There were many sights and sounds to delight the eyes and ears of party-goers at the very first instalment of Cornwall’s Great Estate festival. Billed as the ‘most rambunctious garden fete’ the event certainly had an old-worldly charm, with vintage autos traversing the grounds and tweeded gentlemen twiddling their moustaches in between observing a camel race, circus performance or a hot air balloon take off.
The musical lineup was the main attraction though, with the main tent and ‘Madame Wong’s House of Wrong’ providing the best of the weekends entertainment, alongside smaller venues tucked away in the prodigious woodlands and grounds of Scorrier House.
London’s finest electro-swing duo The Correspondents were the highlight of Friday night’s shenanigans, bringing their high-energy show to Madame Wong’s. The quirky scat-jazz meets drum’n’bass of tracks like ‘What’s Happened to Soho’ stood out while the formidable dance moves of frontman Mr. Bruce whipped the onlookers into a frenzy. The Electric Swing Circus took to the stage shortly after to keep to crowds jumping in the main tent with a sound akin to a stack of 78’s resampled through the heaviest of dance beats.
The Loose Salute brought their dreamy Americana-tinged country rock to the main stage as Saturday evening drew in. Featuring Slowdive and Mojave 3 drummer Ian McCutcheon, also the principal songwriter behind the project, the group delivered euphoric set invoking the sounds of the Californian coast much more than the Cornish, where the group are known for spending their time searching for inspiration. Vocalist Lisa Billson’s smooth melodies recalled the dream-pop of Mazzy Star, while McCutcheon’s own soft-voiced contributions owed a lot to the alt-country stylings of another Californian act, Cass McCombs. The rich sound of lap steel guitar, tinkle of xylophone and some deliberately indulgent guitar breaks rounded off the group’s performance to a hearty salute of cheers and applause.
Liverpool’s veteran alt-rock group Echo and the Bunnymen brought their 1980’s new-wave sound for a headline slot on Saturday night. While they certainly got the main tent packed out, the show scaled the line between nonchalant post-punk cool and routine indifference as the group rarely engaged with the audience between their moody mid-tempo anthems. A solid rhythm section kept the crowds moving though, while the Bunnymen’s classic ‘The Killing Moon’ sounded particularly sharp with its distinctive guitar melody and tremolo cranked up to eleven drawing immediate cheers.
Sunday’s highlights came from the garage-rockers Waxx, who tore through a rapid-fire demonstration of their stripped-back bass and drums style at Madame Wong’s, and Uncle Frank, who channelled the more flamboyant side of pop music with a funky set complete with tributes to Prince and the not so subtly titled ‘Poonani’.
The main event, though, came from space-bum turned funk and soul DJ supremo Craig Charles unleashing his ‘trunk of funk’ on the main stage. Performing two solid hours of ingeniously mixed retro soul, house beats, and modern hits, the much-loved actor and BBC 6 Music presenter kept the party rocking into the midnight hour with characteristic ease and showmanship.
For a festival only celebrating its first year The Great Estate boasted an impressive and eclectic array of artists beside the big headliners. From an acoustic set by local metalheads King Creature, to the up-tempo gypsy cabaret of The Roustabouts, to Afro-Carribean vibes from Tropical Pressure DJs or acoustic sounds from singer-songwriter Daisy Clark, there was something for everyone at the latest display of open-air antics to join Cornwall’s booming summertime festival scene.