The Best of Times (Part IV)

The final day of the Bowlie, until next time…


After Franz Ferdinand I had abruptly disappeared to bed, leaving the others to enjoy Crystal Castles while I stumbled to the cabin. So it was rather late when I rose from my slumbers on Sunday morning. I decided to see two acts – Stevie Jackson and Vashti Bunyan – before taking a cleansing run around the Minehead promontory. Stevie Jackson was charming and certainly did enough to make up for the more irritating elements in the Belle and Sebastian show the night before, if only by his playing a few bars of the sublime Jonathan David. But on top of that there were some wonderful tunes – essentially the best busker songs you could imagine, and that is not in any way meant as an insult – with influences from all over the world.

Vashti Bunyan

Vashti Bunyan was another of the weekend’s musical highlights. Her voice, though in some respects frail and fragile, is beautiful and haunting. She created an incredibly calm, hypnotic atmosphere and everyone in the audience was held in rapt attention. The songs mainly dealt with loss and longing, and spoke of life’s journey and our connection with the land. In the wrong hands this would be a parody of hippy garbage but this was so considered and real – and in many cases still so raw – that it was utterly beguiling.

North Hill, Minehead, across the beach

After a brief run to the top of North Hill and around the harbour towards Porlock, I was ready for The Vaselines. They started as they meant to go on, with some splutteringly filthy inter-song chat. With an expanded lineup (compared to the songs I knew), they sounded incredibly beefy and at times the garage chug was fantastic. There weren’t quite enough memorable tunes, but ‘Rory Rides Me Raw’ and ‘Jesus Doesn’t Want Me for a Sunbeam’ were heavenly.

It really was a day for beguiling singer-songwriters, as we were treated to an hour of Laetitia Sadier and her snaking tunes. Her voice has amazing range, particularly down into the tenor range, but also echoed around the room at high pitch in a way that reminded me of Liz Fraser. Accompanied by an electric guitar but playing almost medieval arrangements, the bilingual musings did not often evoke her work with Stereolab but instead were more Gainsbourgesque – I’ll be getting hold of The Trip, I think.

Laetitia Sadier

Pavilion headliners Camera Obscura were really good, though they struggled to hold the crowd’s attention. Also, perplexingly, they didn’t play ‘Suspended from Class’ (unless it was while I popped out, but as I kept listening I don’t think so). Their sound is particular and, to my ear, pleasing, but evidently that furrow was not to the taste of all. We wrapped up the evening with a majestic and hilarious hour of tribute from Them Beatles – “Paul” being especially good – before drifting away during Zoey van Goey, more through tiredness than boredom. All told it was a fantastic weekend and I am planning to go back next year if at all possible.

Published in: on December 26, 2010 at 8:24 pm  Leave a Comment  

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