Photo: Jacon Flannery
The Friday of the recent Jubilee bank holiday weekend saw Nottingham's picturesque Victoria Embankment transform into the location of Meadowlands - a new, one day music festival. Boasting three stages of live music, over 20,000 festival goers enjoyed some memorable performances under the beaming Midlands sunshine.
Starting proceedings on the BBC Introducing stage was supposed to be cultured duo Vona Vella who unfortunately found themselves playing to just fellow artists and crew due to a delay in the admission gates opening (headliner Gerry Cinnamon was still sound checking). Nonetheless, Vona Vella were in good spirits when we interviewed them not long after their set...Midlands indie outfit Overpass brought the second stage alive with a breakthrough performance that endeared them to an eager crowd...RATS are a band who are fixing the pieces together after emerging from the pandemic. Excitable front man Joe Maddocks brought a contagious energy to the stage that was embodied in a captivating performance of recent single 'Patsy Decline'.
RATS - oursoundmusic.com
On the main stage Black Honey provided their signature charismatic and cinematic brand of indie-rock, with Izzy Baxter complete in a prairie outfit topped off with her invigorating energy. Opening with 'All My Pride' from 2018's self-titled LP, the Brighton quartets' set was an eight song glimpse into their unique world, with 'I Like The Way You Die' being a highlight...The Reytons were the band that this reviewer was looking forward to the most with the by now swelling Meadowlands crowd seemingly in agreement. Coming from "up the road", the word of mouth sensations played like this was the most important gig of their lives. Storming through perfect versions of a crowd erupting 'Red Smoke' and early track 'Slice Of Lime', The Reytons are even more authentic sounding live than they are on record. Sing a long flag in the ground single 'Kids Off The Estate' provided a memorable and poignant moment for anyone in attendance who has been a fan of the band for a while...
Zuzu - oursoundmusic.com
Back across on the second stage, scouse songstress Zuzu wowed a sizeable crowd with her heart-on-her- sleeve indie-pop. 'How it Feels' and 'Skin And Bone', two incredible songs from the twenty-eight year old's library are early crowd pleasers while the underrated 'My Old Life', taken from her debut album 'Queensway Tunnel' providing a moving and particularly poignant highlight. Sounding musically polished, Zuzu's warm personality also shone through as she arguably gave those gathered the performance of the day...on the main stage, the popular and recently busy The Kooks were the perfect accompaniment to the mid-evening sunshine. Their set was akin to the atmosphere; relaxed and pleasant with the Nottinghamshire crowd treated to trademark anthems 'She Moves In Her Own Way' and 'Naive', the latter a singing and dancing inducing trip down memory lane.
For all intents and purposes, this was an open-air Gerry Cinnamon gig with the vast majority of the 20,000 plus in attendance here for the Scotsman. There was a rush of euphoria as the intro ended and the opening strum of 'Lullaby' filled the air, which was met by cheers. Cannons blasted red and white ribbons across the crowd that was a welcome alternative to trainers (!) and drinks. Cinnamon now has two albums worth of material to work from and it is his earliest work that provides the highlights with 'Sometimes' and 'What Have You Done' featuring early. 'Sun Queen', the standout single from second album The Bonny served as the pick of the performances of his later releases. Seemingly beset with sound issues, a song was stopped and started again which only added to Cinnamon's already morose demeanour. Conversation between songs was limited such is his way, though apparently a new track was played which, with it not being introduced or mentioned, the casual listener may not have picked up on. Crowd favourite 'Belter', complete with the fantastic Gianna Sisters inspired backing video, had a genuine feel of being in attendance for a slice of music history. As streamers and fireworks filled the air, with final song 'Canter' echoing across the night sky, one was left reflecting on an astounding inaugural Meadowlands.