Shiiine On Weekender 2018

Shiiine On is the festival of a generation – such is the narcissism of youth that we all believe our movement to be ‘the best’, but given the popularity of 90s based music festivals such as Gigantic and Indie Daze, the reformation of so many much loved indie stalwart bands and the resurgence of the era’s fashions (not that I ever moved on much in that respect); those of us who came of age in the late 80s and early 90s could well be right in assuming that our time, really was the best time.

Shiiine on, a name which of course references the House of Love (who played this festival in 2016), taps successfully into that sense of passionate nostalgia we all feel; it unites us for a weekend every year (and more, if you include recent additions of the Hull-Amsterdam cruise and this year’s one day event in Birmingham). It gives us a chance to escape the daily grind, to feel at home among our people and to indulge in a bit of fairly (depending on the strength of your liver) harmless hedonism and indulgent reminiscence. The venues are a great size, offering a perfect selection of spaces to watch and dance to your favourite bands and now in its fourth year, Shiiine is still going strong.


It is 5:45 PM with people still arriving and the beer not yet fully flowing, when orchestral pop group My Life Story take to the stage – a slimmed-down version of the band, with five members rather than Jake Shillingford’s grand thirteen piece collective of old. This is a great choice for the Skyline Stage, although I do feel they could easily warrant a later slot further into the weekend. As ever, Jake is energetically flamboyant, snappy in checked suit and white boots, with high leg kicks and ostentatious mic stand acrobatics; rattling through the hits from 1993’s debut single “Girl A, Girl B, Boy C” through “King of Kissingdom”, “Sparkle” and the wonderfully acerbic “If You Can’t Live Without Me Then Why Aren’t You Dead Yet?” and culminating in live show favourite “12 Reasons Why I Love Her”, playing cards flung high into the crowd, our enthusiasm ignited for the weekend to come.

Next up, Sleeper (I shy away from the Britpop tag) – back on tour and in the studio after a nineteen year hiatus and with promise of a new album. Prolific in the mid-90s with eight top 40 singles, this witty band’s return feels apposite in a time of industry dominated generic female singers, for despite the famous t-shirt’s quip, this is not simply ‘another female fronted band’. Louise Wener, once so loved by teenage and 20-something men clearly (given some of the comments around me in the predominantly male audience) still lights a spark. Unencumbered by industry pressure, Wener appears less stylized these days, relaxed and feisty, full of smiles and moves, the band tight and enthusiastic. The spark lit by My Life Story has exploded and the Skyline arena is alive as we sing back at Wener our generation’s theme tunes: “Vegas’” “Inbetweener”, “What do I do now?” and “Sale of the Century’”

Tonight’s headline are Shiiine returners Shed Seven, amazingly twenty four years down the line but – with a new album out in 2017 – still very much on the scene. They always attract a large crowd here, with Rick Wittter’s sinewy snake-hipped dancing and a back catalogue of anthemic crowd pleasers. They may not be this reviewer’s first choice but they’re a great live band and perfect for tonight’s crowd.

This weekend however, is all about pacing and plenty of music takes place after the Skyline’s 10 PM curfew if you venture out to the other venues: Centre Stage, Jaks, Reds and Inn on the Green. Tonight Reds see Shiiine’s first outing for 1990s festival favourites anarcho-punk Back to the Planet, more Ska than I remember and great fun for those of us who like a bit of grunge with our dance. A quick peek at Mozza’s favourites, Bradford and it is off to bed, in preparation for day two.


It’s easy to forget that the Shiiine experience isn’t solely about live music and that daylight hours bring plenty of things to do other than sleeping off hangovers: there are the exhibitions (this year a fascinating selection of black and white prints by engaging NME photographer Pete Walsh) and a retrospective featuring grainy gig shots of iconic Baggy dance band Flowered Up, along with press cuttings and original posters. Then there are pub quizzes and an interview with Steve Harrison, manager of The Charlatans and founder of Dead Dead Good Records; not to mention the Pool Parties and Crazy Golf.

