While being previously being mocked for only leaving Levenshulme for copious amount of white wine in the Northern Quarter, for the third year running I found myself boarding a train and heading to the Peak District for Cotton Clouds festival in the idyllic setting of Saddleworth Cricket Club. Just a 20 minute train ride from Manchester Piccadily to Greenfields, which coincidentally is a perfect amount of time to polish off a bottle of wine and a curly wurly, its home to the independent festival Cotton Clouds which returned to the picturesque cricket pitch for the third time.
The first thing you notice on the walk from the station is a local pub, but in the interests of the festival finding mission, like Dionne Wawick you walk on by and carry on down the hill. The second thing you notice is by God that’s a big hill that will be hell to walk back up so better make sure you are tipsy enough to not care, for the record thanks to the abundance of real ale tents this was very achievable! Taking in the surrounds you can’t help but see the location is down right pretty, in a Beatrice Potter could have drawn these houses kinda way and the site itself perfectly suits its surrounding by being intimate and cosi. There are live artists dotted about alongside and hipster artisanal food trucks and real ale tents creating a genuinely welcoming family friendly atmosphere.
Our first stop (after a brief visit to one of the real ale tents, to help with the hill walk later….) was to the satellite stages, Dirty Laces, The C33s and La Mode all gave stellar performances and it was encouraging to see new bands both on the bill and supported with a strong crowd. The main stage offering at this point was Patawawa a NuDisco musical trio raised onfunk, soul and disco. But despite their groove filled baselines, sparkly guitar licks and whimsical interplay of mixed vocals their early set time of 4pm failed to ignite overly chilled crowd. By this point the main arena was filling up but atmosphere was still one of a chilled out country Sunday fair complete with families and friends milling about enjoying Haloumi fries and vegan wraps in eco friendly biodegradable packaging.
This all changed and the party began when the purple sharped suited advocate for “Sexy Jesus” the Right Reverend Michael Alabama Jackson came out fronting Oh My God! It’s The Church. They were an entertainment phenomenon, combining live music, comedy and let’s not forget the cheer leading choir,their wild services moved the masses to dance to a set of innuendo filled covers.
Secluded Sea, and Liines musically can do no wrong in my book both packed Tim Peaks Diner to rapturous applause, with a good portion of the crowd choosing the tents to the House and Garage Orchestra who expertly took the main arena back to the 90s but seemed tame after the riotous tunes and behaviour of Oh My God! It’s The Church.
Next on the must see list was UNE, the new offering by Mark Radcliffe electronica tech head Paul Langley. A perfectly blended mixture of styles and lyrics of no literal translation, despite their vast combined number of years in music Une managed to stage both current and innovative. The vibe quickly changed from self reflective when bouncing crowd pleaser festival favourites Reverend and the Makers took to the stage with their tried and festival set.
While last year’s headliners of the disco perfection of Sister Sledge would always be hard to top, The legendary Wailers had all the ingredients to finish the festival in style. Led by renowned bassist and founder Aston “Familyman” Barrett, and joined by original Wailers guitarist Donald Kinsey as well as saxophonist Glen DaCosta, The Wailers give audiences the closest opportunity possible to experience the joy that was Bob Marley & The Wailers live.
They performed a sing a long set of classics of Roots Rasta Reggae from One Love to Three Little Birds and the loved up crowd lapped it up. Another successful festival came to a close and we have visited the real ale tents enough times to sing our way back to station and not notice the hill.