Following its absence from the UK festival circuit last year Hardwick Live returned this weekend with a jam-packed line-up of entertainment deep in the heart of County Durham. 

The two-day event was hosted at Hardwick Hall Hotel in Sedgefield, situated about twenty minutes south of Durham City. The event welcomed capacity crowds both days.

This was not your typical festival site or muddy field that festival punters have come to expect; situated inside of the grounds of the prestigious hotel and bordered by a beautiful country park, gave the festival site a stunning vista that overlooked the picturesque Hardwick Park Lake. Mother Nature also played ball this weekend with some glorious weather throughout.

Hardwick Live catered for everyone with a variety of accommodation and camping options as well upmarket refreshment outlets that included a Champagne marque, a Gin Palace, a 40-metre main bar and a Real Ale bar.

The diverse array of entertainment on display was also bountiful with artists spanning the whole spectrum of musical genres. If music wasn’t your thing you could always watch a bit of stand-up comedy, take a ride at the on-site fairground – waltzers, dodgems and all or indulge in your favourite beverage of choice.

The opening night was headlined by legendary 2 Tone/Ska outfit Madness who most certainly brought out the crowd. Many of whom were bedecked in their suits, shades, as well as fezzes galore.

On a day where we lost one of Britain’s most beloved entertainers, Bruce Forsyth, the band rather fittingly paid tribute to the great man himself throughout the show.  Hailing from Camden Town, Madness also performed a heartfelt homage to one of their hometown’s most dearly missed vocalists Amy Winehouse with their song “Blackbird”.

With a career spanning over 40 years, the band’s timeless anthems have been the soundtrack to everyday life since their formation in 1976 through their countless appearances on TV and Radio. Tracks like set opener “Embarrassment”, “One Step Beyond”, “House of Fun” and “Baggy Trousers” most certainly got the Hardwick crowd moving. Madness proved to be the perfect way to round out the first day of the festival.

The cream of the North East music scene was also well and truly represented over the course of the weekend; artists from all corners of the region featured on the bill. From the Main Stage to the Discovery Stage the likes of Cattle and Cane, Smoove and Turrell, The Pale White, Fletcher Jackson Band, The Voluntears, Hayley McKay and Weekend Sun wowed the Hardwick crowd at the two-day event.

Carrying on with the Camden Town connection of the previous day one of the UK’s most successful urban acts Soul II Soul captivated festival goers on Saturday afternoon with their distinctive brand of R&B. Having spent 30 years in the game the band featuring legendary British DJ/Producer Jazzie B and the unmistakable vocals of Caron Wheeler, were accompanied by a huge ensemble of musicians who took the crowd through their 90s hits like “Keep On Movin’”, “Back To Life” and “Jazzie’s Groove” and also spread some love in the process.

Mid-afternoon influential punk band The Buzzcocks rocked the main stage, as they blasted through a lively set of explosive classics that culminated in their hit single “Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t Have)”.

Anglo American trio the Fun Lovin Criminals oozed cool as the festival progressed into Saturday evening. The band delivered very much a greatest hits set of crowd-pleasing numbers like “Scooby Snacks”, “Classic Fantastic” and the incredibly chilled out “Up On The Hill” from their sophomore album 100% Colombian. Being a family-friendly event Fun Lovin Criminal’s frontman Huey Morgan declared to the Sedgefield crowd that he now watches his language since the trio all became dads.

As night fell Pete Doherty took to the stage and belted through a short but sweet set which featured a combination of tracks from his solo career like “I Don’t Love Anyone (But You’re Not Just Anyone)”, “Fuck Forever” by Babyshambles and “You’re My Waterloo” by The Libertines.

Due to an earlier power cut in the day, Pete’s set was cut short, sparking Doherty to throw both his guitar and the microphone stand into the crowd in true rock and roll fashion. However, the audience didn’t seem to mind as they scrambled to take a souvenir away from the event.

Legendary Midlands based Britpop quartet Ocean Colour Scene topped the bill on Saturday as they closed out the festival. The band brought with them in tow a whole raft of 90s indie hits.

Ocean Colour Scene kicked off the show with the anthemic “Riverboat Song”, which was followed in quick succession with classics like “You’ve Got It Bad” and “The Circle” from their seminal album Moseley Shoals. The latter of which marked its 21st anniversary this year. The band also later welcomed Pete Doherty to the stage to sing with front man Simon Fowler on “Robin Hood”, much to the crowd’s pleasing.

Over the course of the weekend, this boutique festival had something for everyone. We look forward to more of what is to come when the festival returns next year.

Hardwick Live
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Event Date: 18/19-Aug-2017

About The Author

Adam Kennedy is an experienced music photographer based in northeast England. He has been shooting concerts for several years, predominantly with the band Vintage Trouble. In 2013, he was one of their tour photographers, covering the UK and Ireland tour including the headline shows and as opening act for The Who. As an accomplished concert photographer, Adam's work has been featured in print such as, Classic Rock Blues Magazine, Guitarist Magazine, Blues in Britain magazine, broadcast on the MDA Telethon on ABC Television in the US, used in billboard advertising for Renaissance Hotels in the US, and featured online via music blogs such as Uber Rock and Guitar Planet. He is also the official photographer at Newcastle Rock and Blues Club.

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