No one quite encapsulates the mood of Nottingham’s Splendour Festival like DHP Family owner George Akins:
“Ten years ago Nottingham City Council and DHP decided to start a festival for the people of Nottingham, an event to showcase some of our talented local musicians and bring some of the world’s best talent to the area.”
As the festival reaches its ten year anniversary, perhaps now is the best time to step back and remember all that has made its first decade so successful, whether it be musically, or through its celebration of Nottingham’s diverse local community.
Kate Nash; The Charlatans; Ocean Colour Scene; Paolo Nutini; Rufus Wainwright; Lemonheads
The first edition of Splendour is now a decade in the past, though the names and complexity of its first edition have stood the test of time. Kate Nash, who at the time was touring in support of seminal debut “Made of Bricks,” headlined the festival’s opening night. Hits such as ‘Foundations’ come to mind, she has since gone on to achieve even further success, though it is her activism and political support which truly makes her standout.
Also on the line up was The Charlatans, the famous West Midland outfit who symbolically feature on this year’s anniversary line up. At a time when they were picking up support slots at stadiums with The Who and The Rolling Stones, it is clear that the Britpop rockers have since gone on to reinvent themselves with critical success, lead singer Tim Burgess’ re-imagination of music, technology and culture in the past decade is nothing short of impressive.
Madness; The Pogues; Fun Lovin’ Criminals; The Rifles; Kid British; Dog is Dead
2009, the second edition of the festival which is often the most challenging for any festival organiser, just ask DHP. Following the success of its first edition, Splendour pulled out all the stops to make 2009 one of the most memorable of all. Madness, the legendary Camden Ska outfit, headlined. They at the time were touring in support of “The Dangermen Sessions Vol. 1,” their highest chart position in the UK since 1984.
With far more emphasis on rock and alternative sounds than previous years, The Pogues also topped a line up with a live outing which these days have become far too rare. In fact, health issues have mean that the Irish-British punk band haven’t performed in almost four years.
2009 was also the first sign of a promising local Nottingham band gracing the festival stage with Dog is Dead making their festival debut. Their first Splendour set was a real turning point for the band and also symbolic for the festival too, it has since grown into being a starting point for many local artists on the festival circuit.
Pet Shop Boys; Calvin Harris; Dog is Dead
The grooves of electronic music came to the park in 2010, a fortunate and exciting mish mash of mainstream success and a vibrant community spirit. Pet Shop Boys, having just released critically acclaimed tenth studio album “Yes” were on fine form. ‘Love Etc’ still proves to be a festival highlight, in many ways it is still one of their best collection of studio tracks to date. Just a year after they received received the British Phonographic Industry’s outstanding contribution to British music at the 2009 Brit Awards, some might say that there was no better time to catch the duo in a festival setting.
Calvin Harris also featured, by no means as famous as he is now though the Scotsman was generally referred to as the ‘next big thing’ in the chart industry. “Ready for the Weekend” had just topped the charts, the album truly propelled him to international status. Harris is arguably one of the most successful names to ever grace the now famous Splendour stage.
Scissor Sisters; Blondie; Feeder; The Bluetones; Dog is Dead; Jake Bugg
Scissor Sisters and Feeder may not have been the alternative music fans cup of tea, but it was clear that the 2011 version of Splendour truly catered to a wide range of music fans. In fact, the festival has since gone on to boast one of the broadest array of musical genres any UK festival has to offer. It is such diversity which makes the festival so welcoming. With the legendary Blondie thrown in for good measure, 2011 proves that Splendour could compete with the best.
However, 2011 will always be known as Jake Bugg’s Splendour debut, a turning point in his career. In fact, it symbolised the beginning of a period which propelled Nottingham’s healthy music scene to national prominence. Here’s Bugg’s thoughts on the Wollaton Park festival:
“I have great memories of Splendour. I had been a few times as a music fan and then I was invited to play at the festival in the early days of my career, so to headline it in my home town remains a career highlight for me. Congratulations on the 10th anniversary!”
Dizzee Rascal; Razorlight; Jake Bugg; Childhood; Saint Raymond
Dizzee Rascal’s headline set saw a change in proceedings at Splendour, think Jay-Z at Glastonbury a few years preceding it. The grime star ultimately went on to produce one of the festivals greatest ever performances, a real up-beat moment for a huge summers day. Tracks such as “Bonkers” and “Holiday” were each anthemic, ultimately summing up the euphoria felt by the whole country during a memorable Olympic year.
