Festival Review: End of the Road – Friday

For FFS, End of the Road kicked off with Peter and the Wolf and this reviewer was alone among her cohorts in enjoying his set, from his rambling tales about New York rich kids who walk across America to his story-telling old-school folk. He was swiftly followed by Laura Marling who, in the couple of months since FFS last saw her headline, has grown into her pageboy crop as well her stage persona. Her inter-track chat leaves you wanting for exactly the intimacy her songs deliver. My Manic and I was a particular highlight as was Cross Your Fingers b-side ‘Blackberry Stone’ which features the lyrics ‘I’m sorry I never did hold your hand as you were lowered’ a reference surely to the boy with black curly hair, Charlie Fink from Noah and the Whale. Marling was supported by her usual band, including drummer Marcus Mumford and bassist Ted Dwane from Mumford and Sons, whose were booked to play later in the evening, but cancelled because they had to fly to the US for the Marling/Flynn tour. [LR]

Meanwhile on the Garden Stage FFS caught Micah P Hinson whose live show is every bit as growly and magnificent as you might imagine. As the rain ceased for a brief spell early in the evening on Friday and his set unfolded, a man not always renowned for cheer artfully and easily got the damp audience’s spirits soaring. Despite self-proclaimed worries about a recent sore throat that had left him with no voice, Hinson roared through older tracks like ‘The Leading Guy’ with a kind of effervescent gruffness that was nothing short of stunning, and even the softer songs from his new album sounded just perfect with a slightly grizzled twist.  His commanding presence had the crowd so much on his side that his frequent and frankly random asides (in particular those concerning dogs and sex acts…) raised a cheer, and with the final bittersweet track of the set which he dedicated to his wife, Hinson rounded off a genuinely captivating performance which left all present jackeyed. [JL]

Not the most underwhelming performance of the festival (that honour goes to British Sea Power – more on that later) but the most personally disappointing was Conor Oberst. His eponymous album was released to mixed reviews, and those who like it that he’s morphed from a sad-eyed lamenter to arrogant performer may have appreciated his bomber-jacketed show this evening. Resembling Ian Brown more than the youthful boy attendees of his previous tours would remember, Oberst gave raucous performances of his country-tinged album tracks. The best of which, blues-tinged ‘I don’t want to die in the hospital’ faintly recalls the unfettered drama of his earlier work. [LR]

Words: Lynn Roberts, Jo Legg