Category Archives: Bearded Theory Festival

Bearded Theory Review – An Eclectic Feast

If you caught my earlier piece about Bearded Theory festival you will be aware that I missed Thursdays music because of issues getting onto the site.  When we had torrential rain overnight and woke to rain and clouds that seemed to have settled about 6-feet above the van roof, I suspected that we were in for a pretty grim day.

I need not have worried, as things improved as lunchtime approached.  We set off for the arena looking forward to a day of music and catching up with friends.  As always, my first port of call is the Something Else Tea Tent.  No one is closer to new talent emerging on the grassroots scene than Gail, so it is always worth checking out what she has on offer.  Expect new talent, old favourites, and the odd main stage band dropping in to play an acoustic set.

I guess, in many ways, Les Carter epitomises all three of the above.  It was Les who provided my best moment of the entire weekend.  Get this, Les Carter, a man who headlined Glastonbury in 1992, playing an acoustic cover of Bobby Blue’s hit song, Dancing on a Saturday Night, in front of a couple of hundred people in the Something Else Tea Tent.  There it is, Bearded Theory, in a nutshell, you never know what you are going to get, it’s not unlike Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates.  I’m almost certain that Les enjoys performing on the Grass Roots scene more than he ever did getting banned from Glastonbury 🙂

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Mind you, it’s not like we were stuck for bands elsewhere.  I thought Friday’s lineup was as excellent as it was eclectic.  I kicked off with a bit of high energy punk rock from a longtime friend of Bearded Theory.  John Robb and the Membranes played an insanely good set on the Woodland stage.  It was certainly Manchester’s day on that stage because I thought Manchester outfit Pins were absolutely sublime.  These girls rock and they have that outward confident swagger that suggests they are destined for big things.  Let’s face it, anyone who sends Iggy Pop a demo and asks him to do a voice over can hardly be accused of allowing themselves to be constrained by a lack of ambition.

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Over on the main stage folk favourites, Show of Hands played their usual hugely entertaining show.  They may have been around for a while, but they are none the worse for their longevity.  My biggest surprise of the day came from Sleeper.  Of course, I know the name, but for a band who have eight top-40 singles and 3 top 10 albums to their name, I know little about them.  That’s about to change, I thought they were absolutely superb on the day.

I had a huge decision to make later on Friday evening.  Jesus Jones on the Woodland Stage or Jesus & Mary Chain and Blossoms on the main stage.  In the end, I decided on the latter, chiefly because I was a huge Jesus & Mary Chain fan back in the day, and because I wanted to photograph the rapidly progressing Blossoms.

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In truth, Jesus & Mary Chain’s set largely passed me by.  I can’t put my finger on why, but I just couldn’t get into it.  Blossoms were a different story.  Being honest, I thought to book a band like Blossoms was a great decision by the festival.  Like many, I would be content to see the Levellers and New Model Army every year, but bands like Blossoms are the future.  Granted they don’t have the political edge of bands like those aforementioned, but they played a great set and I thought they were worthy headliners for a festival of this size.

That rounds up Friday for you folks, tune in later for Saturday & Sunday.

 

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Bearded Theory 2018 – Triumph In Adversity! (Part 1)

At last!  After what seemed to be the longest Winter ever, the UK summer festival season is underway.  Those who have read my previous views on this festival will know that Bearded Theory is a real favourite of mine, the dates for next year are already in my diary.  That said, there were a few problems at this years festival, so let’s deal with those right away.

Getting onto the site this year was quite simply a nightmare.  It took me over four hours to travel the last four miles from the A38 to the site.  Not good, not good at all.  The queues were dreadful and the situation was exacerbated after arriving on the site and meeting an incredibly rude, aggressive and officious campsite security supervisor who refused to let me park my van in an empty spot and sent me to the overflow crew field instead.  This meant a 40-minute walk to the site, no fun when carrying all of my camera equipment.  I realise that staff are stressed when things go wrong, but there is no need for aggression towards festival fans.

Sadly, my experience was far from unique.  If my festival friends are to believed many shared my experience.  However, let’s remember that the huge majority of security staff were helpful, friendly and polite.

