Gig review and photography by Ken Harrison and Drew Kirkland

Now in its 17th year, the Council run free Godiva Festival played host at Coventry War Memorial Park this weekend to a record breaking audience of around 141,000 visitors for three days of live music, dance, street theatre, comedy and disco as well as a host of family activities including craft stalls, funfair and lots more besides. The music was a diverse range of rock, indie, pop, punk, ska, rap, including local talent from some of Coventry’s finest talent and some from further afield.

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Again, Godiva, brought a great mix of the old and new, and best of all it was all free, (yep, not a penny), given the financial pressures around local authorities these days, this is nothing short of a miracle.

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On a very warm Friday night and compered by Free Radio DJ’s JD and a heavily expectant Roisin (more on Roisin later!), Rooted and Booted opened the main stage, followed by King Phoenix (a play of the rising from the ashes of the 80’s Coventry band King) and Birmingham Two-Toners The Beat, Ranking Roger and Ranking Junior warming the crowd up with a collection of Beat classics before Huey Morgan and his fellow New Yorkers  -The Fun Lovin Criminals – playing a very chilled out, smooth set (aided and abetted by “the best weed grower in Coventry”), and the band passing the doobie.

Rooted and Booted

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The Beat

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Fun Lovin’ Criminals

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Over in the Rhythm Tent, Friday night was a “Rock” night with Pelugion, Shot Down Zed, a psychedelic set from Charles Dexter Ward and the Imagineers (Think early Zeppelin and you’ll be there!). Glaswegian’s Baby Strange, playing edgy punk rock and Slaves finishing off the night. The Paradise tent hosted some Ceilidh dancing for the evening, so many folks got down with it.

Charles Dexter Ward

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Saturday, Day 2 and a hot sweltering day, brought the crowds out for The Deserts opened the main stage, followed by Quarry, and a return for The Prophets (who played last year), The Seadogs and The Broken Rebels were followed by Flygone, with an amazing bass player Nish Sidhu, playing some great bass and looking every inch the performer. Latvian quartet, Carnival Youth attracted a lot of female fans, all lined up at the front of the crowd for their set.

The Deserts

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Quarry Quarry-5

The Seadogs

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The Broken Rebels The Broken Rebels-2



Carnival Youth

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Spector followed by Pulled Apart by Horses played an energetic set, as did Don Broco and the crowd surfing kicked off in a big way. Some surfers came through at least four times. Closing Saturday night were Liverpool’s The Wombats, with Free Radio presenters taking the opportunity for a stage selfie at the start of the set.

Don Broco

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Ska and Dance had taken Saturday over in the Rhythm Tent, with The Kubricks, The Skints, The Stiff Joints, Orange Street, a great set from Dreadzone and rappers “The Society”. Also on stage Afrojosh (also returning from last years Godiva) and Nineties Boy and more dance acts into the evening. Saturday for The Paradise Tent was Street Theatre day with a range of acts on stage.

The Kubricks

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Orange Street


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The Society

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Day 3 of Godiva sees the final day of music on main stage opening gently, with Jake Melles and Harry Alexander, sharing harmonies, and switching between a guitar and a cajon (drum box) as the ground started to fill. They were followed by local singer-songwriter Danny Ansell and the multi-instrumentalist Calum Pickard and The Third Look, mellow and dreamy, followed by some tight, soul-influenced songs with The Kings Parade. Free Radio’s Roisin and her expectant band of pregnant mums-to be “Roisin and the Contractions” delivered (ouch) a fun set of baby tweaked songs including “Baby Love” and “Single Ladies” turned into “Pregnant Ladies” and “Nice, Nice, Baby” (geddit?) joined by some young male dancers (The Daddies…perhaps?).

Jake Melles & Harry Alexander


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Callum Pickard & The Third Look gdva15_1814

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Roisin & The Contractions

gdva15_1953Back to some ska with Bodysnatchers and Special AKA’s Rhoda Dakar (Coventry’s ska muscles – never really in serious danger of atrophy) and then Bristol’s Meadowlark, their innovative arrangements dovetailing with well-crafted songs, both perfectly complementing Kate McGill’s haunting voice; ideal for a summer afternoon…

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gdva15_2092We Are The Ocean turned up the volume for an energetic set of their driving rock. The skies were threatening thunder as we waited for headliners Embrace to take the stage, and 5 minutes before the schedule, the heavens opened. But as they played their opener – “Protection” – the skies cleared. “We’ve made the sun shine” announced singer Danny McNamara (with a big grin) before the band worked through their anthem-packed set, by the end of which, the skies were blue again.

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gdva15_2369gdva15_2326 Over in the Rhythm tent, Coventry Jubilee Rotary Club presents a fresh group of local young talent including UV Beats, whilst the Paradise Tent hosted a series of comedians for the family comedy day, with something to tickle most people’s funny bones.

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Over three mostly hot and sunny days at Godiva, over 150 acts to suit all tastes performed to a reasonably well behaved crowd (if you don’t count the crowd surfers) in a well organised enjoyable festival put on by Coventry City Council. The big question is whether Godiva 18 will take place in 2016 given local authority constraints, and if so, will the festival will remain free?

I hope to see Godiva 18 back in 2016, as this is a great event for the people of Coventry (and further afield) with terrific music from established artists, a showcase for local up and coming talent and fun for the whole family. What better way of spending a weekend?

Check out the full set of images from the Festival at our Flickr page.


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