Jamie Oliver and Alex James present The Big Feastival, a unique weekend celebration of music, food and fun for all the family, set on Alex’s idyllic Cotswolds farm.
You can enjoy music from top acts, tuck into top chef demos in the Big Kitchen and have your fill from The Menu, featuring the cream of the UK’s street food crop. Browse local producer stands, join a cookery class or get your foodie fix joining top chefs for intimate Q&A sessions. Keep little and big kids happy in the fun-filled Little Dudes Den, join an arts & crafts workshop, enjoy the Big Top games or take a spin round the vintage funfair.
Once again the weather was great and that was reflected in the size of the crowd. Promoting the usually comfortable, relaxed an well mannered family friendly festival.
As you expected at a well healed festival it was attended by local celebrity Jeramy Clarkson, Peter Jones - Dragons Den, Peter Crouch - Stoke City, and former Spurs football player.
Having settled into it's now location away from the nearby railway, the arena has the entrance in to the next field where the fair and kids entertainment in the Little Dudes Den. Although the Big Kitchen stage was smaller this year the Cookery school was much bigger than in previous years.
The whole of the arena was much more finished and now had a coherent theme running through its design. Between the two main stages there were various stalls and food outlets including Adam Heson rare bread pies, gin & tonic, handmade sausage rolls, the Wondering Wine Company, Pizza pilgrims, Juice shack and a Food Market featuring many artisan food and drink stalls. Aside from the Chef's Table restaurant there was Alex James' cheese shop where he launched his new cheese 'Blue Monday' and a food tent featuring Jamie's Italian, Union Jack and Barbecoa.
The first act to play on the Saturday was on the new mini stage in the Pimm's Garden, with an introduction by Mr Oliver, Bright Light City played to an appreciative gathering populated my many of their fans.
On the Lexus Main Stage Jamie and Alex introduce Fickle Friends, from Brighton, who were the winners of the music contest sponsored by Jamie, together with his Union Jacks restaurants. Jamie's Summer Jam is a great opportunity for super-talented musicians to get in front of their audience and gain huge exposure. Jamie knows his music. Ten years ago he launched a similar competition and, before going on to sell more than 10 million albums, Keane shared the glory. Fickle Friend are Natassja Shiner - Vox/Synth, Sam Morris - Drums, Harry Herrington - Bass/Backing Vox, Chris Hall - Guitar, Jack Wilson - Synth/Backing Vox. Their opening song was 'Girl Like That' having a great riff and lead vocals that were very strong and confident. Demonstrating their 80's new-wave pop and why they won the competition.
Next on the music stage was Jasmine Hill. A local singer and talent graduate of Chipping North School. Her set opened with 'Cuspids Grow Up' showed off her light airy voice with a soft gentle delivery, raising to a powerful Ballard. 'Stone Cold' was a more dynamic piece with a strong drum beat.
Duke, from Cheltenham, were appearing at the festival before embarking on a twenty date tour throughout september. They wear bought to the publics attention via Britons Got Talent. The group consists of Markos Pandazis – Vocals/Vocal Basslines/Beatbox, Edward Travers - Beatbox, FX, Vocals and Flynn Stronach - Guitar, Vocals. Aside from the support from Flynn there are no tape loops or backing track, everything else is created by their voices. Although their repeatuare is all covers, what they produce is amazing not only audibly but visually captivating. The performance included 'Blurred Lines', 'Do You Like It', 'Fresh Prince' and Seal's - 'Kiss From a Rose'. As well as know songs they also created a medley of drum 'n' bass, which captivated the audience and earned the a round of applause and cheers from the appreciative crowd.
Will Joseph Cook, with his band comprising of Jack, Liam and Luke, play Jazz/funk. Will has an mature vocal style. 'Running to Rocks' reminded me of a combination of Paulo Neutine and Amy Winehouse. Will played a solo acoustic number 'Catalyst' which was about breaking up. The final song of the set was 'Hannah' where Will's vocals were supported by a mellow guitar and a slow procession. Many of his songs build to a big finish.
Rachel Khoo, cooked a recipe from my new book My Little French Kitchen (coming out in October). She whipped up a savoury Paris brest, a Choux pastry ring filled with brie, baby spinach, thinly sliced apple and a mustard mousse. She said you can use any sort cheese.
