Long Division Festival
Various Venues – Wakefield, Yorkshire
Saturday 2nd June 2018
Living in Liverpool, Yorkshire makes an ideal destination for a weekend away – far enough to be a change of scene, close enough that you don’t spend too much of your precious free-time on the motorway.
Obvious destinations are the likes of York, Harrogate, Leeds and Skipton.
Wakefield is less obvious (unless of course you are a hardcore Jane MacDonald fan!) so what better way to check it out than a city-centre music festival?
Although Long Division runs from Wednesday to Sunday, the bulk of the musical activity happens on the Saturday, so we decided to make a family weekend of it allowing the wee one to check out the family activities whilst me and mum took it in turns to check out the bands, with a Sunday at Eureka in Halifax that we’ve been meaning to go to for a while.
The day started with rain and the weather app showing that it was likely to be on for the day, not ideal when you are scampering around trying to find venues! Fortunately it was unduly pessimistic, the rain soon went off and it turned into a lovely warm afternoon and evening.
A city-centre festival succeeds or fails on the quality and diversity of both it’s venues and lineup – and Long Division scores highly on each point.
With Wakefield Cathedral as the star of the venues, plus lots of quirky and interesting bars, art spaces and even the Labour club, you couldn’t really ask for much more.
Likewise with the lineup, a nice mix of bigger-name established acts and lesser known bands on the up, there is something for everyone.
Our first stop was at the Elizabethan gallery where the bulk of the children’s activities were taking place. Before long, the wee one was making a trumpet out of a balloon, plastic cups and straws – all very Blue Peter, and he seemed to be enjoying himself!
I headed off to check out my first band of the day – Jellyskin at The Art House, one of the stand-outs when I was going through bands on spotify. The describe themselves as underground psych/gaze and are probably better suited to a late-night slot in a dark club than at 1.30 under bright white arri lighting, but they were superb regardless and definitely a band I will keep an eye out for.
Whilst waiting for the band to go on I had a play with their art exhibit – but it’s ok, in fact it was encouraged! Foam shapes you could use to make structures, based on a Russian puzzle. Lots of fun and very satisfying, the wee man really enjoyed playing with it later in the day.
Next venue was Warehouse 23 – a large venue which would seem to be the main “big” music venue in Wakefield.
I was a little early for Mush and so caught the end of Cape Cub – a little bit too much on the Radio 1 side of the 6 Music / Radio 1 divide for me personally, but undoubtedly very good at what they do.
I had high expectations of Mush from a quick check out on spotify, and I wasn’t disappointed – a band from Leeds with influences such as Sonic Youth, Pavement, The Fall, Pixies, and so on, they were right up my street!
I decided it was high time I checked out the Cathedral – and what a fab building it is, providing an interesting backdrop to the bands performing.
I caught a bit of Cattle & Cane who describe themselves as Indie, Pop and Acoustic. They’ve caught the attention of Elton John and Dermot O’ Leary, so must be doing something right!
After catching a couple of songs by the rather excellent Adore//repel at the precinct stage which was just outside the Cathedral, was the moment I was waiting for – The Membranes, with a choir, in the Cathedral!
The Membranes always put on a great show, with John Robb running around the stage like a man possessed, a real force of nature. I’d never seen them with a choir, but it sounded like an interesting concept – and it worked spectacularly. A highlight of the weekend without a doubt.
Our 4 year old unfortunately wasn’t so keen so we took it in turns to go outside with him, he wanted a sandwich and there was a shop directly opposite the Cathedral – a Pound Bakery! He enjoyed his sandwich and it’s the cheapest festival food I’ve ever come across!
That’s one of the good things with a city centre festival, you still get to go around listening to bands all day, but you can sleep in a hotel and buy supplies from normal shops at normal prices!
I popped into the Wakefield beer exchange where Esme Bridie was going down well with the gathered audience.
Marnie (Helen Marnie from Ladytron) was on fine form as was Charlotte Hatherley (once a member of Ash).
I took the wee one for something to eat whilst mum went off to watch Cud at the Warehouse, she said they still sounded as good as when she saw them back in the day, and there was even a stage invasion!
The Cathedral headliner was none other than Billy Bragg. The venue was packed and he ran through his hits delighting all in attendance.
I had wanted to see The Lovely Eggs and Fizzy Blood, but after 12 hrs going from venue to venue and needing to try and find a taxi back to the hotel (which seem to be in rather short supply in Wakefield) we decided to call it a night.
Wakefield feels like a city on the up, finally recovering from the decimation of the mining industry it was once so dependent on. Long Division feels like a key piece of that renaissance by both bringing art to local people as well as bringing in much needed tourism.
All in all a great festival that ticks all the boxes – cheap (£35), good mixture of up-coming and established acts on the lineup, and lots of interesting and quirky venues to discover.
Here’s to 2019!
More photos on Flickr here