Bearded Theory Madness

Madness Descends On Bearded Theory: Skunk Anansie And New Model Army Slay It [Photos] [Opinion]

There are times in life when you just don’t want to be anywhere else. This past weekend, that place was at the Bearded Theory Spring Gathering. Bearded Theory is a mid-size music festival based at Catton Hall in South-Derbyshire. Bearded Theory was born as a two-day party in a Derbyshire Public House, and in the 10 years since the first event, the festival has gone from strength to strength. The 2017 version of Bearded Theory was a 10,000 sell-out, and music fans traveled from all over the U.K. to celebrate the festival’s 10th anniversary.

It seems entirely appropriate that the East London’s “nutty boys,” Madness, brought the festival to a close with a 90-minute set that had the huge crowd dancing and singing along. Madness ensured that the weekend finished with a huge bang; huge inflatable balls were thrown into the crowd, ticker tape and streamers filled the air, and a fireworks finale brought the weekend’s revelry to a close.

As you would expect, from a band that has been around since the late 1970s, the Madness set was packed with hit songs, but they also dug deeply into their considerable back catalog and treated fans to several rare tracks. It was somehow fitting that Madness closed Bearded Theory. The crowd singing the lyrics “Madness, Madness, we call it Madness” to a backdrop of fireworks, streamers, and pyrotechnics made it seem that anything else would have been inappropriate.

Of course, the Bearded Theory Spring Gathering wasn’t just about Madness, as there was plenty of entertainment for every musical taste throughout the four-day event. Fans were treated to fantastic sets by bands like Alabama 3, Slaves, and The Alarm, but U.K. festival favorites New Model Army and Skunk Anansie were definite high points.

Skunk Anansie And New Model Army Provide Bearded Theory Fireworks

Skunk Anansie are a British alternative rock band who have been around since the mid-1990s. If you look at the headline acts for most of the U.K.’s major music festivals, you will find a distinct lack of female-led rock bands, so Bearded Theory should be applauded for having Skunk Anansie as a headline act. The decision was inspired, and Skunk Anansie delivered an incredibly intense and captivating performance. Lead singer Skin is a one-woman hurricane — passion and anger drip from every word — and yet you rarely see someone who enjoys being on stage more.

[Image by Alan Ewart/Inquisitr]

Skunk Anansie produced a performance that will doubtless send many new fans searching out their back catalog. If Skunk Anansie’s set was marked by its intensity, the same must be said of New Model Army.

Anyone who has seen New Model Army perform knows that Justin Sullivan’s performances are rarely anything but intense. Sullivan’s lyrics are often political, but they are often deeply personal and even spiritual. Through their 35-year history, New Model Army has built a fiercely loyal following, known as “The Family,” and they were out in force at Bearded Theory.

New Model Army is a fitting headliner for any mid-sized music festival, but the band prefers not to headline. However, that takes nothing away from their performance. Songs like “No Rest for the Wicked” and “51st State” had fans — new and old — bouncing and singing at the top of their lungs as New Model Army turned in one of the weekend’s top performances.

Bearded Theory New Model Army
[Image by Alan Ewart/Inquisitr]

Of course, at any music festival, there’s a huge amount of action away from the main stage. One of Bearded Theory’s biggest strengths is its ability to showcase new independent talent. There was a host of such talent on show across all six stages. We had everything from delta blues on the Maui Waui stage, to folk and skiffle on the Woodland stage. Dance acts graced the Magical Sounds stage, and punk and ska acts predominated at Convoy Cabaret.

For those with a strong stomach, Convoy Cabaret hosted Circus Insane. If watching a blindfolded man hold a cucumber in his mouth while carving it with a chainsaw is your thing, the Convoy Cabaret was the place to see it.

When it comes to promoting independent musical talent, there is nothing like the Something Else Tea Tent. Like Bearded Theory, the Something Else Tea Tent is also celebrating its 10th anniversary, and it is the perfect spot to chill out and listen to some of the finest talent on the independent circuit. Bearded Theory fans know that dropping into the Something Else Tea Tent is a guarantee of great music in a relaxed atmosphere. Long may it continue.

In this writer’s opinion, the only downside of this year’s Bearded Theory was the quality of the food on offer. Prices have been raised and quality dropped. Of course, the food quality is out of the festival’s control, but they will doubtless ensure that quality is raised next year.

Bearded Theory offers music fans a fabulous experience, good value for money, and a wonderful, friendly, atmosphere. The festival’s biggest strength is that it improves every year, and the 2017 Bearded Theory was the best yet. It is this attention to detail that makes Bearded Theory the U.K.’s best mid-sized festival.

[Featured Image by Alan Ewart/Inquisitr]