5th-7th August 2022
Bingley Weekender has become a cornerstone of festival season over the last few years. The 2022 edition is my third appearance and my first with VIP tickets (we won them in a competition – I haven’t suddenly become rich). Let’s get to it…
A low key start to proceedings as circumstances ensured that we only actually saw two bands. After a hilarious entrance that saw my wife and I swan off to the VIP entrance leaving our friends standing in the queue only for them to somehow enter the festival before us anyway, it’s time for Peter Hook & The Light. It’s difficult to think of another bassist who could so confidently carry the songs of not one, but two iconic bands, but Hooky has the charisma and the chops to do just that. The first part of the set sees Hooky and his band lean heavily into the Joy Division oeuvre with note perfect renditions of ‘She’s Lost Control’ and ‘Shadowplay’ ringing out across the fields of Bingley. It is striking how accomplished Hooky is at singing two sets of sings originally sung by two very different frontman. He manages to do a great job at aping both Ian Curtis and Bernard Sumner whilst still cultivating a vocal style that is all his own. It helps that long time guitarist David Potts rips things up alongside Hooky, and the whole band sound fantastic throughout. A rapturously received ‘Transmission’ closes out the Joy Division section for now, with New Order’s seminal classic ‘Blue Monday’ signalling a change of mood. ‘True Faith’ inspires the first big singalong for the day with ‘Temptation’ completing a trilogy of songs that could match any three songs from any band on the circuit. Seeing Hooky perform ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ is akin to a religious experience and, as ever, it’s incredible here. Quite simply one of the best songs ever written. It was also my dad’s favourite song which is the highest praise any musician can receive.
Local heroes Embrace are still going strong and are on the brink of releasing their eighth studio album How to Be a Person Like Other People. Whilst they treat us two new tracks from that album, both of which are fine, I’m more of an Embrace legacy fan. Luckily, Danny McNamara are co drop three songs from their iconic debut album, opening with ‘All You Good Good People’ and a genuinely incredible rendition of ‘Come Back to What You Know’ and closing with an emotional run through of ‘The Good Will Out’. In the middle of those welcome bookends, the Huddersfield band stick mainly to their late era hits with ‘Nature’s Law’ going down a treat and ‘Gravity’ and ‘Ashes’ receiving perhaps the biggest response of the whole set.
From there we decide to miss Rag ‘n’ Bone man to return to our old man’s cottage to sit by the fire. There is not a regret in sight. Roll on Saturday.
Saturday begins with an ill advised hungover run through the neighbouring villages of Bingley before a lovely pub lunch (shout out to The Brown Cow) for we are truly determined to behave in the least rock ‘n’ roll way possible throughout this venture.
Full of food, heartburn and self loathing, we trudge back to the main arena for Beans on Toast. Luckily, Jay McAllister (Beans’ real name) is on fine form, firstly demanding that the sizable Bingley crowd imagine their favourite tree and then pretend to be that tree (with hilarious results), before a fine run through of ‘MDMAzing’ – the closest song McAllister has to a bona fide hit. From there we have an impassioned run through of ‘The War on War’, a pair of love songs dedicated to his wife (‘I’m Home When You Hold Me) and daughter (‘The Album of the Day’) and a prescient performance of ‘Take Your Shit Home With You’ (a song that is literally about cleaning up after a festival). He closes out with an acapella version of ‘Money for War’ (hilariously performed as part of an encore – ‘You’re not supposed to do encores at a festival, but I love encores so I always schedule one in’) and as the summer sun beats down, it is clear that Beans on Toast was the right artist for that moment.
The Amazons are up next and despite the nagging feeling that they only have three great songs and then lots of filler, it can’t be denied that Matt Thompson is a formidable frontman with a genuinely show-stopping voice. The Reading band go down a storm with ‘Junk Food Forever’, ‘In My Mind’ and ‘Black Magic’ particularly potent, and there is no denying that this is a band that have a fire within them. If only they could channel that into something more interesting in the studio (coming from the man who was created zero seconds of listenable music in his entire life).
Shed Seven are festival veterans and no matter how many times I see them, they never disappoint. A Saturday night slot is perfect for Rick Witter and co. and following a spirited run through of ‘Room in My House’ he reassures the crowd that every song played from then on will be from the 1990s. He knows his audience. A typically furious rendition of ‘Bully Boy’ demonstrates that Shed are up for it, and when Witter brings out his son to sing harmony on ‘High Hopes’ it appears that this is a band rejuvenated and raring to go. The obligatory brass section appear for ‘Ocean Pie’ before Witter reads out various birthday/anniversary/first concert messages. This would perhaps feel trite or contrived in lesser hands, but Witter is a natural showman, and his ability to interact with the crowd is truly second to none. A story about almost being sick on Judy Finnigan prefaces ‘Going for Gold’ whilst ‘Disco Down’ and ‘Chasing Rainbows’ close things out – the latter song belted out by the Bingley punters who are invariably in fine voice.
