Gig Reviews – Stranglers-Wickham – Straighten Out-Heathfest – Aug 5-6 2016

Be in the moment…

So it was, after leaving India, well deepest darkest Dorset if you insist, Gurudi imbued me with the spirit of the great sages. Whereupon we swiftly levitated to Sunny Basingstoke. It was here that I alighted a mechanical carriage to the South...

Through Micheldever and the vegetable patch known as Winchester and several other towns before arriving at destination Fareham not to be confused with Wareham which, although nice, is actually nowhere near where we in fact needed to be and where we in fact were etc Etc EiTC…

En Route I met a crouton, though in reality it was Peter a thoroughly nice fellow South Londoner making his way to Wickham to volunteer. He offered to share a cab to the festival but as I already had a lift laid on, we bundled him into the Dreadmobile and made our way to base camp…

But, I digress…

An advanced party comprising Dreadinblack and WilliB arrived ahead of EiTC and set up base camp at the Heathfest site (Rob and Carol’s back garden – and a jolly nice job they did too thank you very much) in the back field beyond the reed beds and pond, before rendezvousing with YT at Il Stazione… Which was about where we came in…

The memory of a paid festival…

A quick recce around the (most impressive) Heathfest site, then we were bundled into a 4×4 and ferried off to Wickham festival – courtesy of Charlotte. John joined us for this part of the journey which meant WilliB had to travel on the jump seat (aka. The Boot or dog cabin). A short hop and we were there, wrist-banded and admiring the stunning Hampshire sunset (sun machine coming down).

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We caught the last two numbers of From The Jam’s encore and it sounded very good.

Bella and Amanda caught up with us and proceeded to lead us down to the front where the FiB were in waiting for the main event. Waltzinblack and Bam The Stranglers took the stage doing their summer festival stuff with gusto.

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I bounced up and down for three or four numbers toward JJ’s side of the stage then the pong got too much (the real ale and exotic foods clearly not agreeing with someone’s digestive system). So I headed for more fragrant pastures toward Baz’s side where I managed to last a few numbers – but the mix was way out on this side – with just the guitar being audible!

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Holding my breath I made my way back to JJ’s side for the remainder of the set where the sound was more favourable. I think the problem was the main PA speakers were some way behind where we were standing (at the front towards the barrier) so all we could hear here was the backline. Although there did also seem to be some disparity in the levels – almost like the guitar was set for Wembley while the rest of the band were set for a pub gig.

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No worry really – the greatest band with the best fans it’s all good. At the end of the set we nattered and posed before heading off back to base with Bazzainblack and Mr T in tow, we just managed to squeeze into Anthony’s car.

A midnight swim in the heated pool was most civilised but it felt very cold getting out of the pool luckily Ben had been keeping the jacket potatoes warm which helped stave off the cold. Then it was off to bed to knock out a few zeds under canvas and recover a little energy for the main event.

The memory of a free festival…

Sun machine is coming down and we’re gonna have a party…
Be in the Moment!
Did you ever have a day where you lived every moment?


The geese were a honking the cock was a crowing and the sun was a shining, so I took this as a sign and an opportunity to head across the dewy field for morning ablutions, tea and a little light practice. Perfect start!

Ben and his assorted helpers soon had breakfast on the go as the good people gathered around the field slowly began to join the day…

As more guests began to arrive, Carol was frequently seen ferrying people’s tents and luggage across the site on the ride on lawn mower and attached trailer with a huge smile on her face.

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From the moment I got here on Friday evening I have to say it was difficult picking my jaw up from the ground – it really was a most incredible event that Rob and Carol and assorted helpers had set up. And in a wonderful location too. Our hosts had thought of everything from wristbands and glowsticks to 5* Toilets and Top Cuisine, they’d even managed to arrange the glorious Hampshire sunshine and an Ice Cream Van.

The words ‘Magical’ and ‘Magic’ were on my lips for the whole experience. And that’s exactly what this was – an Experience!

Did you ever have a day where you lived every moment?

Some moments are crystallised in time

And I’ve not even talked about the entertainment yet…

…here goes!

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Up first The Drop Bears entertained us with a solid set of classic rock covers. They did a great job of warming up and wetting the appetite of the audience. With Paul’s solid drumming and Paul’s solid rhythm guitar, not forgetting Paul’s solid Lead guitar and Nick‘s steady bass all making the perfect platform for singer Hanna to strut her stuff!

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Rockabilly Trio Switchblade were on next and began to get the crowd going a bit more with their fine mix of covers moulded into their very distinctive punky rockabilly style. Highlights for me were – Johnny Remember Me, Babylon’s Burning and (crowd pleaser) Golden Brown.

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Our host Rob joined them for a superb rendition of Folsom Prison Blues on Voice and Harmonica and made a very convincing job of it too. There may have been a bit of Manilow in their set somewhere too! And certainly some Smiths! Well worth a look…

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More rockabilly next – as The Ace Trio took the stage. No worries about back to back Rockabilly bands as the two bands both had very distinctive sounds where Switchblade sounded a little more uptempo and edgy with reverberant Tele and crunchy Precision while The Ace Trio had a more traditional/classic rockabilly feel with a smooth Gretsch and Stand up bass flavour to their sound.

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The Ace Trio proceeded to deliver a flawless two set show comprising an eclectic mixture of songs given their rockabilly treatment including: Rock this Town, Nine Lives, I’m on Fire, Valerie, Killing Moon, 13 Women, Jump Jive and Wail, Rock the Joint, Slow Down, Rockabilly Boogie, Shim Sham Shimmy and Stray Cat Strut. Catch them live in a town near you (possibly on The South Coast).

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By this time the sun machine really was coming down on a fantastic day…

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And all too soon it was time for the grand finale as Straighten Out took the stage and entertained all and sundry with their patented blend of MK1 Stranglers Magic. Once more, close your eyes and it’s as if you’ve time travelled back to the late 70’s. Authentic doesn’t even begin to cover it! On a par with the real deal for sure etc Etc EiTC… And we all loved it!

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As the crowd warmed up and had a good ol’ boogie (woogie!). Phil busted his A string, so Shaggy made an appeal for someone to re-string, I duly volunteered and soon had him back up and running. A couple of numbers later his D went and once more I was happy to oblige.

Black Angel
Black Angel

We had rat-walking, swirling Hammond, growling Precision, biting Tele and pounding relentless Drumbeats a true fix of IBM… in-Black Magic!

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Did you ever have a day where you lived every moment?

That day was today!

It was like being present in every second and fraction thereof. For a short while, yet also for an infinity, time became non-linear in a day that was truly…



Live every moment

Crystallised in time.


Words and Pictures: EiTC.

Bonus: EiTC.


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Heathfest Artistes:

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White Angel
White Angel

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The Day After…


Video: Dreadinblack.