Now into its fourth year, Fes­ti­val Num­ber 6 feels as if it has ful­ly got into its stride. It offers a dizzy­ing array of intel­li­gent­ly-curat­ed events, from bands and DJs to com­e­dy, night­time pro­ces­sions, work­shops and talks, plus some­thing this fes­ti­val has come to  excel in – inter­views and inti­mate per­for­mances by a hand­ful of the main-stage artists.

Not that you have to spend your day rush­ing in wild-eyed fash­ion from one event to the next. you could just opt to enjoy the set­ting and go with the flow, as Port­meiri­on’s Ital­ianate vil­lage, wood­land areas and estu­ary are astound­ing­ly beau­ti­ful. I did talk to a few fes­ti­val goers who had dis­pensed with any set agen­da, and instead had spent their week­end saun­ter­ing round, soak­ing in the atmos­phere and enjoy­ing ran­dom events they just hap­pen to have come across.

Fri­day’s high­lights includ­ed a rare inter­view with Deb­bie Cur­tis. It has always been dif­fi­cult for Ian Cur­tis’s wid­ow, thrust into a spot­light she nev­er want­ed. This was a gen­tle inter­view in which she talked about Ian, his music and their rela­tion­ship. Twen­ty-four Hours was the song with the most emo­tion­al lyrics for Deb­bie – hence the title of the talk, So This is Permanence.

Curtis interview
Deb­bie Cur­tis, inter­view at the Estu­ary Stage

Joy Divi­sion were ref­er­enced again on Sat­ur­day dur­ing one of the most pop­u­lar events of the fes­ti­val, an after­noon appear­ance by Steve Coogan in con­ver­sa­tion with Amy Raphael, which end­ed with an audi­ence Q&A ses­sion. Among the more humor­ous sub­jects were inevitable ques­tions about the Labour Par­ty, and the wel­come news that a third series of The Trip with Rob Bry­don is hope­ful­ly under way – the loca­tion for their gas­tro­nom­ic sam­plings still to be decid­ed. The mer­its of liv­ing in a soft water area (bet­ter for tea-mak­ing) as opposed to hard water saw Steve talk­ing with much enthu­si­asm – and he also reit­er­at­ed his par­tic­u­lar fond­ness for Joy Division.

Steve Coogan at the piazza
Steve Coogan at the piazza


Ear­ly evening saw a packed-out tent for an appear­ance by the bril­liant­ly indi­vid­ual British Sea Pow­er. This was a pow­er­ful per­for­mance, a sequence of rous­ing num­bers, open­ing with Machiner­ies of Joy, through Wav­ing Flags to the emo­tive instru­men­tal The Great Skua. The tent worked well for them, con­cen­trat­ing and inten­si­fy­ing their emo­tive sound. Oh for a longer set.

Head­lin­ers Belle and Sebas­t­ian wise­ly start­ed with some of their danci­er num­bers to cre­ate a Sat­ur­day evening par­ty mood with num­bers like Allie and The Par­ty Line. Stu­art Mur­doch was on talk­a­tive form and called audi­ence mem­bers onto the stage to add to the atmosphere.

Port­meiri­on’s Town Hall with its wood pan­elling and carv­ings was the ide­al set­ting for a series of inti­mate con­certs. For the fourth year run­ning, com­pos­er-in-res­i­dence Joe Dud­dell with the No 6 ensem­ble col­lab­o­rat­ed with sev­er­al of the artists. With space inside for only around 100, long queues formed for these pop­u­lar events way ahead of time, and many were turned away. On Sun­day after­noon, Gaz Coombes was the fea­tured artist in con­cert ahead of his main-stage act, per­form­ing with the Fes­ti­val No 6 ensem­ble, and per­formed around eight songs, includ­ing Mata­dor and Buf­fa­lo from his sec­ond solo album.



