Hidden away in a sleepy village on the outskirts of Stockport was the small plot of farmland that Blackthorn Festival made their home for a 3days. Comprising of a small campsite, a barn, 3 tent stages and several food vans Blackthorn Festival is certainly a stripped back to the bones type of festival; but that was it’s biggest asset.

The main stage of Blackthorn Festival was held inside a working barn, where a bar was positioned down the middle and hay bales building up the walls. It was a great stage that brought a really intimate feel to it unlike other festival main-stages where you would be stood out in the open far away from a highly raised stage. The main stage was a showcase of future headliners and showcased some incredible bands like Corella, Jess Kemp, Larkins, Jade Assembly and No Hot Ashes.

One of the stand out performances on this stage was Corella who’s upbeat sound is perfect for festivals and they proved their place on the main stage. Latest single ‘Barcelona Girl’ rang out to the youthful crowd and uplifted the spirits of festival goers who danced and sang along to their infectious sound. Another fan favourite was Jess Kemp who’s name was mentioned all over the festival after her and her band won the battle of the bands competition in Manchester Arndale.

The layout of the Blackthorn site meant that you could see as many bands as possible; without it being so compacted you would have missed some incredible bands. The furthest stage was The Paddock Stage, ran by Mr Peeps and definitely the busiest stage over the course of the weekend.

Travelling over from Liverpool were the incredible (and funny) Factory who brought with them their energetic guitar riffs and punchy vocals. They played early in the day whilst people were still arriving and setting up, however still drew a large crowd. Their latest single ‘Step A Little Closer’ gathered lots of attention and i’m sure brought them more fans who’d never come across them before.

Exploring the site brought us past the Meadow Stage where there was a handful of people stood watching a band playing their hearts out on stage; this band was The Leathernecks. Catching lots of attention of people walking past, the stage slowly filled up and were one of the best bands we stumbled upon over the weekend.

Back on the Paddock Stage was Wigan based indie band The Ravellas, having recently played alongside Tom Clarke (The Enemy) on his solo tour this band are constantly growing in confidence and in stature. Fan favourite ‘Puppettes’ is sang back to them by the large crowd and new songs ‘Blush’ and ‘Cause You Could’ brought some energy to the tent and had the crowd moving along to their powerful sound.

Mancunian poet Argh Kid brought a different vibe to the festival as he read poems to possibly the largest crowd of the day in the Paddock Stage. He spoke with honesty and passion and expressed feelings that resonated with the crowd and you could see people agreeing and laughing at his observational poetry about the city they love.

Having recently toured with Cabbage, The Blinders headlined the Paddock Stage and brought a power that not many bands can achieve. The Blinders are one of the hottest bands at the moment and their live performance is one of the main reasons for this. It was always going to carnage putting a band as loved as The Blinders in a small tent and it didn’t disappoint and got the energy flowing before people headed over to the main stage to see The Jade Assembly, No Hot Ashes and Reef.

The Jade Assembly are an experienced band and have been doing the circuits for a while; you can see this is their swagger on the stage and the large fanbase that follow them all over. They show a professionalism that only comes with experience and a stage presence that looks natural to them. They recently announced a new single ‘Got My Star’ coming out Monday 2nd October; this is one to keep an eye out for.

The main support (although arguably better than the headliners) No Hot Ashes brought everyone on site to the main stage. They played with their usual attitude and flair that makes their live performances such an iconic site to behold. ‘Goose’ echoes around the barn as the powerful vocals are mimicked by the adoring fans who are dancing around to the bass riffs that give them their funky sound.

Headliners Reef close the Saturday with a throwback to an era the majority of the audience weren’t born. Looking like they’re loving every minute and with vocals sounding as incredible as they did 20years ago. Reef played an excellent performance; however it was slightly overshadowed by everybody just waiting for the hit ‘Place Your Hands’.

Words: Stuart Daley
Photo: Stuart Daley