Jun 232017
 

With thanks to Craig Chisholm.

Aberdeen’s very own festival in the city returns in September in what promises to be an entertaining weekend. True North, now in its’ third year, has announced another strong line up over the weekend of 7 – 10 September. Kicking off proceedings are highly acclaimed act Public Service Broadcasting

With their new album released in July their date at His Majesty’s Theatre on Thursday 7th September is sure to be a sell-out.

The album, entitled Every Valley, depicts the history of industry in Wales, chronicling the rise and decline of the country’s coal industry.

Following previous concerts at The Lemon Tree, this is Public Service Broadcasting’s biggest date in Aberdeen and, as anyone that has seen them before will testify, they are sure to put on another memorable performance.

If one gig isn’t enough on Thursday night, then be sure to pop past the Lemon Tree afterwards for a late show by art-rockers Wild Beasts. The band are scheduled to release a new album – Boy King – in August so this will provide an early opportunity to see them perform tracks from it.

Friday night again offers two bills in two venues –  cult Scottish indie band Arab Strap at The Tivoli whilst The Lemon Tree plays host to art-pop quartet Dutch Uncles.

The recently reformed Arab Strap recently sold out two nights at Glasgow’s Barrowland Ballroom and at forthcoming events at the Kelvingrove Bandstand. The more intimate settings of The Tivoli will provide a perfect setting for the band’s unique storytelling and singular musical vision.

Manchester band Dutch Uncles take musical inspiration from Low-era Bowie, Kate Bush’s The Red Shoes, East European Techno and, they claim, “some slightly less fashionable records belonging to their Dads”. With inspirations like that how could you afford to miss them?

Saturday night at The Lemon Tree also provides the opportunity to stay up late as Lost Map Records main-man The Pictish Trail, better known to friends and family as Johnny Lynch, brings his unique blend of folk, electro and humour to the stage there once again. Guest DJs will also be on hand to spin tunes into the wee small hours.

It’s His Majesty’s Theatre that provides the most intriguing performance of the weekend – a full band interpretation of Fleetwood Mac’s legendry album Rumours. Start to End provide the musical backing and they will be joined onstage by musicians from Pronto Mama, Fat-Suit, Admiral Fallow and a few special guests still be announced. This should again prove a big draw and will appeal to fans of all ages.

Rounding up the weekend is a double bill of two Scotland’s most talented young performers as The Tivoli plays host to Frightened Rabbit singer Scott Hutchison and Kathryn Joseph, who was the winner of 2015 Scottish Album of the Year.

On top of the main performances there’ll also be a Fringe festival over the course the weekend at venues such as The Lemon Tree and intimate sessions at the Maritime Museum.

Tickets go on sale for all concerts on Friday 23rd November – http://www.aberdeenperformingarts.com/truenorth

Jun 232017
 

With thanks to  Jonathan Russell from Aberdeen and District CND, and Maya Evans.

Aberdeen and District CND will host a public meeting on July 17 focusing on the ongoing Afghan conflict.
At the end of 2014 NATO/US forces declared ‘Mission Complete’ in Afghanistan.
Two years on, foreign forces remain within Afghanistan while the Taliban are thought to have gained control of at least 40% of the country. ISIS are now also carrying out attacks.

Today Afghan people have to contend with crushing poverty, mass drug addiction, climate crisis catastrophe and huge internal displacement.

With no faith in the Government people are turning to the grassroots for real change.

One such group are the Afghan Peace Volunteers – young non-violent peace activists who run the ‘Borderfree Peace Centre’ in Kabul; with 18 projects on the go they include: a Street Kids School, the Women’s Duvet Project, Permaculture and the non-violence dance troop and football team.

They are an inspiring group comprised of young Afghans who have known nothing but war and violence, but want to respond and rebuild peace in a creative non-violent way.

This talk will give a political overview on the ‘forgotten war’, the internal problems that people face, and the foreign. Most recently the US unleashed the largest non nuclear bomb in its arsenal on Nangarhar Province, East Afghanistan. The immediate consequences have so far seen the Taliban retaliate by slaughtering over 150 Afghan soldiers during an ambush on a military base.

Speaker Maya Evans, UK Co-ordinator of ‘Voices for Creative non-violence’, has visited Kabul 8 times over the last 6 years. She has seen first hand how the war has worsened and how the Afghan Peace Volunteers have developed and expanded. Her talks are full of funny, moving and uplifting stories, as well as up to date facts.

