Live Music + Gig Reviews

Cambridge Folk Festival 2011: Day 2 @ Cherry Hinton Hall, Cambridge

31 July 2011

Saturday morning and the glorious sun shows no signs of disappearing. At the Coldhams Common campsite, where cars are parked alongside tents (something even more appreciated and worthwhile than sunny weather), there remains no sign of litter. The loo blocks are clean and well-stocked with loo roll and the night has been quiet (if rather cold), with a good nights sleep ludicrously easy in the peace and quiet. Its like a festival site run by the Stepford Wives branch of the Womens Institute.

A quick tour around the childrens painting activities, a trip to the grocery tent for the morning paper and a fresh pint of milk, and then its back off to the main site (via the handy shuttle bus, which never seems overcrowded nor requires too much of a wait) for a nose around. The stage locations are split between the festival site proper and other, smaller ones dotted around the camping areas, providing hidden gems waiting to be stumbled upon. These include The Hub, a space for folk youth projects to flourish (many of the bands performing this weekend met here in previous years), and The Den, an ethnic-print covered tent inside which a mocked-up front room plays host to some of the most interesting bands on show this weekend.

A special mention here has to go to Maia, a ridiculously young folk band from Huddersfield who spend all afternoon sucking crowds into The Den with their cutesy leaf-let marketing ploy (yes, youve guessed it, a flyer printed on a leaf) and then spend 45 minutes charming the audience and making sure the effort of finding them was worth it. And to think music.OMH only took a risk on them because the Club Tent was too rammed with Webb Sisters fans to get into.

Back out at the main stage, things arent going quite so well. Despite being legends, Pentangle come across more like a parody of a late-70s folk-jazz noodling super-group than the real thing, as if theyve walked off an English remake of A Mighty Wind. Granted this is a folk festival, but their self-indulgence goes too far and becomes tedious rather than endearing. Perhaps it made more sense in the 70s, when people smoked more hash.

Its left to former Mavericks front man Raul Malo to inject a bit of life into the proceedings, mixing country, Latin and jazz influences to charm a crowd who seem to be largely clad in t-shirts bearing his image. Its an upbeat end to a balmy day as the crowds drift away to a relatively early night. There may be no all-hours drum and bass on offer here, but somehow that adds to the holiday atmosphere. Great weather, good music, and welcoming surroundings its the stuff all festivals should be made of.

  1. Cambridge Folk Festival 2011:
    Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3

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