October 20, 2017

Cotton Clouds Festival – a day of rambunctious japes at Greenfield Cricket Club @CottonCFest

Rick and Max Lees of Twisted Wheel fame pulled off a day of rambunctious japes that put the unlikely location of Greenfield cricket club on the must-go musical map. 

Cotton Clouds showcased Lancashire’s finest yet this festival faced adversity from the outset. Local village grumps took to the streets to prophesise noise pollution. A notorious local party pooper furthermore complained that ‘there might be noxious fumes from food vendors’. This was a fear that I met with opposing sentiments as I sang The Smiths’ lyrics, ‘to die by your side, dear, is such a heavenly way to die’ to my wood-fired, Mediterranean sourdough pizza. 

Yet, against the odds, I found myself, on that summery Sunday afternoon, gambolling down leafy avenues to Cotton Clouds. The sun pressed against the back of my neck, a warm breeze caressed my skin and distant melodies alighted the air, coaxing me onwards to what the Guardian promised to be one of the top ten things to do that weekend… 

‘woaaaaah t’ chip pans on fire’ I arrived to the sounds of The Everly Pregnant Brothers.

Raucous antics abound as stressed yummy mummies chased their face painted, joules-clad offspring round the cricket club, touting desperate smiles and uttering forced p’s and q’s as they muscled their way through crowds of fringe-jacketed youths queueing for booze. I entered the fray. 

The Whip, from local village, Delph, sound-tracked my first dip into the Saddleworth music scene. Far from a dwindling distributary of Manchester’s infamous sea of sound (that sourced the likes of Oasis, The Smiths, Stone Roses, Arctic Monkeys, Happy Mondays) the band produced some rousing dance-rock. Dystopian song titles aside, they provided a buoyant start to the afternoon. 

Despite the band’s energy it was still early in the day. The dancing was low-key. Gallagher haircuts nodded along perfunctorily, whilst glancing round anxiously. Black air max and skinnies in pompadour do’s popped tabs off tinnies and troughed the Waitrose olives that mum packed them off with. Dads in gilets twisted knees to the bass. Mums, arms bent at the elbows, rocked their shoulders and side-stepped their Hunters. One sexily wafted a National Trust scarf as if a feather bower. 

As the Whip ended, a small man, with sideburns and dark glasses shuffled onto the stage, half-hidden amid the throng of techies plugging, unplugging, tugging, tripping and tuning. He stopped at a table to far-left corner of the stage. 

Who is this man? A security guard from the 70’s? … did somebody’s Dad get lost? 

No. 

Leader in chief of the Boon Army. 

Clint Boon got the party started with a DJ set of Manchester music. Twiddling nobs, nodding, raising arms, heralding his Boon army with hit after hit – never has such a simple routine yielded such success. The crowd became one. Hand in hand, arm to arm, butt-cheek to shoulder: we danced. 

Sadly, Boon was shuffled off the stage after a measly half an hour. The Clint-loving corpus rapidly disbanded as the crowds jostled to queue for vegan haggis before The Coral came on. 

About an hour into our wait in the queue for food and drink (the only major issue with the event), the field went silent…. 

Nope, no technical fault here. The Coral had demanded that they be the only band playing during their set. This struck me as a somewhat self-depreciating request – the kind that recalls the conch rule from Lord of the Flies: a desperate attempt to command authority amid fears of chaotic abandonment. Please, please just listen to me. 

We trundled along and were entertained, though it must be said that the set was ameliorated by attempts to sing the lyrics of ‘Dreaming of You’ into every other song they played. They finally gave in. The bassist, flexed his fingers, and, with the infamous doo dah doo doo dah doo, they closed with their No.1 indie banger. The crowd erupted with delight. The backstage crew smiled ironically. 

There was plenty of time to grab a cone of ‘Traditional White (so Saddleworth)’, the signature vanilla of local ice cream parlour, Grandpa Greene’s, before the arrival of rap legends, The Sugarhill Gang. Enough time, indeed, to allow someone to say… pick up three rappers plus entourage in a BMW from Manchester International, take them for the required amount of KFC, and then drive to Greenfield Cricket Club. To be fair, if they aren’t happy, there can be no ‘Rapper’s Delight’ – and this was truly the highlight. 

Despite a cognitive dissonance between local ice cream and the appearance of these Harlem rappers, the headline set was mind-blowing. Not one man was unmoved by their bouncy hip-hop. Never has rap been so jolly. Just as the gang were getting into full-swing, there was, however, and odd interlude. Unannounced, Sugarhill left the stage (concurrently and curiously, paramedics could be seen rushing behind the set). In their absence, their DJ, and an unidentifiable, outrageously muscular guy rapped Vanilla Ice (I could not but think again of my traditional white). After about ten minutes, the rappers re-emerged, ostensibly free of ailments that might plague men of their seniority. Far from gout, gammy knees and knackered backs, the set finished with a fantastical flurry of Jump Around, Apache and Rapper’s Delight, performed choreography that would put all 90’s girl bands to shame. Finishing with signature poses, they signed off one hell of a day. 

Criticism could only be found in the necessity to pre-empt one’s primal needs, and queue before nature calls. One could say, that in all respects, the organisers left us hungry for more! …I’m sure that next year appetites will be satiated

by Kate Marriott

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