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Review: PennFest Friday

By | Published August 11, 2017

Credit: Sterling Kelly

The first day of the seventh PennFest set the weekend up to be a great one, despite the unwelcome downpour.

Noasis kicked off proceedings on the main stage and whilst there wasn’t much of crowd at that point of the day, those few who witnessed their set enjoyed belting along to “Rock n Roll Star” and “Don’t Look Back In Anger”, amongst others.

Singer-songwriter Alex Francis displayed his talents and wooed many in the growing crowd with his acoustic ballads and gentler voice, his best tune without doubt was “The Last Time”, which had plenty swaying dreamily. 

Maybe it was the act that followed that made Alex seem almost overly laid back, or perhaps it was the chilled nature of his act that made EMF,  the next main stage act, seem almost crazy. We were unsure what to expect from them, having only ever heard one or two of their songs but what followed was a certainly interesting set which had the crowd excited, the band grinning and an 8 year old invading the stage (no, really).  If anyone stood still during their set they deserve some sort of award, as there was no reason not to be dancing and leaping about to match the energy on the stage.

Elsewhere Kate Nash and Becky Hill  contrasted the madness of EMF  with their more laid back sounds and slightly smaller audiences, which we enjoyed not in the tent of the stage but just outside on some immensely comfy leather sofas, which added to the relaxing feel of their tunes.

Later on into the afternoon the bucket hats and acid house t-shirts dispersed and were replaced  with a somewhat younger but by no means less enthusiastic and energetic crowd, there to enjoy Maverick Sabre’s soul based pop music. Whilst he didn’t command the crowd in the same way, Maverick’s voice is certainly something to behold live, and was perfect to match the tone as the sun started setting. His hour long set did seem a little excessive however, particularly when compared to the fact he had the same time as the two headline bands which have had careers far longer than his.

Though The Charlatans seemed to bring the rain during their set, the weather did nothing to dampen anyone’s spirits, not least Tim Burgess, who beamed ear to ear the entire time whilst wearing a parka and sandals with socks for the entire set. (Personally I’d love to see that become a Manchester/indie scene staple, along with the iconic bucket hat, of which there were many in the crowd). Playing a blindingly good setlist featuring the most popular and arguably best tracks from their newest release “Different Days”, they did more than just whet the appetite for those looking forward to Primal Scream later on in the evening.

As a huge fan of Primal Scream it seemed sacrilegious to abandon our front row spot before their set and not enjoy their personally selected mixtape before the show. This in itself was enjoyable, featuring artists like Marvin Gaye, and 13th Floor Elevators, making what had become a somewhat torrential downpour bearable. Primal Scream  themselves were on top form, having shaken their setlist up from last year’s “Chaosmosis” tour, throwing back into the mix some fan favourites like “Dolls” and “Slip Inside This House”. Their set flew by, even the almost 15 minute version of “Loaded” which saw the crowd eager to keep singing their own improvised chant which earned a grin from Bobby Gillespie himself. By the time the final part of the unification anthem “Come Together”  had finished, the rain had been long forgotten in our minds, even though it hadn’t actually stopped.

Credit: Sterling Kelly

It’s hard to see how the Saturday topped the Friday in terms of crowd atmosphere but with a line-up on the smaller stages that seemed to rival that of the main on the Friday, it’s entirely possible.