Festival Review by Simon Saynor with Photography by Mark Loraine

Friday 22/08/14

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Bang Bang Romeo

Galtres opened with Doncaster band and personal friends Bang Bang Romeo, their first performance on a main festival stage. No surprises in that they nailed it. Just a shame more people couldn’t see them due to the site opening not long before they came on stage. I spoke to a few people that night who could hear the band from the queue and were gutted they didn’t get to see them.

Next up on the main stage were The Talks. I love this band so much but as with Bang Bang Romeo they merit a later slot. They still got the crowd dancing though as their sweet ska sound drifted across North Yorkshire. I’d promised the lads an interview but needed to get my camping arrangements sorted so sadly didn’t get chance. I did bump into Easy (bass) and Titch (drums) later and between us we cooked up a plan to get them back to Doncaster on their November tour.

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The Talks

Camping chaos ensued and I missed quite a bit including Foy Vance who I really wanted to see. Also the press area still wasn’t set up which made getting interviews tricky. Thankfully it’s a very open, friendly festival and most acts just mix with the punters which is how I got any interviews.


Got back to the main stage for the second half of Bellowhead. First time I’ve seen them. They were awesome though I’m not sure a pink jacket and tie is regarded as folk. We now hit the Ryedale stage which doubled as a beer tent. Alligator Gumbo were being ridiculously cool on stage as I sampled all manner of real ales.

I should say that I’ve always thought Glastonbury was the most beautiful setting for a festival. I’m proud to say Galtres (and Yorkshire of course) have topped that.


galtres-1-8-The Levellers

The Levellers

Friday night was all about The Levellers. I’ve seen The Levellers before at Bridlington Spa back in ’95 and it is simply one of the best gigs I’ve ever been too. I’ve also seen them be decidedly average though (V99). Tonight they were on fire. Mark Chadwick had the crowd in the palm of his hand. One lady next to me seemed a bit confused. ‘Have they changed their singer?’ ‘No. Why?’ ‘He looks older’. ‘When did you last see them’? ‘1996’


The first encore of the festival saw Mark Chadwick promise this weekend’s earworm, their version of The Devil Went Down To Georgia complete with ‘AC/DC devil signs from the Chadwick Army’.

Saturday 23/08/14

Holy Moly And The Crackers

I spent the morning fire walking(!?) before heading to the main stage for the first find of the weekend, Holy Moly And The Crackers. Gypsy, folk rock ‘n’ roll of the highest order. I blagged a CD and was delighted to be told they were playing again Sunday night. Had a wander round the stages before my next must see band, The Jim Jones Revue. So pigging cool. ‘It may be cold but this song’s a strip tease song.’ No one did. It was that cold and this wasn’t Leeds Fest where clothes are shed on a regular basis. Another band worthy of headlining although sadly I believe this is their final tour.


The Jim Jones Revue

Next up was my first, and only, dilemma of the festival: Chris Helme on the Ryedale stage or Martin Stephenson in The Black Howl tent. Galtres do stagger their stages as much as they can but obviously that’s not totally possible of course. Chris Helme was also playing on the Sunday and I’d not seen Martin Stephenson since Glastonbury ’89 so headed down to The Black Howl. I’m glad I did. He is a very funny and incredibly decent bloke with an array of gorgeous tunes. He played some very old Daintees material and seemed genuinely surprised at the crowd sing-alongs, particularly on Rain, A Greenhouse, My Grandfather And Me and Running Water.

I headed back to the Ryedale where I caught my second find of the weekend, King Courgette, ‘an old time vegetable string band from York – banjos, ukuleles, violin, washboard and a whole lot more.’ A superb bluegrass band. I’ve always got time for a band with a washboard. Percussion for their final song came from the washboard player tap dancing, whilst still playing washboard.

I then headed back down to the Black Howl Tent to see Beans On Toast. Caught the end of The Broken Broadcast, americana-folk and well worth a listen.

Beans On Toast is not for the faint hearted. Quite rightly outspoken, very, very funny and a bit sweary. (Don’t f***ing clap along. I’m not that kinda act. And I cant keep time with myself so I’ve no chance if you’re clapping). It’s a worry that it was my daughter who got me into him and she was 14 when she first heard him. He was brilliant. Did his last song up a tent pole.

Sunday 24/08/14

Today’s plan was The Oxman Stage. I’d not visited yet and another of my must seen bands, Counting Coins, were due on later that afternoon. The Buccaneers were first up. Enjoyable 3 minute garage blues songs but nothing overtly original.

My good friend Alistair Pearson was meant to join us today but sadly for medical reasons couldn’t make it. I had seen a post on Facebook from a friend of his recommending The Franceens though so I headed up to The Dukes Stage to catch them. Well worth it. Quality nihilistic catchy punk… Probably THE find of the weekend a band to watch out for. Another CD bought.

Now up to The Oxman for Counting Coins. They got the first, and I think, only daytime encore. And rightly so. They’re a kinda ska/punk/hip-hop/indie mash up band. Absolutely brilliant.