Whilst previous years have relegated Cud to the 1 AM slot upstairs at Centre Stage, this year they are promoted to the Skyline, playing the much more reasonable – and less inebriated – afternoon slot. As ever, their performance is one of perfect pop, “Purple Love Balloon” an explosion of fun to start off Saturday afternoon; Carl Puttnam’s jerky hip thrusts and wildly eccentric stage presence charming his crowd. Cud are a fantastic live band and their current tour of set lists chosen by their fans – Just The Good Ones – is testament to the value they place on their audience; here inviting one of their stalwart fans to join them on stage, with only the logistical issue of getting up there, precluding a full fan invasion.

I hadn’t been aware of The Rifles before the announcement of their Shiiine performance and had been slightly surprised at their inclusion on a bill advertised on the basis of being a predominantly 1990s based music festival. A large crowd had gathered and I am assured by the bunch of lads I get talking to at the front, that I wouldn’t be disappointed. They are right and I’m not. The Rifles are a good twenty five years younger as a band than the majority of performers here, having formed in 2006, but their fast-paced Indie rock style fits well with their cohorts and they’re one of those bands you suddenly realize that you do know after all.. “Local Boy”… ahh yes, that song, that’s a great track!

Next up are Black Grape: Shaun Ryder has played at every Shiiine in one form or another and this year he and Kermit are back, although sadly no Bez this time. Black Grape’s 2016 performance was slightly shambolic but tonight’s set is tight and perfect for the Saturday evening crowd. Ryder prowls the stage, Kermit ever-smiling and exuberant and the crowd sing ecstatically along to “In The Name of the Father” as well as tracks from 2017’s Pop Voodoo. Ryder and co are loved by the Shiiine audience: we grew up on Happy Mondays and the Hacienda; on the excesses and the colour; there is something incredibly heartening and joyful about seeing Ryder now, free from the demons of the 90s and his unique stage presence and remarkable back catalogue unite us once more.  We are the generation who only need to hear the opening notes to “Wrote for Luck” and “Step On” and we are doing crazy dancing, transported back to student discos and smoky clubs.

There are always plenty of bands to choose from at Shiiine and whilst this reviewer didn’t catch Skyline headliners Ocean Colour Scene, reports are of course, excellent.  Reds sees dancing into the small hours with the a Post-Punk line-up of Brix and the Extricated, The Godfathers and Chameleons Vox, culminating of course with Steve Lamacq’s annual indie disco. The beer is flowing, the floors are sticky.


Rise and shine campers! Finding the 11 AM pub quiz has been put back half an hour and all tables are full with eager competitors, we head over to Inn on the Green to see Uke2 play their usual late morning slot. They have become a bit of a Shiiine institution and after all, what’s not to love about three men playing versions of indie hits on ukuleles. The crowd sing along to Stone Roses and Oasis classics; yet again we are united by a love of great music and happy memories.

Lunchtime brings an early slot for Mark Morriss at Centre Stage, a solo slot this year after 2016’s Bluetones performance. Morriss is tired and hungover, asking the audience for Vitamin C tablets, dressed like a geography teacher and utterly charming. His deadpan, self-deprecating quips delight his crowd – a large gathering for the time of day, a fact which clearly astounds and pleases him – and the mixture of Bluetones classics and Morriss’ solo material provides the perfect antidote to a late night, easing us gently in to Sunday afternoon. Morriss’ set is one of the highlights of my weekend, his words and music both tender and invigorating and it would take a hard heart indeed not to laugh with a man who mocks his own moustache and references Absolute 90s whilst sending up his own band’s hits.

Heading over to Skyline, Deja Vega are playing their first set of the day. This band (another I had missed on previous years and was keen to discover) are a revelation, raw and loud, psychedelic and fiery, this three-piece make an incredible sound. I spot Miles Hunt watching from the back and he later name checks them during his set, noting that he needs to finish so that he can catch their second performance of the day – this is an exciting new act and I too am keen to hear more.

