dance fans with folk and rock aficionados, the working farm setting providing an authenticate back-drop compared to the rather more clinical clean-corners of somewhere like Kent’s other major player, the Hop Farm Festival at Paddock Wood.
For reasons we will come on to in a moment, the line-up was not quite as star-studded as 12 months ago - it was lacking a strength-in-depth that last year it could trumpet.
But then Lounge has never been about big names, and big names only. It has been about providing a frying pan and tossing in ingredients which appeal to vastly differing tastes, and serving it up in a way which tingles the tastebuds quite unlike any other; garnished with a very Kentish feel.
Emeli Sande was up-and-coming when she was unveiled as headliner. By the time her Friday night slot came round she had spent much of her time recently nestled at the very top of the UK album chart with her retro-tinged Our Version of Events.
She won over the crowd with a one-hour set and by the time she strolled off the audience had belted out her hit Next to Me for her.
As if to underline how far she had come, 24-hours after taking to the Lounge stage she was in front of tens of thousands at Scotland’s T in the Park.
The Saturday night headliners were The Wombats – the pop-tinged indie rockers who united the audience and delivered a perky, cheerful set which saw perhaps the biggest main stage crowd of the weekend. It was a fine choice for a Saturday night.
By the time Sunday’s double-bill of Chic and The Charlatans arrived, the weather had taken a turn for the worse, and Andy Murray was out of Wimbledon.
Not that Nile Rodgers was going to let a thing like that spoil his party. He truly is a legend in the music industry – an often over-looked character who has been behind more hits than is decent.
And fronting the dance band in which he made his name, Chic ripped through some of the songs he has had a hand in. So quite aside from Chic hits such as Good Times, Le Freak and Dance, Dance, Dance he treated us to Diana Ross’ I’m Coming Out (which he wrote), Madonna’s Like a Virgin (produced) and David Bowie’s Let’s Dance (produced).
What’s more, after finishing he jumped off stage and spent the next ten minutes meeting fans at the front of the stage and posing for photographs.
From funk and dance to indie, with The Charlatans and a crowd-pleasing set which included hits from North Country Boy and Weirdo through to One to Another and The Only One I Know. Tim Burgess’ bright blond hair was more Madchester than Merton Farm, but we’ll let that go; the performance was impressive.
Daytime at Lounge offers a slightly different feel to the “name” acts which are on the bill throughout the evening – and it gives festival goers a chance to see some varied music, especially in The Meadows.
One of the most unusual played on Sunday. Just as the rain started, Matthew Herbert’s Big Band were playing swing style jazz.
Herbert, also known as Doctor Rockit, has one of the most unusual careers in music combining jazz, techno, electronica and classical.
He has recorded in London’s sewers, inside industrial chicken farms and the Houses of Parliament as well as once driving a tank over a recreation of the dinner that Nigella Lawson cooked for George Bush and Tony Blair. He also recorded 3500 people biting an apple at the same time and remixed a number of artists including REM, Yoko One, John Cale and Quincy Jones.
His most unusual work, One Pig, uses hacksaws for beats and dripping blood for bass-lines as it charts the animals live from birth to the dinner plate - not one for the vegans tucking into a bowl of salad and tofu.
On the same stage the mod-style sound of Wildes got a good reception as did Summer Camp.
This indie pop duo came to the fore three years ago and have a devoted following.
The folk tent proved popular early on Sunday, and not just because of the rain.
A large and appreciative crowd saw Canterbury’s Lucy Kitt weave her magic spell on acoustic guitar and come across like a homegrown Joni Mitchell, right down to the flowing blonde locks.
Her introspective songs linger long in the memory if time and attention is taken to appreciate them. On Sunday sitting at the front of the tent gave audience members the chance to do just that, with the added bonus of keeping dry and mud free.
A mid-afternoon slot was possibly a little harsh on ‘Thames Delta’ rockers The Milk, even if they were on the main stage.
One of the standout performances of the festival the band channeled their inner Lynryd Skynryd to put on a classic rock performance – appropriate for one of Bruce Springsteen’s recent festival support acts.
In the comedy tent Robin Ince put on one of his fine meandering shows, while Ardal O’Hanlon’s set was well-received too.
The less said about infamous drug smuggler toff Howard Marks’ over-long hymn to drug use, however, the better. If ever there is a better example as to why smoking dope in industrial qualities is not good for you, being forced to listen to his self-indulgent stand-up is surely it.
If fault was to be found in the festival, it was that the line-up tended to be devoid of enough ‘names’ until the late night headline slots, at which point they all clashed. A shame.
Ultimately, however, Lounge on the Farm’s success or otherwise – and its future on the county’s cultural landscape – will lay in the hands of that most un-rock ‘n’ roll of institutions, the police.
Because this was a key event for the six-year-old festival following the twin issues last year of the behaviour of youngsters and traffic snarl-ups to infuriate the locals.
Initial reports of no major incidents bode well for it returning next year.
Security was highly visible and responsive, the cost, one could suspect, absorbing some of the budget normally invested in talent on the stage.
And with car parking on site rather than the slightly odd 15 minute walk down the road of previous years, the good folk of Nackington Road were not finding festival goers disturbing their weekend.
Few will begrudge it consolidating its position this year rather than cutting-corners and running the risk of not being able to get a licence for the 2013 event.