A cricket ground may well be the last place you’d imagine seeing musical legend John Lydon, but with Split festival in its 4th year at Ashbrooke Sports Ground, perhaps, in reality it’s nowhere near as surprising as originally thought. With headlining slots taken by legends Public Image Ltd. And local heroes (as well as festival organisers) The Futureheads, this year’s festival was set to be a success before the beginning of the weekend.
The whole ‘local music’ thing can easily be the worst thing in the world, forcibly liking bands because you share the same heritage isn’t always the most convincing way of partaking in a fan base (I say this with bitterness, as a non-north-east native; completely jealous of the endless brilliant local acts on offer) and yet Split festival offers the perfect balance of local favourites and everyone’s favourites (I may or may not be talking about Field Music, depending on individual preference). It’s fair to say that Saturday’s excitement surrounded one band in particular; Public Image Ltd. The crowd filled the main tent. Stomachs full of the Tibetan curry and beers in hand, festival-goers in awe of John Lydon’s surprising enthusiasm for Sunderland as PiL played their way through a crowd-pleasing set including songs like ‘This Is Not A Love Song’ and ‘One Drop’.
Other highlights included Yorkshire’s contribution to the festival; Leeds rockers Pulled Apart By Horses as well as Chapman Family, not to mention the ever-fantastic closing set from The Futureheads, whose clever mix of a capella and acoustic tracks from recent album Rant, with favourites like Beginning of the Twist and Decent Days and Nights. The Futureheads are fast becoming local treasures (if not already)and a band that Split are fortunate enough to have in organising roles.
Split festival is eclectic music brilliance. It may play along to the annoying cliché ‘there’s something for everyone’, but in reality as unimaginative as it is to say so, that’s all we want and need from a festival, isn’t it?