Not con­tent with pre­sent­ing us with a mere week­end of music, this year pro­mot­er Howard Monk and the team behind The End Fes­ti­val, set in Crouch End, 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 per­formed. 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.

Nadine Khouri

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 humourous chat 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.

Howe Gelb

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.

Romeo Butler The End Festival

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 all-day­er’ called The Feast of St Cecil­ia, at Earl Haig Hall. Tick­ets are £10 for the day.

Feast of St Cecilia

For the final Sun­day of music (12 noon to 11pm) check it out here

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