Stockton Weekender 2012


“Ladies and gentleman here’s my disease. Give me a standing ovation and your sympathy. Poor old Johnny Yen set himself on fire again”. (JAMES: Johnny Yen “Stutter” 1986)

Here is the problem; am I ahead of everyone else or do I just not fit in with the crowd or am I a pretentious musical snob? You see I saw James in 1985 on the Meat is Murder tour and I loved them. Bought both the singles they’d released on Factory. I almost wore out the tape that contained the John Peel session that included “Skullduggery” (Probably my favourite James song) I bought “Stutter” in 86 and “Strip Mine” in 88 and played them to death. When they released “Sit Down” as a single on Rough Trade I thought it wasn’t as good as the previous albums but I stuck with them and bought “Gold Mother” in 1990. It didn’t contain the song “Sit Down” which didn’t bother me. Then they re-released “Sit Down” on Fontana and it was a massive hit. They re-released “Gold Mother” this time including their big hit. There was even an offer where you could return your original version and get the new version for free. Needless to say I still have the original version upstairs. I haven’t really bothered with James since!

Why am I telling you this? Well, on Sunday I attended the Stockton Weekender and James were the headlining band. Loads of people had come to see them. Loads of t-shirts, everyone singing along, everyone thought they were fantastic! Apart from me. Why? Because I wanted to hear “Skullduggery” and I got some rubbish about “Fred Astaire”. I wanted to hear the first 2 albums and I got one song; Johnny Yen. (The highlight of the set in my opinion) So am I right or am I wrong. It would seem I’m wrong. Every James album in nearly 30 years of performing has gone top 20 apart from two. That’s right the first two. Every album has sales of over 50,000 except two. That’s right the first two. So basically James play the songs people have bought and they would assume would want to hear. No-one bought the first two albums so they probably think no-one wants to hear “Chain Mail” or “Black Hole”. James released a live album called “One Man Clapping”. I am thinking of releasing Sunday nights set as “One Man Not Clapping!!!”

Enough of James what else was on? Loads of great bands, writers, rides and attractions. We saw Cattle & Cane who were superb. Looking forward to the debut album. When is it coming out?? I enjoyed Jake Bugg, the new Johnny Cash or Bob Dylan depending on what you’ve been reading. I thought the new Buddy Holly with a bit of the Las or Cast thrown in for good measure. My daughters of 7 and 5 thought he was cool, so maybe I’m not so out of tune with the world!

Bumped into Richard Milward who was promoting his new book; “Kimberly’s Capital Punishment” and if its half as good as “Apples” or “Ten Storey Love Song” then it will be a cracker. It’s out this month so go to the Library, Waterstones or such like and get it bought and then read. Richard is not only Teesside’s very own Jack Kerouac he is also a lovely fella. A literary force wrapped up in an unassuming, kind and caring young man. A rarity if ever there was one!

Back at the main stage Simon & Oscar from Ocean Colour Scene were wooing the crowd with a mixture of classics and tales of days gone by. An easy going Sunday teatime treat. “The Day we caught the train” being a particular favourite.
We saw a number of great things during the day. The girls loved the fair ground rides and the party atmosphere. Local talents like Weird Shapes and The Purnells impressed on the second stage. A great day was had by all. This was the 25th year of the Stockton Festival and I am looking forward to the next 25 years!!!

After the events in the main arena had finished we went for a final drink in The Sun Inn to discover that things were still going on; “Three Foot Ninja” were tearing the place apart. Now I’ve heard the name but knew nothing about these 3 young lads. But, despite a couple of covers, I was well impressed. A tight 3 piece that reminded me of The Clash and with their version of “These boots were made for Walking” still ringing in my ears; The Meteors!!!! Will surely seek them out again.

So it was over. Another great weekend in Stockton. Fast becoming the musical capital of the North!!! Well done to all the bands, performers but especially those who organise events such as these. A lot of hard work goes into this all year round. It is good to see big crowds turning out and enjoying the show whatever the weather. Particular thanks to Ciara Johnson for all her help and support.


STOCKTON WEEKENDER: http://www.stocktonweekender.co.uk/

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By peter on August 10, 2012

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  1. Great review Pete

    Comment by Andy — August 20, 2012 @ 8:13 am

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