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Mad Ferret festival review

Lynda Moyo finds that Mad Ferret is more than Finley Quaye anyway

Written by . Published on June 15th 2009.

Mad Ferret festival review

Festivals have become a bit like gossip magazines. You've seen one, you've seen them all. It's the same artists and celebs doing the rounds time and time again. Still, many people, including myself, can't help but 'do' as many festivals as holidays allow. What with the atmosphere, the weather, the way crap van food tastes so good and, not least, the manner in which sane people dress like they've time-warped from Woodstock, means you can’t help but contract festival fever.

The young Mad Ferret Festival put on its rubber ring this weekend and threw itself into the deep end of festival market saturation. What sets it aside from the others is the fact you don't have to travel to the back of beyond to get to it; it's in Platt Fields Park in Fallowfield.

Big acts on the list for second birthday weekend, which began straight after work at 5.15pm on Friday, included Finley Quaye, Roots Manuva, The Streets, Filthy Dukes, The Travelling Band and Kidkanevil on the main stage. Pendulum, DJ Hype and Subfocus took control of the Metropolis Arena tent for the ravers on the opening night, with Stanton Warriors on the Saturday.

With the sun blazing and everything going to plan the former student organizers must have been throwing their old graduation caps into the clear blue sky at having mastered the art of festival organisation.

Unfortunately for them, Finley Quaye threw a spanner in the works, cruelly cancelling at the last minute.

Finley, who was thought to be on a bit of a comeback tour after success more than a decade ago, cancelled by text message on the Saturday morning. His reasons? Well, he didn't give any, instead telling organisers that he'd 'let them know after the dust has settled'. He hasn't answered his phone since, a sign that the dust has settled on this diva's career as far as Ferret-goers are concerned.

An empty main stage at peak time is a nightmare scenario for any festival organiser. Luckily, Mad Ferret were saved somewhat by the sunshine as most people treated it like a two day picnic rather than a big gig. They ignored the absenteeism with a bout of high spirits. A few hours later and Roots Manuva followed by The Streets managed to bring back the faith of Ferret, getting the crowd on their feet and singing along.

A lot of work has gone into the festival this year to really take it up a notch to a credible festival level. But Mad Ferret is as much about Manchester's own burgeoning artists and performers as it is the superstar, if not sometimes imperious, headliners. Riot Jazz, Broke N English and Tonn Piper are but a few of this year’s acts who managed to turn up and show appreciation for the city that bore them. Riot Jazz, the brass band made up of music students at the RNCM, have built up that much of a following over the last year that Mad Ferret gave them their very own stage. Comedians, circus performers, poets and burlesque dancers made it more than just music with spots of entertainment around every corner of the park. The Bandwaggon Stage seemed more organised than the bigger stages, and thus attracted and maintained a consistent crowd.

It's a shame the curfew was 11pm but then that's the price you pay for partying in a residential area. It's not as though Mad Ferret has ever claimed to be Manchester's answer to Glastonbury. The concept was based on a group of students wanting something fun to do in students-ville and they've achieved this and much more. Provided they find artists more reliable than Finley Quaye, next year can only be even bigger and better.

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5 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Kat LysterJune 15th 2009.

Just like to say a big thank you to Manchester Confidential...I won some tickets to Mad Ferret and had a fab time there over the weekend, it was a really good atmosphere.

RyanJune 15th 2009.

Hey, that's me on the first berimbau from the left (capoeira photo)! Cheers to anonymous for your kind words, we really enjoyed playing in the sunshine. For anyone who wants to learn capoeira, just to let the world know (plug alert!) - we train at the Zion Centre in Hulme on Thursdays at 7pm and Saturdays at 1pm! see acca-manchester.org.uk for details! Thanks xxx

disappointedJune 15th 2009.

What i saw on friday night was good, i loved Homecut in the Riot Jazz tent. But turned up on saturday shortly after 9pm and they had already closed the gates and refused to let anyone else in! Bit silly that. Especially if u paid £55 for the wknd pass.

AnonymousJune 15th 2009.

I was there all weekend and the festival did have a really nice vibe. But I disagree that the Ferret look after Mchr's local greats as much as the stars. Beneath the razamatazz are serious financial problems, and just as FQ rudely failed to provide, the organisers at the very last minute told many of the local DJs and artists booked months ago (and who are trying to make a living) that they wouldn't be paid. Ferret should not forego promoting Mchr's huge amount of high-quality talent for the sake of big names who then don't turn up anyway.Mchr has enough talent to put this festival on without London-based "famous" artists who do half a job, if you're lucky. If they can afford to do it again next year they'd do well to remember this. Finally, this story doesn't mention the best bit: when the music stopped for 2 hours on Saturday afternoon because of a wedding next door, and everyone sat chilling in the sunshine listening to the acoustic local acts who otherwise wouldn't have got a look in. The Capoeira dudes pictured were one of them. Thank god it didn't rain.

Mad Ferret - BenedictJune 15th 2009.

Thanks to everyone who came down for the weekend. I hope that you had a great time and we look forward to seeing you again next year.Lynda - what a fantastic review. Cheers. Great to hear that you had a good weekend, and those are some awesome photos. Would there be any chance of getting some of them from you?Kat Lyster - Thanks for coming down, and for your kind words, they mean a lot to us. Hearing about the great time that people had definitely makes all the months of hard work worthwhile.Anonymous - Great to hear that you enjoyed the vibe. I apologise if there has been any misunderstanding about payment, feel free to drop me an email (benedict (at) madferretfestival.com) and hopefully we can right any wrongs. disappointed - Homecut are great aren't they... definitely one of my highlights of the festival. Regarding the closing of the gates - It was a matter decided by the police and was therefore out of our control. I personally stood on the gate and tried to get as many people with tickets in as possible. Feel free to send me an email to the above address and I will more than happy to explain the difficult situation that we were in. Thank you for understanding.Ryan- Really sorry to have missed you, but i have heard from many a source that you guys really smacked it. Hopefully we can get you guys to come back again next year. Good luck with everything that you do in the future.Finally... a massive thank you to everybody that made this years Mad Ferret possible. Without all the support we were given, it would never have been.

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