Festival No 6, Portmeirion - Wales rocks and it rolls!
This is the tale of two festivals, writes Tom Pegden.
The nice, twee, boutique one, where kids ran about in the woods, mums and dads listened to poetry and talks by Guardian journalists, and where families slept in cosy camper vans.
And the downright dirty, damp, raucous, rock ‘n’ roll one where the crowds slipped and slid through the mud, went mad in cramped and sweaty dance tents, went wild to bands like Everything, Everything and Clock Opera and let their hair down to magical Balearic beats.
Portmeirion was the perfect setting for the first Festival Number 6, with around 6,000 people coming through the gates – not too many and not too few.
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For a while the sun shone on this pretty corner of North Wales, bringing the make-believe, picture postcard hilltop village to splendorous life.
The central square played host to those broadsheet talks, bizarre hairdressing shows, the odd comic and Q&As with cultural icons like superstar DJ Andy Weatherall.
The village also hosted night-time lantern parades, weird and wacky turns inspired by The Prisoner TV show – filmed there in the 1960s, and the inspiration for the festival theme – and a string of goose pimple inducing late-night performances by the Brythoniaid Male Voice Choir, from nearby Blaenau Ffestiniog.
Down on the estuary front it was a little more lairy with DJ sets from the likes of Horse Meat Disco – bringing dozens of wide-eyed dancers onto the sands.
And fifty yards away from that bands like British Sea Power, Savages and Toy played blistering sets in an little marquee with a seaside backdrop.
Up in the woods there were pop-up raves – though how anyone found them I don’t know – and play areas for the kids to muck about in.
The big field at the very top of the site was more like your traditional festival though – and not necessarily in a bad way.
Apparently Spiritualized went down a storm on the main stage on Friday, while Primal Scream – the act of the weekend – performed a blinding show as the headliners on Saturday night. Bobby Gillespie waved his arms around like a demented Mick Jagger, and piled his way through everything from the stomach-churningly heavy Swastika Eyes to Moving on Up, Trip Inside, Loaded and Rocks.
With Sunday the rain, inevitably, came down, but the bands kept playing and the DJs – a great set from Unabombers rounded off that night – kept playing, and the people kept dancing.
By early evening the clouds parted and the colour came back into everyone’s cheeks, with New Order, arguably one of the most important bands to rise out of the north west, headlining.
It was a great show, maybe not as heavy as the previous night, but full of classic songs such as Perfect Kiss, Bizarre Love Triangle, True Faith and Blue Monday.
An encore of Joy Division’s Transmission and Love Will Tear Us Apart were an appropriate nod to the band’s glorious past and – hopefully – the glorious future of this fun new festival.