Sunday is unabashedly fun day at Bearded Theory. Proceedings kick off with Mr Motivator and a mass exercise session at the Woodland stage at the unearthly hour of 12 noon, and the place is packed out – Mr Motivator’s appeal is clearly undimmed. There’s so much to celebrate today. Firstly those threatening rainclouds are beating a retreat. It’s also Pirate dress-up day, beard competition, and a day of great music stretches before us.
He’s also carrying a Lego mug and a Lego phone cover, so this appears to be a genuine obsession. I predict a winner.
The competition kicks off at 2pm, with Mr Motivator taking charge of the proceedings. And Bruce does indeed win! Magical Sounds on Sunday is a global feast, with dance sounds from the Scottish Highlands down to the Indian subcontinent. Grousebeater Soundsystem with their atmospheric pipes, have a touch of the Monster Ceilidh Band’s Celtic/dance fusion going on. This set is followed by the fantastic Dr Trippy who presides over a compulsively dancey set, playing what he terms ‘Punjabi swamp’ – a primarily Indian dub mix. Heading back to the main stage I get a welcome text from a friend: THE PUPPETS ARE IN THE DANCE TENT! At last… so it’s back to the Magical Sounds for more dancing action with Bearded Theory’s puppets, who have been a bit elusive this year. Later, the tent plays host to a wonderful set from Transglobal Underground collective.
The Beat perform a stunning set, with Ranking Roger and his son on vocals, energising the Pallet stage with a mix of numbers old and new, such as Hands off She’s Mine and Doors of Your Heart.
Sunday’s headliner is James. There’s no time for a slow build, it’s straight into it with the first number Sit Down (taken off the set list for a couple of years, so Tim Booth tells us), and he wastes no time in rushing to the front of the stage, almost disappearing into the clearly adoring crowd. How is he going to follow this? I ask myself. But the hits.. and the power of the new album overcome any misgivings. The second song is Curse, Curse from the latest album in 2014 La Petite Mort. As Tim Booth says, “this is no nostalgia tour”. Tracks from the new album reveal a band in full second flowering. Numbers range from more recent work to back in time. And as we reach the final numbers, a giant firework display kicks off. We’re singing “Sometimes when I look deep in your eyes, I swear I can see your soul…‘, the fireworks are bursting into the sky, and suddenly I realize we’ve almost reached the end of the festival. Yep, a lump in the throat.. oh pull yourself together.
There’s always a magic ingredient that defines the best festivals, and Bearded Theory has whatever it is. This year felt like a special one with the new site now feeling like home. It’s a mix of the music – a mix of old-school bands, new acts and a psychedelically groovy dance tent – plus the fancy dress and beards, and the great family entertainment, but what seems to define it more than anything is the most fun, kind and friendly people I’ve ever encountered at any festival. Here’s to Bearded Theory for 2015… and onwards till the next one. There were loads and loads more bands… too many to mention here, so I’ll be adding more photos of Bearded Theory to the site soon… If you enjoyed reading my review please ‘like’ it, leave a comment or follow on Facebook, thanks!
For more photos of Bearded Theory Festival over the years, visit www.samdawsonphotography.co.uk