Next stop brings us a trip down rap-rock memory lane with Senser, a band redolent of festivals and squat parties, fueled by politically charged lyrics and heavy dance beats; “Age of Panic” and “Eject” going straight for the jugular with their still powerful lyrics: ‘propaganda written out on the pages daily, I see the system as it crumbles before me, I see the system as it dies’.

A quick return to the chalet (this weekend is brought to you fuelled by a lot of strong tea) and it’s out to catch Stereo MCs, a band highly anticipated by this reviewer after I re-fell in love with their high energy electro dance pop during their 2015 Shiiine appearance. Rob Birch is as lithe as ever in trademark baggy jeans and baseball cap and marvellous singer/dancers Cath Coffey and Aina Roxx bring the band bang up-to-date with their incredible style and irrepressible energy. This is a band you can’t help but dance to, the pace doesn’t let up and the hits flow – it could be easy to underestimate the impact this band has had, with their blend of hip-hop dance and electronica and my only regret is that they aren’t given a longer set.

However, the energy created by Birch is about to be harvested by Shiiine stalwarts Peter Hook and the Light, back for their third appearance and for whom an impressive crowd has gathered. Hooky seems to be on a constant tour and arrives in Butlins after a European jaunt culminating in Poland; but his band’s energy never seems to wane. We are treated to a crowd-pleasing selection of both Joy Division and New Order tracks with the former’s “Transmission”, “She’s Lost Control” and “Shadowplay” sounding as visceral and raw today as on those original recordings, now unbelievably almost forty years old. For this tour, Hooky’s son Jack Bates has been replaced by Yves Altana from Oscar’s Drum (Altana’s recent collaboration with Kitchens of Distinction’s Patrick Fitzgerald – a band who had originally been due to play at Shiiine – hopefully next time please). New Order fans of course get “True Faith” and “Blue Monday” as well as “Temptation” and “Ceremony’” Hooky in trademarked loose-limbed crouching pose, stalking from stage right to stage left, singing directly to his front row, the crowd bouncing high on the adrenaline created by the electrical charge of live music.

As final headliners, Orbital may have appeared to be an unusual choice for a weekend of guitar-based Indie dance and whilst the light show is undoubtedly top class, standing at the back, the vibe appears to be lacking. However, this is the kind of musical experience you need to throw yourself into and doing just that and heading down to the front, the atmosphere is electric, heavy bass beats, each track looping and morphing into the next; urging you to close your eyes, feel the music, lose yourself on this Sunday night.

And so to the weekend’s closing party, with Miles Hunt an inspired choice, this time bringing a solo acoustic set to those of us happy to stay up and sing along to a well-loved selection of Wonder Stuff classics. Hunt knows his crowd – acknowledging that this gang want to hear ‘the old ones’ and his Centre Stage crowd adoringly sing back every word, as we are taken back to the start with first Wonder Stuff singles “It’s not True” and “Unbearable” and so through thirty years of music by one of the most loved and iconic bands of the Indie scene. ‘Give give give, me more more more’ we yell back at our front man, smiles dimpling his face as he  gives us exactly what we are here for, giving us hope when he urges us to ‘have a word’ with the organizers for next year.

This festival is one which, maybe more than any other, truly unites bands and their music with their fans and is one where you just need to look around you, at the smiling faces and the happy crowds, to feel that connection. There are the lads I chat to before The Rifles, one laughing as he tells me ‘we’d never get on!’ when discovering that all the bands he loves, are ones I don’t, and so introduces me to his mate who shares my love of New Order and who has never seen Hooky play before. I am pleased when I later spot the same guy, catch Hooky’s t-shirt when hurled into the crowd and give it to his beaming, New Order loving mate. Then there is the guy who comes up to express jovial envy at my The The t-shirt on Friday night and the girls who tell me they are tired just watching me dance, at some point on Sunday evening, offering me their Fit Bit for a laugh. And there are all the smiling faces I notice when I glance around during a set, to see a crowd of like-minded individuals all singing the same line, to the same song, with the same joy.

