Cotton Clouds 2017 Review – Saddleworth, UK (12th August 2017)

The inaugural Cotton Clouds Festival delivered a boutique style, family friendly feast of emerging, current and retro acts from a cricket field on the edge of the Peak District.

GIGsoup’s hotly tipped Proletariat got the show rolling shortly after the doors opened and got things off to a flying start in the Jimmy’s tent. Over on the main stage a little while later, Stillia was wowed the early comers and brought out the sunlight and kept it shining all day.

Rogue Emperor caught GIGsoup’s attention, the mix of ex Elbow drummer and Doves Keyboard player Martin Rebelski driving home strong synth inspired numbers.

The Sundowners unleashed their cosmic psych rock musical force field inside a packed Tim Peaks diner tent. Songs from their two albums were equally interspersed although surprisingly their new single, ‘Find out for yourself’ penned by Niamh Rowe was not given an airing. Full marks to the stand in drummer, covering for Jim Sharrock who did a stellar job.

A comical musical interlude was supplied by the Everly Pregnant Brothers ‘Pork Life’ and ‘Stuck in the Lidl with you’. They got away with ‘Little bit gay ‘ to the tune of ‘Faith’, leaving the audience wondering if they had heard correctly.

Blinders filled the Jimmy’s stage and got the security guards out earning their money amidst much shoulder riding and crowd interaction. It’s been a pivotal year for Blinders and everyone wanted to see them; ensuring a tent packed to the rafters.

The Whip made a welcome return after a hiatus and got out the crowd in the mood for some serious dance music moves.

On to the legend slot justifiably held by Nick Heyward who is certainly worthy of receiving an endurance medal for surviving unscathed through the 1980s. Nick took us on a bright and breezy walk through the Haircut 100 days and his solo artist’s repertoire right up to offerings from his ‘Woodland Tales’ album such as ‘Sunshine’ which was most apt given the brilliant weather conditions. He signed off with Fantastic Day by asking if everyone was having a good time.

And on to the Coral, billed as headliners but who had to do a swap with Sugar Hill Gang to allow them to fulfil two engagements.

A police van pulled up backstage shortly before the Coral went on stage; fortunately the band weren’t asked to help them with their enquiries. The Coral battled with some sound difficulties which plagued the majority of their set.  A rather well oiled gentleman on the front row decided to take matters into his own hands by shouting “Turn that bass down” at the band. He then started targeting the Corals bassist, to turn down his open bass, to which Paul Duffy replied “That’s the best bit!”

The anticipated old favourites such as ‘Jacqueline’ and ‘Pass it on’ were interspersed with new songs from their latest album ‘Distance In-between’ and fan favourites like ‘Arabian Sand’. Their set was to prove ever eventful; halfway through ‘Goodbye’, four people who thought the guitar solo had gone on too long got bored and started kicking off. Worryingly medics arrived before the security, but it was soon de -escalated. Having said that, the festival had a family atmosphere throughout with an absence of pint pot throwing.

And so on to New York City courtesy of the Sugar Hill Gang who had the crowd eating out of their hands with their potted history of hip hop. Everyone had their hands aloft in the air singing along to classics such as Run DMC’s ‘Walk this way’ and ‘I feel for you’ by Chaka Khan bringing the night to an amazing finale.

The first ever Cotton Clouds proved to be a well organised affair with an impressive musical offering, excellent car parking facilities, a wide range of food outlets and the best family friendly atmosphere you could wish for with plenty of activities for younger festival goers. It will be interesting to see who is on the bill next year as this is a festival that is sure to grow.