Film, Album, Single and Event Reviews

Live Review: Festival Number 6 2013

  • By Art. Author Avatar
  • 19 Sep 2013
  • Event Date 14 Sep 2013
Here's how we saw Festival Number 6 2013, featuring My Bloody Valentine, James Blake and more

Festival Number 6 2013 - Live Review


You can’t help but feel a hedonistic guilt after traipsing around in the meandering streets of Portmeirion. It’s one of the most stunning and surreal places I’ve ever been. Since those Romantics realised the peninsula’s beauty and potential in the 12th Century, its tributaries and cobbled piazza have been blooded with artistic obsession. Staring into Hercules’ eyes with music seeping down my neck and the withering words of a Mike Garry reading in my subconscious, I’m haunted by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis’ pride. North Wales is the ideal home for an ambitious event like Festival Number 6, which will never aim to obsess the mainstream.

In the current climate, it should be a difficult time for the birth a new festival, however, Festival Number 6’s inaugural affair last year was as lauded as the most prestigious of events. Now trying to avoid the curse of the sophomore year, the organisers chose James Blake, My Bloody Valentine and Manic Street Preachers as their main weapons of choice for a highly-anticipated weekend in Snowdonia.

The site is essentially split into two and is separated by the campsites. On the Portmeirion Village side of the Festival, each stage is as nuanced and tactfully constructed, whereas the side with the main stage far more ordinary. I spent as much time in the former as the schedule enabled me to. Whether it was Steve Reich being orchestrated in the Town Hall, the Brythoniaid Male Voice Choir crooning ‘Good Times’ at the Piazza, or Charlie Boyer and The Voyeurs singing from the coastline on The Estuary, each adventure seemed to lead to something idiosyncratic.

Beyond the village and into the woods; a slew of hidden instillations were serenaded by a Moshi Moshi-curated stage. In my handful of visits, I witnessed a pleasant showcase of offerings from Bonnie Pilgrem, Totem and Telemann, but it was the sky-high performance from folk-duo Slow Club which depicted why the London label have had fifteen years of success. Whilst the Woods were officially closed at 8pm each night, a Patrick McGoohan-inspired stroll in the early hours of Saturday led me to a secret rave. Here, tucked away in the trees, Isaac Tichauer and Ben Pearce played deep house – and Kylie Minogue – enthralling a slight crowd of 150.

The I Stage, the Festival’s second stage, boasted a slew of younger acts who delivered live experiences that were enough to make a musical optimist of you. Warp’s Mount Kimbie have been criticised of being an unknown entity when it comes to festival appearances, but their early-morning set, though nonplussed, was aggressive and cyclical, boasting a stream of songs from their latest record Cold Spring Fault Less Youth. Money, Wave Machines, and songsmith Dan Croll demanded attention with their impressive slots, but the most captivating of all was Liverpudlian quintet, Outfit. Their crafted brand of angular pop songs was unpredictable, rhythmical and forthright, reminiscent of the Talking Heads.

When enjoying a number of anecdotes from Tim Burgess at the packed diner he ran - Tim's Peak - it dawned on me how the support for this Festival rains in from all directions. John Cooper Clarke’s hilarious Alzheimer quips and succinct poetry weaves in with acts like Guy Garvey, Andrew Weatherall and the surprisingly-impressive Johnny Marr somehow rather fittingly. The potency and potential of 6 has obviously inspired those to be attracted to it and, in turn, has established one of the strangest complexions on the face of the UK’s festival scene.

In the Sunday rain, Chic grooved, jived and kicked their way through an evening which made the biggest crowd of the weekend “Freak!” ‘Let’s Dance’, ‘Good Times’, ‘We Are Family’ these transcendental songs are as thoroughly impressive and defining as any you can imagine, conjuring a kind of camaraderie that you’ll seldom see at any live show. As the crew invades, Stage No. 6 became Studio 54 and we were at the biggest disco party North Wales has seen in millennia.

Between 6’s headliners there was indulgence, assertion, intimacy and brilliance. Though James Blake’s set on Friday was soulful and sparingly capturing, both My Bloody Valentine’s exclusive festival appearance and Manic Street Preachers’ “dream come true” hometown return made for distinctive sets.

A pair of complimentary earplugs for every audience member wasn’t enough to bludgeon the jagged body of My Bloody Valentine’s two hours.  Colm O Ciosoig’s authoritative solos decorate as the other trio gaze downward; creating an energy which is so different to any other band touring today. Whether they had you when ‘I Only Said’ began or ‘When You Sleep’, My Bloody Valentine’s salient performance is a Summer highlight for the majority standing. Manic Street Preachers’ appearance was something different though. Hours before their new record, ‘Rewind The Film’ was released, the group were entangled with a transfixed crowd, bringing Festival Number 6 to a close. In a set which danced between material from their 15-year-old record, This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours, to hits like ‘You Stole The Sun from My Heart’, with the same unmistakable sincerity that was present throughout the weekend.


Festival Number 6 2013 - Live Review