Words: Jon Robinson
Photos: Laura Patterson

Splendour is Nottingham’s biggest music festival and takes place in the stunning grounds of Wollaton Hall (soon to be seen as Wayne Manor in the upcoming Batman film!). This year was the fourth Splendour and was the biggest and best yet, with four stages and a great line up of bands, including lots of local talent and some big international names. There was very much something for everyone musically and a capacity crowd of 20,000 enjoyed a wonderful day of sunshine. The festival is run by Nottingham City Council and promoted by DHP. Children under 10 are allowed in free, giving the festival a very relaxed, family-vibe, with deckchairs and picnic blankets out in force!

Sam Duckworth, of Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly fame, did a lovely acoustic set on the main stage, which was perfect for a sunny Sunday afternoon, for those who’d made it to the festival early. Gallery 47 (aka Nottingham lad Jack Peachy), fresh from his T in The Park appearance, drew a good crowd for his chilled acoustic set on the Courtyard Stage.

Swimming were the first band I caught on the Jagermeister second stage. A Nottingham band, tipped for big things, got quite a crowd for early on in the day. Their atmospheric guitar-synth pop was well received. John Sampson was strong vocally and the band were full of energy. Drummer Peter Sampson, aka champion beatboxer, The Petebox, also did a cracking set later on in the day to a packed Courtyard.

Justin Currie, the Paisley-born singer and founding member of Del Amitri’s set on the main stage was mellow guitar music at its best. Del Amitri classics, such as “The last to know”, “Move away Jimmy Blue” and “Driving with the brakes on” had many of the crowd singing along. Currie’s new material was mixed in with the older tracks and was well received by the audience.

It was over to the Jagermeister stage then for Romance, a four-piece punk-goth band from London. They were full of energy and attitude and gave a dramatic performance, particularly striking bassist Samantha Valentine and singer Jamie Lovatt.

Cast then took to the main stage. The indie rock band from Liverpool reformed last year, after massive success in the early/mid 90s and it was great to see them back together and playing live. Singer/guitarist John Power is as charismatic as ever and the set featured many tracks from the seminal album “All Change”, such as “Sandstorm”, “Get up”, “Walkaway”, “Finetime” and “Alright”. The tracks felt classic but contemporary and got much of the crowd singing along enthusiastically.

The Virgin Marys were next on the second stage. The three piece band from Macclesfield are a mix of blues, heavy alternative rock and psychedelia and gave one of the most exciting performances of the day. The high octane drummer was front and centre of the stage and was a real focus point for the set.

Eliza Doolittle, the London singer-songwriter, was next. She ran through her hits and included some covers , including Bruno Mars’ “Hand Grenade” and Bill Wither’s “Lovely Day”, which was very well suited to a sunny Sunday afternoon. The set went down particularly well with many of the younger members of the audience but really was a little bland for me.

Dog is Dead, were back at Splendour for the third year running, on the second stage again but with an early evening time slot which drew a big crowd. The Nottingham 5-piece, recently signed to Atlantic and seem destined for big things. Their harmonious indie-funk-pop is very current and was well suited to the sunny festival environment and the band looked like they were having a fantastic time on stage.

Blondie were the penultimate act on the main stage and Deborah Harry took to the stage in a long turquoise tutu and dark sunglasses. The band got people of all ages in the crowd dancing and singing along as they enthusiastically performed many of their classics such as “Union City Blues”, “The Tide is High”, “One Way or Another”, “Atomic” and “Sunday Girl”. Some great new material was mixed in with their hits, as was an unexpected cover of the Beastie Boys’ “(You Gotta) Fight for your Right (to Party)”.

Blondie @ Splendour Festival 2011

The Bluetones, were scheduled at the same time as Blondie but still drew a decent crowd to the second stage. Singer Mark Morris told the crowd that the band were going to split up after they finish the current tour, after 17 years together and many of the audience seemed to relish the chance to hear them run through their hits one last time before they did.

Alternative rock group Feeder drew a massive crowd, as last band of the night on the second stage and with no competing act on the main stage. They played a high energy set, with many of their hits, including “Buck Rogers” and “Just the way I’m feeling” and seemed delighted to be playing to such a large and exuberant crowd, with lots of singing along and crowd surfing.

The Scissor Sisters, were the headline act and delivered an energetic and entertaining performance, with great vocals and animated dancing from Jake Shears and Ana Matronic. Their set included many of the hits such as “Laura” “Take Your Mama” & “I Don’t Feel Like Dancing”. The New York band’s engaging stage show and lively set provided a fitting end to a very successful and enjoyable festival.