Daresbury Estate, Halton, Cheshire
23rd and 24th August 2008
Well, that's another miserable summer over and we can all start thinking about bonfire night, doing the xmas shopping, next year's holiday and the January sales and, by then, this festival season will be just a distant memory.
There will be some things worth recalling, though, while we're all shivering round the only radiator in the house we can still afford to turn on thanks to the credit crunch and global forces over which we have no control.
Most of us will have had a good couple of weeks abroad, we'll probably also have managed at least one barbecue (between the showers) and attended a marriage or two.
Oh yes, and we did alright at the Olympics.
For me, though, one of the highlights of this summer was definitely the fact that Creamfields reached the ripe old age of 10.
For this special anniversary Creamfields transformed itself from the excellent night out it has always been to a 2 day music festival with on-site camping.
The music policy underwent a change as well.
Of course the world's top DJs were all there, as usual, headed up by Tiesto, Van Dyk, Prydz, Halliwell, Van Doorn, the Swedish House Mafia, etc etc, but this year, for the first time there was a roster of live bands who could have formed a mini festival on their own.
The Presets, Pendulum, Gossip, Kissy Sell out LIVE, Chic, Ian Brown, The Whip and Kasabian (amongst others) were all featured and the innovative and compelling 'Streetwaves' stage showcased some excellent young bands.
Streetwaves is an annual music competition, now organised by Liverpool City Council, and is a chance for talented, local, musicians aged between 14 and 25 to take their first step in the music industry, get advice from interested and supportive professionals and, ultimately, to gain invaluable performance experience and public exposure.
A series of heats is held in each Merseyside borough and each of Liverpool's five neighbourhood areas and the 'most ready' acts are given the chance to play at a series of high profile music events during the summer, including Creamfields.
In addition to this, as part of the 'Cities on the Edge' project, there were also bands from various European cities who had taken part in similar competitions in their own regions. The full roster of bands, over the 2 days, was as follows:
Bremen, Germany, ) Black Night Crash
Istanbul, Turkey:) Karavan
Marseille, France:) Les Alcoolytes
London:) Vocal Siblings
St Helens:) Red Orchestra
Knowsley:) Post War Wage Slaves
The Wirral:) The Dead Teddies
Liverpool City and North: Aspen Grove
Liverpool South:) Beaker Folk of the Bronze Age
Liverpool South Central:)Systems DMC
Liverpool Alt Valley:)The New Haze
Liverpool East:) The Little Hydes
Gdansk, Poland:) California Stories Uncovered
Naples, Italy:) Pipers
They all had their own unique style and, to be honest, varying degrees of technical and musical ability and stagecraft, but they all played with commitment and feeling .
It's invidious to say who was good and who was bad, because they were all good, but the bands I enjoyed then most were: Systems DMC; who had a wicked confection of punk, hip hop and freestyling that was as refreshing as it was entertaining; Beaker Folk of The Bronze Age, whose lyrics and guitar work impressed me a great deal, Aspen Grove, The Little Hydes and, finally, California Stories Uncovered, who were also very good and I would recommend you look them up.
With thanks to Gordon Ross.
'Being Silent Isn't Being Strong' is the message of the Campaign Against Living Dangerously and forms part of their approach to the problem of suicide amongst young men through the medium of music.
Cream has been involved with Calm since it started and are proud to support the extremely valuable work they do.
Around a thousand young men kill themselves every year and the hardest part of trying to reduce this number is the fact that men, traditionally, will not talk about their feelings and do not seek help when they need it.
They won't ring the Samaritans, their friends will just tell them to cheer up and talking to family members is often the hardest thing to do.
Providing an environment in which men can open up and discuss their feelings and concerns without fear of embarrassment and ridicule is a major first step.
C.A.L.M does this via the entertainment industry and particularly the music and comedy sectors.
They can be found at many festivals and other events where the men they are trying to help are likely to be.
Their aim is to be, as much as possible, available and accessible in the places that men go to enjoy themselves and, by doing so, become as much a fixture as all the other regular stalls we're all used to seeing and visiting.
The familiar isn't threatening and if men who are struggling with issues in their lives come to see CALM as 'part of the furniture' when they are out and about then, hopefully, they will also feel that they can take their first steps towards seeking the help they need.
With the support of top comedians like Steve Merchant and recording stars as diverse as Dizzee Rascal, Sasha, James Zabeila, Taio Cruz, Newton Faulkner and Rumble Strips and top sponsors including Cream, MTV and Topman C.A.L.M is providing a unique and valuable service and is worthy of your support.
Thanks to Simon Howes and his team. www.thecalmzone.net
If, like me, you go to rock festivals as well as dance festivals you will be familiar with the dance tent that many promoters (with the possible exception of Glastonbury, who have an entire dance village) provide as a sort of afterthought to the main attractions.
You know their heart isnât really in it because they donât bother, as a rule, to hire any really good DJs, or publicise that part of the event.
Iâve always thought this was extremely short-sighted because the majority of music lovers donât only like one specific musical genre.
Itâs perfectly possible to have a music collection ranging from ABBA to ZZ Top and be perfectly prepared to pay good money to see both of them on the same bill.
Conversely, there is absolutely no reason why anyone going to a dance music festival shouldnât expect, or even demand, to see their favourite rock bands appearing alongside their favourite DJs.
In years past regular Creamfielders have been blown away by the worldâs foremost dance acts, and DJs, and up and coming bands with a dance flavour to their music.
This year, however , the bar was substantially raised by the inclusion of Kasabian as festival headliners.
Now, I can only imagine the discussions that went on in the Kasabian camp when they were first approached to headline the countryâs leading dance music event.
I wonder whether they were nervous about being asked to be the first purely rock band to close Creamfields?
