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Cotton Clouds Festival 2018



Cotton Clouds Festival 2018 stage
Cotton Clouds Festival 2018 stage


Cotton Clouds Festival 2018

Epic Success for top local event


Alistair Cochrane

The first ever Friday of Cotton Clouds festival attracted the crowds despite the rain.

After a summer of near constant heatwaves and record-breaking temperatures, it would only be fitting for the Friday of Cotton Clouds to be one of the wettest days of the season. This did little to dampen the spirits of festival goers, however, on a night where the likes of the Pigeon Detectives and the Lightning Seeds topped the Friday night bill with their iconic brands of 90s and 00s indie.

An unfortunate end to what was a brilliant day of music, however, saw Ian Broudie’s men cut short due to the ten o’clock curfew, much to the dismay of the crowd who had been looking forward to celebrating England’s world cup run with a rousing performance of Three Lions.

Alas, said performance never arrived, like the weather though, this couldn’t take away from what was a wonderful Friday of performances, and an excellent aperitif for the big Saturday ahead. If you closed your eyes, put some shorts on and sheltered under a toasty food tent, you could quite easily have pretended you were on Venice beach, rather than Well-i-hole road, as Chali 2na and Krafty Kuts gave fans a taste of real old school hip hop.

Cotton Clouds Festival 2018-3
Cotton Clouds Festival 2018-3

The pair played classics from the likes of Dr Dre and Mobb Deep before the former Jurassic 5 man called upon his own group’s repertoire. The set was an absolute hit with just about everyone, although 2na may have overestimated the Saddleworth crowd’s knowledge of old school hip hop when he asked them to sing along to the chorus of Jurassic’s The Influence.

Later in the day the rains finally began to ease off, just in time for The Pigeon Detectives to bring some real indie energy to the stage. This time the crowd did know the words as the band turned their back catalogue of indie rock, including notable hits, I Found out and Take Her Back from their seminal 2007 debut album, Wait for Me. Lead singer Matt Bowman was never still on the stage as fans pointed to the skies and jumped along to the best the Leeds band had to offer.

The night ended with Ian Broudie and the Lightning Seeds, with the sun heading down (behind thick clouds of course) on the opening day of the festival. The crowd were electric on the night with a palpable atmosphere of anticipation in the air. The Liverpool four piece brought their A game, solidly performing hits like Lucky You and Life of Riley, much to the joy of the audience. It was no surprise that there was some disappointment for onlookers as the band overran and ended the England world cup song, Three Lions, early. The atmosphere created throughout the set was not unlike a football crowd, raucous, loud and with everyone involved having a good time.

SATURDAY at Cotton Clouds was a magnificent success. Crowds of music lovers flocked; both from the nearby Saddleworth villages, and from further afield, to see what the follow up to 2017’s critically acclaimed festival had to offer. This turned out to be one of the most wonderful aspects of the festival, as it was impossible not to run into old friends and meet new people as punters enjoyed a full day of music. All of this led to an infectiously fun atmosphere that was enjoyed by all on the day.

New to the festival, was the addition of a VIP area and festival organisers Luke Stanley and brothers Max and Rick Lees did a fantastic job of addressing the issue of waiting times at the bars, which happened to be the only major gripe from last years festival. To their credit and the credit of everyone working the bars and food stalls, waiting times were kept to an absolute minimum, even at the busiest periods of the night. This stands as a true testament to the festival and its organisers for listening to their audience.

Cotton Clouds Festival 2018-4
Cotton Clouds Festival 2018-4

Aside from the obvious array of musical talent showcased there was also a great variation of local and international culinary delights, from bacon and sausage sandwiches to freshly made paella and enchiladas and where there is good food there must be good drink. Greenfield’s Donkeystone brewery provided their very own Cotton Clouds beer for the day, as well as the bars providing draught lager options from further afield. Thankfully the weather stayed dry, if not clear, and was plenty warm enough for fans to justify a Grandpa Greene’s ice cream and a pint of the cotton clouds beer, not that cooler weather would have stopped anyone on a day like this.

There were also several notable local acts on at the early stages of the day, including the beautiful sounds of Ambiere and the Mossley based five-piece Freeda who looked right at home playing to a big festival crowd on the main stage. Freeda lead singer Sean Rowles was clearly excited after the gig when he said, “it was amazing, I’ve never had so much adrenaline from a gig and was amazed at the audience we got up there,” while Drummer Adam Jackson described the set as “a real step up and we’re ready for more.” More is what the band are getting as they headline Gorilla in Manchester on the 8th of September.

Another notable act was Hyde Park Brass, who very nearly lifted the tent from the Spinning Room with their own brand of brass soul which became the talk of the festival at one point. Covers of songs by soul kings such as James Brown had crowds flocking to the tent and bouncing throughout the set.

Toploader also gave it their all and had every single fan at the main stage singing along to a cover of Elton John’s Rocket Man and of course their 1999 super hit, Dancing in the Moonlight. Early 00s rockers Starsailor later came on and ran through their greatest hits, including Four to the Floor and their 2001 debut single, Fever. Both bands stuck to their anthemic, stadium ready sounds, lighting up the Cricket club as the sun went down.

Headlining the night were Sister Sledge, who were eagerly anticipated throughout the day and did not disappoint, bringing sounds of 70s disco to the rolling Saddleworth hills and leaving the crowd dancing into the night. It is impossible to imagine that the Sisters are now in their 60s as they danced up and down the stage, never missing a note.

Opening with a cover of fellow disco legends Chic’s Everybody Dance, the crowd were easily warmed up. Other hits such as Thinking of You and He’s the Greatest Dancer rang across the Saddleworth Cricket Club’s pitches, sang by the band and audience alike. Finally, the Sisters played an elongated version of fan favourite, Lost in Music, introducing each member of the band and giving them their time in the limelight, cu



“We’re completely overwhelmed with the support for Cotton Clouds Festival this year.We made a lot of operational improvements but also built on the creative programme by adding some amazing children’s activities and our evening carnival parade.It was fantastic to see so many local businesses benefitting from our event — the local brewery, food vendors, hotels, restaurants, pubs and cafes.The local artists we had playing alongside world renowned acts were fantastic and I hope we’ve inspired a lot of youngsters for future years.We really feel as though we’re building a lot of hometown pride in Saddleworth amongst residents while creating a truly unique independent music festival.After the dust has settled we’ll fully assess the weekend and draw up a plan for next year’s event.We’d like to say a massive thank you to everyone who attended, worked and played at Cotton Clouds Festival 2018.

We are hugely appreciative of the support — see you next year!”

Festival organiser Rick Lees



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