Critically acclaimed indie rockers British Sea Power and their 10 foot bear Ursine Ultra were the climax to Woolfstock 2011. Nearly 800 people attended the music festival held on a stunning site just outside Newbury, West Berkshire. The event kicked off on Saturday lunchtime and ran for 24 hours, with the warm day and rain-free evening ensuring revellers had fun throughout. Sharing the billing with BSP on the main stage were Elsie, 6 Day Riot, The Draymin, The Kleptones, Paris Riots, and The Spires, who between them covered an eclectic mix spanning folk, pop, rock, electro and dance music.
Now in its second year, Woolfstock were proud to have BSP headline the event. Renowned for playing quirky venues and events, the band inspired by the gorgeous woodlands around them, dressed the stage with leaves, before stepping on stage just after 10pm to perform their big hits Waving Flags and No Lucifer alongside tracks from their current album Valhalla Dancehall including Georgie Ray and Who’s In Control to rapturous applause from fans. Ursine Ultra appeared towards the end of their 1.5 hour set to add to the band’s on-stage antics.
Sheffield electro trio The Spires, a last minute replacement for Pegasus Bridge, proved to be the perfect opening act for the festival. Their Fireworks track has ‘hit’ all over it, while front man Matt Smith’ high-energy workout on stage jumping non-stop helped the band become one of the unexpected highlights of the day. Next up was The Draymin. It is surely only a matter of time before these Fife rockers are signed. In mid-afternoon, they shook up proceedings with a sublime set featuring their brilliant Don’t Fade Away and Mirrors, along with a fair few Scottish quips.
6 Day Riot followed. In her feather-tiara and happily swapping between ukulele and guitar, the band’s lead singer Tamara Schlesinger showed why folk is back in vogue. Her gorgeous honey-drenched voice mesmerised the crowd with tender songs such as Sky Father, before getting them to stomp and sing along to Every Third Sunday and Run For Your Life. After a short break, Paris Riots stepped on stage, looking every inch the superstar rockers they are. Their self-assured performance included tracks from their debut EP Strangers alongside older gems The Indian and Hotel of Infidels, their distinctive moody and melancholic sound getting the early evening crowd into a hypnotic groove.
Tom Jones’s lead vocalist Elsie was an excellent warm-up for BSP. Returning to Woolfstock for a second year, the stunning blonde singer with a Blondie-esque sound had everyone singing and dancing to songs from her forthcoming debut album, as well as glorious covers such as Valerie by Amy Winehouse. Concluding the live performances on the main stage for 2011 was The Kleptones. The Brighton masters of mash-up held their own after BSP, serving up an audio-visual feast of classic Kleptones material including This Song Smells (Blur vs. Nirvana), Welcome Back (Guns n Roses vs. ELP vs. Chemical Brothers) and Mad Groove that sent everyone into a dance frenzy.
Festival director Jeremy Woolfendensaid, ““All the bands at Woolfstock were fantastic, with British Sea Power delivering a powerful headline set. We’ve had so much positive feedback after the event. People loved discovering new artists and the chance to get up close to them, as well as British Sea Power. We had all the artists mingling with the crowd, buying food and chatting freely with festival goers, showing we do have something unique to offer against all these major festivals. The weather held up all day long, so we really did have a perfect end to the summer.”