Beautiful Days Festival - 19-21 August 2005
This was the 3rd Beautiful Days festival, the brainchild of The Levellers. I had worked there for the last two years stewarding but last year when they announced the dates of this years festival I knew I had a problem! It had always been very close to my son, Lee's birthday but this year the Saturday of the festival was his birthday! After seeing the great line-up I decided to buy a ticket for the Sunday and to go down just for the day.
Nearly as soon as I got on site I bumped into a guy I'd met in June at the Lynmouth & Lynton festival. He was off to get tea with his brother so I joined them for a while. We wandered down to the main stage area where I met up with Dean and Lee who I'd met at last years festival. It's so nice to catch up with people you haven't seen all year, one of the great things about festivals. The first band I was interested in was Skindred who were on mid afternoon on the main stage. I thought they really rocked and their reggae/punk kind of style really kicks ass! I wasn't sure whether the singer was being totally obnoxious or just playing with us though!
Afterwards more chilling out, drinking and smoking ensued with my mates and we ended up wandering to the other stage to see Hazel O'Connor. My mates obviously didn't take to her as they promptly disappeared but I stayed to watch. I was a big fan of the film Breaking Glass and the soundtrack album and so it was good to see her even if it was twenty odd years later! After going back to the car to get warmer clothes and chatting to some random people it was time for Asian Dub Foundation. I have bought most of their albums over the years but never seen them live and they certainly rocked the place hard! They played quite a few songs off the latest album and dedicated a song to Jean Charles De Menezes, the Brazilian man shot dead at Stockwell station recently.
Next up was Billy Bragg, probably the highlight of the festival for me. In the 80's Billy Bragg was such an inspiration to me, I can't remember how I got into him but it was just after the release of his first album and through the decade I bought everything he released. He made me politically aware as a teenager, he made me realise how powerful lyrics can be and he made me want to change the world! Strangely enough though I had never seen him live and it was truly amazing to see him at last. The best moment was when he played A New England closely followed by a Bob Marley cover.
Afterwards it was a quick dash back over to the main stage to see The Levellers close the festival. As always they were great, the first time I had heard the songs off the new album played live which was excellent. As a special tribute to Joe Strummer whose birthday it would have been Billy Bragg joined them on stage to play some Clash covers. Personally I don't think they did a very good job but hey who can really cover such a classic band and the love for the music shone through regardless. I had a banging headache by the end of the set so didn't hang around to catch up with people or to party through the night. I went back to the car and crashed out till the morning and drove home. Next year Lee's birthday is on the Sunday of the festival and I think I may give it a miss but then who knows!
Below are a selection of photographs from the gathering.