Cambridge Folk Festival 2007


I dunno why, but the morning after, back into normal work routine, it always seems like the festival was a lifetime ago. Yet one glance out of the window shows people still packing up their tents. Hope the park isn’t in an irreparable mess. Last time it rained a lot, the grass took 9 months to get back into its usual immaculate condition. But the weather this time wasn’t nearly as bad as then – it seems we had an incredible escape, with just a few showers.
Overall, I think I’d give this year’s event a fairly low mark, maybe 4 or 5 out of 10. The lineup wasn’t as stellar as it has been in the past, but that would have been OK, if they’d got the right people in the right spots. They often didn’t. Having three (good) bands on the warm-up night making their only appearance of the whole festival was just odd. On Friday night, which needs to build up steadily to a great climax, Steve Earle brought the whole thing down with a dour solo set which subsequently needed a miraculous recovery from The Waterboys. Yet I’d have listed to Steve Earle like that for as long as he played, if it had been earlier in the day.
The first two days were plagued with sound and instrument problems, which were usually overcome with good humour, although as John McCusker said as the Under One Sky set crashed around him halfway through: “I might appear happy, but inside I’m crying”. There were also periods on Saturday and Sunday when there didn’t seem to be anyone I was too fussed about hearing, something I don’t remember too much in the past.
Still, Kate Rusby did the best set I can ever remember from her – we do love her so at Cambridge, don’t we? Under One Sky was a great idea, and immaculately executed at its best; odd though to have people of the calibre of Roddy Woomble at the festival for just two songs. Toumani Diabaté did the best set of African music I can remember at Cambridge, and to break the set for five minutes to explain the workings of the kora might have seemed risky, but worked a treat. Oysterband, Show of Hands, Sharon Shannon and Shooglenifty were all as good as we’d hoped, and Bellowhead brought proceedings to a tremendous close in the small tent. Unexpected “find” of the festival this year was the charming duo of Haugaard and Hoirup, who judged the festival to a tee with their laid-back attitude and humour. More like this next year please!
Lots of great stuff on the Radio Two website.

2 replies on “Cambridge Folk Festival 2007”

Chris, you report with the benefit of 15-odd Cambridge Folk Festival experiences behind you. This was only my second, but I would give it a “9”! I would love to be at one where you gave it a similar score. I would add Martin Simpson’s appearances to the list of exceptionals. I will withhold judgement on Under One Sky – I think they had too many technical problems on the day. Hope we can grab some beers together there next year.

Just a personal thing, Peter – as I said, there were whole sessions where there didn’t seem too much of interest to me. But there was certainly plenty of interest for other people!

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