Lunar Festival review: Always interesting, often inspired

The main festival arena
The main festival arena

Peter Ormerod reviews day 2 of the Lunar Festival at Tanworth-in-Arden

It takes a certain kind of genius to schedule Television next to Bentley Rhythm Ace.

The former are all about the neat and tidy and clean and understated; the latter are all about the garish and brash and gaudy and flamboyant. The latter featured fire-eaters, feather-clad dancers and gold jackets; the former complained about being illuminated by some gently flashing lights (on the grounds that they’re “silly”).

But both were pretty magnificent in their deliciously different ways. Television, let by the compellingly unshowy Tom Verlaine, treated the evening crowd to a run-through of their landmark 1977 debut album Marquee Moon (no “best albums ever” list is complete without it). The crisp lines of its music and coolness of Verlaine’s vocals remain intact; music this fresh will never go stale, and its influence on decades of alt-rock is luminously evident.

Bentley Rhythm Ace obviously can’t compete in terms of legacy, so their position as closing act raised eyebrows. But it took mere seconds for them to justify their lofty placing on the bill. Everything was gleefully OTT; no law of good taste was left unbroken. It was all ludicrous and puerile but none the worse for that. They were joined by the vocalist from EMF, who recited the words from his act’s Unbelievable over BRA’s 1997 hit Bentley’s Gonna Sort You Out, in a moment of ‘90s indie-dance-pop alchemy. It was the musical equivalent of eating a ham and pineapple pizza topped with a Big Mac; there was nothing sophisticated about it, but, judging from the crowd’s euphoric reaction, it hit the spot.

It ended a day of frequent delights at this wondrously colourful, relaxed and friendly festival. Pick of the acts were Ibibio Sound Machine, an Anglo-Nigerian eight-piece combining African beats with electronica and fronted by Eno Williams, the best frontperson of the day. Also notable were Duke St Workshop, presenting HP Lovecraft’s gothic tales over doomy synths and beats.

Always interesting, often inspired, Lunar is swift becoming one of the best things about Warwickshire. Well done them.