Splendour 2023, Wollaton Park, Nottingham, UK, July 22-23, 2023 | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Monday, May 20th, 2024  

Confidence Man

Confidence Man, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Sam Ryder, Altered Images

Splendour 2023, Wollaton Park, Nottingham, UK, July 22-23, 2023,

Aug 02, 2023 Photography by Paul Dixon Web Exclusive
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The UK festival market has become overly saturated in recent years to the point where this summer has so far seen 44 planned events cancel for varying reasons from bad weather to low ticket sales and spiralling costs brought on by the current economic climate. While there is undoubtedly a need for a cull due to the number of festivals appearing every summer, the widespread loss of income and employment to those affected by these cancellations is a genuine concern for all.

So, it’s probably fair to say that the ones which survive are those with the right infrastructure in place and sufficient financial backing coupled with a high level of knowledge and experience. Which ultimately is why Splendour is still here and continues to grow from the humble all dayer that began in 2008 to the weekend event that stands before us today. Now in its fourteenth edition and second as a two-day festival, Splendour continues to attract a wealth of big names to Nottingham and as a result, can boast attendances that only just falls short of around 40,000 people across its two days.

Confidence Man
Confidence Man

Nevertheless, what Splendour (or any other festival for that matter) cannot control is the incremental British summertime weather. With arguably the wettest weekend of summer this year reportedly causing havoc at numerous festivals around the UK resulting in stage closures and band cancellations, Splendour to its credit kept the show rolling from beginning to end. What probably does need reviewing - and again, isn’t just an occurrence at Splendour - are the stringent security checks and overpriced food and drinks once inside the event. Particularly when bottles of water are among the items of food and drink confiscated on entry only to then be charged anywhere up to £4 for the same beverage depending on the vendor. If other festivals such as Glastonbury and Green Man can allow food and drink to be taken inside their respective arenas provided it’s not in a glass container then there’s no real argument why others shouldn’t either. There’s still queues for every bar and food vendor regardless whereas in confiscating food and drinks on entry it already sets the vibe and tone thus dampening what should be an entirely pleasurable experience.

The Kooks
The Kooks

In boasting a line-up that appeals to all demographics ranging from six to seventy-six, Splendour does attract a largely family audience meaning there’s both an opportunity to enjoy nostalgic reminisces of years gone by and discover a host of new artists, most of whom are based in the East Midlands. Which is once again proving to be a musical hotbed with the likes of Girlband, Divorce, and FSN Future Sound Of Nottingham winner Em among those playing across the weekend. While Saturday saw Madness headline a bill that also included The Vaccines, Rudimental and The Coral, Under the Radar are particularly excited about Sunday’s eclectic mix and it’s here we begin our round-up.

“Where’s Clare Grogan Now?” asked Nottingham band The Fat Tulips back in 1989. Why, she’s standing right in front of us on the Confetti Stage with her band Altered Images! Over forty years on from their breakthrough single “Happy Birthday” (which closes this afternoon’s set), the legendary post-punk outfit are back in the city playing a short but sweet set that draws a large audience despite the rain. “I Could Be Happy” and “Don’t Talk To Me About Love” bring back happy childhood memories while “Maskara Streakz” off last year’s comeback album of the same name and a sprightly cover of The Ting Tings “That’s Not My Name” catapult Grogan and band into the 21st century with a bang. They’re a delight and one that hopefully keeps on going if their recent material is anything to go by.

Altered Images
Altered Images

Meanwhile, the stratospheric rise of Confidence Man continues unabated. Having only played their first UK shows back in 2016 then been curtailed by the global Covid pandemic for two years in between, it gives us a sense of pride and pleasure to see them nailing big stages all around the world while picking up a legion of new admirers along the way. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise their set on the Main Stage drew a crowd stretching all the way up the hill towards Wollaton Hall where “Batman: The Dark Knight Rises” was filmed in 2012. Anyone familiar with Confidence Man’s live show will know that Janet Planet and Sugar Bones’ repertoire consists of upbeat disco anthems and a plethora of costume changes to coincide, with this evening being no different. “Out The Window” and “Feels Like A Different Thing” sound magnificent in such a setting while the closing couplet of “Boyfriend” and “Holiday” aren’t just this weekend’s festival anthems, but also headline showstoppers of the future.

Confidence Man
Confidence Man

Jake Shears also keeps the dancing party alive for the next forty-five minutes, choosing to play a mix of solo material off his most recent long player Last Man Dancing and a bunch of choice cuts from former band Scissor Sisters that provides a heady fusion of nostalgia and discovery but never sours the mood. Also taking us back to 2004 are The Kooks, who seem to be enjoying something of a resurgence in recent months. But its 2022’s Eurovision runner-up and all round genial nice guy Sam Ryder that surprisingly and unexpectedly steals the show. Headlining the second (Confetti) stage before Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds bring the festival to a close over yonder, Ryder has the crowd in the palm of his hands from the minute he comes on stage to the moment he walks off. Playing a set that veers from his own material to covers of classics by Taylor Swift (“We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”), Candi Staton (“You Got The Love”) and Paramore (“Misery Business”), Ryder is a born showman and also one of the most humble we’ve come across in a long time. Speaking about his first time in Nottingham playing at Rock City to no one years ago compared with the thousands watching him this evening, Ryder seems genuinely overwhelmed at the response. Recent single “Mountain” proves colossal; as does his heartfelt rendition of “Fought & Lost”, which was recently nominated for an Emmy Award. Closing on an epic “Space Man”, the song which catapulted him into the public eye in the first place, was perhaps the most fitting way to end a rain and mud sodden Splendour 2023.

Jake Shears
Jake Shears

Splendour Festival Official Website




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