IN my experience, Yorkshire folk are never happier than when they’re telling anyone within earshot that “God’s Own County” offers unbeatable beer, sport, scenery, fresh air – you name it, they do it better.
Maybe so. One thing I’m happy to concede is that North Yorkshire hosts one of the best small music festivals in the UK. Beacons, which took place recently at Heslaker Farm, near Skipton, is a gem. Situated in a natural amphitheatre, the range of music, film, food, people and bizarre attractions – balloon party anyone? – was truly staggering.
You could have spent most of your weekend dancing in a big top to some of the UK’s hottest DJs. Plenty of people did.
I treated the event like a gigantic buffet table and sampled bits of everything.
With eight performance areas on the compact site you could walk between stages within a couple of minutes. If you tired of Joan as Policewoman’s art rock, you could try New York rapper Action Bronson, or check out moody indie darlings Daughter.
British Sea Power performed a live film soundtrack; Neneh Cherry reworked her old hits with swagger and Darkside blended a myriad genres – ambient, jazz, EDM, prog – to dazzling effect.
On the Saturday afternoon a note posted outside the main marquee said that goth pop starlet Charli XCX had cancelled. No matter, soul singer Moko was bumped up the bill.
Clad in Nike crop top and leggings the Londoner’s high-energy gospel – think Mary J Blige leading a pilates class – went down a storm. Minutes later, I was at the appropriately-named Noisy Stage letting Welsh indie band Joanna Gruesome fill my ears with a buzz that lingered for days.
The food and drink options were as varied as the tunes. Famous old Leeds pub Whitelocks hosted a capacious beer and cider tent strewn with bench seating and swanky faux leather sofas. Elsewhere on the site were a cocktail bar, and a wagon serving mikshakes.
The food stalls tempted you with everything from cones of deep fried calamari to local pie and mash. You could happily live here for a month and have something different for your tea every day. Not to be outdone, the weather offered an eclectic mix of blazing sunshine, drizzle, and by Sunday evening The Fall’s set was interrupted as the tail end of hurricane Bertha strained at the tent pegs. Grizzled Fall frontman Mark E Smith defied the elements King Canute-style until he was coaxed off stage by festival organisers, who called a temporary halt.
He was soon back at the mic to deliver a ferocious version of Mr Pharmacist, which sent hurricane Bertha scurrying back over the Atlantic. Smith is as Mancunian as rainstopping- play at Old Trafford, but there was no denying the weekend belonged to Yorkshire.