The Good Life Experience – Day 1 Report

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“I ain’t living like I should, a little rest might do me good”. My co-conspirators and I have bunked over the wall from the rat race and while we may not care exactly where we go, we know we’re sure to get SOMEWHERE if only we walk long enough.

That SOMEWHERE lies beneath the ruined battlements of Hawarden Castle where The Good Life Experience welcomes us again as we cross that rickety bridge between summer and autumn. Three days of music, literature, the Great Outdoors and a lot more await.

Friday evening and who is that spinning the wax early doors? None other than the Mercurial Reverend himself, Jonathon Donahue. He’s flown in from The Catskills to be here this weekend due to the unique appeal of this special event in the North Wales region he loves and the tracks he plays give a good idea of the range of influences on Mercury Rev that have made them such an important band.

For those of us lucky enough to live locally and therefore not endure the hell of Friday motorways (which saw both artists and punters straggle in late) this is the time to stroll round the site, check out the different locations, meet old friends and see the first camp fires lit. The calm before the calmer.

The Caught by the River tent already has some sweet sounds coming down on the nightshift and the weekend line-up there promises so much more. Come closer and see, see into the trees. Take a stroll down through the woods and you will be rewarded in the shape of the Black Cow Saloon, a Western-style bar complete with swing doors and as much blue-grass and country sounds as your old West Virginian heart could desire.

But then the word goes out that the Doctor will see you now. Dr John Cooper Clarke takes to the stage on the threshold of a pretty monumental career move – none other than as a vocalist. His album collaboration with Hugh Cornwell will be released next month and it is an absolute belter, revealing hidden talents lurking below that loveably acerbic, Northern veneer.

Tonight however, the doctor is consulting via the medium of the spoken word. Old standards like Guest List and Get Back On Drugs along with his unique musings on life are delivered in his trademark machine gun style that certainly sets the evening alight.

Gordie Mackeeman and his Rhythm Boys are quite simply a phenomenon. Hailing from Prince Edward Island Canada, Not content with delivering roots and bluegrass as good as you’ll hear, the main man is leaping and jigging round the stage like a Royal Ballet-schooled grasshopper. The Mackeeman must have danced half the repertoire of River Dance before some folk had knocked the skin off their pint. What a sight, what a sound and, man, I still think those cats are crazy!

But now the creek is rising, and all my bridges burned, it’s time to grab what rest we can as tomorrow promises more riches.

Imagination is the only weapon in the war against reality and we’re armed to the teeth this weekend here in Hawarden.

Picture from The Good Life Experience

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