Live at Crooked Ways 2012 on Saturday, 26th May 2012
I can't think of a better way to spend a Saturday afternoon, than sat in a sunny field listening to amazing musical talent. It beats the X Factor / The Voice / Britain's Got Talent television option any day. On Saturday 26th May we ventured to Pontefract to see what the first instalment of Crooked Ways had to offer. All very relaxed we managed to enter through the back door, walking in from behind the main stage. We were then faced with a rather sparse field, toilets to the left, a beer tent / stage to the left and another straight ahead.
We had missed the first initial bands, but after a bit of investigation it was apparent that they had had a bit of a late start. We walked in to the sound of The Bishops, mixing summery up beat tunes with a few clichéd lyrics. As the sun was at its peak we found a spot to put down our blanket, soaking up the tunes and sunshine. Their catchy lyrics had my feet tapping along to the beat of the drums but it did take a while for me to get into their sound. Ending on Chase the Night, it summed up their performance with a mixture of light guitars and heavy drums.
After the enthusiastic end to The Bishops we decided to have a bit of an explore. The first was Crooked Ways Presents and the other called the Institution. Throughout The Bishops' performance we could hear sounds from the Crooked Ways Presents stage, and so could hear Kate Douglas covering a few well known tracks. From what I could hear she had a pretty good voice, but her guitar skills sounded even more impressive. As we got up to hear more she was just finishing her set and so we walked over to the Institution Stage to see what was happening there and the same story, the last band had just finished. As the day progressed it became clear that instead of staggering the bands on the different stages they were all pretty much in sync. This meant that on several occasions during the day there were times with no music. This accompanied with the lack of stalls, entertainment etc. was not a hardship as the sunshine more than made up for it, but if this hadn't been the case then I can imagine the event may have not been such a success.
Glad that my phone was fully charged we could check the set times and so next onto the main stage was Skint & Demoralised. As the tents were quite hot and a bit cramped we choose to stay outside for a bit longer. Skint & Demoralised were great, a mix of The Cribs, Artic Monkeys and the Streets all rolled into one. Interspersed with a great mix of tunes lead singer also did a bit on his own. The first a strong political message and the other entitled Blackpool which was very funny and witty, summarising a night on the town and sparking lots of giggles from the crowd. After they had finished we decided to set ourselves up in the Crooked Ways Presents tent. This tent was aimed at local musicians to show case their abilities and we happened upon Piskie Sits, a local Wakefield band. I have seen them perform before and they have definitely improved, showcasing a much more united sound. However the lead singer, while sipping a can of beer, seemed a little nonchalant and didn't inspire us to stay too long.
As the crowd got increasingly pinker we moved onto the Institution tent where The Blood Arm were playing. Interspersed with tales of how they had got there the whole band was very together and hugely charismatic. The lead singer looked like he had stepped out of a tribe, with a red stripe across his face and was quite crazy, launching himself into the crowd. At one point he instigated a circle around himself as he sang to members of the audience, but directed a lot of his words to the ladies in the crowd. Where his voice lacked his charisma made up for it and at the end he rounded off the performance with a touch of crowd surfing. The drummer in the background was incredible, keeping up a great beat and working up quite a sweat.
Following a quick trip to the beer tent we made a trip back to the main stage. However a nightmare was to ensue with some very large technical problems as Hyde and Beast failed to complete a single song. They attempted three songs, but at about two thirds of the way in the sound blew and so they admitted defeat, which was a shame as what we did hear sounded good. The same problem threatened to have the same effect on King Charles but fortunately they managed to fix it.
King Charles was 100% perfect for the weather. The reggae sounding beats, with the steel drums sounding through created a great atmosphere and got quite a lot of the crowd up and bopping along. To look at he is quite eccentric, dressed in tight shorts with a white blazer and larger than life hair, all of this matching his very distinctive voice. His lyrics suited the summer weather and the almost tribal beat made a great transition from the earlier bands to the more well-known acts of the evening.
As the beers continued to flow, the bigger bands started to grace the stages. The earlier delays meant that our tactical scheduling had gone a bit awry. Reverend And The Makers bounded onto the stage with so much energy that I couldn't wait to hear him crack out some of the songs from his State of Things album and he didn't disappoint. However only after a couple of their songs we raced to the Institution tent to see The Sunshine Underground who appeared even more energetic than Reverend And The Makers. The whole band oozed energy as they all jumped around the stage, playing some of their familiar songs such as Borders which had the crowd jumping up and down. Their tunes are almost psychedelic in nature, with quite a lot of clever tricks on the keyboard. This local band clearly has a great following as the tent was packed with lots of people following our lead and leaving Reverend And The Makers to sample the delights coming from The Sunshine Underground.
The night ended with Razorlight, who delivered a very polished performance. They sang some of the favourites, such as Golden Touch and sounded as good as is to be expected. However we couldn't hang around for the whole set due to early train times. Overall the event was a great afternoon out, but I do feel that there were a few oversights, which no doubt will be fixed before next year's instalment. All of the bands we saw were fantastic, each with their own individual charm and has meant that I will definitely be seeking out some of the artists' material. Next year will hopefully see cheaper beer prices and a more stringent security policy, especially as only a few yards outside of the closure you could see other people who hadn't paid their £30 still enjoying the music.
Despite the negatives Crooked Ways is one to add to the festival circuit for the summer. With some great headliners and if the sunshine was to be ordered every year then it makes for a great day out.
Singer / songwriter from Pontefract, West Yorkshire.