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Bearded Theory 2018 - Sunday | FESTIVALPHOTO

Bearded Theory 2018 - Sunday



Sheafs kicked the day off on the main stage with some nice loud rock music to help wake people up. They seem very confident for a young band and I'm sure this is a band we'll be hearing more from in the future.

By the time The Bar Steward Sons of Val Doonican took to the stage in the Woodland, the place was packed - so much so that stewards had to restrict entry on a one-out, one-in basis, such is the reputation of this act. It's a terrible scheduling clash with The Everley Pregnant Brothers on the main stage at the same time. Both are very entertaining, but the Bar steward sons are a Bearded Theory staple and for good reason - they're one of the most entertaining bands around. Their covers of popular songs with re-worked comedy lyrics ("The lady in Greggs" or "Walking in man piss" as examples) are funny enough alone, but with the sign language translations there's an added comedy element as Sarah tries to translate some of the slang or linessuch as "walking in man piss". They're great musicians too - the comedy wouldn't work otherwise, but it's their live shows that really make them special. For the final song (Jump Ararnd), Scott Doonican climbs into a rubber dinghy and crowdsurfed toward the sound desk to collect a beer and then return to the stage. This time however things were a bit different as a pirate in an inflatable unicorn raced him there, high fived him then raced him back to the stage - one of those bizarre moments that could only happen at Bearded Theory.

The Fancy dress contest drew a lot of contestants this year with a load of amazing costumes on display. Some were picked out from the crowd and put to the vote with the winner (a squirrel Evel Knievel) winning a ticket for next year's festival. It always brightens up the weekend seeing so many people in fancy dress and there are always some amazing costumes to see. Just one part of what makes Bearded Theory stand out from other festivals.

Next on the main stage are The Rumjacks, bringing some Celtic folk punk to the festival...all the way from Australia. It's a good performance but having come across a load of great new bands on the Woodland stage over the weekend I headed over there to catch Millie Manders and the shutup, and that proved to be an excellent choice. Punky with plenty of attitude it was a great set. With a new EP due out shortly (they've got a crowdfunding campaign going at the moment), this is a great young band that was a great addition to the festival lineup.

Crazyhead came next on the main stage, one of the bands I'd been looking forward to. The band reformed last year after almost 2 decades away, and I was curious to see if they'd still sound good or just fail to live up to my late 80s memories. Well they more than lived up to expectations - they sounded great and hearing songs such as "Time has taken it's toll on you" after all these years certainly put a smile on my face.

Dub Pistols were up next. They're another Bearded Theory regular act with a catchy sound that crosses genres - ska, reggae, dub and more, and they always go down well. The music is great but they're also great performers which helps take things up a notch in a live show.

Dubioza kolektiv came next. An unknown to many people, this Bosnian band quickly proved to be a highlight of the weekend. Looking like a football team in their matching yellow shirts, they were one of the most energetic and entertaining bands on any of the stages this weekend. The closest band to them is probably Gogol Bordello in terms of the energetic stage show, but Dubioza Kolektiv has a ska element to their music which separates the two bands - they've got different sounds but are likely to appeal to many of the same people, and both have hugely entertaining and energetic live shows. One of the first things I did after getting home from the festival was to order the latest Dubioza Kolektiv CD. As their set came to an end, the approaching storm forced a complete shut down of the stage as everyone was evacuated from the stage due to the risk of lightning strikes

Once the storm moved far enough away for safety, the crew did a rapid changeover to get Duboza Kolektiv's kit off the stage and set up for Jake Bugg. A bit later than planned, Jake Bugg took to the stage for a shortened set. While he's a talented musician, he really suffered with his slot on the bill. Trying to follow Dubioza Kolektiv meant his set was always going to feel a bit flat in comparison (not helped by the crowd now being rather wet)

Jimmy Cliff was the festival closer. Thankfully the storm had passed or the song "I can see clearly now" would have sounded wrong (since the lyrics say "I can see clearly now the rain has gone". His laid back style of Reggae was a great way to end the weekend, and the confetti cannons firing near the start of his set helped people get back into the party mood after the earlier rain. Jimmy Cliff is one of those musicians where you initially think "I know one of his songs", but as the set goes on you realise just how many of his songs you really know. He may be 70 but his voice still sounds great. It's a great end to the weekend - a wonderful set packed with excellent songs, with the fireworks after he finished just being the icing on the cake.

As always Bearded Theory was exhausting but extremely enjoyable. The traffic chaos on Thursday was annoying at the time but once people set up camp then it was quickly forgotten. The weather may have dampened spirits at times, but people were there to have fun and despite the Thursday problems people looked to have had a great weekend. With a truly family-friendly festival like this there are lots of kids around but they're remarkably well behaved and there is plenty to occupy their time, keep them amused and to wear them out. Bearded Theory isn't just family friendly though - it's friendly full stop. It's got one of the best atmospheres of any UK festival which is part of the reason it's pretty much guaranteed to sell out again next year.

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Skribent: Anthony May
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