More of the same next year please...

Somewhere in a field in Hampshire was where Clash found ourselves on Friday morning, somewhere disappointingly wet and muddy. All change by the time we'd collected our wristbands, set foot on Vicarage Farm proper and sipped our first cider though, as the precipitation passed and the skies reverted back to the glorious sunshine witnessed on Thursday, give or take a sweat bead.

First up for our peepers was Josh Kumra, a.k.a. Wretch 32's buddy who eased us into proceedings with an acoustic version of the pair's number one single, 'Don't Go'. Something of a guilty pleasure, we're not too proud to admit the radio friendly number was a welcome introduction to what was to be a weekend of complete musical variety. Case in point was our next destination, the Bradley Bubble stage for Southampton sextet, Oresteia. Led by a moustached Darrell Swainston in a suave pastel blue jacket and maroon trouser combo, these boys were all theatrical motions, exaggerated sounds and a large, blue haired fluffy head (a video prop, it later transpired).

Lucy Rose followed up next on the Assembly Hall stage, the two o'clock set an example of perfect timing with thanks to Mr. Weatherman; sitting pretty centre stage, her delicious melodies charmed all those in attendance, children, adults and those in-between alike. From something so delicate we upped sticks for Flatpack Recordings bossman, James Moodie's DJ set on the School Bus (read: an open top bus playing host to the weekend's disc jockeys); for someone set to release a video that's already attracted PETA concerns, he plays a lot of Rihanna.

The sunny vibes hung around for Man Like Me's ecstatic performance; if there's a group more festival worthy then Johnny Langer and co. we're yet to come across them, four years on and songs like 'Carny' still sound as fresh as Langer's Reeboks (probably) are. A pizza and impromptu social photoshoot later and we're watching Tropics. Joined by Keith Vaz and Morgan Hislop to form a full band, Chris Ward's hazy electronics had us in a state of pure delight. A night of "oh haven't we featured you in the mag" followed, with performances from NZCA/Lines followed by Citizens! followed by Toy (great minds and all that). "Clearly in the countryside then," Michael Lovett exclaims, despite the cleanliness of the NZCA/Lines' stage all smothered in white (of the T-shirt and tablecloth sort). Citizens! meanwhile have a red socks rule with three of the five embracing scarlet ankles; their set is swallowed up by the gleaming crowd who's energy is upstaged only by that of the band. Vintage florals are the order of the day for Toy, as they deliver their branch of shoegaze with illuminating effect. Saturday morning saw an abundance of burnt noses wandering through the campsite, while Clash delved out of the sun into the Hidden Hedge, Blissfields' own secret corner not a million miles away from Glastonbury's Shangri-La but with added floral sofas and hip hop soundtrack in the middle of a circular tent, house party stylee if you will.

East London boys Loveless brought us out of hiding, with a mixed set of old and new on the School Bus, before Charlie XCX caught our eye with her kilt and bra look on the Assembly Hall stage. Her Maria Diamonds/Gwen Stefani style vocals had their moments, but felt more suited to a tent rather than main stage.

Charlotte Church on the other hand was always going to provide a crowd, out of intrigue if nothing else. And that she did, with the Bradley Bubble fit to burst (as it were), and the lady herself remarking "you're packed in like sardines." Back at the Assembly Hall stage current kings of indie, the suited and booted Spector provided not only sing along songs but banter, band member kisses and mid song hair combing to boot. All too aware of his audience, main man Fred Macpherson noted, "most of you weren't even born in 2005."

Later in the evening Theme Park's tropical indie via Mystery Jets sound was hugely appealing to the ears, as chants of "one more song" confirmed. While definitely deserving of their place on the bill likewise they would have been a perfect fit for early evening on the main stage. Following them-and Clash's last band of the weekend-was AlunaGeorge. Currently riding on a wave of hype, Aluna Francis and her boy George Reid did good, providing the the perfect finale to an enchanted weekend. More of the same next year please Paul and Mel (Bliss).

Words: Zoe Whitfield
Images: Tommy Loebell

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