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The net result was that I missed the entire Thursday lineup with the exception of the last couple of songs by headliners, Reverend and the Makers.  It was certainly a disappointing start to the festival.  On Friday, we woke to rain and the awful news that tent thieves had been at work overnight, this is fast becoming a trend at UK festivals, especially on the first night when people are carrying the most cash.

That said, if you think this is going to be a review that focuses on what didn’t go well, let me disavow you of that notion.

There are many reasons why Bearded Theory is my favourite festival of the year, and it’s mostly about the people.

The organisers of Bearded Theory were horrified by the traffic problems, and I am certain that they will do everything in their power to ensure that there is no repeat next year.

Of course, it isn’t just the organisers who make a festival run smoothly.  They are assisted by a huge team who spend days before and after the festival building and breaking down the site.  A special mention must go to the wonderful army of Oxfam stewards.  These selfless souls turn up giving their time, often working long shifts, for no more than free entry to the event.  They work incredibly hard to keep us all safe and to keep things running smoothly.

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Of course, the biggest praise of all should go to those festival fans who turn up intent on having a great weekend.  In their thousands, music fans arrive on site to party, make new friends, and to socialise with other revelers.  Perhaps the best example of the atmosphere at Bearded Theory was the fans reactions to the Thursday night thefts.  Many fans donated to hastily arranged funds collected by the welfare team and by the crew at the Something Else Tea Tent.  Thousands of pounds were donated to help ensure that those who lost everything were able to stay on site and enjoy the festival.

You can’t help but be impressed by the selflessness and generosity of the fans at Bearded Theory.  Likewise, the attention to detail displayed by the entire team.  The festival had campsite helpers who entertained children whilst tents were erected.  There were sign language interpreters on all the stages, new paths had been installed to assist those with mobility problems,

My wife and I walked the camping fields on Saturday afternoon and Sunday evening, almost unbelievably, as the photos below will show, there wasn’t a single piece of litter to be seen in the campsites.  This was seriously impressive, but it also exemplifies that everyone has a role to play in making a festival and great experience for everyone.

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Lastly, one of the reasons that Bearded Theory is frequently awarded accolades for Best Family Festival is the Bearded Theory School.  Teachers, volunteers, Special Educational Needs teachers combine to provide a fabulous fun and educational experience for the younger festival fan.  This really is the jewel in Bearded Theory’s crown.

To summarise, Bearded Theory had a few issues to deal with over the past weekend, but as they always do, the organisers reacted swiftly, doing everything they possibly could to resolve the problems.  I have no doubt that they will do everything in their power to improve again next year.

It is Bearded Theory’s ability to listen and respond to its customers that sets it apart from most festivals.  It is the determination to get it right that makes Bearded Theory the best festival of its kind in the UK.  Long may it continue!

I will end part 1 of this review here, do watch out for reviews and photographs over the next few days.

 

Fans Should Forget The Glastonbury Ticket Resale And Go To Bearded Theory Instead

Every autumn we see the annual scramble for tickets to Glastonbury festival. On October 9, 2016 tickets for the 250,000 capacity Glastonbury festival sold out in just 35 minutes. Of course, that is not the end of the road for Glastonbury fans. The official Glastonbury festival lineup will be released in the next couple of weeks. Shortly after that, fans who now find that they no longer wish to attend, can cancel their attendance and their Glastonbury tickets will be offered for resale on the official Glastonbury website. There will, of course, be a scramble for the Glastonbury ticket re-sale, but would fans be better advised to go elsewhere, for example to Bearded Theory Festival?

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Bearded Theory Photos – final batch

Happy weekend everyone, here are the final batch of photographs from Bearded Theory 2016.   Uploaded just before I head off to this weekends festival :).

I hope you enjoyed the photos.  See you all again next year.

Bearded Theory Photo’s – batch 4

Good morning everyone.  This will be my penultimate set of photos from Bearded Theory last week.

I hope these help you to relive an incredible weekend.

Bearded Theory Photos – Batch 3

It is already Wednesday and I am still reflecting on just how brilliant Bearded Theory festival was.  The team at Bearded Theory have definitely found a winning formula, a template for just how well a festival can be run.

That said it is the wonderful people who attend festivals that create the atmosphere that makes a festival really special.  Thank you to all of the wonderful people who came together to create a truly wonderful atmosphere.  You make festivals what they are.