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FESTIVAL REPORT: Wide Awake

When: 27th and 28th May 2022
Where: Brockwell Park, London, England

The Wide Awake festival, a two day event held in the really very pleasant surroundings of Brockwell Park, near to Herne Hill in South London, returned for its second annual outing this weekend. If you had gone there on the second day, Saturday, you would have had the great pleasure of catching those ageing rockers Primal Scream top the bill, performing their 1991 album Screamadelica in its entirety as they did so. For good measure, they threw in the song of the same name – which, of course, isn’t on their breakthrough album, but does so on the equally fabulous Dixie Narco EP.

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From a distance, lead singer Bobby Gillespie bore a strange resemblance to Alec Guinness as he had appeared in the 1951 British satirical science fiction comedy film, The Man in the White Suit. And enhanced by his sartorial presence, the Scream show certainly vied with the UEFA Champions League Cup Final for our attention, particularly during a rather wonderful reading of ‘Damaged’ for which Messrs. Jagger and Richards, even after all this time, might want to consider pursuing a royalty claim.

Split across six music stages – albeit one of which, the perhaps accurately named Bad Vibrations stage, was out of action for a large part of the day due to what might loosely be described as “technical difficulties” – there was an incredibly strong undercard, featuring some top acts both from home and abroad. Amyl and the Sniffers, Tropical Fuck Storm and Kevin Morby were but three acts who had arrived from foreign shores, with Morby providing the metaphorical American meat, or vegan equivalent thereof, in that particularly spicy Aussie sandwich. The Malian musician Fatoumata Diawara was also there revelling in the early afternoon sunshine, bringing invention and a touch of class with her.

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Flying the home flag with considerable distinction were Fat White Family. Admittedly it was from a couple of hundred yards away but lead singer Lias Saoudi did initially look for all the world as if he wasn’t wearing any clothes whatsoever, which, I guess, may not have come as a complete surprise for regular observers of the band from nearby Peckham. Fortunately, I think, closer inspection showed Saoudi was sporting a rather fetching pair of skin-coloured cycling shorts which many of the crowd at the front were able to experience at very close quarters as he routinely catapulted himself into their midst.

Yard Act were another revelation, though playing their 13th show on the bounce did seem to face singer James Smith with some logistical problems in terms of geography and/or enunciation as he seemed to think they were performing in somewhere called Brocklewell Park. He had no such difficulties, though, in introducing Katy J. Pearson – who had graced the main stage earlier in the afternoon with her customary sparkling performance – and their recent tour support, Nuha Ruby Ra who joined the West Yorkshire outfit for a suitably shambolic romp through Jonathan Richman’s 1976 toe-tapper ‘Roadrunner’.

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Other artists who fully deserve to be mentioned in dispatches were the UK electronic duo Overmono who had the Moth Club tent packed to its canvas rafters and the predominantly 18-25 audience, plus one or two older hipsters, grooving along nicely; an apocalyptic avant-garde attack arrived courtesy of The Comet Is Coming; and The Golden Dregs, who had opened up on the Moth Stage shortly after midday and with it captured a kind of Anglicised take on The National and Bill Callahan, surely deserve a place much higher up the bill at any future festivals.

Coming to us at less than forty quid for a full day’s musical entertainment, some top-notch, though admittedly quite pricey, food and drink, and a death-defying Sky Swing that afforded those of us brave enough to try it out some spectacularly panoramic views of Brixton and beyond, Wide Awake is a festival well worthy of anyone’s consideration.

Photos: Simon Godley

More photos from Saturday at Wide Awake Festival can be found right HERE

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.