As I started my cross-town walk towards the Festival main stage on Friday night it was already starting to spit with rain and there was a sense that more was on its way. I had to stop at a few shops to see if I could grab myself an umbrella, of course prices had gone up due to supply and demand. But I managed to find a way to keep dry in case it did get heavier.
I was sitting backstage with the Ronaldos as they were getting ready to follow me on stage, they’ve played here before in 2010 so I knew the guys and we were just discussing how the Festival gets better every year. We got the call that DJ Jeff Harris was on his last song and so we all started getting prepped. Just as the voice of god came on to introduce the start of the night the heavens opened up, big time! Rain like I haven’t seen in ages, we had seconds to go and the stage was flooding, the crew immediately jumped to life and started sweeping the stage of water, moving all the electronics back and generally trying making safe what could have been a slippery place to be. I looked at the Ronaldos as there was seconds to go, we knew what we had to do and we didn’t care for the rain, we were here to play.
I stepped on stage and suddenly the rain just stopped, completely, like the clouds were paying homage to our efforts in this supposedly summer bank holiday weekend. It was a sign that things would be ok. The Ronaldos were excellent, they’re a party band who like to get involved with the crowd and put on a fast paced show. We’ve had them before at Monmouth Festival and might have them again. I certainly wouldn’t complain.
Half time and Blestium Street car park was full. The rain had stayed off apart from a little drizzle occasionally, plus there was lightning over Goodrich so it was all eyes to the sky in case we had to shut down the stage. No-one wants to be stood next to a huge electricity conductor in a lightning storm.
Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash were our headline act; keeping themselves hidden in the green room or running back and forth with their equipment meant that I couldn’t disturb them to talk about the show. But they know what they’re doing so it wasn’t an issue. Wishbone Ash are a bit before my time, so it wasn’t the perfect singalong show for me, but then I am a youngster really, the crowd was filled with a more experienced listener who know the songs like they were re-living the 70s. A superb turnout and a superb show. They played until 11pm and as I took the stage to suggest an encore, I was greeted with an almighty response. Of course we wanted an encore, the night was young and the weekend had started.
Clearly the cloud gods were also enjoying the show because just as I introduced DJ Jeff for his final playout, after the final song from Martin Turner, they opened up once more, reminding us that they had allowed this to happen and that they too were fans of Monmouth Festival, the best free festival in the UK.
As for me, I walked home singing in the rain to the few Wishbone Ash songs that I had been reminded of at the gig. Tonight we rest, for tomorrow we party hard as the Festival comes to an epic end.
Photos from festival volunteers.