Billy Bragg creates a new England at Deer Shed Festival: review

Deer Shed - Ibibio Sound Machine from London on stage at Baldersby Park in North Yorkshire. (Picture by Ernesto Rogata/Pronio UK)
Deer Shed - Ibibio Sound Machine from London on stage at Baldersby Park in North Yorkshire. (Picture by Ernesto Rogata/Pronio UK)
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Review by Kate Rogata

Deer Shed Festival, Baldersby Park, Topcliffe, North Yorkshire

Two members of the cowd enjoying a bit of sunshine at Deer Shed Festival in North Yorkshire. (Picture by Ernesto Rogata/Pronio UK)

Two members of the cowd enjoying a bit of sunshine at Deer Shed Festival in North Yorkshire. (Picture by Ernesto Rogata/Pronio UK)

Organised by a North Yorkshire family, the Deershed Festival continues to go from strength to strength. Selling out six weeks early this year, more people than ever saw an expanded line up of music, science and craft events, spoken word and comedy with great food, beer, wine and cocktails to make cold nights in a tent more palatable.

The theme for Deer Shed 6 was Up in the Air with hot air balloons taking festival goers soaring above Baldersby Park and a flying cherub lager lout delighting adults and children.

Friday evening highlights included Black Rivers on the In the Dock Stage. Comprising Jez and Andy Williams, two thirds of the Doves, who kept this reviewer happy by playing a couple of their hits including the wonderful Satellite Town in their set.

They were followed by Felice Brothers on the Main Stage. The five piece band, from the Catskill Mountains play rootsy, fiddle-driven music reminiscent of the Waterboys and were a perfect contast to Du Blonde on the Lodge Stage.

Beth Jeans Houghton’s cover of the Pixies Where is my Mind was one of the highlights of the day.

Finally Billy Bragg delighted the Main Stage Crowd with a set covering his 30-year career including Power to the Union and Sexuality as well as Woody Guthrie’s Dry Bed for all the children who were still awake.

His encore led a rousing rendition of New England, sending everyone happily back to their tents.

Billy Bragg kicked off a sunny Saturday morning, in conversation with the Guardian’s Dave Simpson talking politics – he’s still a labour man at heart.

He took questions from the audience and was passionate, funny and astute.

Fatherson, from Kilmarnock were perfect for a lazy Saturday lunchtime with their soaring vocals and crashing guitars and a large crowd gathered in anticipation of Hinds – a Madrid based girl band hyped as the next big thing.

They were chaotic but their jangly guitars and jauntiness were diverting!

After a torrential downpour sent people dashing from the arena, the sun reappeared and The Wedding present were for many the highlight of the weekend, making a welcome return to Deershed after five years.

Classics such as Kennedy and Brassneck kept the In the Dock Stage crowd and the many people unable to get in dancing and singing along.

The Saturday headliner, John Grant was celebrating his 48th birthday and was serenaded by the crowd before launching into his set with the Beautiful Marz from his 2010 album Last Queen of Denmark.

He played a number of tracks from his electro-tinged Pale Green Ghosts album with their confessional lyrics and language strong enough to have parents covering children’s ears.

A grey Sunday saw most of the crowd arrive late in the arena after packing up their tents. Highlights included DJ Andy Kershaw’s spoken word session on the Obelisk stage, and, as the rain began to fall, Ibibio Sound Machine from London, whose African-influenced funk induced dancing in the puddles.

The Unthanks completed the main line up but, sadly, many people missed their gentle folk, having left early.

My awards for the weekend go to John Grant (Best Voice), Wedding Present (Best band) and Billy Bragg (Total Hero!). Can’t wait for next year!