Wickham festival is one of those lovely relaxed mid-size festivals that always seems to punch well above its weight when it comes to putting together a lineup.
As always arrival at Wickham is a delight, no queues, straight onto the site and set up for the weekend in under two hours from leaving home. It was pretty windy when we arrived on site but the forecast rain never did arrive and the weather improved as the day progressed. A leisurely lunch and a couple of beers and we were set for the evenings entertainment.
Wickham has been running for a good few years now but it continues to. Improve year-on-year. This year has seen the addition of the Quay West Cave a stage in a huge marquee which sets out to showcase local talent. The sound in this new venue is excellent and I will certainly be keeping a close eye on the talent on show over the weekend. The new stage means that Wickham now has three undercover stages and an open air acoustic stage. Of course the setup here really helps to ensure a great festival even in the worst of the British Summer.
Our wandering a around the site revealed an enlarged festival this year, there is more room and a better range of food. We just managed to catch the end of Kathryn Tickell’s set on the main stage. It was great to see that Kathryn continues to mentor young musicians and her set with six emerging folk artists went down well with the crowd.
Blazing fiddles were next up with a really entertaining showcase of the folk music of Scotland. Blazing Fiddles took us on a musical journey through the Highlands and Islands. Their jigs and reels were a real treat and set up the scene for the wonderful Eddi Reader.
Eddi has one of the most amazing voices in the music business, her range is amazing but it the enthusiasm with which she delivers her songs that always impresses me. Reader has been a favourite of mine since the 1980’s and she is one of those rare artists who always delivers. Backed by a superb band, including long term collaborator Boo Hewerdine, Eddi delivered a fabulous set of classic songs from across her long career. Fairground attraction songs always go down well in Eddi’s sets and her tributes to the departed Amy Winehouse and Cilla Black were both powerful and evocative. Reader has the knack of telling amusing anecdotes about her songs that really help to set the scene.
Sadly 75 minutes passed all too quickly but it was a real treat. Thursday headliner Tony Hadley was something of a surprise treat. I was never what you might call Spandau Ballet’s biggest fan but if anything Hadley’s voice has improved with age. It is certainly a powerful instrument