CAMP BESTIVAL 2018: A WET N WILD TRIP ON HMS BESTIVAL

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Rob Da Bank’s Camp Bestival’s 10th year was naval themed. Clowns, acrobats and every animal under the sun were all in attendance down in, um, sunny Dorset. With a variety different tents and stages filled with music, comedy, dance and weddings – Camp Bestival is the most fun family festival around. Especially when headlined by Rick Astley, Clean Bandit and Simple Minds.

Over 30,000 come each year to let their remaining hair down and allow their children to run a mock all over Lulworth Castle. Without their being a babysitting tent, it’s a wonder what happens to all the children when their parents throw shapes in the Silent Disco ’til 1 am.

Friday was headlined by 80’s superstar Rick Astley, but due to weather and transport I had to miss out, luckily nothing exciting happened – like Mary Berry getting behind the drums during his set. On Saturday morning at 5am I was woken up by a storm; it had been one of the driest summers in years so obviously it had decided to pour down during the one weekend that I was due to stand in a middle of a field for days.

I kept checking social media sites to see the extent of the carnage to the festival. Hundreds of campers had noted that the weather was due to get worse and had abandoned the festival already. Horrendous and hilarious sights of small children helping their parents hold together their supermarket value tents were a wash throughout Instagram. But being a brave experienced soul, I left the safety of my flat and made it down to the arena just after the final rain shower of the day and in time to check out the Stereo MC’s. 

MC Rob Birch may look like the father of all of East 17, but at 58 he has the energy of a man half his age and his enthusiasm and passion shone throw and soon the entire Castle Stage was bouncing to the sounds of Step It Up, Fade Away and of course, Connected. An unexpected triumph.

Post Stereo MC’s I took a trip around the festival to take in the atmosphere. The previous nights high winds and rain hadn’t destroyed the site, though there was a lack of queuing for the high-wire walking and trapeze.  Unfortunately I had missed auditioning for the UK air-guitar championship, but did manage to catch some spoken-word action in the Guardian Literary Institute before heading back to see another 90’s throwback – Jesus Jones.

The indie-ravers didn’t exactly have an adoring crowd awaiting their stage arrival – strange since they had some absolute smashes in the 90’s here and in the States with Right Here, Right Now. Front man Mike Edwards still looks dapper and keyboardist Iain Baker was probably my entire festival highlight, he was a man possessed screaming into space one moment, the next just randomly roaming the stage, arms held wider than Jesus (Christ, not Jones), wide-eyed and possessed by a magical guitar chord from 1991! I seemingly was one of the few who were as encapsulated by Jesus Jones, though the sound-mix was muddier than most of the camp sites. By the time Info Freako played out, I was left impressed by how many decent tracks they had written, and to find out what Iain Baker was on.

Sadly Tokio Myers has pulled out due to an injury which meant music.ly sensations Max & Harvey got boosted up to the main stage to the delight of hundreds of pre-teens. I for one had never heard of the duo, mainly because I’m a childless man in his 30’s, but they are kinda like Jedward, with better hair and less dance moves. After two The Vamp-lite songs, they cried out “hello Glastonbury” and asked if anyone knew the British words to the Justin Bieber’s Despacito. I decided to bail. A blessing as I came to discover that legendary music video director Tim Pope was due to have a talk on his illustrious career in the Guardian tent. Tim Pope is well know for being The Cure’s visual director and filming classic music videos for Soft Cell, Talk Talk and David Bowie. Pope announced that he is working on two Cure projects including a film version of their recent Hyde Park concert. He spoke about his favourite videos from the past as well as candid antidotes on leaving a dent in Neil Young’s forehead and  discussing fruit bowls with Lou Reed and Bowie. A very enigmatic talent and a great interview.

Clean Bandit were due to hit the in 45 minutes, so there was enough time to follow a sit down chat with a film-maker by going to the Bollywood tent to see some old skool rave DJs. DJ Vibes and the Fat Controller didn’t let me down and dangerous shapes, little fishes and boxes were appearing throughout the tent – sadly I forgot my whistle and white gloves, but it was pretty neat to see some local bobbies joining in the fun.

Clean Bandit had covered the main stage with the best silver foil hanging shapes since my 6th form’s art project. The trio were accompanied by two fine singers to take the place of all of the premier guest singers Clean Bandit have used over the years, including Demi Lovato, Zara Larson and Anne Marie. The band was dressed for the occasion with cellist Grace Chatto dressed as a mermaid and keyboardist Jack Patterson sporting a pink wig. Chatto seemed to enjoy the lime-light more than her band mates; At every opportunity she was joining in with dance routines and singing duties as much as possible. A few teenagers screamed her name out every time she came centre stage, and judging by the smells the kids were very excited indeed.

The band were pretty much what i’d expect, Patterson had a lovely array of instruments and what seemed to be an electronic recorder, but after 80 minutes of the same tempo pop my attention span began to notice the grey skies above and the desire for food and a warm bed. Rather Be got the reaction one would  expect from the chart-topping act, but I never thought I’d be still wishing that the Stereo MC’s were playing.

I ran to my car to escape the incoming rain shower – who knew that this would be last memory of the festival. On Sunday morning Camp Bestival announced they were closing the main area until an announcement at 1:30 pm due to high-winds and rain. Sadly at 1:36 pm they uploaded an apology that the festival was unable to continue. A sad way to end, as Simple Minds, Shed Seven and, of course, the fireworks were many reasons why people made their trip from all parts of the UK. But health & safety comes first. Hats off to Shed Seven who played an impromptu performance at a local pub. Surely they will return next year.

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