Thursday, 11 August 2016


Cambridge Rock Festival 2016 – The FOTS Perspective

First and foremost huge thanks to the festival organiser Dave Roberts and his wonderful family and ALL the volunteers in whatever capacity who worked tirelessly to make this festival happen and make it one of the best festivals ever.

I must say that although it entailed quite some effort handing out flyer's, talking to people, promoting the festival on social media etc. I was happy and proud to have been selected as one of the CRF Ambassadors, a new idea to promote the festival that saw us at many gigs and festivals prior to CRF sporting our bright purple T shirts.

The Ambassadors - Picture courtesy of Trevor Cotterell
No doubt there will be a plethora of reviews, websites, blogs, Facebook entries etc. giving clinical details about each band, what they played, how well they played along with some top class photographs from the professional / semi professional photographers etc. and if you want any more general information please go to the CRF website which has all the details about the bands and almost everything you need to know about this wonderful festival.

So, what don’t they tell you? It’s never just all about the music (Although that helps) it’s also very much about sharing quality time with good friends, making new friends, meeting people you’ve not seen for years or certainly since the last big festival, it’s about relaxing, getting away from the rigours of normal life, for chilling out and having fun, CRF has all that and more.
CRF has clean and continually stocked toilets, hot showers and a good variety of reasonably priced food stalls, a mega choice of beers, ciders and soft drinks also all reasonably priced, it’s a well run, secure and family friendly festival and as such has an almost unique atmosphere and ambiance.
This year, 2016, the musical line up was awesome and eclectic, we had rock, we had blues, we had Americana blues rock, folk, psychedelic rock, prog rock, singer songwriters, you name it and it was probably there with three full stages there were the inevitable clashes but you tend to get that at any festival these days so have to be a bit selective.

The Line Up was as follows:-

With the Fellowship of the Stick / Corona’s there in force this year, we all have slightly diverse musical tastes so could be spotted in two’s three’s or more somewhere our among the three stages or just chilling on the outside seating areas outside of stage 1 or 2.

I was lucky enough to catch many of the bands over the 5 days and I didn’t see one I didn’t like but the bands that really did it for me were:

On Wednesday for the Addenbrooke’s Rocks – The Broadside Boys who were on first and later, Don Airey & Friends who played an absolutely brilliant set.

The Broadside Boys

Don Airey & Friends
On Thursday, traditionally at CRF the Tribute Bands day, DC/73 kicked off the morning with some stomping AC/DC, hotly followed by Ozzy Ozzspawn, later Atomic Rooster (Not a tribute but the real thing) played a blinding set then it was off to stage 2 to catch most of the wonderful Red Butler before stage 3 and the quirky but fun Plan B (Australia).

Ozzy Ozzspawn
Red Butler
Friday on Stage 1 the bands / artists that rocked my boat were Doris Brendel, Malaya Blue and Son of Man with Deke Leonard, whilst darting off to stages 2 and 3 here and there to catch Rainbreaker, The Rebecca Downes Band, 4th Labyrinth, Stonewire, Halo Blind and one of my all time favourites, Jump with John Dexter Jones who played an amazing set, later on stage 3 another full set I was totally mesmerised by came from those long established prog rockers Haze.

Doris Brendel
Son of Man


Claudia from 4th Labyrinth

Jump - On top top form
Saturday was primarily a stage 1 day with Derecho, 4th Labyrinth, Pearl Handled Revolver, Walkway & Hekz whilst at 20:00 I was in stage 2 for one of the best gigs I have ever seen the amazing Roadhouse play, for reasons I’ll not go into here it was a very, very special and poignant performance and moved many a person in that audience to tears, such emotion, such pure brilliance, such lovely, lovely people too.
Phew! I had to go and chill out outside stage 1 listening to Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy who were in fact far better than when we saw them at Skegness Rock and Blues.

4th Labyrinth
Mandie G and Gary with Roger behind the drums

Sarah Harvey Smart

Danny, Bill, Sarah & Roger
OK, so I'm somewhat biased, I love Roadhouse, the music, the band, the entourage, they are one of the hardest working bands in the country and right up there at the top of Americana Blues Rock and some of the nicest people you're ever likely to meet.

