As we approach the 2019 Vale Earth Fair, and I noticed some of my first review of the festival back in 2007 has dropped off the BBC website, I thought I’d revive it here.
From the sounds of this it was a packed year and I can only imagine now who I missed, but here is my look at the 2007 Vale Earth Fair, only slightly edited and tidied up.
The Vale Earth Fair once again lived up to its reputation as the biggest and one of the best musical events in the Channel Islands as it took over the Vale Castle on August 26th 2007.
Upon arriving at the Vale Castle for the 2007 Vale Earth Fair I was instantly treated to the thing that this festival has become famous for, a variety of music.
On the way up the hill some relaxed reggae was on offer from Fistfullofsoul on the Breaks ‘n’ Beats stage then, in the Castle, Phowar-Tet! were playing a selection of classical tracks which gave a medieval folk feeling to start things off and while continuing my exploration of the site I found DJs Datan and Turner spinning some house in the dance zone.
After passing through the dance zone I was pleasantly surprised to find the garden grove like Buttercup Stage at the back of the castle which has grown since its appearance as a semi acoustic stage last year into a fully amplified area, but retaining it’s chilled out acoustic vibe.
Up first on the Buttercup Stage were a band known for being one of Guernsey heaviest, Thousand Points of Hate, but for today rather than their usual metallic racket they stripped things down for an acoustic set of some of their tunes and a Killswitch Engage cover.
At first this sounded very odd but once my ears got used to the sound, it really coalesced to bring out the more bluesy moments of heavy metal and created an almost Black Sabbath like sound which served to show how good heavy metal can sound when stripped back down to the basics and as ever the band put on a great show for the surprisingly large crowd they drew this early in the day.
Following Thousand Points Of Hate I headed to the Discharge Soundstage, which got up and running, after a few problems with the sound desk, with brit-rockers Stratosfear (who’ve since evolved into Last Of The Light Brigade) who sounded great as ever but didn’t grab the crowd today as I’m not sure this is their ideal setting.
While Stratosfear were starting to rock things up outside the castle, the main stage welcomed Jersey combo Kevin Pallot and the Pinnacles whose funky, country-tinged, Americana really set a good mood for those relaxing in the sun.
Back on the Discharge stage young punks Beetlejuice provided something a bit heavier in the form of their old school punk which went down very well with the surprisingly large crowd considering the early set and featured guest vocals from several members of the crowd including your humble reviewer (but the less said about that the better).
While Beetlejuice have sounded tighter in the past, today’s was a great fun performance that may well have won them a lot of new fans.
The crowd continued to grow outside the castle as Spitshine took to the stage to play a selection of covers and original tunes all in their own blues and rock ‘n’ roll style.
As ever Joe Corbin impressed tremendously and many in the crowd were commenting on his prowess with the guitar, but the rest of the band shone as well and, with the inclusion of a harmonica on a few songs, their sound continued to grow and they remain one of the most universally popular acts on the local scene.
On the main stage Bournemouth based multi-instrumentalists Betika were getting people up and dancing with their folk tinged indie which brought to mind bands like They Might Be Giants along with British indie acts such as Pulp, who cut their own path, and by the end of the set Betika were joined on stage by a number of extra backing vocalists who really upped the party atmosphere inside the castle walls.
The Discharge stage welcomed its first visiting band next in the form of Team Cat Rescue from Leamington-Spa.
Combining an indie rock style reminiscent of bands like The Arctic Monkeys and Franz Ferdinand along with a bit ska, their high energy music produced a great and danceable sound even though they only drew a small crowd this afternoon.
Following calls in previous years for more dub in the afternoons, the Castle Stage welcomed French group The Dynamics to add a bit of a reggae, dub and soul feel to proceedings.
Featuring three vocalists along with a DJ and keyboard they turned their hand to not only originals but a few dub infused versions of popular tracks including a fantastic version of White Stripes hit Seven Nation Army.
Now came the first real dilemma of the day with three stages featuring three bands I really wanted to see playing at the same time, after some deliberation I decided I just had to see Southampton funksters Toupé on the Discharge Soundstage.
Once again this band proved themselves to be one of the most popular visitors to the island with their fun filled funk rock attracting a huge crowd and even inspiring the first real pit of the day which prompted the band’s front man, Grant Sharkey, to enquire just what some of the more eager moshers had been drinking and was it ‘pure aggression’.
Away from the pit though Toupé’s tunes had many dancing on the slopes of the castle and the band put on one of the days most entertaining sets.
Next up on the Discharge stage the Subliminal Girls brought their indie sounds to a local stage for the first time.
Featuring three local’s in their line up ‘The Girls’, based out of London, were always going to get a good reception and their synth fuelled indie style rock went down well even if their performance today was possibly a tad sloppy.
The real highlights of their set were a cover of Duran Duran’s Hungry Like The Wolf and a slight reworking of their current single Burn Koko which, to give it a local feel, became Burn Follies.
Local punks Spat then hit the stage with all their usual chaotic snarl which was emphasised tonight with the lack of usual front man and singer Jack.
Despite this Lee and James Burton put their all into doing the vocals and, while tonight wasn’t the bands best set, they gave it their all and got a pit going regardless as the crowd became even more energetic.
This energy continued to grow in the pit as Jersey Punk-Ska outfit Bulletproof made their Vale Earth Fair debut.
The band went down brilliantly with their style of music providing just the right combination to dance or mosh to and keep everyone happy.
With extra vocals provided by a large cast of ‘stage invaders’ Bulletproof once again proved why they are one of the Channel Island’s most popular bands.
As the almost full moon shone down on the side of the Vale Castle, local industrial metal veterans Mechanical Lobster unleashed a blast of barely organised metallic chaos which inspired yet more people to get stuck into the pit which at times looked in danger of heading down the hill.
While Lobster weren’t the tightest they have ever played they more than made up for it with the raw energy they put into the performance and once again Puredom provided the real highlight of the set.
The first of the double headliners on the Discharge stage were up next in the form of Burnham-on-Sea’s Armitage Skanks whose style of southern tinged grunge metal eventually went down well after a slow start.
Towards the end of their set the band and crowd really came to life and they displayed a great musicality within their songs, unfortunately I think tonight they had the problem of being in the unenviable position of following a band as popular as Mechanical Lobster.
While the mosh was on outside the castle the main stage welcomed the Vale Earth Fair’s main stage headliners Babyhead.
Mixing ska, dub and hip-hop they got the whole castle moving and the site from the battlements of the front half of the Vale Castle full of people stood with their arms in the air waving along to the music is like none other in Guernsey.
Back outside on the Discharge stage MyLastVictory had something special in store for the crowd.
As this was the band’s last show in Guernsey until at least next year and before they relocate to the UK they pulled out all the stops and from the get go were on fire.
Walking on stage to an instrumental introduction and then launching into a set mixing classics and new songs the band sounded more ferocious and extreme than ever.
The addition of Marc Le Cras’ guitar to the mix added a new, deeper, element to their sound which allowed Josh Fletcher to really make a stand for himself as a fully fledged lead guitarist.
Tonight’s show was a great send off for the band who have grown immeasurably over the past year and hopefully will continue to do so after they move to the UK, and ending their set tonight on Pantera classic Cemetery Gates really sent them off with a bang while ending this year’s Vale Earth Fair on a real high.
Mention has to be made of all the people who were involved with putting on the Vale Earth Fair from sound engineers on the day to all the people who worked booking bands and raising money throughout the year.
This year’s Earth Fair was one of the best shows ever to hit Guernsey and hopefully is a good sign for the increase in interest in local music in the island from more than just the hard core of the music scene.