Review: Deer Shed Festival, Baldersley Park, North Yorkshire

Saturday night headliner Kate Tempest at Deer Shed Festival 2017.
Saturday night headliner Kate Tempest at Deer Shed Festival 2017.

From its humble beginnings, the increasingly popular Deer Shed Festival is growing into a mini-Glastonbury of the north.

Eight years ago the festival in North Yorkshire was a one-day event which featured a live set by The Wedding Present in front of a modest crowd.

Deer Shed headliner Kate Tempest.

Deer Shed headliner Kate Tempest.

But now the summer bash at the lovely Baldersley Park venue at Topcliffe, Thirsk. has grown to three nights with all of this year’s increased capacity of 11,000 tickets snapped up well in advance of the event.

The good people behind the festival obviously must be doing something right, and the family-friendly music, arts and science festival has certainly something for everyone, adults and children alike.

Entertainment ranged from big-name bands and rave and DJ sets through cult comedy and family theatre performances to build-a-synth workshops and a grand community game of cricket!

This reviewer settled down on FRIDAY to catch the quirky female electro duo Let’s Eat Grandma, the return to the festival of guitar and drum duo Honeyblood, who make an awesome, grungy noise, and the current enfant terribles of the indie scene, Cabbage, who rocked a packed In The Dock Stage.

Deer Shed Festival 2017.

Deer Shed Festival 2017.

We even had time to catch the brilliant observational comedy songs of Yorkshire’s favourite son John Shuttleworth.

Main stage headliners Teenage Fanclub are masters of songs dipped in British irony, sung by Scots in emulation of Americans influenced by English pop singles of the 60s!

Songs like Star Sign, The Concept and a rare performance of their first single Everything Flows helped ageing dads show their teenagers just what this classic Creation Records band have meant to them over the years.

Saturday’s line-up was a steady stream of fantastic music with all girl indie band The Big Moon, Idlewild front man Roddy Woomble and the excellent She Drew The Gun, with their inspired covers from the likes of Sugababes and Beloved.

Deer Shed Festival 2017.

Deer Shed Festival 2017.

The Obelisk stage was suitably rammed for Guardian writers Tim Dowling and Owen Jones with their spoken-word sets and Q&As, while we negotiated the marching Hyde Park Brass band to the main stage, where poignant Scottish songsmith King Creosote was at his tender-voiced best, and was even joined onstage by his compatriot Roddy Woomble.

The youthful and joyous Mersey beat tunes of Hooton Tennis Club went down well, especially Boot Cut Jimmy, before the amazing Ibibio Sound Machine had everyone dancing to their Afro-electro beats alongside a flash mob, choreographed by Dance City in workshops prior to the set.

Cult Scots duo Malcolm Middleton and Aidan Moffat, better know as Arab Strap, have returned after a decade away with a seven-piece band, including violin, which takes their Trainspotting tirades set to bleak beats to another dimension.

Moffat recites their infamous tune The First Big Weekend from a lyric sheet which is theatrically scrunched up and tossed into the Dock Stage crowd at its climax.

After a stunning sunset, the heavens opened for headliner Kate Tempest’s set but it just seemed to lend the apocalyptic prophecies of her agit-prop poetry from the album Let Them Eat Chaos an almost Biblical gravitas and a set that will surely go down in Deer Shed folklore.

Saturday night finished fantastically with BBC 6 music’s Marc Riley spinning some top tunes in the Obelisk stage - although some stewards seemed to implement an over-18s only policy - this is a festival man!

Sunday started with David Bowie’s Spider From Mars, Woody Woodmansey, and producer Ken Scott enthralling the Obelisk stage audience with readings from their respective books and an illuminating Q&A session.

Soulful bluesman Jalen N’Gonda woke up the main stage, while Sunderland’s Lake Poets converted more followers to the brilliance of songwriter Martin Longstaff.

The Flamingods brought the sun from Bahrain and their trippy and psychedelic pop grooves to the main stage before Teleman had everyone nodding their heads to their Krautrock grooves and the remarkable voice of singer Thomas Sanders.

With the rain holding off a huge crowd gathered for main stage headliners The Divine Comedy, with frontman Neil Hannon resplendent in Napoleon garb for the likes of Catherine The Great and then quick-changing into bowler hat and brolly city gent attire for the wry Complete Banker.

It’s easy to forget just how many great songs Neil has written over the years and the likes of National Express, Something In The Woodshed and even the theme from sitcom Father Ted reminds everyone just how great they are.

Andy Kershaw’s roots music disco rounded off the weekend and the biggest and the best Deer Shed to date.

How on earth can they top this next year?