St Ann’s Well Gardens Spring Festival – 12th May 2018

Photo by Jonski Mason

It’s quite typically English isn’t it. Two weeks of beautiful sunshine and then, on the day of the outside festival, the heavens open. Solid rain from start to finish too. It’s a real shame really as this year’s music line-up was one of the best they have had at St Ann’s Well Gardens Spring Festival.

Just as I was about to leave for the festival the rain was coming down in lashes, so I waited for that really bad patch to pass, then headed out in one of the few spells of light rain that day. As I arrived at the stage the beautiful sounds of Amelia Caesar were drifting across the park and I, unfortunately, only got to hear the last song she was performing but it was a good start to the day. She had a lovely voice and was singing with real passion to the few dedicated people who had also made it to the park.

Once she had finished I found a nice big tree to shelter under, which helped keep me a bit dryer than the rest. Before long the next act, The Modern Strangers, were on stage. With their keyboards turned up to the max they put on a decent show of catchy electro-rock-pop type stuff. With some fairly catchy tunes too.

One Eyed Jacks seem to be everywhere these days and I’ve seen them at many different festivals and many different stages. It’s not surprising as they always put on a solid set and their music is very easy to listen to. Unfortunately, while they were playing the rain was at full intensity and it would have been so much nicer sitting in the glorious sunshine listening to their kind of music.

With the rain still coming down heavy, Scott Booth was introduced on stage as a last minute addition who they thought would be perfect for the crowds basking in the sunshine. I can see why he was added to the bill too: as soon as he started playing his guitar I was instantly captivated and it’s been a long time since I’ve seen just one person and their guitar play such a spellbinding set. He played through a couple of instrumental songs and left me wanting more.

As the rain started to ease off a bit the perfect band for the weather came on with Speakerfreak. Their distorted rock music and loyal fanbase they had brought along filled the park with high energy. As the small crowd moshed around in front of the stage without a care for the weather they churned out the music. That was until the guitarist broke a string and they had to do one song without guitars, quite a departure from their sound, while one of the technicians re-strung it for him. Then they were back with the screeching guitars to finish the set.

One of the bands that should have been a highlight was The Fiction Aisle. They were good on stage and got a few people dancing round the park like Fred Astaire in Singin’ in the Rain while running through their impressive songs. However, sadly, the temperature was starting to drop fast and the rain was showing no sign of a respite. So I was starting to get cold and the perpetual rain was starting to seep through my layers of protection.

With my energy failing fast I hung around to hear the first few tracks from Pollito Boogaloo, who I have also seen before, then I finally ran out of steam. So with the sound of them still playing I left the park and even the stalls and security seemed to be giving up and pulling everything down.

It’s a real shame as I had seen Atlas Wynd a few seeks ago at the Spectrum All-Day Festival and was quite keen to see them again. I would have loved to stay to see Freak Power too but I feared if I stayed out in the cold and rain any longer I might pick up a cold.

It really was a shame that the rain came that day and was so persistent because it was a really strong line-up. If it was sunny then this festival would have lived long in the memory of thousands of people, as it was, there were only a few hundred that experienced it. All we can hope is that they can attract the same quality of bands next year and the weather gods are much kinder to them.

Jonski Mason.