REVIEW: Chester Rocks 2011 – Sunday

The brand new Chester Rocks festival was certainly blessed with the weather as the hottest weekend of the year gave the people of Chester, Liverpool and beyond a cracking couple of days out in the lush surroundings of the famous racecourse. Rich Denton reports from ‘Rock’ Sunday

There was no repeat of the mass hysteria of the previous day as Sunday’s somewhat geriatric line-up brought in an older, more discerning crowd. Rather than pack into the front to scream at their idols many took the chance to kick back and chill in the glorious conditions.

Openers former Space man Tommy Scott brought his band the Red Scare to a near empty arena and the crowd filtered in slowly throughout the afternoon as people chose to mill around the spacious site. The Lightning Seeds pleased many dipping into the back catalogue with ‘Life of Riley’ and ‘Pure’ but disappointed a few who wanted to hear ‘Three Lions’ with Ian Brodie adamant that ‘We don’t do that one’

Feeder were up next and while they have never been the ‘cool’ band to follow they always wrote great pop songs. This was highlighted with opening tracks ‘Just the way I’m Feeling’ and the superb ‘Buck Rogers’ getting people bouncing.

Meanwhile over at the Dawsons Alternative Stage a whole host of up and coming local bands got their chance to perform. The stage was indoors, in an air conditioned corporate suite and as far from rock n roll as you can get. Despite the strange environment bands such as The Suzukis, The Loud, Owls*, Dustland and Fly with Vampires did their burgeoning reputations no harm at all.

The racecourse is used to putting on world class horse race meetings and that professionalism shone through in the organisation. The ability to use the wealth of facilities in the centre of the course meant that there were no queues for toilets and the next beer was no more than 5 minutes away. The open layout did feel strangely eerie if you wandered outside of the main arena though, and the Alternative stage did suffer as a result of this. In hindsight perhaps a small outdoor stage around the same area would have worked better and attracted a bigger crowd throughout the day.

Probably the big surprise of the day was Shaun William Ryder. The former Happy Mondays frontman sporting a flat cap should have been the ‘banana skin’ moment but backed with a great band he gave the crowd all the big Mondays and Black Grape hits as well as a version of The Gorillaz ‘Dare’ which Ryder claimed as his No.1 for the day.

The tempo dropped considerably in the late afternoon as the sounds of Manchester’s I Am Kloot and The Australian Pink Floyd filtered across the site. IAK are one of the most underrated bands around and were a welcome addition to the day, even making feedback sound beautiful.

It was only when headline act and main attraction Iggy Pop and the Stooges burst onto the stage did the crowd wake up. The legendary Iggy looking more like his insurance puppet by the day pulled faces and mocked the press and VIPs in true rock n roll style. Proclaiming “Because I’m 132 years old, I can sing the blues”, he made his traditional call for a stage invasion which worried security and he ventured into the crowd (something no other act did all weekend).

The mass exodus after Iggy’s set meant that Neil Barnes’ Leftfield were left with just half a field of ravers as the sun went down. That said the classic ‘Space Shanty’ still went down a storm as the party continued into the night.

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Photo: Jamie McAleny (digitalplantpotdesigns)

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