Louis Barabbas and the Bedlam Six

I had to nip back to my tent for a power nap. Refreshed I headed back into the throng just in time to catch Louis Barabbas and the Bedlam Six on The Dukes Stage. 4th find of the weekend. Swing fixated folk rock I think we’ll go with. Loved them. Louis also sported the finest moustache of the festival.


Public Service Broadcasting

Next up was the big one for me. Public Service Broadcasting on The Dukes Stage. I’ve seen them a few times now but always in small intimate venues. I wasn’t sure how their set would work at a festival. I needn’t have worried. As the sun set the dusk suited them perfectly. A beautiful noise drifting across the wilds of Yorkshire. Their debut album, Inform, Educate, Entertain, was my album of 2013. They are currently recording the follow up and from what I heard on Sunday it’s gonna be another gem. On this showing PSB are a festival headline act for many years to come.

I hot footed down to The Black Howl for Chris Helme’s second set of the weekend. If you only know his work with The Seahorses then you’re missing out on so much. A new album is in the offing but as the man says, it could take a while ‘cos he hates his own company’. It’ll be worth the wait.

Back to The Firkin for Danny Landau. Had a beer with John Otway as I waited and mentioned the last time I’d seen him was in a Sinclair C5 in Princes Garden’s Edinburgh. Delightfully he remembered me. Sadly the sound engineer had disappeared from The Firkin and it was a DIY job with help from some of the crowd and thankfully a friend of Danny’s who was there as a paying festival goer. He’d been dragged from watching The Human League to help. I’d planned on catching John Otway after Danny but with the delays the sets clashed and after all Danny and been through to get the sound sorted I felt I owed it to him to stay. Still with major sound problems Danny and his band managed to show why they are so highly rated and why BBC Introducing and 6 Music champion them so much.

(I wasn’t bothered about The Human League because they weren’t bothered about me. Plus I’m just not a fan).

Had a quick chat with Danny and then on to what I thought would be the finale, Holy Moly And The Crackers again at The Ryedale. I joined in some drunken jigs with the guy from The Warren and Counting Coins. It was over too quick but I’d heard there was still life at The Black Howl. An acoustic Beatles covers duo (Keegan Snaize). Perfect. It ended with a Hey Jude stage invasion where I bizarrely gave one of the band my last beer. Caught up with Chris Helme again for a chat, swapping of email addresses and a hug ‘(You’re a bear of a man)’.

Word was that the party continued at The Riverside Stage. Not visited there all weekend so I thought in the interests of giving a full journalistic review I should. It was a massive jam session and I got to play some bongos. Things were still going strong but it was 4am and I was waning. Made it back to camp and fell asleep half in, half out of my tent.
Galtres had quite wonderfully broken me.

The country is now awash with festivals of all sizes. I would say that Galtres ranks up their with the finest. The atmosphere is one of pure friendship. Nowhere else can you mingle with the artists as you can here. And the line up is a wonderful eclectic mix. Every genre imaginable was on show somewhere at some point this weekend. And I can guarantee you will find some new music to fall in love with as well as catching some quality name acts. Galtres is ten years old now and getting bigger but I hope it doesn’t get too much bigger. The odd admin issue aside it is just about perfect.

Cry Baby Cry

As always people asked who was your pick of the weekend. It’s impossible to really pick one but here are the nominations:

Bang Bang Romeo – always hard to open a festival especially when 95% of the crowd are still queueing but still brought their big guns.

The Levellers – showing how when they are on form there are few better.

The Jim Jones Revue – keeping the crowd rocking despite the cold.

Holy Moly And The Crackers, King Courgette, Louis Barabbas And The Bedlam Six and particularly The Franceens – the finds of the weekend.

Martin Stephenson – making me fall in love with him all over again.

Beans On Toast – sharing his rider and tent pole climbing.

Chris Helme – quality tuneage and hugs.

Public Service Broadcasting – awesomeness personified.

But my set of the weekend goes to Danny Landau. Had a real mare getting sorted to perform. An hour late through no fault of his own and still delivered some of the most perfect modern folk you will ever hear.

Thank you Galtres. I’ll see you next year.

One Response to “Galtres Festival at Duncombe Park, Helmsley, York, UK – 22nd – 24th August 2014”

  1. Gig Reviews | Gig Photography | Interviews | Competitions from Gig Junkies » Blog Archive » The Levellers + The Selecter + She Makes War at o2 Academy, Sheffield, UK – 20th November 2014 Says:

    […] Anticipation was high for this one. The 4th time of seeing The Levellers and they’d only let me down once, V99 when they inexplicably played a mid-afternoon slot to a crowd steel reeling from Mel C (‘I am an antichrist, I am a Sporty Spice’) and their set was cut short on the instructions of headliners Manic Street Preachers. Far outweighing this was a Brid Spa gig in ’95 that is still talked about amongst my fellow gig goers that night and a storming headline slot at this year’s Galtres Festival. […]

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