Larmer Tree Peacock by Rebecca Emery.
The weather was beautiful as we rocked up to Larmer Tree Festival on Thursday evening – low sunshine spread out across our clover strewn camping field, tents neatly laid out in impromptu rows hinting at the nice middle class nature of this festival, held at the lovely Larmer Tree Gardens estate, where the resident peacocks reign supreme.
I hadn’t even made my way through the main entrance when I bumped into a sunny Tom Leadbetter, illustrator and graphic designer. Gone are the days when I can go anywhere and not know someone, or indeed quite a lot of people. There were many more friendly faces to greet behind the gates.
At the main stage the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain were holding court in front of a carpet of laid back festival going families perched on tartan picnic blankets. Their amusing patter was a sign that they’ve been gigging for many a year, and they put on a great show, covering rock and disco classics such as Freak Out with great panache.
At Larmer Tree you are never very far from a peacock, whose feisty, amusing behaviour had me entranced. When they were not caterwauling at each other from the rooftops a particular favourite was to dive bomb festival goers as they ate their food.
A wander around the Larmer Tree Gardens revealed a host of beautifully laid out nooks and crannies… I picked up a Bookcrossing second hand book swinging from the lampshade bedecked tree in the Lost Woodland area – chosen for it’s great cover design. There was even a special selection laid out for the kids.
In the Woodland Crafts area here was green woodworking from the Bodgers Barn, charcoal making demonstrations and artwork made from the ensuing willow charcoal.
Not to mention beautiful floral creations in the trees and origami swans floating in the follies.
Imelda May by Sophia O’Connor.
The headliner on the main stage was Irish rockabilly throwback Imelda May, who certainly looked the part, dressed in her trademark quiff, striped sailor top and pencil skirt. She’s got a great voice but she’s not really doing anything new – I’d love to see her add a more contemporary spin to her set.
In the late evening the ARC tent was given over to comedy, undoubtedly one of my Larmer Tree Festival highlights. On Thursday Fergus Craig compered the show, and he was the first but by no means the last comedian to comment on the extreme middle class nature of the Larmer Tree experience. He wrote on Twitter At the Larmer Tree Festival. Very middle class. Makes latitude look like Benidorm. I think he could be right – since Latitude (read my review of the Latitude comedy area last year here) has grown astronomically in size Larmer Tree Festival has become the far more family friendly option. His feelings were amply demonstrated when he picked on Tom’s dad, who was wearing a top hat and took it admirably well.
Sara Pascoe by Jessica Knight.
Next up was Sara Pascoe, dressed in a strange get up of beige cagoul and woolly beanie with blonde curls framing her face. Her style was goofily random and dry, concentrating on visceral anecdotes about her love life.
My boyfriend was especially excited about watching Late Night Gimp Fight, who have received numerous plaudits sitting setting the Edinburgh Festival on fire. They are a skit troupe who excel at creating surreal scenes with impish undertones: the prince realises that Sleeping Beauty will stay asleep, no matter what he does, one member de-robes entirely to reveal his penis whilst the others hide theirs with elephant trunks.
Late Night Gimp Fight by Finn O’Brien
They sing (beautifully, as it happens) dance (Beyonce’s iconic Single Lady has never looked so amusing) and were wholeheartedly entertaining.
Phil Nichol by Michelle Price.
Last up was the amazing Phil Nichol, who took to the stage like he had a rocket up his arse. Dashing frantically from side to side he was soon heaving his too tight t-shirt over his head and forcing a teenage boy to lick his sweaty belly ‘I had a wank earlier and came all over myself, hur hur‘. A Canadian relocated in the UK, he was a totally overwhelming presence mere metres from my nose, and I say that in a good way as he had me in stitches for his entire headline set.
Which culminated in the same teenage boy that he had earlier picked on dueting with him on the The Only Gay Eskimo in My Tribe, which he did with confident aplomb. I’d certainly go see Phil Nichol again.
Friday, Saturday and Sunday reviews of Larmer Tree Festival still to come!
ARC, Bodgers Barn, Bookcrossing, comedy, Edinburgh Festival, Finn O'Brien, Imelda May, Jessica Knight, Larmer Tree Festival, Larmer Tree Gardens, Late Night Gimp Fight, Latitude Festival, Michelle Price, Peacocks, Phil Nichol, Rebecca Emery, Sara Pascoe, Sophia O'Connor, The Only Gay Eskimo in My Tribe, Woodland Crafts
- Larmer Tree Festival 2011 Review, Sunday: Show of Hands and the Recycled Safari Carnival
- Photography: Ben Meadows at Edinburgh Fringe
- Larmer Tree Festival 2011 Review, Saturday: Stornoway, Gabby Young, Caitlin Rose and Mud!
- Stornoway talk about playing at the 2011 Larmer Tree Festival, 13th-17th July in Dorset
- Larmer Tree Festival 2011 Review, Friday: Bellowhead, Russell Kane, Yoga, Bane