This is my first visit to the SomersTown Festival a small community run festival organised in part by Barry Stillwell of Tapestry club and festival. It's set in the streets between St Pancras and Euston stations and has a mix of music stages, a rock & roll jumble sale, food stalls, fun fair rides and stalls from everything from mad Pride to Slimming World and stand up from Kier Starmer and beyond.
Sadly we arrived after The Speedways had finished playing but in time to have lunch watching Knox play his set having missed the Vibrators gig the night before with penetration at The 100 Club. He opened with Automatic Lover that sounded great once the Sound man had got the vocal microphone working properly still plenty of us were singing along anyway. Baby Baby really did get a good slice of the crowd singing, even some of the locals picked up the words quickly enough.
They then got serious on Juice On as Knox inquired when the Warder might flick the switch on his electric chair a dark song for the mid afternoon sun for sure. The real high spot of the set however was a great version of Syd Barrett's Gigolo Aunt that had a nicely dappled feel to it. They then brought on special guest Dave Elvis to murder Falling In Love With You, the Gold Lame Suited pensioner in the Elvis wig and Gold Elvis shades brought masses of feedback with him and well the Pearly Kings and Queens at the side of the stage were covering there ears. I think it would have been a lot better without the feedback. They then finished with What I have down as Think Of You it was a cool end to a good fun set.
We then wandered past the fun fair rides and up to The Cock Stage where we took in about 5 minutes of The AMM Allstars Zappa tribute that I noted was Improv hippie nonsense from a 7 piece who sounded like the most out there bits of Henry Cow, we simply weren't drugged up enough for it and wandered back towards the Pearly Stage and probably should of gone and watched The Parkinsons Long Road to Nowhere film that was showing in the Chalton Gallery as it's well worth seeing a second time.
However, we arrived back at The Pearly Stage in time for Kitty Liv who was a real let down compared to the first time I saw her play in her other band Kitty Daisy & Lewis back when she was only about 12 years old at a jaw droppingly brilliant gig at the old Luminaire. Well this set with her current Soul band was rather pedestrian, the best of the songs we saw was Neck on The Line and Sweet dreams, and while her voice is now deeper and fuller this felt like it was missing an element or two to make the songs to really stick a lot more than they did. I really want to be more positive.
Next on was Pete Astor who I've been seeing periodically for over 30 years now since way back when he was in The Weather Prophets. This show was the first time his new band have played together and yes that included not even having rehearsed together, so the fact they sounded reasonably tight was a minor Jangle pop miracle. They opened with Mr Music that sounded like they wanted to sound like 3rd album era Velvet Underground crossed with Luna but with less effect's pedals. Water Tower was played at a jaunty pace with Pete seeming to be working well with his new combo.
They then played there first cover a cool version of Solid Air that was certainly a lot more sober than John Martyn's versions and a lot more jangly too it sounded pretty cool in this setting. Pete then sang about his love of being a Walker before playing a cool jangly version of Richard Thompsons Vincent Black Lightning a song about riding a classic bike to Box Hill and other destinations. A Very Good Lock is something the people who live in SomersTown have often needed as much as we needed a song as cool as this.
My Right Hand was a cool jangly love song that some of the local kids didn't quite get walking by with hands over ears, while the kid next to us in her Push chair seemed very happy indeed. Pete closed with the Weather Prophets classic I Almost Prayed that still sounds just a great as it always did back in the day.
Next on The Pearly Stage were local favorites Oh! Gunquit who I was very happy to get to see again as they brought some garage rock fun and games to the stage right from the opening rumble of Fireball's (Of Love) Tina Swasey really got everyone going as she played trumpet as well as singing. Bad Bad Milk is a perennial moan about finding the Milks gone off, that rocked like hell with some great sax blasts and the incredible Vox bass.
Don't Let The Head Bite The Tail had a real good shake going on and I think it was on the song that I have down as Please Don't Stop that Tina jumped down into the crowd and then sang perched on a Bollard, they certainly insisted that we Go Man Go. So Long Sucker had a great sing along chorus to the Oui Oui parts. Greasy Moves was a stonking honking rampage as we all knew not to put our Greasy moves on Tina. Then Tina was wriggling on her back while singing and coming into the crowd that really got everyone going.
Before they closed with what I call Hula Hoop Rock as Tina spun her hula hoop while both having a drink and playing her trumpet it was great until she shook so much the Hula Hoop broke!! But it was a great end to a great fun set.
We then went to The Cock Stage for Peter Perrett's headline set. I can't quite believe that it's the third time I've seen Peter this year and with such a brilliant band made up of his two sons Peter Jnr and Jamie along with Lauren moon on Keyboards and Jenny Maxwell on Violin and Korg and Jake Woodward on drums for the first and third parts of the set.
They opened with Baby Don't Talk and the sound was near perfect as thankfully Chalton Street has enough enclosure from the buildings to make this a real block party complete with a car parked in the middle of the crowd. How The West Was Won sounded powerful and Peter was evidently enjoying playing outside to a good sized crowd.
An Epic Story went from sounding almost fragile to properly epic in a few short minutes before Peter was reflecting on his life and how he found it Hard To Say No to all sorts of temptations and many of them being what SomersTown was infamous for as we all enjoyed listening in a smoking venue for once. Troika was dedicated to Peters wife Xena and as the song's lyrics say She'll always be a part of him the guitars really lifted this to a glorious floating blissful place. I love the lyrics to Sweet Endeavour and how well they work with how it almost ended up sounding like an old soul tune from the sixties. They finished the first third of the set with Living In My Head that sounded pretty stately and a great place to be.
Then Peter and Jake Woodward stayed on stage and were joined by the remaining living Only Ones Alan Mair on Bass and John Perry on guitar for an increasingly rare short set together.
They opened with the magical From Here To Eternity that sounded damn near perfect to my ears despite John's Amplifier being on the wrong side of the stage for him. Whole Of The Law was wonderful and they all seemed to be really having a great time. Peter then introduced the big hit as being the song that any casual listeners would know before half the street sang along to Another Girl, Another planet.
Peter then told us that the next song was one they almost never played live as they went into In Betweens that shone brightly in this setting as the guitars soared and the chemistry between them really seem to take off, which made it a slight pity that it was also the last song of this part of the show before Peters Solo band came back on.
The final third of the set was mainly taken from the band's latest album Humanworld and well they are some of the most wonderfully written love songs Once Is Enough about a girl that Peter knew who was well crazy as fuck and Peter seems to like reminiscing about that one wild ride.
Heavenly Day is an apt description of listening to this band out in the sunshine playing for us. Love Comes on Silent Feet was certainly a perfect song to grab your partner to and hold them close while listening. As usual Peter mused on all of our eventual demise and seeing how miraculous it is that he's still with us to sing his Lover's Inferno thoughts of mortality are perfectly fitting.
He then lets his son Jamie take lead vocals on Master Of Destruction the song Jamie wrote about his dad I'd guess it sounds great and Jamie sounds a lot like his dad when he's singing. Peter then asks the fans sitting on the roof of The Cock Pub not to jump and not to make sure they stay with us as they went into 48 Crash. Peter then gets a little bit political on War Plan Red about the madness of the world we currently live in and the genius's running it a good angry song to finish with.
They didn't really go off before playing the encore that was the bands only cover as they closed with a brilliant version of What Goes On and taking there cue from the Hilltop Festival version and making it good and groovy with some great ostrich guitar from Jamie battling with Jenny's violin as most of us sang along to a perfect song to close a festival with.
I'd like to thank everyone involved in putting this on as it really was a great afternoons entertainment that appealed to a very diverse audience who all seemed to be having a great time together.