Hear how the Afghan Peace Volunteers cope and respond to the deepening crisis, being inspired and moved by their relentless work and daily lives.

THE AFGHANISTAN CONFLICT ‘VOICES FOR PEACE’
Meeting taking place on July 10th at 7.30pm at UNITE, 42-44 King Street. 

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Jun 232017
 

Duncan Harley reviews The Wedding Singer at His Majesty’s Theatre Aberdeen.

Once you get to grips with the schmaltzy ‘girls just wanna get married’ portrayal of the eighties which haunts this musical from the very start, The Wedding Singer is actually a whole load of fun.

Despite a story-line thin enough to gladden the heart of a coronary bypass surgeon and sufficient cheesy humour to keep McDonalds going in triple cheeseburger’s for a month, the entertainment value more than makes up for this sugar-sweet take on the Reagan decade.

Based on the hit 1998 film of the same name, the musical tells the tale of wedding singer and emcee Robbie Hart.

Robbie and his band ‘Simply Wed’ – yes you read that correctly – play the New Jersey wedding circuit making a precarious living on the back of those who have popped the question. Jilted and depressed he abandons the wedding gigs and comes of age on the bar mitzvah circuit. Predictably he gets the girl and equally predictably he gets invited to sing at his own wedding.

Starring Jon Robyns as the multi-talented Robbie Hart and X Factor/singer songwriter Cassie Compton as love interest Julia Sullivan, it would be difficult to imagine this production going far wrong really. Well known for roles including secretly-gay Rod in Avenue Q and Sir Galahad in Spamalot Jon’s performance literally shines.

Add in a mix of stars including Ray Quinn, as Glen Gulia, and Barbara Rafferty in the role of Rosie the rapping-granny and The Wedding Singer is off like the clappers.  A clutch of iconic dance-numbers including Saturday Night in the City and All About the Green plus some pretty dang impressive lighting and audio complete the line-up.

Alongside the main characters, the cast list includes a motley crew of ‘fake’ characters including Ronnie Reagan, Billy Idol, Tina Turner and Cyndi Lauper. Additionally, and I could be wrong, amongst the line-up in the bar scene I swear I spotted a suitably inebriated Charles Bukowski

As a feel-good, Aspartame sweetened heart-warming trip into the past, The Wedding Singer works really well although the story-line does pose awkward questions for those who were actually around at the time.

Will Hart get the girl? And does Julia really want to be Mrs Gulia? For a definitive answer or two you will just have to join the audience. Oh! And watch out for those brick-size cell-phones and, of course, that singing cake!

Lighting Designer Ben Cracknell/Sound Designer Ben Harrison.
The Wedding Singer plays at HMT Aberdeen until Saturday 24 June
Tickets from Aberdeen Performing Arts Tel: 01224- 641122
Words © Duncan Harley and Images © APA

Jun 162017
 

With thanks to Jessica Murphy, Account Manager, Jasmine Ltd.

A north-east charity’s flagship shop is urging shoppers to make the most of a special sale as it prepares for a new look.

CLAN Cancer Support’s shop on Aberdeen’s Rosemount Place has launched a 50% off sale as it prepares to close for internal and external work.

It will close on Friday (June 16) to allow the charity’s team of staff and volunteers to transfer stock to CLAN’s other shops. 

Anyone wishing to donate new goods to CLAN should take contributions to the charity’s shop on Chapel Street, Aberdeen.

CLAN Cancer Support Senior Shop Manager, Kirsty MacDonald, is looking forward to revealing Rosemount’s new look later in the summer.

She said:

“We now have a network of five shops which provide CLAN with a vital income stream, directly supporting the delivery and development of the wellbeing and support services we provide for anyone affected by cancer.

“Our shops thrive thanks to the fantastic volume of donations we receive and the generosity of our customers who understand the importance of their support. Donations really are the life blood of our shops, so I encourage people to continue to drop any donations at our Chapel Street shop.

“Rosemount is our flagship store, it’s very popular with Aberdeen shoppers, in an area surrounded by fantastic independent retailers. The building has had a number of setbacks recently due to flooding, and with this now resolved it is an ideal opportunity to create a more enjoyable environment for our valued and loyal customers and supporters.

