It was only whilst absently browsing the internet and stumbling upon the Digitonal website during February 2008 that I found out about this little gem of a festival. They were listed to perform, so I penned a quick mail to the organiser, Russell, who wrote back to me to say if I’d like to perform at it, I was welcome.
I was vaguely familiar with the location of the site, as back in the early noughties, Marcus Bailey had organised some great parties in fields adjacent to where the Firegathering was taking place, deep in the Sussex countryside. In fact, Firegathering uses land that’s owned by Ridge Farm, home to the famous recording facility… anyone who’s anyone has recorded there in days of yore!
As was seemingly becoming the norm, Ed Richardson, my VJ turned up at my place in Harrow a couple of days prior to leaving for the festival, so that we could do a bit of a ‘rehearsal’ for the gig. In actual fact, we didn’t really do any rehearsing at all, it was more a case of “let’s just see what happens when we turn up”.
So, come the Friday afternoon, we were packed and ready to rock. However, it took us a while to find the site; Ed had imbibed a rather hefty joint on the way down, and his map-reading capabilities were diminished somewhat. After a short amount of time buggering about trying to find the festival, we chanced upon it more by luck than judgement!
To be honest, the whole vibe was very reminiscent of the first Big Chill Gala in the Black Mountains. A group of enthusiastic volunteers manned the main gate waiting to hand out wristbands to the 1000 or so that turned up to indulge in music and merriment for the next three days.
There was no fencing, no security, cars were allowed on site, and the focal point each night was the bonfire, hence the name of the festival. It was a real breath of fresh air… Russell and the rest of the crew made an absolute top job of organising this.
The bar was brimming with top-quality local ales and ciders, alongside the more traditional piss such as your Stella and Strongbow. Needless to say, Ed and I (and Marcus, who’d turned up on the Saturday) possibly over-indulged on the very reasonably priced stock available but it was testament to the quality of the beer that no hangovers were experienced.
As for my performances… well, I opened the main stage on the Saturday lunchtime to an audience of approximately two, one of which was a sleeping baby. I was due to perform my live gig later that day on the Lizard Stage at about 1am. 1am came and went; it wasn’t until about 3.30am that we finally came on to rapturous applause from the 30 or so stragglers that still had their eyes open!
The lack of a rehearsal paid off though, we both enjoyed ourselves, Ed experimenting with some new VJ software and me just improvising alongside more beat-driven work in my catalogue.
It was good to finally get to bed at about 6am though… it appears the days of being able to stay up all night were fading fast!
A damn fine festival; Russell and Co. have definitely honed the recipe for a great party.
Thanks for having me; here’s a short film of proceedings…