Last year's Y Not Festival was a swampy mess. After too much rain and not enough woodchip, the Derbyshire weekender was cancelled on the Sunday due to “adverse weather conditions,” leaving a bad taste in attendees’ mouths and prospective festival-goers shuddering at the thought of history repeating.
Thankfully 2018’s summer has been a belter and the Derbyshire Dales were as hot as the Costa Del Sol as the weekend kicked off. Despite being a relatively small festival Y Not organisers picked out a line up full of top drawer treats. On Friday we caught Circa Waves who played a set filled in equal parts from their 2015 debut album 'Young Chasers' and last year’s 'Different Creatures'. The Liverpudlian four-piece looked at home on the main stage and sent the crowd wild with 'Goodbye', 'Stuck In My Teeth' and the summery anthem 'T-Shirt Weather'.
They sometimes get a rough time in the press but Manic Street Preachers followed with a steady and almost heady set, playing hits from their 90s golden run and tunes from their new album 'Resistance Is Futile'. Opening with the classic early single 'Motorcycle Emptiness', other highlights included the enduring 'If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next' and the climactic 'A Design For Life'.
Next we went over to Flamingo Jack’s to hear some of Bez’s DJ set but quickly turned away to escape the tossing of pints and student night vibes with Blur’s 'Song 2' and Nirvana’s 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' ringing in our ears.
Looking for a saviour we headed to the Quarry Stage in anticipation to watch Birmingham grime artist Lady Leshurr. Having followed her rise to prominence via Instagram for over a year now this was the first time watching her live and well, her talent is off the scale. The entire crowd were jumping around to 'Queen’s Speech 3' and 'OMW', while her biggest tune, the Missy Elliot influenced 'Black Panther' sent everyone into a frenzy. Wakanda Forever, indeed.
Buzzing, we were ready for The Libertines to headline the main stage, but it pains me to say they were disappointing. The boys played solidly, but that was just the thing - songs such as Can’t Stand Me Now were slowed down to a frustratingly gentle pace. Where was the punk spirit and energy we love them for?
While Pete Doherty was playing well, drummer Gary Powell and bassist John Hassall just looked bored, and at times it felt like an audience with Carl Barat. Perhaps they need to spend some time back with younger bands to get some vim and vigour back.
There were plenty of them playing the Allotment Stage hosted by This Feeling with Pirate Studios, Lyle & Scott and Scott’s Menswear where we bedded down on Saturday to escape downpours and gale force winds. Highlights include garage five-piece Wulfman Fury, Cleargreen who have the guitars and drums of early Oasis with Stone Roses-style song titles, The Seamonsters with their 80s synth and strong vocals and the much loved energetic Trampolene, with their frontman Jack Jones (who also plays in Pete Doherty’s solo band) not so much commanding the stage but launching off it at every opportunity.
A band still alive with their original spirit is Buzzcocks who played in The Giant Squid stage on Saturday night. Smashing through their back catalogue to a full tent of fans young and old, Steve Diggle (who told us backstage he’d be on it the previous night in the Groucho with Keith Allen - excellent work) was as sprightly as ever and together with singer Pete Shelley they executed their roaring classics 'What Do I Get?' and 'Ever Fallen in Love…' with punk mastery.
Sunday was a relentless, full scale cloudburst and for many was all too reminiscent of last year’s chaos; hundreds of sopping hangovers on legs left on the morning leaving the rest of the day emptier and all that could be heard was the cry of “the curse of Y Not”. Na... the hardcore who stayed on were rewarded with excellent sets from Peace, Jamiroquai, Shame and Fat White Family.
Peace showcased three songs from their latest album 'Kindness Is The New Rock And Roll' during their show on the Quarry Stage but the ambient 'California Daze' and euphoria erupting '1998 (Delicious)' felt as fresh as ever. Jamiroquai closed the weekend and packed a punch with sprightly renditions of his funked up 90s classics 'Cosmic Girl', 'Little L' and 'Alright'. But alas there was a limit to how much dancing in the rain there could be as the organisers paused the show half way through due to high winds and JK cancelled the rest of his show after just eight songs. But he’d already played 'Space Cowboy' so who cares.
Scrappy South Londoners Shame were the highlight of the day, storming through their debut album 'Songs Of Praise' with the crowd absolutely losing it in mosh-pits. The post-punk five-piece are infectious and necessary and can change rain water into sweat within a matter of minutes. Just what you want.
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Words: Lisa Higgins