“The new look shop will be the first to take on a new image for CLAN shops which will, in time, be rolled out across others in Ballater, Orkney and Shetland.

“In the meantime there is still a fantastic range of clothes, ornaments, jewellery, books and equipment in stock, so please visit the shop before the 16th June and you might just grab yourself a special bargain.”

CLAN Cancer Support is an independent charity which provides comfort, support and information, free of charge, for anyone, of any age, affected by any type of cancer. CLAN aims to support people to reduce anxiety, stress and to increase their ability to cope with the effects of a serious illness.

Based in Aberdeen, the charity covers the whole of north-east Scotland, Moray, Orkney and Shetland. CLAN has a presence in Ballater, Banchory, Elgin, Buckie, Inverurie, Fraserburgh, Lossiemouth, Peterhead, Stonehaven, Turriff, Kirkwall and Lerwick.

For more information about CLAN Cancer Support, please call (01224) 647 000 or visit www.clanhouse.org

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Jun 162017
 

By Suzanne Kelly.

An open art exhibition in any other city in the UK is likely to be a laid-back affair in terms of censorship and over-regulation.

It is likely to attract people who are interested in art practice, ideas and would go without a hitch.

Organiser Jean Paul Baptiste simply wanted to allow artists who are outside the established Aberdeen arts hierarchy a chance to show.

Aberdeen ArtCentre & Theatre Gallery was the selected venue, and all went well – at first.

The gallery decided that exhibiting sculpture in an area where a lift used by people with mobility issues was an impossibility.

This decision came after the show started. The fact that all around the world it is possible to have both disability access and sculpture co-exist was lost on the administration.

Then members of the public (how many I would like to know for openers) made a complaint about some of the artwork. So great was the trauma for the complainers they complained to the gallery and the city council. Perhaps they’ve written to the PM – we should be told.

So, this being Aberdeen, the thing to do was to cover the work up temporarily – not to justify the artistic merits of the work which are blatantly obvious to anyone with or without an arts background.

Who were these anonymous offended people who thought their own opinion was more important than the rest of the public, the artwork and the show? Please do come forward, if you’re out there. Aberdeen Voice will allow you space to explain why you wanted to ban artwork.

The gallery said:

“This is a joint message from the Operations Manager of the Arts Centre, George, and Baptiste, the curator of the exhibition. 

“First, let us thank you for your interest. The current exhibition has been most exciting for the artists and the venue. We had an immensely successful launch night, where the art provoked discussion, reaction and a good time for those who attended.  

“We understand that you have gotten in touch regarding some matters that have been raised around the exhibition itself and are looking for comment. 

“Concerning a couple of the works being removed from the floor space, this was the result of an error in communication. The Centre hosts events in the Gallery where the exhibition is and uses it to access the lift when the exhibition is closed.

“Though sculptures were practicable for the night of the launch, they were not practicable on a daily basis, at all times, as multiple events can run through the course of one day. This could mean damage to the sculptures themselves, and could impact on health and safety. The fact that standing sculptures were going to be present was not ascertained clearly, and next time there will simply be better planning. 

“Please see this link for a virtual tour of the opening night. We hope it captures for you the essence of the evening, and the current exhibition. http://virtualtoursaberdeen.co.uk/tours/art-2017/index.html”

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Jun 162017
 

With thanks to Ross Anderson, Senior Account Manager, Citrus:Mix

Primary school pupils have been working to add their own splash of colour in Aberdeen by sowing seeds for a city centre wildflower meadow. Alongside representatives from Aberdeen Inspired, a class of 22 P6 pupils from Hanover Street School have planted wildflower seeds on the grassy area where Bridge Street becomes College Street.

The aim of the session was to create greater biodiversity in the area while also encouraging community involvement in city centre activities.

Last year, children from Hanover Street Nursery also planted crocuses at the St Nicholas Centre rooftop garden.

Following the seed sowing, it is hoped that the school will take over looking after the wildflower meadow as part of Aberdeen Inspired’s ‘Adopt an Area’ initiative.

The organisation has played a key role in identifying areas within the city centre which could benefit from a refresh with the hope of making them more visually attractive and appealing to use.

