Tribfest - the world's biggest tribute festival - Review
What really sums up Tribfest, the world's biggest tribute act festival, for me is witnessing two blokes, the wrong side of 60, wearing baggy shorts, wellies, rain macs and pork pie hats, leaping up and down to a Madness/Bad Manners tribute band while their bemused grandchildren look on. Pure magic
From the germ of an idea and a few hundred music lovers gathered in a rain-sodden field in 2007, 13 years on, Tribfest shows no sign of slowing down with 170 acts booked this year and around 5,000 people of all ages taking part - it is now very much entrenched in the festival calendar.
Held over four days every August at Sledmere, East Yorkshire, it is a safe, family-friendly festival, the campsite and arena spotlessly clean, friendly security staff and some of the finest toilets I’ve ever come across at a festival - a very important part of the experience and not one to be taken lightly.
And, equally important, the beer is cheap at £4 a pint, and there’s plenty of choice. Ditto the food which catered for vegans and vegetarians too.
Thursday is always a relatively low key day as campers get their tents pitched and settle into their surroundings but there were still some cracking acts.
An outstanding Tina Turner tribute complete with a troupe of dancers got proceedings off to a fine start.
Friday was, for most people the first real day and it was very wet and windy and areas of the site became no-go areas - wellies were a necessity (and to think I almost didn’t pack mine) and the emergency poncho stall did a roaring trade.
Undaunted the brollies came out, children still played in the sandpit and there was plenty of good humour around.
Poignantly it was the last ever appearance of Blondie tribute Heart of Glass. A Tribfest regular for the past 10 years, Denise Danielle announced she was hanging up her elbow-length yellow gloves and her PVC cape and taking a break. She was presented with a bouquet of flowers by her grandchildren - she will be missed.
We also caught Jax and Co who performed an accomplished tribute to Johnny Cash and June Carter and of course Beautiful Couch, festival director Ed Faulkner's Beautiful South/ Housemartins tribute which, due to the absence of female vocalist Jan, was a mainly Housemartins set.
The Antarctic Monkeys headlined but we’d beat a retreat to the campsite by then and only heard them in the distance.
Saturday included a Tribfest first - a wedding. Tribfest regulars Steve and Kate walked onto the stage along a red carpet through the centre of the arena and a celebrant performed a marriage ceremony watched by family, friends and thousands of well-wishers.
Abba tribute band Revival was the highlight of Saturday, a polished performance that had everyone dancing.
There are eight stages at Tribfest including comedy, acoustic and unsigned and they are well worth checking out between the main event.
We’d been recommended to see the Beckwater Bushwackers who turned out to be a crazy bunch of high-energy musicians with a repertoire of foot-stomping Irish, blues, folk, country and rock.
Within minutes we found ourselves do-si-doing with a group of people dressed as choir boys. At a given signal they all whipped off their cassocks to reveal they were in fact all from Broadbottom, a little village on the border of Derbyshire and Greater Manchester. One of their number explained that 30 or so neighbours had come en-masse to support the band “leaving 22 behind to play cricket”.
The Bushwackers were so good they were encouraged to overrun their set by 20 minutes and could have gone on for much longer, given half a chance.
Sunday’s headliners were Starfish a slightly nervous Coldplay tribute who had travelled from Italy. As they sang, the flashing wristband on the way in which pulsed in time to the music.
Good as they were, personally I’m not sure the music of Coldplay is right for the finale. They don’t have the mass appeal of some of the other bands who've inhabited this slot in the past and you either hate them or love them. The firework display rounded off the evening nicely and Ed sang his usual a husky version of Caravan of Love.
Monday was thankfully dry, and hungover youngsters who'd been partying in the VIP tent until after 2am looked a little jaded as they packed up.
Ed, as always was on the gate shaking hands and accepting high-fives and thanking everyone for coming.
Next year is Tribffest's 14th and our tenth - we've already bought our tickets which are on sale at a heavily discounted rate for a limited time only.