This is the wondrous feeling of unity you get, the goose bumps emerging, when hundreds of people sing along with their musical hero as he utters those unforgettable words, the  anthem of a generation: ‘you know that I’ve been drunk a thousand times, but these should be the best days of my life’.

‘Life, it’s not what I thought it was’, but every year, for a weekend in November, it feels pretty much perfect.

Words by Sally Hamilton.  Videos by our friend and Shiiine family member, The Cobbie


Shiiine On Weekender: Saturday – Atmosphere

Shiiine On Weekender –Butlin’s Arena, Minehead, Somerset UK. November 6-9th, 2015. Day 3: Saturday

Here it is. We 6000 strong are not teens on the bedroom floor spinning “Ceremony” on an LP on repeat wanting to ingest it, young enough still not to know the darkness (and Light) of what we wish for.  We’ve teleported from those dull suburban unseen places where these records were totems, where the right T-Shirt compliment could set the course of your entire adult life and marriage and all the grey areas between, where we once talked late into the night in cars parked in driveways about how much this music meant to us, hardwired in to the best place in us no matter how remote we were from it.

It was currency, the only currency that mattered. It still is, as evidenced by this weekend. As kids we talked about “Hooky” like we knew him but could not fathom what it might be like to be in close proximity to musical genius and see, if not ever understand, how it’s made. But through some strange alchemy, we’re right here. All these years later. It all still matters. Musically, its not been replaced, not at all. Rather, its legacy is assured. As Shiiine On Weekender’s James & Steve said so well in their editorial: “We are the last generation to whom loyalty to a band means something. We are a subculture that’ll never die.” “Forever, watching love grow.”

Midday: Now rounding the 48 hour (party people) stretch, festival success is assured. People who’ve been on site since Thursday have settled in to, not a routine, but an ease, a homeliness that is rare anywhere, let alone among thousands of people. Ok, yes, it does include a routine of good-natured heavy drinking. With pride,  festivalgoers celebrate as taps are drained here and there (but never alarmingly). The balance between proper crowds to build excitement and space to breathe has been struck. The organizers are getting well deserved shout outs from the main stage. Saturday’s screens already shiiine with the delightful news that 2016 dates have been booked and are already on sale. It’s not a one off.  It’s now the best of all possible things: a new tradition. It’s Christmas Eve. Let the wish lists begin, or leave it to the wizards.

Full disclosure: the Step On team has fallen off plan Saturday midday via a long pub lunch with new festival friends who are, themselves, a side stage of delight. We’ve no choice but to like them better than the idea of Bez’s Pool Party that was in the plan for months. There is time for chats with pub staff about earlier and later visits, its swiftly become the “local” and suddenly, languorous time is made: for a long lunch where we eat chips with beans or with cheese, and for good measure, crisps as well, in a plan that revolves around a packed house of agreeable Leeds fans (who win) the usual cider “it’s only cider” and lager, a random bit of darts, and a whirlwind of music talk and great stories that circle through the hit parade of the 90’s that we are here celebrating (but,  to be clear “this is not a retro festival…it’s a celebration and hopefully a reminder to people that a lot of these bands never went away and still carried on and made cracking music.” ) If people in general have forgotten some of this music, it’s down to the demise of old media that ate itself and a push towards trendy music in the years since.

Today, this whole four days, that all melts away and numerous great old gigs and amazing stories that are not mine to tell are remembered like sporting achievements, for they were to us. The plan to get us ruined completely leaving us with just a tale of the time we missed Happy Mondays and Peter Hook in the same night whilst passed out minutes away JUST fails and balance is restored to the universe. (Nice try lads. We owe you rounds before a future Wedding Present gig.)

