Review: Festival No. 6, Portmeirion, Gwynedd

Reporter:

Jamie Bowman

THE general feeling about this year's Festival No 6 was that the organisers deserved some luck following 2016's disastrous scenes which left thousands of revelers stranded after torrential rain flooded the site's low lying car park.

As the sun shone on the event's first day it looked liked they just might get it with punters welcomed with an efficient  park and ride system which saw festival goers ferried by coach from Llwyn Mafon Uchaf, high in the hills above Criccieth to the stunning and surreal surroundings of Portmeirion's famous village designed and built by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis between 1925 and 1975

Once there the rewards were many. The Gatehouse stage witnesses a charming acoustic set from Badly Drawn Boy as he celebrated the release of a new film about his classic 2000 album The Hour of Bewilderbeast. 

Under blue skies and the backdrop of undulating hills and the silvery waters of River Dwyryd, the festival's main stage witnessed a great set from Manchester all-female four-piece PINS whose riotous New York-style glitter punk is a glorious fuzzed up sound clash of guitars and drums.

Toy's dense and strung-out sounding hooks and melodies drift by in the late afternoon sun before ex Beta Band frontman Steve Mason performed one of the sets of the weekend with the shuffling pop and hook filled songs from his Meet The Humans album.

Over at The Central Piazza, festival favourites the Brythoniaid Male Voice Choir impress with their stirring renditions of Elbow's On A Day Like This and Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau. Main stage headliners Mogwai meanwhile delve into their 20 year career for a fan pleasing set of slow-building instrumental tracks and explosive distortion.

As tent flaps are zipped up on the Friday night the inevitable occurs and an all-night deluge soaks the site with further downfalls a now regular occurrence between frustratingly tantalising bursts of sun. It leaves many scurrying to watch bands appearing inside and in the opulent confines of Portmeirion town hall Palace reward the damp throng with a soothing set of orchestral country with the help of composer-in-residence Joe Duddell and an eight piece classical ensemble.

The Tim Peaks Diner is ideally situated in the fine real ale tent and it's here where hotly-tipped Doncaster hell-raisers The Blinders wow the crowd with a frankly terrifying at times combination of visceral Birthday Party-style psych blues and Jim Morrison-aping anti-establishment rants. 

Later on the same marquee is packed to the gills for an emotional Bowie vs Prince party from Welsh writer and DJ Simon Price as tune after tune pays tribute to the two recently-passed legends. 

By Sunday it's hard to escape the fact the weather is awful. Howling winds and squally showers force many to head for the exits before The Flaming Lips close the festival with a riot of costume changes, inflatable robots and the now customary sight of frontman Wayne Coyne in his man-sized hamster ball. 

As bizarre and inventive as the 60s show which inspired its name, Festival No 6 deserves more than being a prisoner to the weather. Finger's crossed for next year. 

 

 

 

 

Email:

jamie.bowman@nwn.co.uk

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