LIVE REVIEW: Lindisfarne Festival, Northumberland (30.08-01.09) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Colonel Mustard & The Dijon 5 by Thomas Jackson

When St. Cuthbert’s remains were carried from Holy Island to Durham, possibly across this very festival site, little could the bearers of his coffin have known of the very different kind of pilgrimage that would take place each year to a farm overlooking the Saint’s temporal

Lindisfarne Festival is special. On paper it’s yet another small festival, catering to just 5,000 hardy souls willing to brave the plummeting late summer temperatures, and the cutting wind that shears across the site almost constantly, but upon arrival, it’s easy to see why fans flock back year on year. The line-up is only half the story here, with genuinely stunning art installations, a fantastic range of excellent food vendors, and a natural landscape to rival any festival in the world – it is simply glorious.

A festival is nothing, however, without its programming, and in its fifth incarnation, Lindisfarne Festival put together their strongest line-up yet. Quality ran throughout the bill, from Peter Docherty‘s new vehicle, The Puta Madres, who split the crowd but who rewarded close attention; to junglist Goldie playing in a tent far too small for his stature (both physically and reputationally); from Ocean Colour Scene‘s anthemic Saturday night singalong; to Lindisfarne (of whom Captain Hotknives said “well, it’s their festival, so we’ve got to let them have a go!”). It wasn’t just the headliners though, with Tankus the Henge bringing their ‘North-London Gogol Bordello’ schtick to the Viking Brewhouse; Colonel Mustard and the Dijon 5 causing health and safety nightmares; and Durham’s own Freddy dropping some of the most innovative scream hip-hop I’ve ever heard as part of The Bridge
takeover tucked away in a hidden corner of the festival. Fans of spoken-word were also extremely well catered for, with Mark Grist, the unwitting star of the Don’t Flop rap battle YouTube series; local hero Matt Reed; and Canadian Tom Stade, one of the most highly regarded stand-up comics on the circuit, all making eagerly anticipated appearances over the weekend.

They’re a resilient bunch up on the Northumberland coast, and this was tested on Saturday afternoon when a gathering tempest tore the main stage marquee, prompting a temporary closure until it was safe enough to get a cherry-picker up there to repair the damage. Whilst the happened, the stage managers rushed to re-program the festival on-the-fly, and ensure that the vast majority of main stage acts were slotted in elsewhere, and new running-orders were communicated to attendees effectively.

For a festival which always seems to be days (if not minutes) away from folding, Lindisfarne is far more than the sum of its parts. Pulled together by a dedicated, enthusiastic team, hell-bent on ensuring that attendees get maximum value for money, this is a gem of a small festival, and one which makes the whole UK festival scene that much richer.


Image: Freddy by Thomas Jackson

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