My first festival

Published by Emma Lee-Potter in on Tuesday 9th July 2013

cornbury2013My children were aghast when I made a shocking confession. As far as they are concerned the summer isn’t complete without a festival or two so their eyes nearly popped out of their heads when I admitted I had never been to one in my life.

The closest I’ve got has been dropping them off at the station, all bright-eyed and welly-clad. But this weekend, once my husband and son had safely made it to Paris on their marathon bike ride, I actually went to a festival. Admittedly it was only for a day (no weekend camping for me) and it was Cornbury, or “Poshstock” as it’s known. It’s held on the Great Tew estate in the wilds of Oxfordshire and the fact that David Cameron goes every year (and popped in on Saturday with his family to see Keane) probably says it all.

I thought I might hate it but it was FANTASTIC – especially as the sun beamed down all afternoon, I had my daughter for company and I got to see Amy Macdonald and Van Morrison, two of my favourite acts in the whole world.

First up (for me, anyway) was the gloriously talented Lucy Spraggan, one of last year’s X Factor finalists. She had to bow out of the TV show due to illness but she was signed by Columbia Records earlier this year and her first signal, Lighthouse, is out this week. With her witty, self-deprecating humour, wisecracking lyrics and unstarry style (at Cornbury she was in a white shirt, black jeans and plimsolls) she’s more original than all the other finalists combined and reminds me a bit of Lily Allen and a young Victoria Wood. The YouTube video of Last Night, her composition about a night on the razzle, has had an amazing 23 million hits so far, she told the Cornbury audience.

When Lucy’s set was over we hared down the hill to the Pleasant Valley stage to see the brilliant Amy Macdonald, who’d made it to Cornbury after a 24-hour trip from Switzerland, where she’d played her previous gig. Her tour bus broke down near the Swiss border and her band arrived onstage with just minutes to spare. “I thought I was going to have to sing a capella,” she joked.

The Glaswegian singer took the audience by storm from the start but the excitement reached fever pitch in the middle of This is the Life. A huge cheer went up from the crowd at the news that fellow Scot Andy Murray had just become the first British man in 77 years to scoop the Wimbledon men’s title.

An hour later it was the turn of Van Morrison, cool and enigmatic in a dark suit and white hat. I’d never seen him perform live before and loved the fact that he does everything on his own terms. There was no banter between numbers and no attempt to charm the audience. “He’s not very chatty, is he?” whispered my daughter. Neither of us cared though because he just got on with the music. And what stunning music it was, the soundtrack of my life really.

After just over an hour of jazz, soul and rhythm and blues, Van the Man nodded to his band and left the stage. I fully expected him to return but a middle-aged woman standing next to me smiled knowingly and pointed out a man in a white hat disappearing down the steps at the back. “He’s notorious for that,” she said. “He often wears a black hat so you don’t even see him go. I should think he’s on the Chipping Norton road by now…”

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