Small, Yet Perfectly Formed – A Review of the Bath Music Festival

Music festivals come in all different shapes and sizes. No one size fits all. A bit like people.

Some are huge and have just grown and grown over the years and got bigger and bigger. Some are just wild and crazy, whatever their size, and go on all night. Some can be pushing barriers in all senses and be drink and drug fuelled. Yet others are small and have different distinguishing characteristics and qualities.

The Bath Festival very much falls into the latter category. Compact, intimate and to many, simply idyllic having the most gorgeous natural backdrop of the honey coloured fabled Georgian City.

The attendees cross a vast age range, many a mother and daughter experiencing a festival for the first time together and with many a sixty something, bedecked in the latest Joules stripey outfit, jostling for position towards the front.

This festival does not do camping so most of the revellers are locals and the catchment has a very set demographic profile. Politeness and good order come naturally which is no bad thing and arguably brings a ‘festival’ to a much wider audience than some of its competitors.

This is not to decry the performers. Headliners Paloma Faith on the Saturday and Robert Plant on the Sunday have performed to much more hardcore audiences and Paloma certainly had a ball. She brings her stage with her wherever she goes and is full of glitz and glamour, yet with her engaging cockney dialect. She really is quite something.

Paloma was preceded by a new look Alison Moyet, who is having a resurgence over 30 years on since her glory days as part of electronic groundbreaking duo Yazoo. Indeed, her haunting voice accompanied by the beating synthesiser sound took those old enough to know back to that glorious era of the early 80’s, her performance of Only You and Don’t Go from the highly acclaimed “Upstairs at Eric’s” album raised voices all around in a blitz of wistful nostalgia.

Moyet herself was preceded by the whirly swirly Sophie Ellis-Bexter, who put on quite a show, leaping around and creating a disco party atmosphere, which is not easy to do at about 6pm.

It really was a girls night out, reflecting some of the best of British contemporary pop music. The line up really ‘worked’, building up as it did to Paloma’s peak. Indeed many of those there probably did not miss the anticipated return of the home boys Tears For Fears, who sadly had to cancel their tour for health reasons.

As the bands played and the sun set, the colourful flags fluttered in the light cooling breeze and the famous Bath Abbey became silhouetted in the night air. Even the moon made an appearance to further illuminate what was already a beautiful scene.

The Bath music festival is not widely known but on this evidence its standing and reputation on the festival circuit will rise. It is not big, it is not brash but small and sophisticated. It is often said that good things come in small packages and this festival was a little gem.

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