Northern Sky Festival Review

Gaz Coombes on the Main Stage

The Northern Sky Acoustic Music Festival took place on the 2nd and 3rd September at the Baths Hall in Scunthorpe.

Throughout the afternoon and evening, there were loads of local acts for people to enjoy, with the likes of Lizzie Goddard and Twisted Revolution gracing the smaller stages of the festival.

Nick Akester on the Mouth Magazine Stage

In all honestly I was expecting to be a bit bored watching the acts that I was not aware of before the festival but that thought quickly disappeared as performances from acts such as Ben Lovejoy and Nick Akester had everyone in the room completely focused on the music.

At both nights at 7pm the main auditorium opened up for the final 3 acts of the night. On Saturday, these were John Smith, Ben Ottewell and Richard Hawley.

John Smith on the Main Stage

John Smith kicked things off on the main stage on Saturday, playing a set of greatly written songs and working well with the small crowd that had gathered for his set.

Following John was Ben Ottewell of Gomez fame. Ben played a selection of solo tunes as well as a small number of Gomez tracks.

Ben Ottewell on the Main Stage

The final act on Saturday was Richard Hawley, who’s set spanned his long, successful solo career and included songs like Tonight The Streets Are Ours and Just Like The Rain. Richard was very genuine and funny throughout, making jibes at his bandmate who was taking a while to tune up his guitar, and pointing out how ‘busy’ it was on the evening.

Richard Hawley on the Main Stage

The ‘main’ acts on the Sunday were Juanita Stein from Howling Bells, John Bramwell of I Am Kloot and ex-Supergrass man Gaz Coombes.

I was not aware of Juanita before the evening but her set left attendees very impressed with her acoustic set; accompanied by her father onstage she wowed the audience with her incredible voice.

Juanita Stein on the Main Stage



Next up was John Bramwell, who had the crowd on his side before he had even started, coming on before his set to do a soundcheck and cracking jokes all the way through it. Playing essentially I Am Kloot’s greatest hits during his time on stage, he had everyone watching intently when he was singing and the laughter was pretty much non-stop when he was speaking; at one point he realised he could not read his own setlist that he had written and had to keep picking it up to see where he was up to.

John Bramwell on the Main Stage

The final act of the festival was Gaz Coombes. At points in the set you forgot that he was on stage on his own, as his arrangement of equipment and drum machines gave his set a more full band feel than the other acts of the weekend. Playing songs from his latest, Merucry Prize nominated solo record Matador as well as a few Supergrass favourites, his set was one of the highlights of the weekend.

Everything was right about the Northern Sky Festival apart from the crowd. In the daytime it was very poorly attended but I just assumed that was fine as people would turn up in a big rush for the headliners but they just didn’t, leaving the big acts like Richard and Gaz struggling to get a reaction from the crowd when they tried to get them involved.  Was it the timing of the festival, with lots of people’s summer ending and school starting on the Monday for a lot of kids? Was it poorly marketed or advertised (Richard didn’t tweet about the festival at all on his Twitter)?

The crowd (or lack of) for headliner Gaz Coombes

Although it has to be said the small number of people in the auditorium made a lot of noise to cheer on the acts once they finished each song.

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