eleventh June 2023
Tom Parry loved the comforts of a sedate Kite Competition throughout a tropically heat weekend, regardless of barely an excessive amount of discuss and never fairly sufficient music.
Now in its second yr, Kite Competition is one among many current boutique festivals to be added to the congested summer time calendar.
After I arrived on Saturday morning its dainty scale was made obvious by the truth that there was just one different automotive queuing in entrance to park within the fields surrounding luxurious Kirtlington Corridor, Oxfordshire.
Kite Competition’s distinctive promoting level will not be solely its manageable dimension, but additionally its line-up being as a lot about “concepts” as music. It has eight totally different levels, however most of them are dedicated to talks, interviews, masterclass-style “classes” and conversations.
On the principle Kite Stage, which options the headliners and a clutch of different main bands, the music doesn’t really get going till 5pm. All of which units up a curious occasion set someplace between a literary competition and a correct music competition, which is what the founders are aiming for.
Whereas talks about local weather change or politics have at all times been a significant a part of Glastonbury, they are usually largely ignored by the overwhelming majority in attendance. I’ve been on the perimeter of the Audio system’ Discussion board tent a number of occasions when the one different folks inside had been passed-out zombies, appreciative of the shade and the soothing balm of somebody speaking gently within the background.
At Kite, nonetheless, the talks are literally talked about. That is the one competition at which I’ve seen a snaking queue for a e book signing, and a packed-out tent at 10:30am on a Sunday morning for a dialog with Rachel Reeves, the shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer.
The folks listening attentively weren’t simply there for the shade, and none of them appeared hungover…
My competition started with listening to Alastair Campbell speaking in regards to the deceit and lies of Boris Johnson. Shortly after he exited the Discussion board tent, his place was taken by ex-Prime Minister Sir John Main, whose “act” was no less than partially musical as his dialog was interspersed with snippets of his favorite songs, which he then talked about (stunning as it might sound, John Main was very droll and has impeccable music style).
At one level there was a weird soundclash through which a solo people singer almost drowned out an anecdote a couple of dinner with Mikhail Gorbachev. It was not till 7pm on the Saturday that I used to be really capable of hearken to some dwell efficiency.
Singer-songwriter and DJ Elkka put in a revitalising set, leaping across the small stage and displaying actual versatility with full of life, percussive home.
Afterwards, the diminutive dimension of Kite meant it was a stroll of lower than a minute to the principle stage to hearken to Alison Goldfrapp’s set. This, once more, was a boisterous, hands-in-the-air dab of ’80s-infused, danceable synth-pop, that includes most of the hits from throughout her profession.
Good enjoyable although it was, I couldn’t assist however really feel a slight sense that it was all a bit too straightforward. With so many bands and artists now blurring the boundaries between a pre-recorded backing monitor and dwell devices, I more and more really feel it will be higher simply to decide on one or the opposite. There was a dwell drummer and a dwell synth participant, however a lot extra music occurring than each of them present.
The undoubted spotlight of Saturday was headline act Scorching Chip, a band that appears to get extra slick, extra enjoyable, and extra funky with age. They’ve mastered their craft so effectively, segueing so many arresting sounds into their euphoric mix of techno, pop and disco, a mix that appears completely suited to dancing in a discipline in the summertime. Particularly so when – this being Kite Competition – there was ample room on all sides. I’ve seen them many occasions through the years, and this was one among their finest ever performances.
After midnight, there was actually just one place to go, the Heavenly Information tent, through which David Holmes was DJing. It was lower than half-full, so I assumed most festival-goers had been getting an early night time to be prepared for the next morning’s conversations. One other competition first for me.
Sunday handed in a lot the identical method, sauntering between listening to folks discuss (some attention-grabbing and a few very self-important) after which a smattering of nice music on the finish. Fortunately, the stroll between levels was at all times lower than 5 minutes.
By far probably the most entertaining sideshows of the day had been supplied by Susannah Hoffs, one of many ’80s’ greatest stars fronting The Bangles, and Baxter Dury.
Susannah provided up some extraordinary anecdotes in regards to the time when Prince began flirting together with her after giving her band one among their greatest hits, Manic Monday. She even gave an impromptu acoustic efficiency of Everlasting Flame for her middle-aged followers.
Baxter, in the meantime, proved a pure raconteur, offering an infinite stream of self-deprecating tall tales from his reckless youth, a lot of it courtesy of his punk icon dad.He was again on the identical stage later together with his band, with lots of his new tracks in a equally autobiographical vein.
The perfect present of the day for me got here from The Pretenders, which counts Chrissie Hynde as the one authentic member nowadays.
Classics like Again on the Chain Gang and Don’t Get Me Fallacious got here thick and quick, with as a lot spike and angle as they possessed within the early 80s. Make no mistake, Chrissie Hynde could also be 71, however she nonetheless swaggers like an authentic punk.
The set was disrupted by a Biblical thunder storm, so intense that the principle turbines needed to be disconnected. Because the monsoonal rain eased off, a gradual stream of festival-goers, who within the earlier sunshine appeared like they may have been in advertisements for Boden and Birkenstock, tramped off early by the sodden fields.
It type of summed up Kite Competition: a stunning occasion in a stupendous location, however barely missing within the grittiness upon which one of the best British festivals thrive.
The Kite Competition web site right here
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