All The Pretty Horses…

Beautiful Days
August 23, 2006, 8:24 pm
Filed under: Dancing, PROD


Another weekend, another field. This time it was Devon (Escot Park, to be precise) and it was Beautiful Days, a festival ‘hosted’ by The Levellers.

I’d never have even considered going to this particular gathering if it weren’t for the fact that we were being asked to do so for the Pussy Parlure once again. Getting free tickets, some free drinks and some expenses can make even the most unappealing ideas slightly more so..

Actually, I had a brilliant weekend, although – rather like Lost Vagueness festival last year – this was as much ‘in spite of’ as ‘because of’. We – myself, Ailsa and Mark ‘PROD Door Bitch’ Stafford – piled down in a lovely campervan owned by two friends, Han & Jan, which makes a world of difference for a start – being able to travel comfortably and carry more avoids you arriving sorebacked, grumpy and booze-less. The weather started badly and progressed to the occasional downpour but it never became unbearable and our little encampment in the crew area was great.. Jared arrived later from the horrific-sounding and apparently fairly horrific in reality ‘Shambala Kids Camp’ nearby..

The site was lovely – rolling hills, trees and ponds. It was very Levellers in style – old school festie meets the  better bits of Glastonbury – and the bits that really got on my tits (blokes in pantaloons sporting tankards on their belts, seemingly every fucking New Model Army fan left, that sort of thing) were outweighed pretty much by the site, the good organisation, the spaciousness..

The biggest problem apart from the hippies was the music. A quick glance at the bill before showing up looked halfway decent, but closer examination left you feeling a little desperate. When the biggest names are the Buzzcocks, Killing Joke, Julian Cope and The Levellers you kinda know you’re in trouble. Which is why – not for the first time – the Pussy Parlure was a blessing, an oasis of funk and fun in a desert of fiddly-fucking-dee.


Not everything in there worked, but having a mixture of cabaret (some great, some less great), party-orientated DJs and the odd low-key live band worked well. We turned in a LOT of stints – both a couple of full-on Juke Joint slots, some ‘Lovely Morning’ stuff, where we play gospel, soul, jazz, country etc to the hungover, and our first – and pretty successful – Pop Quiz. We seemed to go down pretty well (and on Friday night it was one-in, one-out of a venue with capacity well into the hundreds)….

At points music elsewhere was terrifyingly bad – you couldn’t move for fiddly cod-Oirish bollocks and the like. But there was the odd diamond in the rough.. Julian Cope turned in a suitably wayward but lovable performance.. Ailsa was unaware of, and not much impressed by, his music but saw his innate star quality immediately.

 Chumbawamba – an old habit that’s hard to shake – were very good in their new(ish) and possibly permanent acoustic format. Although by this point we’d all necked enough bits’n’pieces that singalongs and politics were not quite what we needed.

The real highlight – by an absurd degree – were Alabama 3

it wasn’t really a revelation as such – I’ve been watching them live for about a decade, and must have seen them a hundred times, everywhere from Glastonbury headline slots to Brixton squat backrooms. And they’ve always been damned variable in quality, especially in their full line-up. But this weekend, when it was essentially the acoustic, guitar/harp/vocals Larry Love Showband version (presumably billed as Alabama 3 for populist reasons?) they were absolutely inspirational.

Rob/Larry Love – twisted as ever – was in phenomenal form, as was their female singer Zoe, who is about the best country vocalist I’ve ever seen live. Punchy as hell, channeling Dolly and never falling back on over-emoting and clichés, she just rocked it. To entertain a few thousand mashed up punters with some gospel/country music, some voices and some stripped down backing takes some doing, and they did it..  of course, they had to finish – as did the other stages – in time to allow everyone to rush to see the fucking Levellers. But we went back to the Pussy Parlure to dance badly to wedding disco soul music and laugh at the costumes..

What wasn’t great? The amount of cops onsite, the paucity of decent music, the amount of irritating hippies (why are some hippies irritating and other not? Fuck knows, my bigotries are complicated.. ), the lack of more comedy / variety and dance music. 

 What was great? Buying nothing from the foodstalls and making damn good eats in your tent – eating well and savin dollar – that was great. Wandering surf band The Deep Sea Jivers were great..

My mate Quality Tom dressed as a bear was great (his rationale? he was twatted, and he wanted to blend in)..


Spending 3 days pissed in a field with some good good friends was great.


And this.. this was GREAT.


lots more pics here by the way


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