Lost In The Woods Stage

Lost In The Woods Stage


I’m sure just like ourselves everyone here has checked the weather for the weekend and noted that today is going to be the best of the three days in Portmeirion, so we decide this is the day to make the most of the village and its surroundings. First port of call is breakfast (although it’s actually lunchtime), so when in Rome, eat Italian, but we’re in Wales so we opt for Welsh Rarebit in The Castle where the staff are truly welcoming even though everyone is traipsing mud and grass all over their usually pristine restaurant.

We take a mooch down through the weird and wonderfully styled Mediterranean village to find a silver band playing on the Central Piazza to a crowd of people sat in deckchairs. As we work our way down towards the Town Hall we get a glimpse down through the trees of the estuary, which is looking like a picture postcard under the blue sky and wispy clouds, so we decide to head down for a stroll on the beach. The views are stunning and nothing like you would get at any other UK festival. The tide is out and the hilly landscape is reflected on the low lying stretch of water like a mirror. Not very rock ‘n’ roll I know, but this is what makes No. 6 so special.

A quick check of who’s on where and we see that Andy Votel is DJing up at the Clough Stage in the main arena, so we head back up the hill. There’s not many people here at all for his eclectic set, but maybe everyone is staying outdoors as they know tomorrow will be the day for staying under cover.

Next I head over to the Lost In The Woods stage to catch Teleman, which is back from where we just came, back through the village and in to the woods. Fingers crossed I don’t end up, well, lost in the woods. I’ve been trying to see Teleman for a while now and each time they’ve played Manchester, twice now by my reckoning, I’ve not been able to go due to some reason or another.

I find the stage, which is thankfully only just up another steep path on the edge of the woods. The stage itself is set back from the path and half resembles a hide for watching animals and birds, and half some old country cottage living room with an old standard lamp a few stuffed animals. Teleman’s set is great and everything I expected the missed shows to be, albeit in a more surreal setting. There’s a sizeable crowd here now and tracks such as ‘Christina’ and ‘Steam Train Girl’ sound great in this outdoor setting. Keyboard duties today have been filled by Steve Black of Sweet Baboo who does a sterling job.

Now I need to leave the woods and head back down into the village and then back up to camp site to pick up my other half from the tent. My monkey boots, even though not new, are now starting to rub, I guess they, and me aren’t used to all the hill walking. City folk eh! Anyway, now we need to head back down the hill to the village as we are both looking forward to see John Cooper Clarke at the Central Piazza.

We get there in good time and manage to bag a deck chair each just in time for poet Mike Garry to be starting his set. On this occasion rather than just spoken word he’s teamed up with composer Joe Duddell. Now there’s been a lot of this classical pairings of late and I’ll be honest, it’s not done much for me. I heard The Stranglers at the Proms the other month, and in my opinion it was awful. It sounded like when you have the radio on and it’s half tuned into two different stations, it just didn’t work. I’m not a huge fan of poetry and classical music either, so I’m dubious about what’s to follow.

John Cooper Clarke

John Cooper Clarke

For starters Garry explains that the poems tonight are the polar opposite of what is to follow with JCC, they will all be about death. Great. Anyway, as soon as he starts up I’m no longer dubious, in fact it’s beautiful. His strong Mancunian accent and the string quartet should be completely at odds, but they’re not. Each of the three pieces, I call them pieces, because this is much more than just poetry to music, are a good ten minutes long with Garry professing each line to the heavens. The last of the three is a dedication to Mr Manchester, Anthony H Wilson, which is to be released to help raise funds for Christie’s Hospital. If like me you’re not mad about this recent fad of sticking classical music with other mediums, don’t let this stop you from checking out the work Duddell has been doing with acts such as Elbow, James and more recently Tim Burgess.

Time to change perspective now and we move a little nearer for a standing position closer to the stage for the one and only punk poet, John Cooper Clarke. As his spindly legs and massive back combed hair hit the stage the whole of the Central Piazza is now full. The set is a mixture of jokes, poems and tales of his life. The opening poem is ‘Get Back On Drugs’ which is based on the fact of how every time he heads home to Salford he gets people shouting “get back on drugs you fat fuck”. If JCC was any skinnier he’d slip through the cracks in pavement. A he fires though poems such as ‘Hire Car’, ‘Home Honey, I’m High’, ‘Beasley St/Beasley Blvd’ and crowd favourite ‘Twat’, it would appear his lack of body mass is allowing the drop in temperature to get to him, at which point a stage hand surrounds him with plug in heaters. That’ll add a few bob onto the lekky bill. He leaves us tonight with ‘Chicken Town’, which is spat out at such breakneck speed he can hardy fit in all the words. After this there is a standing ovation. He may have been hitting the stages now in five different decades, but you know what, he’s getting even better. Long live JCC!

Once again we hang about at the Central Piazza for The Brythoniaid Male Voice Choir who were here last year with their rendition of New Order’s Blue Monday. This year they are taking on Chic’s Good times. All but two of the set are covers that they have reworked for the fifty strong choir. We’re stood right at the front so any sound coming from the PA is going straight over our heads and all that we’re hearing is coming direct from the mouths of the choir, and it’s stunning. I take a look back at the Piazza to see if the place is still full, only to find that it’s now bursting at the seams, every little nook, cranny, wall and bench is filled. They close with the Welsh national anthem, and to my surprise, almost everyone around us (I think we’re stood with the choir’s families and friends) joins in at full volume. At the end there’s even a few chants of Oggy Oggy Oggy from the crowd.

The Brythoniaid Male Voice Choir photo by Andrew Whitton

The Brythoniaid Male Voice Choir photo by Andrew Whitton

It’s been another long day and my feet and legs are killing me, but I’m persuaded to head up to see tonight’s headline act My Bloody Valentine. We stop off at the curry place in the main arena called Ghandi’s Flip Flop, I grab us a seat at the communal table only to spot James Dean Bradfield sat opposite tucking into a curry, looks like he’s enjoying it too. By the time we’ve finished our food MBV have already been on a while so we head into large marquee. The place isn’t rammed as I’d have expected and we easily get about half way forward. The noise and feedback is huge.

Some of the tracks seem to be stuck somewhere between death metal and show-gaze. death-gaze or shoe metal, you choose. Half way through the last song ‘You Made Me Realise’ there’s a ten minute stretch where they seem to want to replicate the sound of a jet engine at full throttle with just their instruments. I’m not sure if this is just a bit over self indulgent, but the remaining crowd are enjoying it . For me it’s a case of noise and volume over substance.

Sunday’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.