2:00 p.m. While this is going on, Saturday rolls on with Winachi Tribe (we heard raves) and Space Monkeys “would have loved to see that one…how long is this football match/lunch, anyway?” minds fuzzily wonder through the cider haze and the impossible coziness before finally hauling it to the Skyline main stage. Had you not been corrupted by Welsh hospitality, it would be entirely reasonable to catch at least some of all the early Saturday gigs, as the three other stages did not get going until late evening. Deja Vega and Sulk hold down slots at Jaks, and we get to see some of each of their sets on different days, and each time they are very good.

The Main Event.

4:30 p.m. Northside takes the main stage to a full house, and people are really happy to see them back out: Saturday boasts the biggest crowds, and convergence is happening. There may be some nerves at play but the crowd responds well and the music is great. There’s a tambourine, and there’s a bit of a salute, is that what I see coming from the stage? Some of us have same day hangovers so hard to tell. This band is beloved by other musicians on site and fans. They are of The Mondays realm: great songs about illegal drugs that broke into the charts and landed in America, too.

5:45 p.m. Peter Hook and the Light (featuring a guest appearance by friend Rowetta) is on. Hooky has been out with the Light for a couple of years now, and having seen a very early gig of theirs as well as one in 2014, it can be stated with authority that they’ve hit their stride and get better and better every single time. All 6000 of us seem to agree that Hooky came, saw, conquered, and wiped the floor up using the weapon he’s perfected like no one else, his bass, and his music of a lifetime. Moving away from the cut-for-cut album formula which The Light had done on earlier tours (as much as fans love it it’s a format that can be very tough to play) Hooky tonight moves into both comfort and power within his vocal style that complements the Joy Division material that has come to reside in the very marrow of music fans and needs to be played. Hooky’s God-like status intact, we are the lucky ones at a very special gig. Here we get no less than an assault of Joy Division and New Order’s finest, and their finest can touch you in places in the heart you thought for sure had died along with your innocence.

It’s nothing short of perfect to see the godfather of Manchester’s music and club scene, whose very musical labour built the bricks and mortar that would house Factory records and fund the brilliant, mad, Hacienda (not to mention have a part in launching The Mondays) rise like a phoenix from that bad and tragic New Order baggage that we, the fans, refused to drop for so long. It’s also genius: unencumbered by the grind of breaking in new music and at last answerable only to himself, the fans get an intense and pitch perfect wave of nothing but gold. This alone would have been worth the trip, and the ridiculously reasonable ticket price.

Here’s the setlist: Digital, She’s Lost Control, Shadow Play, Transmission, Atmosphere (with lovely, lamenting vocals by Rowetta) Blue Monday, Love Vigilantes, The Perfect Kiss, Ceremony, True Faith, Temptation, Love Will Tear Us Apart.  We all went to pieces after. Need we say more?

7:15 p.m. Picking our brains up off the carpeted (!!!) arena floor, Stereo MCs are there as the Mondays warm up band, just as they were back in 90/91 for those of us who saw them on their U.K. or North American tours. This feels right. “Connected” is still a perfect appetizer for a Happy Mondays show. And people are warming up and into Saturday night with this soundtrack.

8:45 p.m. Close your eyes: remember Shaun Ryder in that 1990 haircut worn better than anyone else with less care, in proper workingman’s clothes, and we all have shiny unlined faces and hair free of silver, stomachs defiantly lean and bodies able to work all day at a shite job and dance all night spending all we made that week and call it happiness. Open your eyes: We’re all older (except Queen Rowetta who’s forever 29) but the truly cool are still cool. We’re all HERE for a start, and we don’t look so bad.

