Just the other weekend, it was time to delve back into Festival Season and what could be better than enjoying the wealth of positivity in my home county, and so it was off to Devon’s Beautiful Days at Escot Park! First off, what a great feeling it was to actually be going to such a setup, after seemingly endless cancellations and lockdowns, we’ve stepped forward as a country and it really was a joy to have something to look forward to.
As this was only my second Beautiful Days, see my review of 2019’s escapism here, and the first time around I took it upon myself to catch as many bands and musicians as I could, this time around I wanted to explore more of the family side of the festival, as my brother was also there with his young family, so thought this was a great chance to see what’s on offer for youngsters, as well as still diving right into the music!
It was the Majical Youth Theatre who were coordinating all the events and happenings in the main children’s area, right at the heart and soul of Beautiful Days, with rides, circus experiences, games, and other workshops.
With everything being welcomingly hands on, you could also try out pottery and crafts, enhance those aforementioned circus skills, sewing, music lessons and, new for 2021, a LEGO tent! This went down particular well with my two younger nephews, who are all about LEGO and making all kinds of imaginative creations right now, so the perfect age. There was also a tent for the Under 5’s, which was perfect for my Sister-in-Law to keep her baby entertained, so everyone was covered.
It wasn’t long before the theatre tent came calling, and this really did entertain all the ages. We watched the outrageously brilliant Rubbish Shakespeare Company, with their version of Will’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. They offered up an hour of high-octane slapstick action and mischievous storytelling, aided by endless wigs, bubble guns, life-size cardboard cut-outs and a frankly hilarious, but appalling, attempt at roller-skating! All in all, and this was just a snippet, something for everyone and definitely for families.
After this, it was the adults turn, so time to setup camp on the hillside by the main stage and check out a whole host of bands. Friday night was headlined by the magnificent Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls. Our family have been a big fan of Frank’s for a very long tie now, so we knew it’d be guaranteed that he’d get the crowd singing and jumping, he’s an act who never disappoints and brought back the vibe of good times and that unique festival feeling.
Saturday night saw Gentleman’s Dub Club and the fabled The Selecter, who got everyone bouncing once again before headliners James reminded us of our youth, although not long along sometimes it feels like it – ha-ha! – with some absolute classic bangers, they still manage to put on a top class set for those very talented, experienced musicians. While by Sunday, some of us were feeling a little jaded by the sheer return to ‘normality’, and a festival is one of the finest luckiest things for sure, we were lucky enough to witness Dreadzone coming out and lifting the spirits!
They were swiftly followed by Skindred, who – for me – totally stole the weekend, and by the looks of those around me, for many others! Their heavy riffs and rocking grooves meant a serious return to escapism, getting everyone back up for it and as for the ‘Newport Helicopter’, well if you haven’t seen it, then it’s time for you to pick up some tickets to their upcoming gigs.
Then it was time for the legendary work of The Levellers, which is of course a tradition now, who closed the weekend with a deeply poignant set, reflecting the last year we’ve all been through. Of course, there were also highly entertaining but also highlighted and offered a massive ‘Well Done!’ to every organiser and associated act for getting the festival on for 2021, which was appreciated by everyone!