Set in the village of Barrow just outside Bury St Edmunds, surrounded by countryside and with the tower of the Norman church visible through the trees this was a good place to spend a day.
The weather threatened this idyll around lunchtime, but Cambridge trio Goldblume played on through the gales and rain to an audience mainly appreciating their passion and complex math-rock song structures from the marquee at the back of the arena. Never mind, Jethro was as always the consummate frontman, weaving his lyrical spells with unpredictable guitar embellishments as bass and drums gave a substantial backbone. To help overcome the elements the volume was turned up to eleven, enhancing defining highlights ‘Husk’ and ‘Bleach’.
Next on the acoustic stage was guitarist Laura Wyatt singing a mixture of her own compositions and covers (including ‘California Dreamin”, with top quality audience echoes of the lines courtesy of the barbershop group who had performed earlier!). I particularly liked her own ‘The Space Between’ and ‘I L.O.V.E You’ (?) and ‘Thinking Of You’ was a well-judged version of Ed Sheeran’s popular track.
A lively burst of country music from Sam Coe and the Long Shadows was followed by an impressive roster of upcoming talent from the Queens Road School of Rock, then we returned to catch the end of an acoustic performance from bluesy singer and guitarist Ben Sayer.
With their ‘Powerpuff Girls’ cartoon fancy dress and hundreds of bubbles blowing across the arena Cambridge-based trio Pink Lemonade made a big impact from the start with their deep dark ‘Down In The Woods’. Debut single ‘Space Girl’ was the catchiest tune of the day so far, its sparse instrumentation giving clarity to the perfect song structure.
The revival of the Spice Girls was celebrated with a cover of ‘Wannabe’ – like the whole set this was a high-voltage blast with great vocal interplay. New song ‘Rewind’ and ‘Can’t Escape You’ (‘…siesta in a fiesta…?‘) kept the momentum going and recent single ‘Sugar N Spice’ was the punchy finale and fun signature track for this excellent band.
Ffion Rebecca plays many shows in and around the Cambridge area and continues to hone her live performance into something really special. She owns the stage and has the confidence in a festival setting to perform her late-night soulful compositions that demand full attention, ably assisted by an empathetic band with nuanced bass and drums and especially the smooth electric guitar stylings.
The tempo was mellow and she delivered the lyrics with a balance of passion and respect for the key melody with fine control of the jazz embellishments that add so much to these heartfelt words. Personal songs such as ‘Wondering Mind’, (dedicated to her brother) were put into context by her introductions and good interplay with the audience. ‘Bye’ was the most uptempo track from Ffion then ‘Till The Moon Dies’ featuring some subtle drumming with brushes and a gorgeous chorus line melody was the thoughtful close to this emotional set.
We had to leave, although there was much more to follow – grateful thanks to the volunteers who put together this established but still off-the radar (and free…) musical showcase!