Appearing on the stage late afternoon, Norman Jay MBE, known for his involvement as a DJ at The Notting Hill carnival, played a variety of tunes on the decks and the crowd were loving the beat, dancing and cheering.
Lianne La Halvas fronts her band with lead vocals and guitar. She is supported by Jay Sikora - Drum, Chris Dagger - Bass, Rhianna Kenny - Backing Vocals, which Lianne did herself on tour with Paloma Faith. Following on from the release of her debut album she has been touring non stop for the last year. Alex & Jamie are big fans. Her set included 'No Room For Doubt' which she performed solo. She was very comfortable with the crowd and got the audience to join in with the chant in the courts of 'Forget'. 'Cinema' is a beautifully swooping melodic song with a Parisian feel. Lianne performs 'Older Man' solo, a rock track followed by soulful ballad - 'Hate Myself'. 'Is Your Love Big Enough', title track of debut album, has a more spanish feel, the crowd kept time with flamenco style clapping.
Rizzle Kicks an English hip hop duo from Brighton, are Jordan Bootsy Stephens and Harley Sylvester Alexander-Sule. They really clicked with the audience, young and old, with their high energy hip hop. The two singers were bouncing around the stage and transferred their energy to the crowd. Their music is very infectious, so much so they have an unlikely fan, in that of Stephen Fry who proclaimed over Twitter that he was "unexpectedly loving the old school hip hop sounds of Rizzle Kicks."
Closing the festivities are Basement Jaxx, a British electronic dance music duo, formed by Felix Buxton and Simon Ratcliffe play there unmistakeable hits 'Music keeps turning', 'Rondezvue' and 'Oh My Gosh'. Will Joseph and his band were in the audience getting down to the great beats during the instrumental break, while a group of professional dancer filled the stage. Continuing their set they play 'Children Of The Night' and 'Back To The West' with the addition of two new asian/indonesian singers.
Sunday started well with Jamie Oliver & Adam Henson on The Big Kitchen stage. They were joined by the amazing DJ Bar-B-Que, famous for his pulled pork. They discussed how old spot pork was a great choice for pulled port. Adam was expressing his views about Food Quality. He agreed that in Post War Britain, mass production was a necessity but we nearly lost some of the older quality British breeds. He explained that mass production has been seen as the only option to sustain supply but given the proper care and an extended life to our livestock, makes a far healthier animal, is more humane and produces a more flavoursome product. The UK has the highest standards in Europe but they can be better. Jamie, using meat from Adam's farm demonstrated how to make Pulled Pork from a shoulder cut. This type of cut, from the pigs shoulder, is relatively inexpensive as it is considered tough, but with careful preparation and a really long, slow and low cook the meat becomes tender and can literally pulled apart.
On the main stage Justine Fletcher aka 'Mr Tumble' proved a great hit with the Pre-school/junior festival goers. It was great seeing everyone in the audience engrossed in Justine's performance as he seamlessly moved between his various characters.
Jamie then took to the stage to welcome everyone to the days festivities. He thanked everyone for coming and explained how FIFTEEN people, plus a few more, people from various backgrounds would be given the chance to train as chefs and give them something to build on and that is what behind the festival. The foundation hopes to raise £25,000 person. Thanks to the money raised by the festival they are able to train an extra three people. He explained that just by eating at the festival they were supporting the foundation as 50p from each dish goes to the fund.
Laurence Fox, well known for his acting, was showcasing his musical talents. With his acoustic guitar he was supported by his musical friend Greg, who played an electric guitar. Laurence's songs are emotionally deep and melancholic. These included 'Go Hard, Go Hungry', 'Gun Fight', 'Shelter', 'So Be Damned' his first single, and 'Figure You Out'. During most of the set he just played, but for 'Mostly Water' he explained it was about love for his children and how, with his filming schedule he missed them children after work. The crowd were so impressed with his performance the wanted more, but the compare explained he only had one album, and did not have any more.
While Laurence was charming the audience Billie Piper-Fox was keeping the children happy.
Next up were The Milk, a rock band from London - are Rick Nunn (lead vocals/guitar/keys) Mitch Ayling (drums/vox/keys) Dan Legresley (lead guitar/vox) Luke Ayling (bass guitar). Rick's vocals were a mix of Toploader, Rod Stewart, and Robert plant. Broke Up The Family, was very much a rock track. Mr Motivator, has more of a funk vibe, while 'Delivery Me' was a much more mellow song. They closed their set with 'Favourite Worry'. They added they had just finished recording their second album.
