12:46 PM Aug. 8, 2011 - 745 - 1 comments

This was my first time at the Cambridge Rock Festival and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Running from Thursday the 4th to Sunday the 7th of August meant a long weekend of music and beer. On the subject of beer, the CRF is also a fully fledged beer festival with over 70 real ales, lagers and ciders for sale at reasonable prices, if you like real ale you will love this festival!

The site at Haggis Farm Polo Club just outside Cambridge is ideal – practically flat with well defined camping pitches, the added bonus of cars being able to park next to the tents or vans, make it really convenient and easy to navigate. Getting to the site is actually very easy - if you stick to the M11 that is. Unfortunately my Sat Nav had other ideas and took us miles out of our way – why do they do that??

Organisation at the festival was good, with stewards helpful and friendly. The disabled facilities were well planned and thoughtful; the allocated camping area was near to the entrance for the main arena, and close to disabled toilets. The main stage had a raised area to enable a clear view of the bands for disabled festival goers and their carers, many much larger festivals could learn from this best practice.

The main arena was well planned; there were two main stages, both in large marquee type tents which was a bonus on Thursday when it rained most of the day.

Shower facilities were free and clean, the toilets were exceptionally good, and very well maintained, (well done poo team!), the Green Team of young stewards kept the whole of the site tidy and litter free, strategic placement of litter bins also made it easy for festival goers to keep the place clean, which kept it a nice environment to be in.

Enough peripheral stuff, what about the music? Thursday kicked off in good style with tribute band The Skynyrd Experience getting the audience in the mood with some good rocking tracks, which had them dancing and singing along, they did the best version of Sweet Home Alabama I have heard (other than the mighty Skynyrd themselves of course!) Over at the Calling out Stage, a very young band called Rebels of Rock showed a maturity way beyond their years with a blistering set of covers and original tracks, the crowd demanded an encore and they finished off in style with Led Zep’s Rock’n’Roll to great acclaim – watch out for these youngsters in the future, they will go far! Back to the main stage Split Whiskers went down well with the crowd, ably followed by the Pure Floyd Show and The Ultimate Eagles, both of whom gave the audience what they wanted with covers of well known hits which often sounded just like the real deal. Old favourites The Hamsters finished off the night with a high energy set displaying their amazing musicianship, which the audience demonstrated their appreciation of by dancing and cheering their socks off.

Friday was my favourite day of music, highlights included Heather Findlay who wooed the crowd with her beautiful voice accompanied by her excellent band. Sacred Heart and Morpheus Rising also rocked their respective stages with fantastic sets. The John Otway Big Band took audience participation to a new level, with flowers being thrown at the band during “Beware of the Flowers” and heckling being raised to an art form during the “House of the Rising Sun” I have seen John Otway before but having the Big Band with him gave the show a whole new dimension, and even more fun. If you haven’t seen them, check them out at the next opportunity, the entertainment value is priceless!  A band I had never seen before was KyrbGrinder, they are a relatively young 3 piece with their lead singer and drummer, Johanne James bringing the drums to the forefront in a show which had the whole crowd shouting for more. The guitarist and bass player rocked along filling the marquee with some seriously good musicianship and the drumming was just astounding, you need to see this band! Eddie and the Hotrods closed the main stage in style with some well honed rock including their anthem “Do anything you wanna do” raising the roof.

By Saturday we were nursing mild hangovers and ready for a chilled out day; the weather was fantastic, and Cherry Lee Mewis started off the music in top form, this was continued on stage two with Adrian Nation giving a wonderful folk-rock performance. Other highlights included Roy Mette and Rosco Levee whose country bluesy flavoured rock had the stage two crowd dancing all the way through an excellent set. Chantell McGregor was stunningly good – no-one this beautiful should be able to sing so well whilst playing guitar as well as Jimmy Hendrix! If you have not seen her, check her out – you definitely will not regret it – real star potential here, with an excellent band supporting her, the audience were very disappointed that a second encore was denied. Larry Miller had a hard act to follow there, but he soon had the stage rocking and the crowd dancing and singing along, a great set from the master blues rockers. The Quireboys rocked out the main stage with a set lasting until midnight, whilst over on stage 2 The Bizarros finished off another fantastic day of music with a jumping set which had the crowd again dancing their socks off.

After midnight things quieten down but the music continues for another couple of hours on stage 2 with short acoustic sets being played by many of the acts from the weekend, a really nice, chilled way to end a fantastic day.

We had to leave the festival on Sunday morning, so missed another day packed with music and beer, oh well, until next year it is goodbye from Cambridge, and we leave with may happy memories of amazing music, superb showmanship and bloody good beer. I’d just like to finish by saying “thanks” to all the team of unpaid committee members and volunteers for their hard work and commitment in putting on such a good festival.

Cheers, Mark.


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