Adrian Watson, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired, said:

“We were delighted to invite children from Hanover Street Primary School to help us plant a wildflower meadow beside College Street which will brighten up the space in the coming weeks.

“As well as teaching them a bit about nature, this session was important to introduce a variety of wild flowers to the area. Increasing biodiversity in the city centre is very important and we are keen to encourage more projects like this.

“We are passionate about creating a more vibrant and appealing city centre and believe efforts like this, which involve working with school children, are hugely important in achieving that.”

Aberdeen Inspired is the banner under which the Aberdeen BID (Business Improvement District) operates. It is a business-led initiative within the city centre in which levy payers within the BID zone contribute.

Proceeds are used to fund projects designed to improve the business district and drive increased footfall to the area.

More information about Aberdeen Inspired is available online at: www.aberdeeninspired.com

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Jun 082017
 

With thanks to Jessica Murphy, Account Manager, Jasmine Ltd.

It is in the heart of the city and as one of the busiest ports in Britain, has more than 6,500 vessel arrivals each year and handles around four million tonnes of cargo.

As the centre of activity for the offshore oil and gas industry’s marine support operations in North-west Europe, Aberdeen Harbour is a crucial thoroughfare.

Ensuring the port is operating according to the marine safety management system is a regulatory requirement, and a job that is undertaken every three years by Keith Falconer of Seacroft Marine Consultants (pictured).

A marine specialist with the company, which is based at The Roundhouse, Keith also acts as the Designated Person for the Aberdeen Harbour Board.

He is tasked with providing independent assurance to Aberdeen Harbour Board that their Marine Safety Management System is fit for purpose and that it complies with the requirements of the Port Marine Safety code.

He said:

“Every three years the Duty Holder, in this case the Board of Aberdeen Harbour, is required to inform the UK Government via the Maritime and Coastguard Agency that they are compliant with the Port Marine Safety Code.

“The Port Marine Safety Code is in many ways similar to the Highway Code, it may not be law in itself, however breaching it is not advisable.”

The Code is broken down into four main sections covering everything safety related to the operation of a port, and the process undertaken by Keith to ensure compliance is a continual one carried out over the course of a year.

With more than thirty-seven years at sea, the majority of which was spent in the offshore industry, Keith’s experience is invaluable in this role, which he has held since 2012.

Keith added:

“This position is a privilege to hold and one that I enjoy tremendously. Aberdeen is a fantastic port to operate in and plays a vital role in the commercial success of the city.

“Being able to utilise my skills in the industry in this way is great and the perfect fit with my work at Seacroft.”

Launched in 1995 by Captain Roderick MacSween, Seacroft has been owned and operated by the founder’s daughter Jennifer Fraser and technical director Michael Cowlam since 2004.

With a team of 14 staff and more than 70 consultants, the company has built its reputation in the marine assurance and consultancy sphere.

Seacroft Marine Consultants’ expertise includes marine assurance packages, OVID and CMID inspections, marine warranty work, rig move services, International Safety Management audits, safety audits and inspections, incident investigation and dynamic positioning assurance as well as simulator training in ship handling and bridge team management and specialist recovery and rescue assurance services.

For further information on the full range of Seacroft Marine Consultants services please visit www.seacroftmarine.com.

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Jun 082017
 

With thanks to Ross Anderson, Senior Account Manager, Citrus:Mix

A leading north-east charity is calling for volunteers to support a popular event in the heart of Aberdeen City.

The Big Bounce is a weekend-long event which will see giant inflatables fill the Roof Garden on top of Aberdeen’s St Nicholas mall and offers everything families could need for a great day out.

In its second year, the event will take place from Friday, June 16 to Sunday, June 18, with local primary and secondary schools and clubs invited to take part in the event on Friday, June 16.

Ruth McIntosh, CLAN Cancer Support’s Fundraising Coordinator, is appealing for anyone who can help over the course of the weekend to get in touch with the charity.

She said:

“We are delighted that CLAN will again be one of the benefactors from the Big Bounce event.

“However, the event can only go ahead with the support of volunteers who help to man the inflatables and ensure everyone has a fun and safe day out. We are appealing to anyone who can spare even  just a couple of hours to get in touch.

“Our volunteers had a great time last year, sharing such a fun day out with families and helping to raise funds for CLAN and Great Ormond Street Hospital in the process.

“It was such a great success last year and we are really looking forward to seeing the event grow and develop.”

