Monday, September 07, 2009

Bingley Music Festival

Gav came home last week all abuzz: a free music festival was to be held at Bingley!! Well, that's not totally accurate - only the first evening was free, so that's what we went to. Anyway the words 'free', 'music' and 'festival' were enough to overcome the 'Bingley' part of it, and as an added incentive the evening's main draws were reformed Britpop funsters Toploader and Irish rapscallions The Undertones!!

"The Undertones! Are they still alive? OMG I wasn't even born when they first broke up!"

Along with Gavros and Lisa, renowned Leeds-based band photographer Giloscope came along to add some kudos to the event. Giles was good enough to let me make free with his battery of quality fast prime lenses, as well as a naughty Sigma 24-70mm 2.8 - essential kit for low light photography.

"Toplawdah? In Bingleh?"
After a enjoyable tour of the roundabouts of West Yorkshire, we finally found our way to Bingleh (as the locals call it), quietly nestling among green hills dotted with council-estates and burnt out skips. We joined the throngs of eager locals in queueing at the entrance, but things looked like they were taking an early turn for the worse when the gate-lackey opened Giles' camera bag and started hauling out thousands of pounds worth of fragile and valuable camera equipment.

Even Toploader's roadies get cool stage lighting.

Instantly suspicious, he demanded to know Giles' professional status, presumably having an inbred fear of all photographers - no doubt something to do with police line ups and CCTV cameras. Thanks to the G-man's cool nerve and deadly charm, we were allowed in - though not before the bouncer got his meaty paws all over Gav's very expensive 70-200mm 2.8 IS, causing Gav to lose about three pounds in sweat.

"Please sir, I have a question!"
The music kicked off with a welcome and intro by none other than Welsh warbler TOM JONES! Or at least a lookalike impersonator so damn good he would have convinced Cardiffian chanteuse Charlotte Church. If that wasn't enough to overshadow the big name acts, the first band Tom introduced was none other than NEW2!! Possibly the best U2 cover band in the western world, fronted by a faux Bono (Fauxno) who actually utterly believed he was the real deal. To the extent that he referred to "Sunday Bloody Sunday" as "a little tune we wrote in Dublin"... Totally earnest and totally hilarious.

Toploader: "Aright Bradfor- Bingleh! You ready to dance in t' fookin moonlight?"

There was no way I was going to get a killer shot of any of the singers like what Gav and Giles were pulling off, so I concentrated on the crowd, and trying not to get my head smashed in for taking photos of strangers. Most were entranced, Bingley never having been graced by this level of celebrity before...

"Ah thought Kerreh Katoona was t' most femmis person ah'd see in t'me life like"

Most people were hypnotised by the presence of OMGToploader on stage ("In Bingleh! Eeeh!" etc) to notice me jamming a lens in their faces. The real killer was the bitter cold and quagmire of mud. I saw at least two revellers sink without trace in the treacherous muck and a quick assesment of the situation lead to an executive decision by us to abandon Bingley Music Festival to its fate.

Not a moment too soon, as it turned out because the crowd suddenly turned into a snarling ferocious pack - intent on destruction and mayhem. Perhaps the fake Tom Jones had passed out backstage in a stupor, and with his benevolent and calming presence no longer felt an animal berserker urge took over.

The Undertones. We gave up three songs into their set because the mud was threatening to engulf us and the crowd were turning violent.

Leading a charge for the stage.

We may never know, but with the front runners snapping at our heels we made a run for the car, and freedom.