Blissfields 2013 – Live At Vicarage Farm, Winchester

Life is good at Blissfields...

It’s the stuff festival dreams are made of: it’s 26 degrees, the main stage looks like a bouncy castle, and there’s a stall where you can spin your own candy floss. Life is good.  

Blissfields has found its place in a world where a weekend of music is all about "the festival experience". That’s not to say this small festival is all filler no killer – far from it. It sold out to teens and young families alike, who all enjoy music with a side of arts and crafts, cinema and chocolate pancakes. There are a few bizarrely placed acts music-wise and, occasionally, more crowds for the bar than the bands. But, to be fair, Blue Nun is delicious.  

Highlights (aside from the Blisscoteque bus DJs after dark – an amazing atmosphere until the early hours) include Mystery Jets’ headline set on Friday night. Their “song about breaking up with someone and having to divide you record collection”, ‘Greatest Hits’, asserts itself as the perfect summer evening track.  

Matt Corby plays on Saturday afternoon: first alone with the piano and his supple Jay Kay-twanged voice; later with his band, which includes a girl on keyboard with a hat as big as her immense, melty voice.  

Dub Pistols follow, a ska/dub/hip-hop group all about the skanking and the crowd-pleasing. Sweating their nips off through too-tight white shirts and posing for cameras, their good-fun vibe means the crowd grows from meagre to massive by the end of the set.    

Clean Bandit features two ladies (plus another for two songs) with big voices, along with the group's core Cambridge foursome. They have as much fun as the crowd and the strings (violin and cello) are brilliant, dancing as they play. Their cover of ‘Wildfire’ by SBTRKT is engaging and raw, and their single ‘Mozart’s House’ is expertly executed.  

Bastille headline the main stage on Saturday night, but we opt for The D.O.T. on the Bradley Bubble stage. A relatively new outfit, the act is comprised of a (now-hairless) Robert Harvey from The Music and a near-unidentifiable, clean-cut, suited-and-booted Mike Skinner. His music has changed, too, the only flicker of recognition coming from his accent during ‘Under A Ladder’.

If you’re wondering why a big name like Skinner isn't on the main stage, the answer’s in the material. Even Skinner doesn't seem sure of it, looking slightly sheepish to be there. Played live, these songs don’t stand up. Harvey’s powerful vocals and guitar skills dominate, while Skinner plays with his toys, mixing suspect beats and singing half-hearted harmonies. Drastic reinvention only works if your heart’s really in it, and if lyrics ever rung more true, “Most of my time is spent thinking about the past” really hits the nail on the bald head.    

Words: Mia Bleach

Photos: Anna Kroeger

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