Godiva Festival 2018
Memories of a free festival………………
by Pete Clemons
Firstly, thanks to all those involved in creating this wonderful spectacle. One of the on stage announcements that resonated with me was how hard the stage crew had been working. Well beyond midnight each evening and they were back on it at 7:30am every morning. We in Coventry are blessed to have this event on our doorsteps.
The Friday evening was, I thought, very flat in terms of attendance. Despite being a glorious evening weather wise, audience numbers were noticeably down on previous years. But as the weekend progressed, the weather picked up, and in came the revellers, with Saturday and Sunday getting a sizeable crowd.
Jimmy Kemp: The opening act for the whole event on Friday evening. Such was the sparseness of audience initially that, at one point, Jimmy mentioned that he had played to more people in the city centre. Which was a pity as, for me, Jimmy was one of the highlights of the entire festival. His set included some own gems such as ‘Perfect Day’ and ‘If I Could Live My Life Again’. Then, instead of plugging more of his own music, he gave us a rendition of ‘Hey Jude’ as he thought we would enjoy it more.
Duck Thieves: From the sublime, we were then treated to a novelty band in the form of Duck Thieves. It has to be said that they were full of up lifting messages and with tunes such as ‘Why Should I Look Like Everyone Else’, ‘Make Babies or Get High’, ‘Dance Like a Duck Thief’ and ‘You Will Never Make it on your Own’ they certainly proved that they could keep hold of your attention. Not only that but they gave you a smile a second.
Matt Cattell: I only really know Matt through social media but he certainly wears his heart on his sleeve. And this enthusiasm has transcended into his song writing. His set was a mix of originals and covers that included several well-known tunes from the 90s such as ‘Lucky Man’ and ‘Wonderwall’. To say his audience shared Matt’s motivation would be an under-statement also.
Ollie Bond: I had never heard of him before but what a great account of himself he gave us. With songs like ‘Postcard from Paris’ and ‘Give it All’ he is certainly a singer songwriter that needs serious investigation.
Tony Christie: A lunch time like I never experienced before. I don’t mind admitting that when I first saw him announced I cringed. How wrong I was. This figure in the white suit was pure class. ‘Walk Like a Panther’, Avenues and Alleyways’, ‘Las Vegas’, ‘Reno’, ‘Daddy Don’t You Walk so Fast’, ‘Mario’ and ‘Amarillo’. They were all there and delivered immaculately. Maybe the sun was getting to me but I thoroughly enjoyed him.
The Ellipses: The opening act for the whole Godiva festival two years ago on the main stage. This time an acoustic set on the BBC CWR stage. ‘Voice of the Potential Me’, ‘Easy Going’ and ‘Cold Cactus’ displayed their strong effectiveness for song writing. But then they stick in a medley, which I get why, but I personally would prefer to hear more of their own original material.
Gospability: There is something about a gospel group that is just so uplifting. Even to a heathen like myself. They finished on their take of Aretha Franklin’s ‘Say a Little Prayer’ which had me unashamedly dabbing my eyes afterwards. My sunglasses, saving me, from further embarrassment.
Hazel O’Connor: Not her first time on the main stage. With an audience visibly swelling Hazel and her backing band, The Subterraneans, delivered an incredibly powerful, composed and polished performance. Her set included the classics ‘Eighth Day’ and ‘Will You’.
Neville Staple Band: An extraordinarily brave performance in what must have been the most difficult of circumstances. The atmosphere from the stage permeated within the audience. It was charged in there. ‘A Message to You Rudi’ was given a whole new poignancy. Amongst others, ‘Ghost Town’, ‘Monkey Man’ and other tunes followed. Not quite sure how Neville and the band pulled that performance off. It must have been emotionally shattering.
The thing about the majority of the bands and artists I have mentioned is that, in the main, music is not their full time career. What makes it all the more remarkable to me is that music is a passion that they fulfil in their spare time. And the music they are creating is their own. It is what burns inside them. Many weekends and weekdays they can be found playing the pubs and clubs in the region. So please continue to give them your invaluable support.
The Godiva festival is without doubt the jewel in the crown of Coventry City’s council. It acts as a showcase for much of the city’s amazing talent. And it is quite possibly the biggest stage they will ever appear on. And this, in turn, may even lead to greater things for them. Long may ‘the Godiva’ continue to be an important date on the city’s calendar.