Live Reviews

Cambridge Folk Festival 2011: Day 3 @ Cherry Hinton Hall, Cambridge

31 July 2011


Sunday begins slightly overcast but never fear, by 0900 its all cleared and another baking hot day beckons. For the lucky campers at the Coldhams Lane site, theres the added treat of a short walk to the local swimming pool where you can take a dip and a bit of morning exercise or even purchase a weekend pass to the showers not that the onsite ones need to be avoided, it has to be said.

A quick shuttle bus over the main event and while the fact that this is a folk festival is of course acknowledged, the feeling is definitely developing that a bit more experimentation or even quirkiness might help to gee things up a little. The stages seem to be infested with gentle, acoustic-guitar wielding girls singers today, who all merge into one another somewhat.

Individually, this wouldnt be a bad thing Milly Hirst at The Den is impressive, with a particularly noteworthy cover of Your Ghost by Kristin Hersh but after a steady diet of Emily Smith and Caitlin Rose seeming just a bit too samey, Rumer seems like a breath of fresh air. At least she has a tune, even if her chart-friendly Carpenters-inspired pop is probably sending half the audience into apoplexy (okay, quiet tut-tutting under their beards) over where the boundaries of folk really lie (clue: a long way from here). Thank goodness the twee females brigade was punctuated by Port Isaacs Fishermens Friends, a group of genuine fishermen singing traditional sea shanties largely a capella.

If willowy lasses with non-electric guitars arent your thing, Femi Kuti And The Positive Force live up to their name, belting out lively afrobeat under a sun Africa would find it hard to challenge. If only they could lay up on the political lecturing (or at least come up with something more insightful that Gaddafi is a bad man) it would be the perfect performance for a hot afternoon. Sadly, its over too soon, and the girls return Mary Chapin Carpenter adding to the feeling that Yank country wins over Brit folk in the oomph stakes, though Laura Marling does her best to claim the crown back, showing once again why shes so ludicrously popular with folk, pop and Radio Two listeners alike.

Its left to The Peatbog Faeries featuring the Wayward Boys to finish everything off. With the sun going down and temperatures dropping to a level where its possible to move without feeling faint, their Celtic jazz-reggae infused jiggery provides the perfect knees-up to what is not far off being a perfect festival mix. A bit more variety next year, a bit more pushing the borders rather than looking inwards to glorify folk stereotypes, and the Cambridge Folk Festival might just get there.

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Cambridge Folk Festival 2011: Day 3 @ Cherry Hinton Hall, Cambridge


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