To lighten the mood and injecting a bit of fun to the musical stage the Cuban Brothers were introduced. Started with Miguel Mantovani in the crowd talking to the ladies, while Kenny 'the bastard' and Archerio danced to James brown. Miguel surveyed the audience making risqué suggestions, much their amusement. They were then joined by 'One Erection', who's members are Jamie 'Oliverio' on drums Alex 'Jamio' on bass, played as the brothers danced to JUMP. Jamie and Alex were special guests with The Producers, last year. The Cuban Brothers rocked the stage and the crowd, with fantastic break dancing by the boys, while Miguel sang and danced.
The crowd swelled in numbers in anticipation of Mark Owen. Having gone solo in 1996 after his successes with 'Take That', he returned to touring 2012, supported by his band. He was both sad and relieved that this was his last festival this year. Opening his performance he sang 'Shine', 'Raven', and 'Stars'. Next up he announced that this was one of Jamie's favourite songs, and an older track 'Time'. The audience were really appreciating his set as he followed with 'Kind', and 'One Minute Wander'. When he announces that 'Sweet Surrender' was his last song, the crowd cheered and applauded. Encore - star dust theme 'Rule The World', which Mark plays solo on piano.
KT Tunstall was next up on the music stage, as she introduced herself the audience the loop box accidentally engaged just as she said 'hello Big Feastival' it looped. Opening with Two new songs, from her latest album 'Invisible Empire', she followed with the much loved, 'Other Side of the World'. Introducing her next song she said "When you find a song you really like, we like to perform it like we wrote it" and played an excellent cover of 'Boys of Summer'. At the conclusion of this track the band left the stage and was left her on own to perform 'Black Horse And The Cherry Tree', which was a song she originally did busking in Edinburgh and was the song that bought her to public attention with a 2004 live solo performance on 'Later... with Jools Holland'. Unfortunately to loop box played up again and cut out, being a well experienced performer she suggested it was having a bad day, so she just re-looped and started again, adding a kazoo. With her band back on stage they played the title track from the new album 'Invisible Empire'. Getting well into their stride Kate introduced the next song 'Funnyman', as being about a crazy person. To her surprise, after writing and performing what she had thought was an original song she realised it was based on Amadeus. For 'Suddenly I See' the band was trying new busking version. Bass player beat boxes while the drummer play maracas. To close they played "One by the Boss" 'State Trooper', which the whole band enjoyed rocking out to.
Emma B introduced a special guest, Grammies nominated, Leslie Mendelson, how had played earlier in the bandstand. She played 'Jericho', with her acoustic guitar, her Clear crisp voice illustrated why she had been nominated.
Just before the closing act Alex James came on stage and said he had know The Feeling for a long time and had got to know their wives, parents and then their children. A few of the bands bought had their families with them too. With his family and all the festival goers and theirs its created a great family atmosphere to the festival. So we'll have to have another next year.
The mood was now set for a great closing set by The Feeling, Dan Gillespie Sells - lead vocals, piano and guitar, Richard Jones - bass guitar, (Sells and Jones met at Brit School), Kevin Jeremiah - guitar, Ciaran Jeremiah - Keyboard, and Paul Stewart on drums. They started set with 'Lonely' the very first single they released. They then played 'Fill my world' the song that really bought them to the publics attention 8 years ago. . They've bought a studio in a pub in London and they have been working on an album. They played a good mix of old and new tracks - 'Blue Murder' from their forthcoming album and 'Never Be Lonely' from their first. They were airing several new tracks including 'Like New' they had only playing the last couple of days. Dan announced that the next track was about 'My favourite things in the world - helicopters' the first single from their last album. Then the rest of the band left the stage and Dan played 'Rose', solo on the piano. Sophie Ellis Bextor, who is married to base player Richard, was sitting at the back of the stage with the children. She was singing along. A fantastic set, with the light fading, the stage smoke & lights made for a spectacular display. The strong crowd were in the mood for a great time, and we're not disappointed.
This is both Alex and Jamie's third festival and it is really taking shape and developing its character. If you love food and music as they do it's a great festival with a wonderful atmosphere.