If they had any qualms at all it certainly didnât show in their performance.
Quite simply they were immense.
All their big hits were there and the lighting, sound and performances were first class.
The crowd absolutely loved it.
Presumably (hopefully) they are not going to be the last rock band to headline at Creamfields.
They have set an extremely high standard for those coming after them.
Also on the main stage on Sunday were 70âs/80âs super group and disco legends Chic who were joined by Nile Rodgers.
For those who donât know who Nile Rodgers is Iâm here to tell you that he is, quite simply, Mr Disco.
Think of a classic disco hit and it is very likely that Nile Rodgers had a hand in writing it, playing on it, or producing it.
He was a founder member and bass guitarist with Chic and penned hits for them including Le Freak, Everybody Dance and Good Times.
Other songs have been transformed into smash hits by the likes of Diana Ross and Sister Sledge, while Debbie Harry, Duran Duran, David Bowie, Madonna and Grace Jones have all had mega selling albums thanks to his guidance and production.
Their set was amazingly good.
Saturday night was also well catered for.
This yearâs festival whoreâs, Pendulum, have spent the summer blowing away capacity crowds at almost every major festival in Europe.
Their groundbreaking 2nd album âIn Silicoâ has not only been one of the best selling CDs of the year, so far, it has also brought drum and bass into the mainstream.
Whilst purists might quibble that their commercial success means theyâve sold out their fan base and abandoned their roots, it has to be said that they never were an underground act, as such, and their sound was never going to be constrained to back street clubs holding 300 people.
Their music is pure festival heaven and their current stage show will stand them in good stead for the next few years.
They also managed to play the longest version of âSlamâ anyone would ever want to hear. The night was finished off by Fat Boy Slim. There is very little to be said about Norman Cook that hasnât been said much better elsewhere and by better people. Suffice to say he did not disappoint.
Also, he has new album due out later this year and the word is that it features collaborations with Dizzee Rascal, amongst others. Well worth waiting for in my opinion.
Earlier that night The Presets did an excellent set and, despite the rain, Beth Ditto led Gossip in a rabble rousing hour of pure energy and commitment, while Simian Mobile Disco were also excellent.
As usual the Tidy tent was one of the busiest arenas and, luckily, wasnât plagued by noise level problems as it was last year!
All the usual suspects were there from the excellent Kym Ayres to Hard Dance Awards winner Alex Kidd (whoâs own festival Kiddstock, held on a farm in Co Durham in the middle of August featuring Yoji and Kutski amongst others, was a huge success).
With sterling sets from Matt Hardwick, Lisa Pinup, Amber D, Judge Jules and Rob Tissera, as well as the Tidy Boys (of course) and BK, Paul Maddox, JP & Jukesy and Kutski this was the best 13 hours of hard dance to be had anywhere on the planet this weekend.
Why people keep insisting that hard dance music is dying I have no idea. They must be mad.
Tidy are probably best known for their Tidy Weekenders and their 15th is due to take place at Pontinâs in Prestatyn, Wales, on October 3rd to 5th.
This will be the last Weekender held at Prestayn - Iâm not sure exactly why, but I suspect this is because of its increasing success and the fact that this particular Pontins just isnât big enough!
Radio 1 were very much in evidence this year with Annie Mac presenting both of her weekend shows from the site as well as hosting her own tent in association with Creamfields regulars Chibuku.
A great addition to their usual festival presence was the BBC Introducing bus.
This was a double-decker bus with decks installed up top and a succession of little known Djs took it in turns to play.
Highlights for me were Mistajam, Anton Powers and Rachel Barton who also did an excellent set in the Annie Mac Presents arena, where Clik Clik were also very good, and Judge Jules doing an excellent mini set with DJ Mog.
Annie Macâs own set was excellent too while Claude Von Stroke and Luciano surprised me with the depth and range of the music they played.
Plastic Little, the Whip and Midnight Juggernauts are surely on their way up the bill for next yearâs festival season having given confident, crowd pleasing performances.
The main tent is the heart and centre of Creamfields.
Itâs where youâd expect, of course, to find the cream of the worldâs DJs and this year was no exception.
Paul van Dyk and Eric Prydz were the main attractions on Saturday, preceded with excellent sets from Cream resident Gareth Wynn, Danny Howells, Hernan Cattaneo, some bloke called Pete Tong, James Zabiela and Sasha. All were outstanding.
For me though the main tent was at its best on Sunday night.
Check this out for a line-up:
Sander van Doorn
If that doesnât make you think youâve died and gone to music heaven then I donât know what will.
These 6, between them, played around 11 hours of the best trance and hard trance Iâve ever heard and it is testament to the quality of this list that there was hardly a square foot spare to fit anyone else in the tent.
Where else would you get around 7000 people in a big sweaty tent at 4pm on a Sunday afternoon?
Looking out from the stage at a never ending sea of faces and arms is one of the truly great festival experiences and when you get outstanding sets from Sander Van Doorn, Eddie Halliwell and Ferry Corsten; and then the truly legendary Paul Oakenfold on absolutely top form you know youâve been present at a unique event.
Then when the night is topped off by Tiesto itâs just pure gold.
All the old favourites were there, as well as works from his last couple of albums: Elements of Life and In Search of Sunrise 7 which heâs been showcasing at stadiums and arenas all over the world
With voting well underway for this yearâs DJ top 100 list itâs hard to see how anyone is going beat this man.
All in all this 10th anniversary Creamfields was a total success with the possible exception of the camping side of things, but even that was sorted out eventually and Iâm sure will go much more smoothly next year, especially if people are allowed to start pitching their tents on the Friday night instead of queuing for most of the day on Saturday.
For me it was made extra special by the amount of live music being played over the 2 days and Iâm very much looking forward to seeing how this is going to grow in the next couple of years.