Even without the Royal Wedding, April was fast becoming the nation’s favourite month – the new June. The blossom came, but April showers were relegated to the stuff of country legend. Even now it’s hard to remember that this used to be the month of the pac-a-mac and puddles.
Not content to simply steal the sunshine from the summer, April has now muscled in on the music-festival-in-a-field market. I’m not talking about the brilliant city centre festivals, of which April has been a long and loyal friend. No, I’m talking about the queue-for-the-portaloo-don’t-forget-your-toilet roll type festival.
The hot ticket of the month was Honeyfest, a 1,500 capacity mini-festival taking place at the The Barge Inn, nestled in the heart of the Pewsey Vale on the banks of the Kennet & Avon Canal. Commanding a strong line-up to be headlined by Damien Rice, the intrigued Camden Store team went along to see what all the fuss was about.
After a stroll around the site, populated with all that is now expected at a boutique festival from a drumming workshop to bunting – we settled by the stage to catch Dry the River do their thing. Keen to see them live since their Camden trip at the beginning of the year, these local lads didn’t disappoint, closing their set with the lovely lullaby-like Lion’s Den.
Next up was the Magic Numbers. I think they were good. I certainly enjoyed it at the time. What’s not to like? Catchy, strummy near-pop, performed by a happy band of siblings. Waltons, the musical… But now I think back, I struggle to remember a single song. Apart from that Neil Young cover. You know the one. That one.
Then Honeyfest’s big catch, the young Laura Marling (for she will always be younger than me) tiptoed on stage and whispered that she would be playing some new material, hastily adding that it would be in the form of a three song medley – so it’d all be over soon. Marling is unbelievably talented and her new material is no exception to this rule. Why she is so shy of her talent, I’ve no idea. Fans of Marling from her pre-Mumford days will probably detect a familiar filtration of her sound, now returning to her early form, hanging whole songs off her incredible vocal chords.
Last up came Damien Rice. The man’s voice is incredible, as is his ability to swear. Headlining a festival solo is no mean feat. Yet Damien single-handedly managed to work the crowd into sunsetting frenzy with everyone determined to sing along to each one of his wholly enchanting tunes.
As we wandered homewards, sunset behind us, rising moon ahead and clear blue in between, the Honeyfest crowd could be heard singing Hallelujah in happy unison. High praise indeed.
Honeyfest was designed to be a one off festival to relaunch co-operative pub project The Barge Inn. I hope the team behind it take note of just how successful the event was and look to replicate it again next year. It made my April.
Words: Pip Latimer. Pictures: Dickon Drury
The Camden Store X