Welbeck’s new festival delights

“PACE yourselves” - Dirty Three frontman Warren Ellis gently advised the crowds on the opening night of Welbeck Abbey’s inaugural No Direction Home Festival.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 18th June 2012, 8:22 am

They were wise words for the three-day magical feast of music, comedy, film, food and entertainment which no amount of torrential rain or mud could spoil.

A new venture from the creators of the End of the Road, this was a festival for all ages judging by the thousands of people who flocked to Welbeck’s stunning grounds at the weekend.

After a soggy start, new indie kids on the block Django Django drew one the biggest crowds of the weekend to the beautiful Lake Stage on Friday night and got everyone dancing with their ravey, rhythmic indie-pop.

Australian instrumental band Dirty Three continued to raise the crowd’s spirits with their infectious energy, while The Low Anthem’s wistful Americana sounds brought some warmth to the cold night air.

As the sunshine made its first appearance in the afternoon, crowds basked by the main stage to the familiar Welsh tones of Euros Childs who played a mix of solo songs and old favourites.

Riding the crest of the wave of her debut album, Geordie songstress Beth Jeans Houghton was always going to be a favourite at No Direction Home. Her soaring vocals, complemented by all male backing band the Hooves of Destiny, echoed across the lush landscape at Welbeck, providing the perfect score to a sunny Saturday afternoon.

And then it came on Sunday - all-day sunshine and with it a festival at its quintessential British best. Sheffield’s Slow Club seduced the festival crowd with their drum banging harmonious style while The Unthanks with Brighouse and Rastrick Brass Band captured the essence of British summertime music with bewitching melodies that moved the audience to tears.

Saving the best till last and not letting a broken ankle stop him was the sublime Richard Hawley. Helped to the stage by his son, he then proceeded to deliver one of his best gigs to date, with an electric set of new material from the excellent Standing on the Sky’s Edge mixed with timeless classics - all interspersed with his trademark Sheffeld banter.

The audience’s demands for an encore led them to The Ocean, bathing Welbeck’s night sky in haunting and lush waves of sound - the perfect finale to a perfect three days. Long may No Direction Home continue.

* Visit our website for the full review and selection of pictures from the weekend.

by Chantal Spittles & Hayley Gallimore