Photo by Danny Norths

Photo by Danny Norths


Last year’s festival wristbands cleverly had ‘I am not a number’ written on them, a nod to The Prisoner, the sixties cult sci-fi show filmed at Portmeirion. This gave you a bubbling anticipation of what lay beyond. But this year’s wristbands are different, gone is the ‘I am not a number’, and guess what it has instead, yes….. a number! Is this a sign of changes from last year’s fantastic festival? Let’s hope not.

We get on the festival site early afternoon and drag our weekend home and belongings from the drop off point up hill through one field and into the first camping area, this one’s full so we move onto the next and spot a gap big enough for our rather large borrowed tent (cheers Darren), it sleeps five, but there’s only two of us. Our chosen pitch is on a rather steep incline, but it’s raining and all we want to do is get settled in now.

After a bit of wrangling and attempted pegging into a rather stone filled ground (without a mallet, which I stupidly left at home) we’re in and unpacked and ready to hit the main arena for some music, and a well needed drink. Our timing is impeccable as we get to the i-Stage (nothing to do with Apple, but the newspaper) just as Dutch Uncles are setting up. This band are up there in my favourite bands to see live ever since I caught them at Manchester’s Deaf Institute, where I’d only actually gone to see Fiction who were supporting. A proper ace gig that will stay with me for a long time to come.

The marquee is now at a comfortable capacity as Marc Riley, who’s a huge Dutch Uncles advocate, comes on stage to introduce them. I must add here that at the previously mentioned Deaf Institute gig Riley was stood next to me on the balcony going absolutely nuts throughout, so clearly it wasn’t just me that rated that show as something very special. In his intro it’s noted that he’s wearing exactly the same t-shirt he was wearing on stage at least year’s Festival No. 6, but it has been washed since. Riley tells us that Dutch Uncles should be one of the biggest bands in the world, and you know what, he’s got a point.

Dutch Uncles might be giving their last festival show of the summer, but they’re as energetic as ever. Frontman Duncan Wallis’ dance moves have to be seen to be believed, they can be resembled to Jarvis Cocker’s Pulp days, but these aren’t simple mimicry, they are Wallis clearly enjoying and feeling the music and physically performing the sounds. The set has all the great songs that you’d expect, ‘The Ink’, ‘Cadenza’ ‘Bellio’ and ‘Flexxin’. The latter of which you should check out the video (here) if you want to see Wallis’ dance moves in action. To close the set they bring out their cover of the mad lady of pop Grace Jones’ ‘Slave To The Rhythm’. In the middle of this there’s an extended wig out of pure funk that Nile Rogers would be more than proud of.

The Radiophonic Workshop

The Radiophonic Workshop

Next up on the same stage is an act I never thought I’d get to see, The Radiophonic Workshop. Now to try and give you a history about these guys would take me a week and a day, and that would be the short version. To put it simply, they started as a department of the BBC back in 1958 to produce sound effects and music for radio, and this was all before the days of digital, it was a new world they had to create from scratch. Two of the most famous names from the ranks are Delia Derbyshire (created the Dr Who theme tune) and John Baker, both are now sadly passed, but today’s show does see several of the very early members, including Paddy Kingsland, Peter Howell and Dick Mills.

Those original members are now on stage wearing white lab coats with ‘The Original Sonic Solution’ embroidered on the back. A nice touch and also very true. These guys, even though they are now the same age or even older than your granddads, really are pioneers of electronic music.

Even just watching these guys (and the several other stage hands) set up their old analogue equipment is getting the hairs on the back of neck standing on end because I know I’m in for a treat. When they are finally ready there is a massive buzz of excitement and anticipation in the crowd.

Quite at odds with what we are all expecting they open with what can only be described as a hard dance track, but this only goes to show that these guys were always about the new and not the old. But that said we are all here because we want to see them play the music and sounds we know from the fifties, sixties and seventies.

Next up is their rendition of Delia Derbyshire’s ‘Ziwzih Ziwzih OO-OO-OO’ which was written in the mid-sixties for an episode of Out Of The Unknown. With this being such an easily recognisable track from the off the crowd go mental. Along with these special sounds are two large screens showing old footage of sci-fi visuals.

There’s a lot of faffing with reels and the swapping of cables between tracks, but nobody is getting bored, as this is just as much part of what we want to see.

Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, mid-set is some original music from the Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy radio show, with visuals and samples of the character Arthur Dent. I really am in geek heaven. John Baker and Delia Derbyshire are given a mention by our main host, now nicknamed ‘The Captain’ and the crowd give some very appreciative cheers for both.

John Baker’s ‘New Worlds’ is given an outing with some instructional video footage. This track is mainly known for the theme tune John Craven’s Newsround and is clearly recognised by nearly everyone here.

There’s just one way to end this show, and that’s with the theme from Dr Who, but after a false start they need to reset some machinery. We’re instructed in the art of ‘spooling back’ and told that that this can’t be done digitally, or quickly. Next is a problem with some of the laptops being used, and Peter Howell is quick to blame this on the fact they are Macs, while expressing his preference of PCs.

Finally, it’s time for the Dr Who theme in all its live glory, and everyone is now cheering louder than before. They start with the original and as the images being shown go through the doctors chronologically the music speeds up with each new interpretation.

This show has been spectacular as I’ve been listening to their sounds and music since I was a child and it was everything I ever expected it to be. Hats off to them!

We toddle off to find something to eat and after this we seem to be hit with a slight exhaustion, possibly a mixture of it being a long day and also getting to realise a childhood dream of seeing The Radiophonic Workshop has taken its toll, so we decide to rest up for the rest of the night and make the most of tomorrow.

Saturday’s Review Here

Simon Zaccagni

‘Accidental Editor’ of Silent Radio from its inception in 2009 through to 2020. None of this was planned; I’ve never been in a band, never been part of the ‘music scene’ and never expected to be the gaffer of a music website with loads of dedicated music loving writers. I bought my first record when I was 8 and haven’t stopped buying since. I love crate digging for bizarre and weird stuff, but equally happy ploughing through press releases looking/listening for something I’ve never heard before.