Evolution - Forget the crowd, it’s about music

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Much is made of the make-up of the crowd at Evolution festival, so much that often it seems no one seems to mentions the music.

o, let’s get it out of the way. The majority of the audience is fluorescent-painted teenagers, baring more flesh than your average pole-dancer and spending most of their time bumping into people or falling over. For a 32-year-old man, who was feeling a little delicate myself, at times it got a bit much, so praise be for the mostly adult-populated VIP tent.

The crowds didn’t stop me from seeing the bands that I really wanted to (especially as I was about a foot taller than most of them).

On the first day I watched a glorious set by Sunderland’s The Lake Poets, who rose to the occasion brilliantly.

When I first saw the big, pitch-black stage, I thought the band’s main man Martin Longstaff and his black-clad bandmates would be a little lost. I needn’t have worried, the size of the stage and crowd seem to inspire Longstaff, who beefed up his usual folk songs with pedal steel, booming basslines and guitar solos. And it worked.

By the finale – debut single City By The Sea – pretty much all of the crowd were singing along (and filming it of course).

Later, on the same stage, hotly-tipped Irish lads The Strypes did their best Yardbirds impression.

The band of teenagers had plenty of attitude and are good musicians, but I didn’t find them to be the saviours of rock music, that some critics and big-name supporters are claiming them to be.

In fact, they reminded me a lot of The View, who broke through in a blaze of hype about eight years ago before pretty-much disappearing off the radar.

Decent tunes – all borrowed blues and R’n’B riffs – but not anywhere near as loud or incendiary as they should have been.

On the second day, indie kids Bastille drew a large crowd and finished their enjoyable set on a high with a cover of Snap’s 90s dance classic, Rhythm is a Dancer.

They were followed by man of the moment Jake Bugg – who has spent a year being compared to Bob Dylan and Oasis, but who I think sounds more like The La’s.

The 19-year-old played pretty much everything from his debut album, but given the festival atmosphere it was the louder, rockier songs that went down best.

Tracks like Two Fingers, Lightning Bolt and Taste It sounded brilliant, but slower numbers like Country Song lost the crowd a little.

One man who didn’t lose the crowd was the roof-top dancer who was watching Bugg’s set from outside the festival’s fence.

His performance, like a Byker Bez, drew gasps of disbelief and cheers from the crowd during Bugg’s lower points – though the Nottingham lad didn’t seem too impressed himself.

Evolution, an experience as always, with highs and lows like any other festival.

Paul Clifford