Wickham Festival 2013
So being the sick but busy person that I am, it is only now, a week after the Wickham festival that I have got a chance to post about it.
Luckily for us we live very close to Wickham and so what with illness, lots of animals and 2 children (one of whom is autistic), it is relatively still quite easy to go. Sadly this year my electric wheelchair was broken and so getting around was a nightmare and I landed up being side of stage most of the weekend.
Anyhow I digress.
There are still disability access issues that Mr Chegwyn needs to sort (he is the festival organiser). However musically, despite my initial fears about the choice to close the festival, (fears that were allayed on watching The Peatbog Faeries) I was greatly impressed. It was quite possibly the strongest line up yet, although not in name.
Although primarily a folk festival there were blues and funk on offer too (in the main tent) and two other smaller stages with various acts on, some quite good.
For me the highlight was seeing Wilko Johnson a man whose passion for life is infectious, especially seeing as he is suffering a terminal illness. It feels wrong to say a man with such life is close to death, but he is. Johnson was recently featured in Rankin’s Alive in the Face of Death exhibition, which is still on at the Walker Gallery in Liverpool (it will be on until mid September) and his terminal cancer did nothing to dampen his amazing guitar skills and his power as an artist. His performance and his playing with The Blockheads later that day is one that I will never forget. I felt lucky to be there and that is a feeling I believe was experienced by everyone there. Indeed the two biggest crowd-pullers on the three days of the festival that I was there, were Wilko Johnson and after him, Rolf Harris. I was side of stage in the VIP area (they put Disabled people there (not as glamourous as it sounds by the way) and for both these acts it was heaving: ridiculously so.
On the subject of the other name, Rolf Harris I was pleasantly surprised. He was very good and genuinely warmed by the huge turnout for him. There were no boos, and children filled the VIP area with their parents singing along to the songs.
At times when he spoke there was a quiver in his voice. It is difficult to know if he was aware of what was to come the following day. For it was on Monday that a childhood hero was re-arrested. That being said if these accusations do have any merit to them (though I feel and hope they do not) then this will sadly go down in history for other reasons. I for one though have not given up hope in the old man yet and hate the idea of trial by media and social media and innocence until proven guilty.
Other highlights of the weekend were my crazy children, especially Mimis dancing with random strangers. Seth Lakeman’s headline set on the Saturday; The Blockheads and The Peatbog Faeries closing the festival.
There were many other great acts too, some I have included in my photos below.
There were a couple of downsides.
The first being owing to the positioning of the disabled area, combined with amp stacks and guitar chests I had no view of the Waterboys a band who hold special memories for me as when, as a kid in an adolescent psych unit in the 90s (had depression and eating disorders) I used to play the tape of Rock Anthems all the time and Whole of the Moon was on it: I loved that album.
The other downside was the most vile and rude woman I have ever encountered at a festival. She even pretended to be disabled (with a back problem) to steal my autistic son’s seat. I won’t go into details but we had a big argument, she was drunk as anything and very aggressive and after I told her to “take the bloody chair and piss off out of my sight” my party and others who spoke to me later in the day, saw her running, jumping and dancing all around the tent; amazing for a woman with a back problem!
Anyhow onto the photos!