Sunday was again mainly a stage 1 day for me with only a quick sneak away to see a couple of bands on stage 2 but I enjoyed every single band on stage 1, all the way from America we had the mighty T. Clemente Band, followed by the most wonderful Space Elevator, all the way from Norway came those excellent progsters The Windmill, followed by the best ever performance I’ve seen from the Heather Findlay Band, then Purson who were every bit as good as I remembered from HRH Prog4, Curved Air were OK, musically they were spot on but I just wish Sonja Kristina would sing as she can today and not try to hit those notes she used to ‘back in the day’.
Mostly Autumn were once again Mostly Awesome and Focus were the best I’ve seen them for many a day and as they seem to play every major prog festival or major prog day I’ve been to for the last umpteen years it was a very pleasant surprise especially as I was with friends who love Focus but had never seen them live before!

Some of the mighty T. Clemente Band
Space Elevator

The Windmill

The Heather Findlay Band
Purson's Rosalie in full flow
Focus on top form this night
At the moment there seems to be some speculation as to whether CRF will happen in 2017 due to some local dignitary complaining about the noise (again), despite the fact they live miles away and the other side of the noisiest motorway in the area, the M11.
I hate NIMBY’s, I don’t know who he is but I wish he would grow some balls and man up, after all it’s once a year for a few days, it makes a lot of people very happy including many locals, it also generates a whole lot of money for the local economy and causes no trouble whatsoever.

Rant over, poem time, this was after all very much a Fellowship of the Stick / Corona event.

The Fellowship Does CRF 2016

It was Wednesday the 3rd of August 2016
Chris collected me just after midday
Peter was already safely on board
So at last we were on our way

We decided on a lunchtime stop
At Royston as you do
A nice Weatherspoons lunch
Washed down with a beer or two

Nicely fuelled by pies and chips
And some finely served real ales
We descended upon Tesco’s
Breakfast shopping and all that that entails

The remaining trip to Cambridge
Seemed to take no time at all
We got into the campsite to sit and wait
We were already having a ball

We exchanged our tickets for wristbands
Got some beer tokens for the bar
We had to have a beer or two
Well that’s just the way we are

We caught a couple of good bands
Before Kevin & Smiffy arrived
So we set up Camp Fellowship
Glad that Fender’s Den had survived!

We eventually put up the awning
Which Peter had waterproofed and repaired
The Fellowship were complete for now
For CRF 2016 we were all prepared

Camp Fellowship is established!
Wednesday night was Addenbrooke’s Rocks
Don Airey and Friends were the tops
A good night’s sleep in Fender’s Den
And once again we were ready to rock

Thursday was the day for tribute bands
And time for so many more good friends to arrive
We saw some great bands, drank some great beer
It was just so good to be alive

We had Tim and Jo and Thea camping nearby
We had Debbs, Boo & Caroline too
Donna, Pam, Katie, Mel, Jane and Eddie
Roger, Sarah, Alice, Mandie, Alan and Steve Dulieu

So many good old festival friends were there
And a few people from bands we know
So much dancing and general fun was had
It’s amazing how quickly the time did go

A late night gathering at Camp Fellowship
Saw friends drop by for a beer and a chat
Or a Honey Jack Daniels and a slice of pizza
Now be honest, you really can’t beat that!

I’m sure Friday must have been designated
As ‘Dancing day’ for Kevin & Co
For we seemed to see him down the front
At every stage to which we’d go!

Another day of superb music
Of fellowship, cider and beer
With the odd, at times extremely odd
Meal or snack thrown in there and here

Our after hours gathering this time
Was with our campsite neighbours Collette and Den
What a nice couple they were
I hope we meet them once again
On Saturday we were Pirates
We celebrated Fender’s birthday with cake as well
We had Alice and Mandie round for breakfast
And what Alice taught Fender I really cannot tell!

Breakfast chill time
Alice helps Fender with his birthday cake cutting
Arghhhhhhhhhhh we were Pirates for the day - Picture courtesey of Thea Sigma
Also on Saturday Kevin was eaten by an inflatable
Roadhouse played an absolutely blinding set
All things considered this must be very close to
As good as things can possibly ever get

Kevin gets eaten - Picture courtesy of Peter Cheney
Sunday was most definitely a day of prog
And we had Alex here with us today
Corona’s seemed to be everywhere
Out there in the crowd very much on display

And as for TV’s Mr. Roger Marsh
Or was it Richard Morse instead?
What else can I say, other than,
“Got any bread?”

TV's Mr Roger Marsh or was that Robert Morse?
CRF 2016 was extremely special
In so many, many ways
Good times, great music, even greater friends
So precious are such days

Roll on 2017.

Grant Meaby
August 2016

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