Pikehall farm was once again the setting for this year’s YNOT? festival. The working farmland plays host each year to a huge variety of musical genres and family friendly activities, making it one of the most popular summer music festivals in the UK.
This year’s line-up was certainly appealing to many due to it’s eclectic mix of styles, from pop and post-punk, to indie and dance. The festival really knows how to pull in the big names with this year attendees being treated to Royal Blood, Kasabian and Paul Weller. In all honesty there were many supports lower on the bill that were headline material. The Chartlatans, James and Murder Capital were also playing making for one of the stronger festival line-up of 2023.
RGM checked in on Saturday and kicked off with Wigan wonders The Lathums who treated an eager audience to their catchy feel good songs. Lead singer and guitarist Alex Moore is a natural front man, with a unique style and a humble approach to his role that is both endearing and refreshing. He regularity thanks his fans, some of whom have stood waiting at the barrier for hours with banners and signs declaring their love for the four piece. It would appear these lads can do no wrong lately having performed at Kendal Calling on the Friday, I doubt it will be long before you see their name at the top of many festival bills.
We caught up with Manchester post punkers IST IST who have garnered a huge following over the past few years. I had a brief chat with Andy and Adam about what was next for the four piece. They had been added as a surprise headliner to the Scruff of the Neck stage and were excited about their plans for 2024. A huge tour is on the cards for next year with the band raring to get their music heard on a larger scale. Having seen them headline the Ritz in Manchester earlier this year, I am convinced that these guys are ready to make their mark and continue their steady rise to the top!
A quick jog (fast walk…I’m not exactly known for my jogging prowess) across the backstage area which was becoming increasing muddy to catch the next band. Quite a surreal experience being on a working farm amongst tractors then thrust into the madness of the Quarry Stage for post-punkers Murder Capital.
These Irish lads know how to put on a show. Quite a contrast from the lighter hearted Lathums which is what makes this festival so special. The band have creeped up and onto the mainstream radar of the punk scene and the Quarry tent is jam packed. Tracks were played from their latest album ‘Gigi’s Recovery’ which was released in January as well as fan favourite ‘Green & Blue’ from their 2019 album ‘When I Have Fears’
Back to the main stage and I have been lucky to see this next band a couple of times this year, once with a full orchestra and the other time in historic grade 1 listed former cloth hall, so I may as well add a working farm into the mix!
James have toured non-stop this year much to the delight of their many fans. This evening as the sun set over Pikehall farm (yes the sun made an appearance!) Tim Booth and his wonderful band took the the stage and gave the audience a show to remember. By song three Booth had jumped off the stage and climbed into the crowd to serenade bemused fans who held onto his legs as he stood atop the railing and sang ‘Come Home’. Their sets do change and I was delighted to see them perform ‘Tomorrow’ live.
Back to the farm on Sunday and I arrived just in time to catch The Charlatans. Tim Burgess was on fine form fresh from hosting his famous Tim Peaks diner at Kendal the night before. This band never fail to impress. The band launched straight into ‘With No Shoes’ with Burgess trademark effortlessly cool vocals and iconic moves.
The crowd were lapping up the nostalgia with tracks including ‘The Only One I Know’ and ‘North Country Boy’ echoing across the fields. The dreamy, iconic setlist provided a warm and happy outpouring of love to the crowd who sang every word back to Burgess as he danced around the stage carefree. Despite the rain, the band gave much needed warmth to the fields and Burgess knows how to work an audience, it felt intimate despite the vast outdoor space he was singing to.
The line-up meant some bands overlapped, so I regretfully left The Charlatans and headed through the mud to the Quarry tent and caught the tale end of Courting’s set. I made it in time to see the last two songs, and they packed a punch! They have certainly made themselves ‘ones to watch’ on the punk scene with their energetic stage antics and prominent bass lines. In a scene jam packed with post-punk bands, these guys are certainly making the right moves and will no doubt be working their way up festival bills in the future.
Bilk were next on the list. The chaotic Essex based three piece set the Giant Squid tent on fire with their noisy chaotic punchy tunes reminiscent of an early Blur if Blur had been a little bit more punky! The crowd lapped up the fast paced uplifting set with songs topical tracks that cover a whole manner of current issues, from politics to social media, they cover all bases and have a steady following, despite lead singer Sol Abrahams dismay that the northerners did not make them feel too welcome in the pub the night before. Nothing could be further from the truth in this tent as the love for this band is big!
Back to the main stage was Australian indie band DMA’s. They have a huge following in the North West, and have gained a huge following due to their sing a long anthems and most notably their fantastic cover of Cher’s ‘Believe’.
The three piece are always a welcome addition to any festival line-up and despite the torrential rain, fans crowded into the main arena to hear the three piece play an hour set of their finest tracks, including that Cher cover. One song that is worth a listen to is their cover of Crowded House’s ‘Better Be Home Soon’ which the band played in a lockdown live session.
The headliner this evening was the ‘Modfather’ himself Mr Paul Weller. The rain held off as Weller made his way onto the main stage to rapturous cheers from the patient audience who had braved the horrendous conditions all afternoon. Weller was in fine form kicking off with ‘The Changingman’ from ‘Stanley Road’. This was followed by hits from both the Style Council and of course The Jam with the band playing both ‘That’s Entertainment’ and ‘Town Called Malice’ to complete a fantastic set and bring to a close this years festival which despite the dodgy weather was a huge success!
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