Singing in the rain at Standon Calling 2018 as an uplifting Sunday lineup shines in spite of the showers
In the week that the real Paul McCartney packed out a sweat-drenched Cavern Club, moisture of a different kind soaked the crowd on a drizzly Sunday at Standon Calling as the Bootleg Beatles took to the main stage.
At first glimpse, it would be easy to confuse this group with the original fab four. The rain didn’t dampen the spirits of the band or the crowd – there were smiles all round. This group are the very definition of crowd-pleasers; their spot-on, unmistakable signature harmonies could take one right back to the peak of Beatlemania. Tribute acts by nature straddle a line somewhere between musical theatre and live music, but in this case, the doppelgangers delivered nostalgia just as you would want it, everything from John’s quip to the screaming fans – “thanks fellas” – to Paul’s bouncy energy.
The ensemble’s note-perfect performance made it feel as close to a real gig as possible, and even a well-choreographed bow showed how well rehearsed this four-piece were. The set started at the launch of the iconic Liverpool-born band’s career with Twist and Shout and I Wanna Hold Your Hand, and after a quick change and some miraculous hair growth, the performers went straight to the latter days with Come Together.
Tokio Myers having cancelled his performance due to illness, it was over to the Laundry Meadows stage to catch Dream Wife. This group were the find of the weekend, possessing punk vibes and a lead singer (Rakel Mjoll) with a smile that suggested butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth, but the stare of a demonic angel child. The band were nothing if not confident. Some people act the part of a frontwoman and others just live it, which is certainly the case for this singer, who left the crowd in no doubt as to who was in charge. When the vocalist sang the line “I’ve seen it all,” we believed her. Delivering more hooks than the average punk outfit, it was impossible not to – at a bare minimum – tap your foot.
This ensemble also came with a message to “all the bad bitches in the crowd”, and introduced their track Somebody as “one big f**k you to gender expectations”. It was a masterclass in empowerment from musicians with a confidence that bordered on maniacal. A convention-busting performance defying labels or pigeonholes. As Mjoll shouted: “make your own goddamn rules”. And they did.
Next, it’s back to the Main Stage for 90s stalwart Gaz Coombes. Opening his set with Citizen and following it up with the smooth grooves of Walk the Walk, his clarity of voice showcased a vocal range that maybe wasn’t as evident in the early Supergrass years. The frontman’s sound is far sweeter live, easily able to handle the soaring melodies in a way that perhaps doesn’t shine through on the records.
Coombes didn’t merely settle for the safety of a guitar but also experimented with his keyboard. There was no doubt we were in the presence of a real musician that has come a long way from the Alright days of the 90s.
The Marmozets took to the Laundry Meadows stage next, seemingly determined to punish their instruments. Lead singer Rebecca Macintyre, along with the rest of the five-piece, did her best to give an energetic performance that unfortunately never really went beyond pantomime and pretend, at no point threatening to become charismatic. This was an ensemble that littered the show with headbanging and screaming but could never really claim to be an authentic rock band. More a rock band for youngsters that don’t really like rock music.
If charisma was missing from the Marmozets’ set, the same could not be said back at the Main Stage with the experienced and timeless Goldfrapp. With a plume of smoke and an unassuming one-word intro – “hello” – the artist bounced onto the stage, a striking image in electric blue. She began her set of ethereal electro glam rock with gusto, all the while charming the audience, declaring the crowd “troopers” for braving the elements to dance the hour away with her. Indeed, the singer put in the most professional of performances despite suffering from a bad cold, which she didn’t once let put a damper on the night. Bursting into Systemic and Number 1, she never stopped throwing shapes, not dissimilar to a young Kate Bush.
The one standout part of Standon Calling was very evident during Goldfrapp’s set. This has to be one of the most inclusive festivals around, and whether young or old, man or woman, the vocalist had everyone up and dancing, the dark skies no match for her personality. Ooh Lala and a rousing rendition of I’m in Love ended the set and no doubt kept the audience-swaying party alive for the rest of the evening.
Penultimate act of the night The Horrors took to Laundry Meadows with all the swagger that was expected. A real presence on stage, their statuesque lead singer Faris Badwan really looked the part – Robert Smith of the Cure meets Mick Jagger, with all the characteristic hip thrusting and pouting. This was a very tight five-piece that looked and behaved like a unit, coordinated down to the matching lipstick and instruments of the guitarists.
However, due to lightning hitting the electricity supply for the local train services and no contingency plan in place, non-campers were forced to make a decision to leave the festival early or be stranded. So it was here that this reviewer had to call time on their Standon Calling experience. But what an uplifting experience it was.
Photos: Mike Garnell
For further information and future events visit Standon Calling 2018’s website here.