The event is part of the national ‘One Great Day’ fundraising initiative created by Bon Accord & St Nicholas centre owners BMO Real Estate which will see over 150 UK shopping centres raise money for children’s charities across the country.

To volunteer, please email ruth.mcintosh@clanhouse.org or phone 01224 647000.

CLAN Cancer Support is an independent charity which provides comfort support and information, free of charge, for anyone, of any age, affected by any type of cancer. CLAN aims to support people to reduce anxiety, stress and to increase their ability to cope with the effects of a serious illness.

Based in Aberdeen, the charity covers the whole of north-east Scotland, Moray, Orkney and Shetland. CLAN has a presence in Ballater, Banchory, Elgin, Buckie, Inverurie, Fraserburgh, Lossiemouth, Peterhead, Stonehaven, Turriff, Kirkwall and Lerwick.

For more information about CLAN Cancer Support please call (01224) 647 000 or visit www.clanhouse.org

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Jun 082017
 

With thanks to Ross Anderson, Senior Account Manager, Citrus:Mix

One of the north-east’s leading law firms will host a lunch and learn session in Aberdeen this month for those who want to find out more about employment law updates and modern practices.

Mackinnons Solicitors will hold the free event, which is open to all, at the firm’s headquarters at 14 Carden Place, Aberdeen from 12.30pm to 2pm on Thurs, June 15. For catering purposes, those wishing to attend should register with Employment Partner Nicola Gray who will cover updates in employment law and examples in the field.

Miss Gray is looking forward to the event and anticipates significant interest from the north-east business community.

She said:

“Employment law is a continually evolving field and it’s important to stay abreast of recent changes to be within the rules and legislation set out by the government.

“It is always a hot topic for most employers and I know many are keen to learn more about issues such as contracts, disciplinary, grievance and capability issues, and what not to do too.

“The lunch and learn will be useful to those who want a refresher of the field and to learn more about important updates and current practices.”

To register to attend the Employment Law and Practices Lunch and Learn, please contact Employment Partner Nicola Gray via (01224) 632464 or email: nicolagray@mackinnons.com

Mackinnons also offer bespoke legal services for residential property, personal advice, wills and estate planning, commercial property, business and corporate matters, renewables and dispute resolution.

The firm, which also has offices in Cults and Aboyne, is also well known and internationally recognised for its long-standing expertise in fishing, shipping and marine law.

The firm’s experienced team of solicitors provide professional, pragmatic, bespoke advice for clients, whether they are multinational corporations, local businesses or individuals.

As part of Mackinnons’ 175th anniversary celebrations the firm is raising money for The Fishermen’s Mission throughout 2017.

For more information about Mackinnons Solicitors and its range of legal and financial services, please visit: www.mackinnons.com

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Jun 082017
 

Aberdeen’s Very Own Music Festival Returned for its Third Year, and Aberdeen Voice’s Craig Chisholm was there to review. Photos by Craig Chisholm.

With no T in The Park planned this year what are Scottish music fans supposed to do for their Summer festival fix?

Well, for residents of the North East, the answer was right on their doorstep as Enjoy Music returned for its third and, arguably, most successful year.

Boasting headliners such and Chase & Status, John Digweed and the legendary Primal Scream the festival moved up a league and proved not only was it here to stay but that it was also ready to expand and become a fixture of the festival circuit.

Unfortunately, however, things do not always go without a hitch.

A minor issue of missing toilets caused the opening of the festival to be delayed a couple of hours.

But times of hardship can bring out the best in people and it’s to the eternal credit of the organisers and their team that they managed to not only get things back on track but also not drop any of the acts from the bill.

Credit must also go to the bands performing on the main stage in the afternoon as they truncated their sets slightly to accommodate all acts and give everyone their time in the limelight.

Kicking things off are Aberdonian rockers The Ruckus who deliver a short set of, as they describe it, “no nonsense guitar driven rock n roll” and as far as descriptions go that’s certainly one that describes things perfectly.

Afternoon slots are also performed by Montrose band Emerald Sunday with their indie and britpop influenced rock and hugely popular local cover band FUBAR who provide some technically impressive renditions of Queen and AC/DC among others.

The hard rock takes a back seat for a while after this and gives way to the more soulful and funk sounds of FaR.

