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Blog: The Secret Garden Party

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I was up bright and early on Sunday morning to go to The Secret Garden Party. I'd originally planned to go over on the Saturday afternoon, but luckily had decided against it - on Friday night The Tents In My Campsite and I went over to Burton to see some Lovely Pals, but ended up getting a series of decidedly UNLOVELY trains and Replacement Bus Services (NOTE to train companies: a bus is NOT an adequate replacement for a train) which meant it was VERY late when we got home.

Still, as I was only going to be there for the Sunday I thought I'd best get as much festival as I could, so arrived in Huntingdon just before lunch, got checked in to my HOTEL (oh yes! I am TOO OLD for tents and wasn't due on stage until nearly 10pm) then taxied off to the festival site. I arrived and memories FLOODED BACK of when I used to go to Glastonbury, with everybody walking at FESTIVAL PACE (NB Very Slowly), loads of red, confused faces that obviously had had very little sleep, and FESTIVAL CHIC in full effect i.e. Wellies, short trousers, and ANORAKS tied around the waist.

I had a bit of a wander around and saw some Traditional Festival Sights (Man Drunk Asleep In Dance Tent? CHECK! Naked people running for the open air showers? CHECK! Newly coupled couples snogging? CHECK! Huge piles of paper cups near the beer tent? CHECK!) and noted with some AWE that LOADS and LOADS of people were wandering around in COSTUME, which was very impressive bearing in mind that they still had the energy to CAVORT on their third day. I checked in at the Living Room Stage, where they seemed surprised I'd turned up so early, and soon i began to realise WHY most people playing festivals don't turn up for the whole weekend... for LO! I was on my own, with no tent to go back to, and eight hours to kill during which I couldn't have too much to drink.

Oh dear! I thus did quite a bit of wandering around and saw some music - Holly Golightly and Grandadbob were GRATE - and ended up buying the paper and sitting and reading it for several hours, in a RELAXED way. As the day went by i got more and more into the Festival Groove, tuning DOWN the old BRANE and just enjoying the way things were going, especially as we moved into evening and there seemed to be twice as many people around.

At long last it was time for me to go on - Lord Bridge, the compere, cut short a very funny BIT with the soundman putting effects on his voice (it was funny at the time, honest!) and I went on and did THIS:

  • The Peterborough All-Saints' Wide Game Team (Group B)
  • Hey Hey 16K
  • Clubbing In The Week
  • Fucking Hippy
  • Billy Jones Is Dead
  • Red & White Sockets
  • The Perfect Love Song
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths
  • It Only Works Because You're Here
  • Easily Impressed
  • Boom Shake The Room

  • Very much an UBERSET, but also rather SHAKEY. During The Peterborough All-Saints' Wide Game Team (Group B) it became clear my guitar had suddenly gone BADLY out of tune, so i ended up singing most of it ACAPELLA, which didn't work TERRIBLY well, and then having to stand in front of people to RETUNE, which i am NOT very good at. Still, i got it sorted and got going, tho NERVES appeared and i had to ABANDON an attempt to do The Fight For History halfway through the first verse, as i forgot the words! ARGH! I then started to PANIC, and ended up cocking up Fucking Hippy quite a bit too, missing out a verse somewhere along the way. OH DEAR!

    The setlist was going AWRY by this point and I was playing FAST - after Billy Jones Is Dead I only had three songs left to do - so I tried to calm myself and WREST CONTROL of the situation BACK, doing Red & White Sockets and The Perfect Love Song as extras before going into The Lesson Of The Smiths. By this time all was MUCH better - people even cheered during the "Peace And Love is still a bloody good idea" bit, which is ALWAYS a good sign. I'd noted that the quieter songs seemed to be going quite well, and as i STILL needed extra songs to fill up my time SLOT, and as I was feeling rather less PETRIFIED by this point, I decided to have a go at It Only Works Because You're Here. Aaah! I was really glad I did too, it was probably the best received song I did. Note to SELF: you don't always HAVE to do the shouty sweary ones to get people on your side. Note to any VALIDATORS reading: this song is going to be GRATE when we record it! Honest!

    Much happier now I finished up with my traditional CLOSERS, both of which went down dead well, with a PARTICULARLY enjoyable version of Boom Shake The Room to end things on. I staggered off backstage, then went back through the TENT to find a few very nice people who wanted to buy CDs off me, which was LOVELY. I then hung around for a bit drinking BRANDY TEA (DELICIOUS) to see if Boo Hewerdine would make it, as he was going to try and come down if his plane got in on time, apparently, but obviously it didn't so I called a taxi and was GUIDED through the site to the Taxi Rendezvous by possibly the FRIENDLIEST security people I've ever met - they waved BYE BYE to me as we set off in the car!

    I got back to my hotel about midnight, RELIEVED once again i wasn't camping, and had myself a Nice Cup Of Tea. It was quite an experience all round, really. Anyone looking at the pure financial STATS would question the validity of going - i spent most of the day sat around on my own, and as the stage was run by SHELTER the only money I made was on a few CD sales, which went NO WAY to covering the CA$H I'd spent on train fares, taxis, hotels, beer and GRUB. HOWEVER, and handily for ME, them there financial STATS aren't the whole story. I also had a LOVELY time meeting lots of very nice people, saw some dead good bands, and mostly learnt many VALUABLE LESSONS about Festival gigs i.e. nobody actually minds if you don't turn up for the whole things, it's more fun to have PALS with you, you don't HAVE to swear and shout for people to enjoy it, BRANDY in tea is a tasty treat in tents just as much as it is at home, and HOTELS are pretty much ALWAYS worth it.

    I tell you what though, i'm KNACKERED now - I'm SO VERY GLAD i didn't camp!

    posted 21/8/2006 by MJ Hibbett

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    Hadn't heard your music before but really enjoyed your set at Secret Garden. Your rendition of Boom Boom Shake the Room was definately one of the highlights of my weekend - fantastic! Don't suppose a recording is available at all is it?

    posted 21/8/2006 by Simon

    Boo Hewardine makes brandy tea for everyone? That's really nice!
    posted 29/8/2006 by Paul

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