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Gary Numan - The Bearded Theory Festival

Festival Review 2023

The Bearded Theory festival May 2023

Not having visited The Bearded Theory Festival, you wouldn't know what to expect, knowing a fair few of the artists performing will give you a hint as to the feel and balance but until you are "in the thick of it" there is no real way to gauge the atmosphere. 

 BT has been running now since 2007 based on the border of Derbyshire and Staffordshire in the beautiful surroundings of Catton Hall. This location gains an advantage of access to a large part of the country within 2 or 3 hours, hence I hear every accent from our fair Isles. BT has had steady growth but still has an independent caring vibe. The news I hear on arriving and speaking to people is that ownership and running is different now as the original owners have become a partnership with the company famous for The Rock City venue in Nottingham. Times move on and what might be change can cause friction with regular visitors, as I say my first time so I will have to judge the current Festival and not the past.

The Bearded Theory Festival
The Bearded Theory Festival - Big Ed

Encountering the people of The Bearded Theory persuasion leaves you in no doubt that a common trait is the free spirit and bohemian mentality running through everyone's veins. This is evident in the costume and hosiery being displayed proudly. This gets more entertaining through Saturday and even more dynamic on the Sunday, an endless procession of Fairy Tale and Film characters with eye boggling results.

The Bearded Theory Festival
The Bearded Theory Festival
The Bearded Theory Festival

The Main Arena contained all that matters entertainment wise, plus the usual food, drink and accessory outlet stores. The Main (Pallet) Stage had the most area to house the fans for the "bigger" names on the weekend's roster. Beyond that the second stage (The Meadow) was a large Tent which turned into a good shady area during the heat of Saturday and had a great sprinkling of mostly louder indie Rock.

 There were plenty of other options as well and it would have been quite easy to spend the whole day at any of the Stage areas and be surprised by the talents coming onstage before you. I spent a lot of time to and fro between the two main stages but any spare minute went straight to the Maui Waui tent which provided continuous surprise and didn't disappoint with any of the acts I saw. Absolutely stunning performance from Rumba De Bodas closely followed by The Scribes, Bloodshake Chorus and the incredible skills of Rodney Branigan.

 I managed only twice to arrive at The Woodland Stage, being a little away from the rest, this being an advantage as well for those looking to drift off from the main drag. I did catch Snayx who turned in an energetic performance while joining the crowd on a couple of occasions.

 If Dance is your thing there were chances a plenty at the Magical Sounds tent, plus in front of "Big Ed" the structure constructed in wicker and branch that contains a DJ kiosk. This was pumping out various sets all day and night from 70's Soul to 90's Acid tracks.

The Scribes
Bloodshake Chorus
The Bomb Fayre Band

 For choice of music and bands there were endless options over the weekend, photos aplenty below.

Anna Calvi
Dead Pony
Pale Blue Eyes
She Drew The Gun
Coach Party
Coach Party
Gary Numan
Gary Numan
Gary Numan
Gary Numan
Gary Numan
Interpol
Interpol
Interpol
Interpol
Interpol

Saturday Night had Interpol  headlining, a major factor in my reason for heading to this festival. On the second stage they clashed slightly towards the end of their set with Echo & The Bunnymen so a tough choice to be made. There are always these conundrums to mill over during a weekend. Interpol sounded amazing to my ears as did Gary Numan before them. His whole act and sound is honed to perfection now, he knows what works and what he wants importantly, Ruin sits happily side by side with Cars and Are friends Electric?.

Echo and the Bunnymen
The Lovely Eggs
Snayx
Henge
Warmduscher
Warmduscher
Warmduscher
The Pretenders
The Pretenders

 The Sunday come down doesn't really materialize and everyone still seems in full party mode. The Band tents are busier and generally more people are taking in refreshment than before.

Again a great variety of artists from the Space Age Interstellar Rock Story that is Henge to the Original Wild Lady of Rock Chrissie Hynde and her current version of The Pretenders performing. Having seen The Pretenders in Brighton this January, it was great to see them again;  this band are excellent and reproduce those classic songs with a good amount of full on rock sound. Kid and Talk of the Town are definite favourites of mine and are sounding the way they were always intended. 

 Sadly I have to leave the party before Primal Scream but I hear that they produced a blinding set finishing with fireworks. You can't be an omnipresent photographer as yet, I hope to catch them elsewhere in the future. I also endeavour to revisit this time and place next year. 

The Pretenders

review by - Dan Reddick

photos by - Dan Reddick

on behalf of Return To Sound

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