Boardmasters has been bringing punters to the Cornish coastline since 1981 and has continuously brought mainstream music acts to a beautiful part of the country that isn’t always best served by live music. As UK’s answer to Spain’s, Benicassim or the US’s, Coachella festival, Boardmasters marries together the sea, sand, surf, music & sun. Unfortunately, this year the sun was a little harder to find as huge downpours battered the site and threatened to dampen the mood before the festival had even begun.
Luckily, opening the main stage on Friday was a capella choir group, Oll An Gwella, a group that consists of members of the Newquay Male Voice Choir, their back catalogue has a diverse range of music across different genres including, Cornish folk songs, shanties & 60’s classics. Their soothing tones and infectious humour helped lift the spirits of the crowd who had braved the weather and gave them a light & breezy step into the weekend’s festivities.
Continuing with the hometown hero theme, Cornish youngsters, The Rezner had their chance to impress on the mainstage. Their blend of indie and full frontal rock switched the gears from soothing to scathing as soon as they took the stage, their high tempo collection of catchy indie rock songs (Cruel & Kind, Words For Reasons), have a fierce edge to them and showed why they have been so regularly compared to monsters of rock, Foo Fighters, this band’s future could be as bright as the Cornish sun (when it decides to come out).
A day of unpredictable weather befell the festival with spells of rain forcing people to search for sanctuary and shelter, by the early evening though, Miles Kane took to the main stage and, as well as a bag of tricks, he brought a pocket full of sunshine. The Cornish sun beamed as Kane delivered a powerhouse performance that helped remind us that he can step away from the shadows and is a legitimate star in his own right. Peppering his set with show stopping indie bangers, ‘Come Closer’, ‘Don’t Forget Who You Are’ and ‘Inhaler’, Kane took the opportunity to introduce his new glam pop infused tracks off his latest album ‘Coup De Grace’. The latest single ‘Cry on My Guitar’ with its synthetically glam and grisly guitar sees Kane shifting into a new musical direction, title track ‘Coup De Grace’ reinforces this with its fuzzy rock and bellowing chorus.
Over on the Land of Saints stage was Norther Irish rock group, Ash brought a non-stop show of crunching guitars and catchy melodies, helping to reinforce the fact that they are as tight a unit as they’ve ever been and, after being together for over two decades they may not have always got the plaudits they deserve but the tent was filled with fans ready to rock, as barn storming tracks ‘Burn Baby Burn’, ‘A Girl From Mars’ & ‘Shining Light’ kept the crowd jumping for the entirety of their set. Not to rest on their laurels, the band have seen something of a career renaissance in 2018 after releasing their seventh album, ‘Islands’ the pop punk perfectionists have returned to form as tracks ‘Buzzkill’, ‘Anabel’ & ‘Confessions of a Pool’ showed the crowd that the band haven’t even come close to running out of steam.
Serial festival goer, Beans On Toast found himself in an environment that compliments two of his most favourite things, a pub and a festival. The Keg & Pasty stage is a unique feature of the festival as it is set up like your average favourite boozer, making folk troubadour, Beans feel right at home. The quintessential festival song, ‘MDMAmazing’ has the whole tent in a raucous sing a long while the ‘Chicken Song’ and ‘A Whole Lot of Lovin’ sees Beans playfully dip into his storytelling repertoire. Standing on top of speakers and singing directly to the crowd, at one point daring himself to surf across the sea of people, Beans has everyone in the palm of his hand from the get go. He took the chance to introduce some new songs to the crowd, the first ‘Magic’ telling the story of his daughter’s birth and ‘Alexa’ has Beans DNA written all over it, a song that warns of the dangers of a monopoly of resources owned and distributed by Amazon, “When I write a song, I always think about how I can blow up the mainframe” he explained. Few acts encompass what a festival is all about more than Beans himself, he embodies the spirit of every festival goer who just wants to sit in a field, listen to a few tunes and have a laugh while doing so.
The night’s mainstage headliners, Catfish & The Bottlemen made their case as they look to become a bona fide headline act, with their performance on this night, it’s easy to see that they are serious contenders to be headlining any of the “big” festivals. Playing against a monochromatic back drop, their show was a no-nonsense thrill ride, with lead singer, Ryan Van McCann only stopping momentarily to screech out, “Boardmasters, are you with me?!”
It was anthem after anthem as they rumbled their way through a back catalogue that already seems so vast despite the band only having two full albums of material. Don’t mistake that for infancy though, as they have been slogging it out for years to get to where they are now, as they crash through ‘Homesick’, ‘Soundcheck’ & ‘Pacifier’ there’s no respite for the crowd as the hits just keep on coming, with ‘7’ and ‘Twice’. The energy across the field is palpable, a sea of people sitting on shoulders and a wave of arms thrown in the air. Finishing off this victorious set was an electrifying rendition of ‘Cocoon’ which sends the crowd back to their tents sapped of energy but ultimately satisfied that they may have just witnessed a breakout moment for a band, who are ready to take a shot at getting to the peak of the mountain.