Once again, Splendour played home to local talent. This time it was Saint Raymond’s turn to make his festival debut. Speaking quite fondly, Raymond says: “I love this festival; it was such a great experience working my way up from playing the smallest stage to getting to play the main stage and especially to a Notts crowd who are always the best! Here’s to another 10 years of great music at Splendour!”
Jake Bugg; Squeeze; Maximo Park; Peter Hook & The Light; Kagoule
With a headline set from Jake Bugg, it was clear that Nottingham held its own in the upper divisions of British music. Bugg, who’s debut had already made it to the top of the UK album charts. ‘Two Fingers’ was nothing less than a game changing anthem, and 2013’s “Shangri-La” was already penned for quick release. The city was euphoric, Bugg symbolised all the ethics of it’s flourishing music scene.
Special mention must be made for Maximo Park, who’s indie hits were not just impressive but a combination of catchy guitar riffs and uncle-like dance moves meant that their set was memorable for all the right reasons.
Tom Odell; Happy Mondays; Reverend & The Makers; The Rifles; Amber Run
2014 saw the festival return to its indie, alternative routes with the likes of Tom Odell and Happy Mondays topping the bill, there really was something for everyone and Splendour once more routed itself as a spectacular family day out.
At this point, Tom Odell was a year into supporting hit debut record “Long Way Down,” Despite a 0/10 review from an already dying NME, hits such as ‘Can’t Pretend’ and ‘Another Love’ were both memorable in the Splendour setting.
The Specials; James; The Twang; Ferocious Dog; Georgie
The Specials are one of the country’s seminal bands, their punk/ska sound redefined a generation and soundtracked much of the 80s. ‘A Message To You Rudy’ and ‘Ghost Town’ were true festival favourites, providing the backbone to a Splendour which once more played true to its more alternative routes.
James and The Twang are each cult bands in themselves, though it was the inclusion of Georgie which brought the biggest smile to DHP’s metaphorical faces. Having gone on to support the likes of Jake Bugg and Blossoms, Splendour ones more proves to be the perfect testing ground for an upcoming artist like the Nottingham born singer/songwriter.
Jess Glynne; The Human League; Super Furniture; The Darkness; The Fratellis; The Rifles
2016 Splendour proved that it catered to the whole family, no doubt enhanced by its now extensive family zones and food line-up. Jess Glynne, the London based singer songwriter, topped the bill in an expressive display of female empowerment. In fact, Splendour have always strived to achieve a gender and genre diverse line up to welcome response.
Super Furniture, the upbeat Nottingham indie band, also took to the festival for the first time. They soon headline the city’s Rescue Rooms venue in their own right, a band who truly have the potential to go far!
Kaiser Chiefs; Busted; Georgie; Billy Ocean; British Sea Power; Black Grape; Buzzcocks
If Splendour prides itself upon genre diversity then 2017 was its best year yet. Kaiser Chiefs, the indie rocks legends, topped the line up with hits such as ‘Ruby’ and ‘I Predict a Riot.’ Buzzcocks, who’s ‘Ever Fallen in Love’ is widely regarded as one of the greatest alternative songs of all time, also featured.
It was Busted, who’s recent reunion was totally unexpected, who brought much cheer to the younger Splendour goers. In recent times, it is the festival’s devotion to accessibility for family’s and the younger music fan which makes it so special.
Splendour returns in 2018 having had more than 300 acts have grace its stages throughout its 10-year history as it has doubled in size and grown to be the party of the summer for the city and beyond.
The stage is now set for the special 10th anniversary, with award-winning singer-songwriter Paloma Faith headlining, alongside indie rockers The Charlatans – who made their Splendour debut 10 years ago. Joining them at the event will be influential quartet The Stranglers, who have an incredible 17 top 40 albums to their name; Soft Cell frontman Marc Almond; Björn Again performing ABBA’s hits; pop sensation Sophie Ellis-Bextor and feel-good vibes from indie pop band Peace, plus many more.
Check out the full line up and ticket details via the link below:
Images via: Marcus Holdsworth, Mark Fear, Jemma Cox, Nottingham Post, Bob Thacker, Lamar Francois