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REVIEW: Cool Britannia Festival 2019

It's back to the 90’s for a weekend of Brit-pop, Indie, Rock and Dance Music, and the second Cool Britannia Festival, at Knebworth Park, in Hertfordshire, the so called ‘stately home of rock’. Owned by Henry Lytton-Cobbold (the screenwriter), for three days, Knebworth hosted some of the best artists to come out of the 90’s for the fans to come and get their rocks off in his back yard.

Photography by Ken Harrison

Saturday
The Farm opens up Saturday with Peter Hooton quipping ‘I’ve never seen such a sober crowd!’, that didn’t last long as the crowd got warmed up with classic hits ‘Groovy Train’ and the anthemic ‘Altogether Now’. The Bluetones followed up with their set including ‘Slight Return’, with Jazzy B’s ‘Soul II Soul’ grooving through the afternoon with Club Classics ‘Back To Life’, ‘Keep On Moving’ and ‘Universal Love’.

Kermit and Shaun Ryder and co. aka ‘Black Grape’ bring back a taste of the ‘Madchester’ sound with ‘In The Name Of the Father’ and ‘The Reverend Black Grape’, followed by Sleeper fronted by Louise Wener, with a cover of Blondie’s ‘Atomic’ gracing their set. With an introduction by 6Music’s Jo Whiley come Yorkshire boys Embrace, playing their second Cool Britannia. Time for some 90’s classics with Jo Whiley, playing a DJ set including Oasis, Blur and the ultimate ‘fire-starters’, Prodigy as a warm-up for the headline act of the evening, James.

Photography by Ken Harrison

James closes Saturday with an eclectic mix of material, but littered with some James greats including ‘Getting Away With It (All Messed Up)’, ‘Laid’, ‘Singularity’ and ‘Sit Down’. Tim Booth stands in front of the audience on a runway, leaning forward into the crowd and is carried away for a brief crowd-surf, before being dragged back out of the crowd and returning to stage to continue the set. Closing the show, Booth is back down the runway, pulling members of the crowd out to join the band on stage. A fantastic close to the day, and one to remember for those lucky enough to be there.

Photography by Ken Harrison

Sunday
Day 2 begins with Babybird and a slightly more laid back vibe, followed by Dodgy and ‘Good Enough’ and ‘Staying Out For The Summer’ with Echobelly returning to some classic Brit-pop. Huey Morgan and the Fun Loving Criminals rip up the stage with a cracking set including ‘Scooby Snacks’, ‘Barry White Saved My Life’ and ‘Fun Loving Criminals’, with Morgan wrestling his guitar like it was a wild beast. What a guitarist!  This was one of my highlights of the festival. Even the security guys get in on the act by ‘dancing’ up and down in front of the stage, high kicking as they go to “New York, New York’, the Crims opening music.

Photography by Ken Harrison

Gabrielle brings a more soulful vibe with ‘Rise’, ‘When A Woman’, a cover of Womack and Womack’s ‘Teardrops’ and finishing with her breakthrough ‘Dreams’. Starsailor follow, opening up with ‘Alcoholic’ ‘Four To The Floor’ and ‘Silence Is Easy’, with Wirral band The Coral’ ‘Pass It On’ and ‘Sweet Release’ continuing the vibe as the penultimate act of the evening, before a blistering DJ set by Basement Jaxx to bring Sunday and the festival to its close.

Photography by Ken Harrison
Photography by Ken Harrison

Over the weekend at the ‘Ministry Of Sound’ stage, Danny Rampling, Seb Fontaine, Goldie and many of the greatest DJ’s of the time were busy whipping the crowd into a frenzy with some classic dance.

A great ‘Cool Britannia’ no.2, I’m already looking forward to a return to Knebworth in 2020 for another brilliant 90’s experience.

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