And so, to The Libertines. A band with a less than stellar live reputation, and a band that I, myself, have witnessed being terrible in the past. Despite opening with one of their best tracks (‘What a Waster’), it takes the London band a fair few songs to find their feet, and it isn’t until ‘The Boys in the Band’ that things truly click. When that click does happen; however, it is a glorious reminder that The Libertines were, for a two year period, one of the most important bands in the UK. Despite Pete’s lament that when Bingley Weekender can afford it they will bring in the Arctic Monkeys (‘… but for now you’re stuck with us’), they then embark on a run of songs good enough to restore faith in the good ship Albion. ‘Can’t Stand Me Now’ sounds as vital as ever, a ferocious ‘Begging You’ brings the house down, before Pete and Carl tear through excellent renditions of ‘Horror Show’ and ‘Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads?’. And then… just like that the magic is gone. The band meander through a ramshackle version of ‘The Good Old Days’ and limp through ‘The Delaney’ and ‘Vertigo’, and for a moment it feels like the set will finish on a whimper. Luckily, things improve after the encore and ‘Time for Heroes’ followed by an emotional version of ‘Don’t Look Back into the Sun’ close things out on a high note. As expected from a band so unpredictable, this is a set of ups and downs, but on the whole, it must go down as a success.
Despite aiming to get back to Bingley for the start of Zuzu‘s set, we are unfortunately side-lined by the unavoidable need to eat a Yorkshire pudding wrap from a beautiful old pub on the high street (shout out to The Old White Horse). Happily, we do scoff that in time to catch the last two songs of Zuzu’s set – a rocked up version of ‘I’m Good’ and an emotional run through of ‘Queensway Tunnel’. Lovely stuff.
Sea Power are up next, and while this show doesn’t quite have the emotional power that comes with seeing the Kendal band in a smaller venue. Tracks like ‘Two Fingers’ and ‘Green Goddess’ still sound great and by the time they finish with a soaring ‘No Lucifer’ and the triumphant pro-immigration anthem ‘Waving Flags’ it is safe to say that the Bingley crowd is won over.
What should follow is a description of a pounding set from The Slow Readers Club, but as I met Paddy Considine – one of my all time acting heroes – in the VIP area beforehand, I was still an emotional wreck by the time the Manchester band took to the stage. Luckily, Aaron Starkie and his band are always great value and by the time ‘I Saw A Ghost’ rolls around I’ve composed myself enough to enjoy the rest of their set. It is heartening that a huge crowd has amassed, particularly as it took years of blood, sweat and tears before the public at large caught on to what The Slow Readers Club are doing. ‘On the TV’ and ‘Lunatic’ close out the set, and it is proof if any were needed that this band are capable of playing the biggest stages.
White Lies are a band with some devastatingly incredible singles and tracks like ‘To Lose My Life’ and ‘Farewell to the Fairground’ still sound sensational 13 (!) years later. The London band have more than just their debut album to call from; however, with ‘Big TV’ and ‘Bigger Than Us’ received with much enthusiasm. Harry McVeigh and his band seem genuinely delighted to be back playing and to a massive crowd, and the Bingley punters respond in kind with the packed Main Stage bouncing throughout. A genuinely fantastic set.
And so, after what feels like hundreds of pints of Brewdog’s Hazy Pale, morning runs through the West Yorkshire countryside, evenings shooting shit by the fire and a shedload of banana milkshake and pizza, the weekend is finally at an end. But first, we have the small matter of Pixies to attend to.
Taking to the stage with little fanfare, the Boston band (minus Kim Deal who was replaced by Paz Lenchantin in 2014) rip straight into a searing ‘Wave of Mutilation’. In their own inimitable style, the band simply play the songs with no introduction or comment. Iconic frontman Frank Black demonstrates that there is more than one way to connect with a crowd. When you have a back catalogue as intimidatingly good as Pixies have, the music does the talking for you.
Old favourites such as ‘Holiday’ and ‘Nimrod’s Son’ sound incredible slotted in around newer tracks like ‘All the Saints’ and ‘Motorway to Roswell’, but it is the hits that provide the baying crowd with one of those much anticipated Bingley moments. ‘Here Comes Your Man’ is one of my favourite ever songs and it sounds simply wonderful here, as does the tortured squeal of ‘Hey’. An extended intro to ‘Gouge Away’ raises excitement levels to fever pitch and the band stay at that level through ‘Crackity Jones’ and ‘Mr. Grieves’ before Lenchantin leads the crowd in a mass singalong to ‘Gigantic’.
As one of the most influential bands of their generation, they have earned the right to be a little indulgent. And so, a second rendition of ‘Wave of Mutilation’ is greeted with as much enthusiasm as the first before the band close out with ‘Monkey’s Gone to Heaven’ and a spellbinding ‘Where Is My Mind?’.
All that’s left is for the band to play an enchanting version of Neil Young’s ‘Winterlong’ and then they leave us as they arrived – a riddle wrapped in enigma coated in genius. It’s been a privilege to see this band play live.
And so, despite some organizational teething problems, Bingley Weekender has pulled it out of the bag again. My third visit to this growing festival has confirmed that it is now one of the most important dates on the festival calendar. Roll on 2023.