Not content with presenting us with a mere weekend of music, this year promoter Howard Monk and the team behind Crouch-End based The End Festival, extended the event over 11 days. Heady and ambitious stuff. There’s no point pretending it’s all gone like clockwork but that’s not what The End is all about. What the mega-fest has set out to do is prioritise thoughtful curation, presenting a multitude of genres and some familiar names mixed with emerging talent. That’s where the rewards lie.
If the opening weekend had a party atmosphere, weekday events turned things down a few notches for something more introspective – music to nurse a hangover by. It was good to see a big turnout at the King’s Head on Monday, where three folk bands were performing. I managed to catch Elephants and Castles’ lively and good-humoured opening act (see above).
Over at The Crypt, the recording studio provided the perfect up-close and personal setting for Nadine Khouri and her band. Khouri’s compositions are beautifully crafted, sophisticated and precise, overlaid with her soft, smokey vocals. Something of her style reminds me of Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval, with a touch of Marianne Faithful in her vocal quality, although she is an artist who very much treads her own path and can’t really be pigeonholed.
Howe Gelb played two nights, and has been one of the draws – and certainly one of the talking points – of the festival. I say he ‘played’ but in truth it’s his big personality and humour which override the music. On Monday night, he had just flown in from Arizona and was feeling jet-lagged, but this was no deterrent to his musings on everything from London to the troubles of failing eyesight. Rather than run through a setlist, we were treated to something equating to a ‘works in progress’ session.
Thursday at Earl Haig Hall was the scene for another unusual gig, with three artists coming together to play a mix of their compositions. To start things off, Romeo Stodart of The Magic Numbers played a solo set, which included The Pulse. and his latest number Lost Children. Joining him on stage for a rendition of Neil Young’s Cowgirl in the Sand was former Suede guitarist Bernard Butler.
Later, Stodart performed with singer-songwriter Ren Harvieu – the two have a strong connection and have co-written a collection of songs over the years – Butler joined them on stage at the end too.
The End festival isn’t quite over. Come and enjoy the finale on Sunday 22nd for a ‘weird folk alldayer’ called The Feast of St Cecilia, at Earl Haig Hall. Tickets are £10 for the day.
For the final Sunday of music (12 noon to 11pm) check it out here