Sunday’s musical treats started early for the Growl family. Well before the bands took to the various stages, we were thoroughly entertained by a guy in the cinema tent doing kids singing and other activities. The Baby Growl enjoyed it so much that she fell asleep immediately afterwards.
Main stage activity started for us with The Wave Pictures on the Garden Stage. They were excellent, with David Tatersall’s dry wit, both in lyrics and onstage chat shining as usual. I love the way that they so (deliberately?) fly in the face of musical fashion with Tatersall guitar-soloing away and even inviting a solo from drummer Jonny Helm. Again, what often seems so roughly-hewn on record sounds so expertly played and punchy live, and the east London boys certainly won over a host of new fans. Their box of CDs disappeared in super-quick time at the end. One of the new fans was The Baby Growl – she seemed impressed from the instant we walked into the Garden Stage area, dancing on my shoulders. She didn’t buy a CD though, mine will have to do for now.
More Baby Growl appreciation was shown later for Woodpigeon, as she ate her dinner to their main stage set. Coming onstage to a piece of classical music (Salut d’Amour by Elgar, it transpires) played by a couple of members of the band may seem pretentious to some, but it fitted in nicely with all that followed. Do we need another sprawling Canadian indie collective? From what I heard, I would say they’re certainly a welcome addition in a crowded market, but admittedly my full attention wasn’t the orchestral Americana sounds coming from the stage. Feeding the girl and chatting with Mr and Mrs Toad rendered Woodpigeon more of a pleasant backdrop, but still worth investigating further I think.
Mrs Growl and I were certainly looking forward to seeing Richard Hawley. Both of us (particularly her) are big fans, but haven’t seen him live since he appeared on the same stage two years ago. Since then he’s released his best album yet (Lady’s Bridge), and hearing these newer songs played was retro rock(abilly) and roll treat. As anyone who has seen his shows will know, it’s not just about the songs, but also the onstage banter from a natural, rough-hewn entertainer. He’s still using some of the same jokes (“Let’s ballad”) but his normally expletive-laden chatter was oddly subdued. Maybe it was the presence of his family (the only festival he’s ever taken them to, he says) or maybe he was just in a mellow mood, but EOTR seems like a well-loved place to him. The Somerset Cider bus went down well the previous evening it seems. Although there were more child-related distractions for us, it was great to see Hawley again and no matter how many times I hear Oh My Love, it still sounds lump-in-the-throat wonderful.
For me, that was the end of my participation in this year’s festival. Save for a late-night dash to the Rough Trade stall for some last-minute purchases, it was only fair that having been out the previous two evenings, I stayed in the Baby Growl and let Mrs Growl have a musical wander. She flitted between The Mountain Goats, Charlotte Hatherley and The Smoke Fairies without finding much to her taste, before going to see Calexico’s headline gig “for old time’s sake”. If that sounds unenthusiastic, it’s because the last time we saw the Tuscon band they were a tad underwhelming, but that was when they were touring Garden Ruin, hardly their finest hour. This time was different. Mrs Growl came back enthusing about their performance, playing some fine new songs (from the just-released and much better Carried to Dust), Calexico classics and even ordering and passing around pints of cider from the bus. I actually managed to hear their usual set climax Crystal Frontier from the confines of our tent, so I can easily imagine how good it was. A fitting end to a superb festival.
Since I faced a long drive halfway to Scotland the next day, it was earlier-than-usual to bed, and I fell asleep with Zombie Zombie’s krautrock from the Big Top thudding gently through my earplugs. Roll on next year!