It is no won­der that Man­ches­ter band James con­tin­ue to have such a huge fol­low­ing. The band’s well-known old­er mate­r­i­al has eter­nal appeal and the new­er num­bers do not dis­ap­point. Last year’s album, La Petite Mort, con­tains songs with a strong­ly intro­spec­tive feel, such as Curse Curse. The set seemed some­what short, but things were already gear­ing up for the main head­line act, amus­ing­ly referred to by Booth who com­ment­ed on Grace Jones’ demand­ing rid­er – whether true or not we will nev­er know.

And so to the final main stage act. “Heeee-e-e-e-re’s Grace!” Unlike every oth­er act so far, the stage’s cur­tains are dra­mat­i­cal­ly closed while the stage is pre­pared. And unlike oth­er acts, she’s late – just enough to remind us of her super­star sta­tus. But final­ly the cur­tains sweep open – and what is patent­ly evi­dent is that Grace has not been dimin­ished by age… far from it. The style, the ath­leti­cism and the sheer utter mag­net­ic show­man­ship are all there, her voice only mar­gin­al­ly strain­ing a touch.


Much of the set fea­tures crowd pleasers – Night­club­bing, My Jamaican Guy, each one with an impres­sive cos­tume and head­dress change, her body adorned with body paint. Grace swag­gers and sashays around the stage, this woman is fear­less and wonderful.

For the finale, Slave to the Rhythm, Grace per­forms her hula-hoop rou­tine. Toward the end of the song, the hula-hoop almost invis­i­bly spin­ning round her waist, she intro­duces her band, which includes her son. There’s also a round of applause for her slinky, ath­let­ic male pole dancer. Her per­for­mance comes to an end amid show­ers of gold glit­ter falling like rain, puffs of gold­en smoke and those ‘Pris­on­er’ style large white balloons.

Grace Jones on the Main Stage
Grace Jones on the Main Stage

Of the many oth­er events over the week­end, there was a North­ern Soul Dance class and an inter­view with Elaine Con­stan­tine, direc­tor of the North­ern Soul film. Mark Ron­son was just one of the many DJs play­ing late into the night. Last year’s Vil­lage Lim­its dance pon­toon set in a pic­turesque clear­ing in the woods was in oper­a­tion again, a per­fect spot for a mid-after­noon dance in the Sep­tem­ber sun. 2014’s Welsh food mar­ket, sit­u­at­ed in the wood­ed area between the are­na and the vil­lage, has been replaced with a relaxed area called The Vil­lage Green with cafes, hay bales for seat­ing, pop-up bands and a selec­tion of food retail­ers. And the rous­ing voic­es of The Bry­thion­aid Male Voice Choir filled the Piaz­za sev­er­al times over the week­end, they have become a wel­come ‘fes­ti­val insti­tu­tion’, giv­ing the event, and the cen­tral Piaz­za, a defin­ing focus.

Arriving at Festival No 6

So – after so many superla­tives, are there any down­sides to Fes­ti­val No 6? The begin­ning is not very promis­ing. Due to its loca­tion, all car park­ing is at near­by town Porth­madog’s rug­by club. Depend­ing on the time you arrive, queues form for park­ing. After leav­ing your car, you drag all your stuff (ALL of it – there’s not real­ly any ‘going back to the car’ as it’s a has­sle to do more park and rides), to anoth­er queue which can last over two hours, to be processed through wrist­band exchange, and then to the car park for a coach to the site. My advice is to try and avoid 12–4pm on Fri­day. Those arriv­ing ear­ly Fri­day appar­ent­ly breezed through. Drinks are some­what over­priced, espe­cial­ly the cider. I was expect­ing a pint and instead got a ring-pull can cost­ing over £4.

Read about Fes­ti­val No 6 2014 here (this was a small­er event – 10,000 as opposed to this year’s 15,000). Did you find this year too crowd­ed, or was the Fes­ti­val No 6 mag­ic still there?

village limits festival No 6
Vil­lage Limits

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