The fifth Festwich took place this weekend at St. Mary’s Park in Prestwich. Sponsored by local rock club Rebellion and XS Manchester radio station, tribute acts from all over the country gathered to celebrate some of the greatest rock bands of all time.
I’ll admit that I was sceptical about an entire festival consisting only of tribute artists; but having spent both days in the park I am thoroughly convinced and ready to get my free ticket for 2017.
The Saturday saw a line-up including Stiff Bizkit, Motorheadache, Green Days, Loyal Blood, Guns or Roses, Mentallica and Whole Lotta DC… and I know that like me, you’re impressed by the names alone!
Split across two stages, but with not much of a walk between them like other much-too-large festivals, highlights from Saturday were Green Days and Guns or Roses. Both romped through the biggest songs from their catalogues with great energy and likeness to their original bands.
I quickly learnt that with tribute bands no one takes themselves too seriously, so it’s a seemingly more relaxed environment. Everyone, performers included, is just there to enjoy the music they love.
There is much less of a distance between the stage and the audience, and no one has had to remortgage their house to buy tickets (which seems to be the way the larger UK festivals are going) so there is less pressure on the audience to enjoy themselves… Meaning they do so more easily. It also means that the bands don’t have their ‘latest album’ to promote with songs on it no one knows, so every song you hear is going to be a huge recognisable hit.
The Sunday lineup saw Pearl Scam, Daft Punkx, Reet Hot Chilli Peppers, Flew Fighters and personal highlight of the whole weekend, Aladdin Sane.
Paul Henderson must be nervous as a David Bowie tribute artist following the recent death of the Thin White Duke himself, I know I certainly was; but there was no need. The set was a lovingly put together ensemble spanning albums and decades of Bowie’s career. He didn’t pretend to be Bowie, but there were clear tokens of his personality scattered across the stage by Paul. It was very much a homage, no, a tribute act, in the most genuine sense of the word.
Catering came from a lot of the same local vendors seen at Castlefield Food Festival this year, which was great to see. I enjoyed a lovely smoked tofu burger and indulgent walnut brownie from Islington Mill’s finest vegan kitchen Mother May I.
I shouldn’t have been surprised by the honest and celebratory atmosphere at Festwich, but it really is something that I will remember the next time I see a tribute act on any bill. I want to also say a huge thanks to all the organisers and volunteers etc. who made such an amazing, family-friendly, free event available to Manchester!