OneFest 2012 Live Review
Rockley, Wiltshire – 14/04/12
Back on the main stage Dry The River, fresh from a US jaunt, brought harmonies, beards and a fiddle-fuelled sound that is much fuller and harder-rocking than their indie folk tag would suggest.
It may initially have been the cold that drew the crowds back into the Tumuli tent, but The Magic Numbers’ Michele Stodart captivated the audience as she performed tracks from her solo debut Wide-Eyed Crossing.
Despite the downbeat, often resigned nature of a lot of her material, Stodart’s music still retained an underlying warmth, and she managed to transform the crowded tent into an intimate folk club.
Last time Damon Albarn played festivals it was as part of Blur’s triumphant return, and as he closed the main stage he managed to pull of a performance which couldn’t have been more different, yet proved just as special.
Performing the songs from Dr Dee, his opera based on the life of the titular Elizabethan alchemist and mathematician, Albarn was joined onstage by a large band which somehow mixed modern electric and Elizabethan acoustic instruments with Madou Diabaté's kora playing to create a sound that felt completely natural and organic, despite its disparate parts.
Albarn shared vocal duties with a couple of female opera singers and the mesmerising countertenor Christopher Robson, who acts as Dee's nemesis, Edward Kelley.
Although much of the material had a sombre edge, the twinkling melodic beauty at the heart of several of the pieces acted as the perfect counterbalance, and when Albarn addressed the audience to refer to the cold or to encourage them to cheer on Robson during the more up-tempo Watching The Fire That Waltzed Away, he managed to undercut the potential for pomp with the warmth and good cheer of a pantomime.
Albarn and company’s performance proved a fitting close to a festival that was small but perfectly formed, and which can hopefully attempt something equally special again next year.
Find out more about OneFest at http://onefestuk.com