Deep in the heart of the Winchester countryside lays a gem: small and modest… yet despite its pocket-sized cuteness, something Blissfields does not lack is its quality of acts. So much so, they’ve previously played host to music mammoths Mumford & Sons, indie heartthrob Ben Howard and high-flyers Bastille. (And Charlotte Church, but we’ll forgive them for that one).
Of course my expectations were high. Unlike festivals like Reading or Glastonbury, where you’d often just see the big bands you already knew, Blissfield’s thrives on introducing new, upcoming, eclectic bands. Peeerfect.
As I was actually working as a steward at Blissfields (which is great fun by the way – for those skint like me you should definitely try it) I didn’t have a chance to see a huge amount of bands. But, there are three musicians that played at Blissfields who you really need to know (if you don’t already):
I’ve been going on about these guys since their first album back in 2010 . Fiercely energetic psychedelic pop with the added depth of thoughtful –and often sad – lyrics are what makes Fenech Soler a cut above the rest of indie-disco bands.
Performing just before Friday night’s headliner, Mystery Jets, Fenech Soler had a strong and eager crowd, ready for the first night of music of the main stage – and my God, they smashed it. From when I first saw them in their early days, their performance and presence had multiplied to that at Blissfields. Enticing people who had never heard of them while attending to their enlarged fan base, Fenech Soler certainly know how to excite a crowd. With Ben Duffy’s soaring vocals and constant bouncing, he was somehow able to keep the audience jumping up and down too, despite the weekend’s heat wave. This is a band that is destined big things.
‘Magnetic’ is their newest single and out NOW, buy it here – Fenech Soler are also on tour this November.
Lately I’ve been into a lot of Disclosure so it was obvious that Sam Smith was likely to catch my eye (ear?) at some point. Collaborating with them on tunes like ‘Latch’ and Naughty Boy with their number one hit ‘La La La’, it seemed that I couldn’t miss seeing such a sought after musician. Playing at 2.30pm on Saturday, the sun gave the main arena a gloriously hot temperature so many people were sitting by the stage, giving Sam Smith’s set a relaxed atmosphere; which, for his vocals, was perfect.
I want to stress that never, in my life, have I heard such an incredibly flawless and perfect voice live before I heard Sam Smith. This is genuinely how exceptional Sam Smith is – and what potential he has. As my friend and I said, if Sam entered the X-Factor he would undoubtedly win: though we were glad he hasn’t. Performing a stunning acoustic version of ‘La La La’, his voice climbed to ridiculously high notes, leaving the crowd silent. Sam Smith has already had a crazy year and this will definitely continue.
Sometimes a song is played from a particular new band, on the radio or whatever, and just as quickly they are forgotten, blending into the sea of new musicians – Matt Corby, however, is a musician who cannot be so easily dismissed. His rough, rugged voice has the versatility to be soft and melancholic but seconds lately be empowered and charged with electricity.
Initially, I watched the first part of his set sitting down with Will from Bastille, who was equally a fan of Matt, but sitting down is difficult when listening to such an uplifting voice. The crowd were dancing like hippies, loving a musician who fits in so well with the Blissfield’s festival vibe. His song ‘Brother’ got the greatest response – though someone told me it was about him sleeping with his brother’s wife…? Adulterous sibling or not, his entire set was fascinating to watch.
Other bands to check out:
I also had lunch with Bastille on Saturday 6th July at Blissfields – the interview with be uploaded by the end of the weekend!
– Jessica Dawson.
Thanks to Sam Gupta for the photos, check more out here.