I’ve just returned from three days of debauched baggy madness at the Shiiine On Weekender held at Butlins Minehead. It was my fourth time festivalising at Minehead, (a trio of ATPs before this), but Shiiine was by far the best.
In fact, with a friendly and up-for-it but well-behaved crowd, a truly brilliant line-up and a lovely chalet that was so close to the action I could easily nip back for a wee, I might even say it was my favouritest festival ever.
This was not a weekend for checking out the new. I’d seen the majority of bands many times before, but in far less well-appointed venues than those on offer in Butlins. Anyone who’s attended an ATP will know that the sound on the Skyline stage has always been middling at best, but for Shiiine it sounded brilliant. The most successful acts took advantage of that, playing their hits and allowing for the fact that a nostalgia-buzzed crowd and a heavy-duty sound system would give them an extra sparkle. So it is that you (and by you I mean me) find yourself singing along to ‘Altogether Now’ by The Farm and, you know, really enjoying it.
Other highlights? The Inspiral Carpets, playing a rousing greatest hits sets and keeping the standard high, and The Orb, who built slowly to some old favourites, including yes, ‘Little Fluffy Clouds’. By the time I retired at 2am I was aching from dancing and my mouth hurt from grinning so much.
Then, Saturday. Oh, Saturday at Shiiine, I will remember you for the rest of my life. For a start, it brings the festival’s best set, Peter Hook & The Light. I’d seen them before, when I was pleasantly surprised by a run-though of ‘Unknown Pleasures’, in an ‘at least he didn’t make a mess of it’ sort of way.
But this – this was staggering. Sixty minutes of prime New Order and Joy Division, Hook on boisterous, belligerent form. His voice has loosened since I last saw them, and he’s extending the material in brilliant, revelatory ways; the version of ‘The Perfect Kiss’ he plays is similar to the Jonathan Demme version. It has a jammy feel to it, the riffs sounding more weighty than I’ve heard before. ‘Blue Monday’ lifts the roof, ‘Temptation’ prompts a ‘woo woo’ singalong that then continues with an extraordinary ‘Love With Tear Us Apart’. I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about it.
Stereo MCs follow, and they’re ace. I always had them down as stoner under-achievers but they turn out to be a supreme party band. Happy Mondays headline. They play ‘Pills & Thrills’ in its entirety, followed by highlights ‘Hallelujah’ (the Weatherall ‘Hi Ya!’ version) and ‘Wrote For Luck’ (the Oakenfold ‘WFL’ version). Even so they’re a bit workmanlike compared to what has come before.
Later, I see MC Tunes and a superb 808 State. I do the grinning and dancing thing again, and at some point I think about Hooky playing extended workouts of New Order songs, and how the Happy Mondays’ best material is actually remixes, and I wonder if there’s a point to be made about interpretation. But it’s lost.
Sunday is more of a guitar / indie day and besides which, I’m jaded. However, I really dig Eat. They’re a band I always felt had something to say and despite being first on a day of collective hangover they win over a sparse crowd. I love Cud and they play a great set, but by the time of Wedding Present and Wonder Stuff I’m flagging. Despite really wanting to see Lo Fidelity Allstars, I’m forced to retire.
Lovely, approachable, not too many fuckwits.
It made me think..
That I am now officially spoiled for festivals. The peak has been reached.