WHITCHURCH FESTIVAL 2002
FRIDAY 2nd AUGUST, JUMP, MARTIN ORFORD & GARY CHANDLER, GALAHAD
(Click on images for full size photos)
Well, its August again, the Sun (??) is out so it must mean one thing; it's Whitchurch! So the lads from the midlands hit the road again, didn't make first campers this year owing to a nasty crash on the M40, but we made it in good time anyway. After the tents were erected, we hit town again and returned later for the evening’s entertainment. All of the evening gigs this year were in the small hall this time, but it was a great success I can tell you.
Opening act, Dorset proggers Galahad got us underway, playing most of the new album Year Zero. The band was under a bit of pressure being the opening act, but they played a cracking set, and the highlight for me was ROOM 801. With singer Stu Nicholson sporting a nice hair do (orange!) the lads were on top form and the nerves never showed.
Year Zero should be a classic album of the tracks I heard live, so I hope it will do the lads credit.
Next up, Chaz Chandler & Dave Orford (more commonly known as Garry Chandler and Martin Orford – Ed) were on the stage, and a fine selection of IQ and Jadis tunes filled the room with much glee, and we had a short snippet of a new piano piece that could end up soon on the next IQ album. Old And Wise stood out in my opinion, and it should really be a Jadis song because how the way Gary sings it.
Well, after those two came Friday's headline Jump. Not another haircut you say, but lead singer John Dexter Jones has had all his locks off. Well, he is still the class front man, and with a varied set including songs from the last album On Impulse they know how to do a good show. They even performed Sweet Home Alabama, which was nice!
So that was Friday, there were a couple of high points for me, but Galahad deserves to reach greater heights.
Back to the tent................ zzzzzzzzzzzz.
SATURDAY 3rd AUGUST, (afternoon) ONE IOTA, JOHN MITCHELL, HAZE
Well, here we go again, but this time it was in the main hall upstairs. It was a cosy little place, tea and coffee, rolls, jumpers for goalposts that sort of thing, but with a nice sound too. One Iota got us underway, and with nice harmonies and a great lead singer with a Mick Hucknall kind of voice, I was taken aback with the way in which the songs all combined and how they were performed. With a couple of covers thrown in too, this was a pleasant start to the afternoon.
Regular festival giggers Haze blasted next, and with the backdrop having a mind of it's own, well you had to be there to see it! They included a little Treebeard in the set, as the lads are part of them anyway it made sense to give us a taster to Sunday afternoon. Wolf stood out as the sets finest number then a little medley featuring No Quarter and Echoes brought the afternoons entertainment to a close.
(evening) FRANCIS DUNNERY and the grass virgins, JOHN WAYNE, PRIMITIVE INSTINCT
Last years Friday openers returned with a nice performance. Primitive Instinct took to the stage, and after a gremlin in the opening track Break On Thru, the set seemed to fly by! Featuring material from the two albums to date, the band is progressing in the right direction, and with strong songs such as Hope, Alter Ego and the sing-a-long Chosen Few they heading that way. An enjoyable performance!
John Wayne was next and they got us in the mood for the rest of the evening. Featuring the daughter of Van Der Graaf's David Jackson, who has an incredible voice I might add, played some pleasant mellow tunes, and nice gentle harmonies, which worked quite well.
Then former It Bites front man Francis Dunnery took to the stage, and the members of the previous band appeared with him too. I think many people expected an It Bites type thing, but with his solo albums mounting up over the years, this new style of easy laid back material works quite well. The It Bites faithful were treated to Hunting The Whale and Plastic Dreamer, but Flower Girl, Jackal In Your Mind and Hometown set the hall alight. As a bonus, we had Up The Junction featuring Chris Difford from Squeeze on stage too, and as Francis is producing his solo effort, made it a night to remember. By the way, the former It Bites chap can still play!
Tent time again!.......................
SUNDAY 5th AUGUST (afternoon) ROLF, KEITH BELL, DAMIAN WILSON, TREEBEARD
Well, final day again, and kicking us off in the canteen of prog was ROLF. No, not Harris, but a chap all the way from the midlands turned up and played a set of drums with all instrumental sounds, and it was a fine show of what these drums can do. The sound was a little towards AOR type music, but very enjoyable. I have ordered one for Christmas by the way!
The man with the hat strummed his way on stage again, and with an Elvis number too, made us get ready for Damian Wilson. With his little band behind him, they treated us to tunes such as She's Just A Fable and the classic Homegrown. This man has to have one of the best voices around at the minute and his fine set justified that statement. Excellent!
Treebeard bounced on next, and with their set consisted material taken from their debut album Heavy Wood. A kind of folky sound would describe them, but visually entertaining!
(evening) FOCUS, HENRY FOOL, SPHEREł
After hearing the new Sphereł album in the car on the Sunday morning, we knew tonight would be special. Opening with the powerful Paralysis, the band was on top form. With fine numbers that followed such as Shrimp.sng and A Good Example Of Arbitrary Presumption, this lot are going to go far. With many jazz influences in the music it works very well indeed, and with fine players too it all adds up well. They ended with the fine Lights Going Down, yet another great performance! Great!
Henry Fool were next up and minus two members to be fair, they coped well. A selection of fine numbers took us back to the previous nights sounds, but a good performance anyway.
Well, Sunday ended with the mighty FOCUS. First gig on English soil for nearly 30 years, and to kick off they started with Focus 1. To hear a Hammond organ after all this time made for a memorable evening, and with numbers such as House Of The King, Eruption, Sylvia, Focus 2, 3 and so on. Thijs Van Leer has a great band here, all the remaining three were top class players, and when Hocus Pocus was blasted out, the whole room exploded with cheers.
What a night, I cannot put into words what I saw, just awesome! There is a new CD out too; worth getting I can tell you!
Well, that was another year gone in the history of the festivals, but this Sunday evening was superb!
Photography by Sam Smyth
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