RGM spent a sunny Sunday in the beautiful grounds of Hardwick Hall Hotel in County Durham for this year’s Hardwick Festival. The festival aims to appeal to the whole family and presents two stages jam packed with a variety of musical genres to suit even the fussiest of music fans.
As I walked through the woodland to the main stage area, I passed varied activities, a fairground and a disco, set by a stunning lake. As festival locations go, this is certainly up there with the most picturesque.
As line-ups go, the organisers had pulled out all the stops with a stellar ensemble of well known veterans of the industry playing alongside newer bands and artists. First up on RGM’s list was one of our favourites, and possibly on of the most hardworking bands on the scene presently, The Lottery Winners.
Never failing to raise a smile, this four piece are making huge waves, bagging a number on album in recent months and getting themselves on many festival bills. Frontman Thom Rylance has a wonderful stage presence, honest and incredibly funny. The band played a number of hits from their latest album ‘Anxiety Replacement Therapy’.
The highlight was certainly ‘A Letter to Myself’ which is a clever approach to setting future goals and not being afraid to be true to yourself. The band have a lot of young fans and it is tracks like this that make The Lottery Winners role models, not something you see a lot of in today’s industry.
Next up was Newcastle singer-songwriter Andrew Cushin. RGM were lucky to see Cushin’s intimate show at YES in Manchester a few years ago and since then he has had gained a legion of loyal fans, and just returned from a huge American tour with One Direction’s Louis Tomlinson. Playing to a home crowd today, Cushin treated his fans, (some of whom had waited at the barriers all day to get a good view of their idol) to tracks from his forthcoming album ‘Waiting for The Rain’.
I caught up briefly with Andrew backstage following his set asked him about the American tour. He said it was unreal and seemed totally blown away by the journey his career had taken. He had better get used to it as I reckon huge things are on the cards for this lad.
The Cribs were up next and Wakefields finest export played a strong set which featured many of their best known tracks from the past 20 years. The band are serious and passionate about their work, with twins Gary and Ryan Jarman focusing on the music, and keeping audience interaction to a minimum. It is fitting that they were the warm up for a former well-known band member, Mr Johnny Marr who was up next.
Marr famously played with The Cribs for three years (2008-2011) and had nothing but praise for his former band mates, even dedicating a song to them during his outstanding set. Marr is an incredible live performer, pulling all the shapes, but seeing his guitar solos up close was a memorable, breathtaking experience. Defying youth, Marr struts about the stage effortlessly, treating the audience who chanted ‘Johnny Fucking Marr’ repeatedly to his solo work, and of course some classic Smiths songs. Ending with ‘There is a Light That Never Goes Out’ as the sun set over the beautiful grounds of Hardwick Hall, was quite possibly the moment of the summer for me.
Tonight’s headliner needs no introduction, The Chief himself, and keeping in with the Manchester theme Mr Noel Gallagher and his fabulous High Flying Birds.
The whole of Hardwick’s attendees had gathered en mass to witness the Burnage born icon. He appeared onstage, looking fairly nonchalant and got straight down to work in his no-nonsense fashion with a track from his latest album ‘Council Skies’ called ‘Pretty Boy’. His latest album has had mixed reviews but I believe this is some of his best solo work, grittier than his previous and some outstanding tracks including the titular track which was next on the setlist.
The band played some classic Oasis numbers in the second half of the set, ending with the anthemic ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’. What a song to end a pretty special festival, no rain, no drama, just people living in the moment surrounded by idyllic scenery and some of the best in the business. Special mention to JAC media, and to Jon and his team for being so accommodating. An event like this takes a lot of graft and RGM are grateful to the hospitality shown by these guys!
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