And we’re all still alive. And you can read on Shaun Ryder’s face, even with shades, even with that cool Steve McQueen reserve that can’t be faked, he is happy and he will remember it all this time. The Ryders, Day, Bez & Whelan seem relaxed and at ease. Gaz Whelan smiles and laughs though he’s badly cut his finger moments before hitting the stage and the drums. Our vibe, you see, Shiiine On’s dreamers and, importantly, doers, and all of ours, has spread everywhere. It has been helped and carried aloft in pieces by all the different acts from Thursday and Friday up to now, and all those cracking late night DJs, and the crew at Butlins who make it easy on us.

The Mondays, at the start of their 25th Anniversary Pills n’ Thrills and Bellyaches tour, deserve the packed arena before them and the nods to their lyrics that pepper the festival’s literature, the insider lingo that brought most of us here. The same words inspired this independent mag’s title and ethos. These lyrics have endless melon twisting wit, weirdness, rawness and grooviness. It’s a deeper code within an obscure language of Manchester music culture that separates the wheat from chaff in musical discussions, and can form new friendships just like that. And so here we all stand, through equal parts fortune, fortitude, and hustle.

Happy Mondays still have their edge. Even when a muppet appears hanging over the barrier and gets Shaun Ryder to crack up. Bez is working the full length of the stage, still well able to amuse his mates (job one) and hype the crowd (job two). His maracas say “Sorted” and “Big Medicine”. Rowetta comes out with her whips as all of us who wish we could be her for a day. But being the girl in this gang (not to mention Hooky’s) is only for the toughest and the coolest. After Mondays run through Pills n’ Thrills it’s a short set with essential tracks “Wrote For Luck” or “WFL” (an eternal club anthem and lately, commuter rage survival tool) and “Hallelujah” which is a Rowetta stunner much copied and rarely touched that also allows all of us to play act as someone who could “fill ya full of mace!” Or maybe we just might, but not this weekend. These songs get better, funnier, sharper with time. Like almost everything out of Manchester. No doubt some fans wanted more of Bummed and the back catalogue but there are some of us who want for nothing.

1:00 a.m. Guess what, starting from his hosting of the midday pool party, and last to bed again, Bez is not done. Reportedy he takes to the stage during 808 State’s STUNNING late night set until removed by friendly security (who will later tell us he put “The Happy Mondays” off the stage). Rules are minimal but this is one. No word on whether 808 invited him or he just wanted to Freaky Dance for us, but there is a lot going on up there with live drums, horns, electric guitar, and all the electronic gear. I don’t think it could take maracas too. 808’s is an immense performance, and like nothing we’ve ever seen or heard. It’s yet another must see/mega draw that does not disappoint. No one who’s still out on the road these years later is anything short of brilliant. The strongest survive. As for those festival goers who’ve not soldiered on to make the 1:00 a.m. start time for 808, tsk tsk tsk. Key there is a disco nap and a reset.  Avoiding corrupting influences of the delightful midday drinker just for awhile.

2:00 a.m. 808 is followed up by none other than House legend (yes that’s him in old pictures spinning at the Hacienda) Graeme Park who shut it down in style at 4:00 a.m. Oh yes: “900-Number”, “Deep Inside”, and we are in his hut now…all of this gives the crowd a new lease on this day of days: one day when the years have rolled back and we remember needing little sleep when fueled by all of this. So good is this late night Saturday that the house (Centre Stage) is still heaving with people who boo the Gods for having invented time/limits. Will never forget one guest hanging off the DJ booth, every inch the Cate Blanchett Oscar contender, bellowing “YOU’VE RUINED OUR NIGHT!” at the good natured security guy. He’s a bit of a drama queen. And it’s a joke of the weekend. The phrase now means “this was the greatest night ever”. Tell the kids. Call the cops.

Words by Jacqueline Howell, photos by Dave MacIntyre.

Friday’s write up and photo galleries here.

Thursday’s write up and photo galleries here.

More to come as we round out Sunday. No Days Off!

With very special thanks to Shiiine On Weekender & North Country Boys. *Quotes from the Shiiine On Weekender Official Souvenir Program, editorial. What, you didn’t buy one?

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