Tramlines 2015 style kicked off on Friday 24th July this year, and we took a stroll down to the new Main Stage, now situated in Ponderosa Park, a little out of the centre and away from its home of the last six years, Devonshire Green. As it was, the ten minute stroll from the city centre didn’t seem to phase anyone, and it was only at the end of the night that there were any issues, the lack of lighting meaning that we were all in the dark in the steep climbs out of the park. Especially in the rain. But I’m trying to forget that.
Ghostpoet was on hand to open the festival, and he did so with some style. After seeing his nigh on incendiary performance at Queens Social Club, he seems more suited to the smaller, more intimate surroundings, but he played the stage well, opening up with Better not Butter, then powdering the increasingly enthusiastic (and ever growing) crowd with highlights from his output. Surrounding himself with brilliant musicians, the band were tight, and not afraid to express their talents throughout. By the time Off Peak Dreams faded out after its gloriously expanded version, he’d won a fair few new fans.
ON next, I’d been looking forward to Kent duo Slaves, and they didn’t disappoint. Full of enthusiasm and a willingness (refreshing) to give everyone a good time by having a good time, the bands raw sound suited the live arena perhaps even more than on record, and both guitarist Laurie Vincent and singer/drummer Isaac Holman seemed to revel in the atmosphere, with the exception of when Isaac lost his hat, and threatened the whole crowd with virtually everything and anything till he got it back. Highlights of the set came in the shape of Ninety Nine, Cheer Up London and Hey, with which the band took their leave.
Headlining the night were The Charlatans. A band with a back history of tragedy, of excess, and of great songs, they always give value for money. Tonight was no exception and the band was led by the mopped blonde Tim Burgess through a good-natured and supremely executed set of songs new and old that had the crowd baying for more. Opening up with the classics Weirdo and North Country Boy, they included the obligatory How High?, Tellin’ Stories and The Only One I know, before nodding at most recent album Modern Nature, and finishing with what could only be described as a wig out in Sproston Green. It might have been wet, but it was worth it.
Pictures: Steve Barnes.