Led by the striking and powerful vocalist Fifi Greasly the band prove the perfect sound to an afternoon in the sun.

The same also applies to the magnificent Ransom FA. Mixing the urban sounds of hip hop, grime and trap the Aberdeen based crew pull of a short but energetic and forward thinking set to an obviously impressed crowd.

But, unfortunately, the sun doesn’t last and, as is customary at music festivals in Scotland, the heavens open.

It rains during sets by The Complete Stone Roses and acclaimed local indie band The Little Kicks.

That doesn’t stop the crowd from enjoying them however – The Complete Stone Roses pull off a pretty good approximation of their Manchester heroes.

The Little Kicks, led by frontman Steve Milne, perform an infectious and memorable set in support of their latest album, Shake Off Your Troubles.

The rain does however provide an unexpected bonus for bands and DJs playing in the tents as a lot of the crowd take shelter.

The Retro and Alternative tent has an eclectic bill that combines acoustic (Mark Buchan, Peterhead’s Marc Culley and others), the melodic Byrds and britpop influenced rock from Keith band The Carousels and hip hop from local rap legends SHY & DRS.
The retro part of the day is provided by a quite compelling performance by Bob Wyper in his guise as Rod Stewart, which goes down a storm in the packed tent as he runs through Rod’s big hits as the actual storm rages outside.

Also performing some covers, albeit in a unique style, are young band Gleadraich.

Hailing from Carnoustie the band perform songs by Blondie and The Undertones and many more with the added attraction of a bagpipe player taking centre stage, mimicking the vocal parts of the songs in most cases. It’s an unusual and entertaining concept that wins them over new fans of all ages.

The night in the tent is rounded off by a set by Ransom FA’s official DJ, Nojan and a set by Aberdonian alternative rockers The Cappolos.

Festivals aren’t just for grown-ups though, and Enjoy has catered for the kids as well – a whole section of the field is set aside for them which has slides, football challenges, colouring in walls, Disney princesses and Marvel Superheroes casually walking past. A family tent provides such entertainment as hip hop dancing for the eager kids. 

In the middle of it all is a Wrestling ring manned by Wrestlezone Scotland. There is a constant crowd packed  around the ring (not all of them children either!) as the Wrestlezone boys and girls provide action packed entertainment throughout the day.

There must have been a few parents pestered afterwards to get tickets to Wrestlezone’s Aberdeen Anarchy event at the Beach Ballroom on the 10th June once they’d seen this performance.

Back to the music however, and for those that prefer dance beats to electric guitars, two venues are available on site.

The TLF & Rondevue wigwam is steady all day with the crowd appreciating sets by a talented DJs such as Danny Reid, Tim Haux and Flexi.

It’s the perfect place to chill out in the sun and appreciate the day.

The Digital Love & Majestic Tent is the bigger of the dance stages and it proves immensely popular throughout the day to clubbers.

By the time that dance titan John Digweed takes the stage for a two hour set the tent is rammed with the faithful who witness a peerless set from the legendary DJ.

Closing off the Main Stage are the two biggest bands of the night.

Primal Scream are, as usual, a breath-taking live act. Their 75 minute set contains a few choice cuts from their latest album – 2016’s Chaosmosis – such as 100% or Nothing, Where The Light Gets In and Golden Rope as well such classics as the southern fried boogie of Jailbird, the laid back dubby grooves of Star, and the psychedelic dance classic Slip Inside This House.

The band close off their set with four of their absolute classics – Loaded, Country Girl, Rocks and Movin’ On Up before departing the stage to appreciative and ecstatic audience. The bands next Scottish performance is as special guests to The Stone Roses at a sold out Hampden Park in a few weeks so it’s a genuine thrill and a commendable coup to the Enjoy organisers to have them perform in a much more intimate outdoor setting.

In another coup of a booking, Chase & Status take the stage for a DJ set of high energy dance and rap.

Credit to the crowd at this point too.

After over 9 hours of music they are still packed at the front and “giving it large” for their set which the faithful clearly never want to stop.

But eventually it must end, and as the crowd depart after the last acts they must already be looking forward to next year’s event – and possibly making a mental note to take a rain jacket next time, just in case.

How the promoters top this year’s event remains to be seen. But one thing for sure is Enjoy Music is only going to get bigger and better as it goes on.

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