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Cohesion Live

The sun shone, the bands played and the crowd were great. It was Cohesion Live, Manchester’s biggest and newest music festival…

Published on September 25th 2006.

Cohesion Live
Now normal laws of science and common sense would tell you to wrap up warm and dig out your wellies for an outdoor festival at the end of September. But global warming does have its upsides, and the sun shone gloriously down on Platt Fields Park on Saturday afternoon as the music lovers of Manchester gathered together for Cohesion Live.

Cohesion was a one day festival backed by Xfm and organised to raise money to help complete the Manchester Peace Park in Kosovo. Constant reminders throughout the day ensured that the cause was never far away from the thoughts of festival goers.

Saranda Bogujevci, the 21 year old who came to Manchester after surviving the horrific massacre of her family in Kosovo in 1999, was simply amazing in her optimism and good cheer as she addressed the crowd to thank them for their support and tell us a little more about the cause.

The festival had an extremely laid back, convivial feel to it, partly to do with the charitable cause, partly to do with the sunny weather, and, I’ll admit, probably partly to do with the alcohol. The crowd were amazing, with not a spot of trouble all day.

Arriving a little later than planned due to the irresistible allure of Trof, we were surprised to find Platt Fields quite sparsely populated, with a comparatively small crowd around the main stage and groups of people spread out around the park relaxing in the sun to the sounds of Andy Rourke’s DJ set. Then we saw the beer queue. Ah. That’s where everyone is.

The queue at the bar drove us to the waltzers...

In such cases as these there’s really only one thing to do. Go on the waltzers, of course. A disorientating five minutes later we stumbled down the wooden steps to join the queue for the bar - which was still unfortunately about three years long. But here’s the clever bit – at Cohesion they were serving plastic bottles of Carlsberg with screw lids, so we were able to fill our bags with bottles to last us throughout the day without any need for a repeat visit to the bar. This did unfortunately result in warm beer, but it was a sacrifice that we were prepared to make.

So, taking our supply of beer we went to find ourselves a patch in the sun, from where we could see Graham Coxon who was just shuffling onto the stage. Graham Coxon was really, well, Graham Coxon-y. His short, lively set consisted of a crowd pleasing smattering of old and new tracks, which all, let’s be honest, sound remarkably similar to each other but were lovingly received.

As Coxon’s roadies were clearing the equipment off the stage in preparation for a DJ set from Doves, Manchester staple Stephen Fretwell jumped onto the stage to treat the crowd to a short impromptu set and show off some new tracks.

The main stage

There had been some dispute as to who was going to headline the festival, with the two biggest players on the day being equally unwilling to take the responsibility. But the task fell to Badly Drawn Boy, with Elbow taking second place. Elbow’s performance certainly wasn’t second rate however, and they blew the crowd away with their magical, atmospheric and haunting music. They really are a band that you can’t truly appreciate until you’ve seen them live.

And then, Badly Drawn Boy. What can I say, except for ‘omigod!’ Badly Drawn Boy is the one act that never fails to turn me into the geekiest fan in the crowd, jumping around right at the front, clapping like a maniac and singing at the top of my voice. Thankfully though, I resisted all urges to shout ‘I love you Damon’ and left with at least some dignity in tact - unlike the time that I got the opportunity to speak to him last year but succeeded in spilling my snakebite all over the place and skulking off in embarrassment. But that’s a story for another time.

He began by playing a few new tracks, from his forthcoming album ‘Born in the UK’, which sounded like a real return to form after the commercial blip of ‘One Plus One is One’. It’s hard to get too excited about songs the first time you hear them however, no matter how good they are, so it was to much delight from the crowd that Badly Drawn Boy began on a stint of classics from his first three albums, with stand out moments including a beautiful rendition of Magic in the Air, the ever enduring Silent Sigh, and even a pretty special version of Like a Virgin.

Other highlights from the day included I am Kloot and Lou Rhodes, and a second stage headlined by The Longcut with appearances from the KBC, Sunshine Underground, and loads more.

The organisers of Cohesion are hoping to turn this into an annual event, and from the way things went on Saturday, this can only be a good thing. Let’s just hope that they manage to do something about those queues in time for next year – a few more toilet cubicles certainly wouldn’t go amiss. Minor grumbles aside though, Cohesion Live was a fantastic success, a credit to Manchester, and a perfect way to see out the summer.

For more pictures of the day, click here to view Xfm’s image gallery. .

Jayne Robinson
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