Live Review: Camp Bestival

Lulworth Castle, Dorset, July 29th-31st

"This is my favourite festival,” Laura Marling tells her audience during her Friday headline slot, and though we bet she says that to all the crowds, you can see why. Set in the picturesque grounds of a 17th-century mock-medieval folly, this cutesy cousin of the Bestival family focuses heavily on family entertainment and keeping the ‘summer camp’ vibe alive. So harassed mums, screaming kids and plenty of dad-dancing all round; it might sound like hell but it makes for a wholesome yet romping festival experience.

Laura pulls in a sizeable crowd despite being up against oldie favourite Blondie on the Main Stage. Opening with ‘Devil’s Spoke’, she plays a lengthy set featuring a number of songs from her upcoming third album, ‘A Creature I Don’t Know’. The first two, the rolling, gentle ‘Don’t Ask Me Why’ and the more fraught, enigmatic ‘Salinas’ (“My mother was a saviour of six foot of bad behaviour with long blonde curly hair down to her thigh”) she combines into a medley.

Then there’s rousing, Joni Mitchell-esque new single ‘Sophia’, and the sea-shantyish ‘All My Rage’; the chanted lyrics of “I’ll leave my rage to the sea and the sun” make the latter a standout. Old crowd-pleaser ‘Ghosts’ gets the biggest reception of the night, but not the last, as one last singalong greets the ever-jaunty ‘Alas I Cannot Swim’.

Saturday sees Mark Ronson admit with great understatement that it’s been a “shitty week”, and his evening Business Intl set is full of tributes to Amy Winehouse. Starting with Dave McCabe of The Zutons singing the original version of ‘Valerie’, Charlie Waller of The Rumble Strips also plays his cover of ‘Back To Black’. Ronson then performs ‘Valerie’ once again, this time with a full band, and voiced by Kyle Falconer of The View, with backing-vocal help from a clearly moved crowd.

Brighton-born synthpoppers Mirrors are subject to an unfortunate schedule change, moved from their original Sunday afternoon slot to replace Nero as a Saturday night headliner. Despite a sparkling, stylish set, they’re up against Groove Armada and find themselves playing to a near-empty tent. “We’re going to go kill ourselves now,” they tell us forlornly.

In the end, then, it’s left to Bobby Gillespie and his merry men of Primal Scream to close the festival on a more euphoric note. ‘Screamadelica’ proves an irresistible choice for those hordes of dancing dads; the grounds in front of the castle are absolutely packed as the mums sing the wrong words, and the kids somehow sleep peacefully in their carriers. Come together as one, indeed.

Lindsay Allan
Rob da Bank's Camp Bestival Diary - Part One
Video: Rob da Bank's Camp Bestival Diary - Part One

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