Gig review: Clarence Park Festival, Wakefield

The Michael Ainsley Band at Clarence Park festival. Picture: John Jowett
The Michael Ainsley Band at Clarence Park festival. Picture: John Jowett
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Celebrating its 22nd year and Yorkshire’s longest-running free festival, Clarence Park festival in Wakefield over the weekend was certainly one of the best local ones I’ve attended in recent years.

Not swarmed with the usual overthrow of ‘indie’ headliners that tend to dominate the local festival scene, CP2013 was a celebration of music in general.

Produced and organised by the Wakefield Music Collective, a team of outward maverick volunteers, their input is integral to promoting new music and generating more interest in the local music scene.

Wakefield tends to be an outcast area, sandwiched in between its big brother cities such as Leeds, Bradford and Sheffield it misses out on the big name acts which grace larger venues. However through the development of newer festivals such as Long Division and Crooked Ways the music and festival scene across mid Yorkshire is now becoming a thriving outlet.

Kicking off on Friday with a launch night at The Hop in Wakefield, Clarence Park fest had a belter of an opener from Barnsley’s Aztec Doll, Leeds rockers Belladonic Haze and Ipswich’s prog supremos Benjamin Bloom.

Come 12pm on a sun-drenched Saturday morning/afternoon CP2013 started with a thrashing opening act from metallers, The Albion Codex. The day progressed quite brilliantly with a cracking line-up including, Jacobean Ruff, The King Crows, Lauren Housley Band, The Darlingtons and Antonio Lulic.

When five-piece Spandex southerners White Pigeon hit the stage with such vigor it was a double-take kind of moment. Obviously unprepared for them, they captured the crowd with a fantastic show combining the awesomeness of Iron Maiden mixed in with the swagger of The Darkness and a bit of comedy Tenacious D to boot. Not a covers band in any way shape or form, White Pigeon stunned everyone with an excellently crafted set.

The day carried on with fantastic performances from The Repeat Offenders, the outstanding Auction for the Promise Club, highly-tipped Vienna Ditto, and the award-winning and immensely talented young DJ from Knaresborough Rory Hoy.

Ending the day were 90s chart toppers, Dodgy. The million-plus record sellers were always going to create a great atmosphere for the Wakefield festival goers and rightly so they did. Opening with ‘Staying out for the Summer’ and continuing with massive hits ‘Good Enough’ and ‘In a Room’, Dodgy delivered a set met with banter and a good few thousand people dancing on a hill in a park in Wakefield.

Sunday’s confirmed showers made a gloomier start for the day, still thronging with people, many hiding under trees, umbrellas, in tents or used beer boxes, the day was ripped open with Wakefield’s favourite sons, The Michael Ainsley Band. Having a local opener is always a great way to bring in the crowd who can sit down and relax for the rest of the day, obviously stumbling home come 8pm that evening.

On the second stage for Sunday the line-up included Archean Soundtrack, the amazing Eva Abraham, and unusual crowd pleasers J the Ex. Hailing from London, J has a performance list which includes, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. His hip-hop/soulful set dissolved quickly and slotted in well.

Doncaster’s finest, Hemmingway, and dance/punk and all round good guys King Canute finalised the second stage set.

The bandstand stage rolled along effortlessly with Never a Hero. The Suffolk anthemic metallers tore the stage apart with a neat set list. Famous Villains came on next to a rapturous applause from every single lady sat on the hill and were followed by Anglo/Aussie band The Coopers and electro rock act Raptusound. As bandstand support act for the evening, Raptusound enticed a crowd with a flawless performance combining Editors meets Alt-J styled beats sculptured with a beautiful synthesised arrangement.

The final act and to round off the weekend was The Lagan. Cranked up to 11, the brash guitar riffs amplified the traditional Irish folk sound so well that I don’t think there was a single person stood still or at least not spinning round linked arm in arm.

Clarence Park is such a great festival. Not a typical festival in format and not attended by a typical festival crowd, but such is the enthusiasm from its organisers it reflects in the music it promotes.

In 2014 they hope to have an even better line-up and the best thing is it’s completely free!

Gig date: July 27-28, 2013

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