Record Overplayed
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Hope & Social | Knaresborough Feva Festival | 17/08/14

Hold Your Chin Up High

Gig review and photos by Dawn

I woke this morning from the most peculiar dream. In it, I was watching a beautifully-voiced blonde girl named Beth McCarthy belt out pop songs accompanied by her acoustic guitar in the grounds of an art and craft centre. Nothing particularly out of the ordinary there, I’m sure you’ll agree. But here’s the weird thing: I was in the middle of Knaresborough – 70 or so miles inland - and I was sitting on a beach.

Before I’d had chance to shake the sand from my shoes, the oddness continued. The Grand Old Uke of York – 15 or so figures of varying ages and outfits,  all clutching ukeleles - took to the stage and performed entertaining cover versions encompassing everyone from Status Quo and Kings of Leon to The Offspring and James Blunt. Some wore snorkels; some wore shorts and other beach attire; one seemed not to have noticed that a seagull had landed on her head – and one was a mermaid whose petite figure belied a voice so powerful it could’ve rivalled any siren of the sea. Meanwhile, increasing numbers of unsuspecting attendees were becoming covered in clothes pegs emblazoned with the words ‘Beach Party - Feva Festival 2014’ thanks to a cunning party game devised by the headline act.

And then the strangeness went off the scale. As eight blue blazers marked the arrival of Hope and Social onstage, a conga line snaked its way around the outside of the beach, increasing in length each time it passed the front. A sea of people young and old sang and jumped and danced along to the glorious music, pausing only to fend off a stray beach ball or ten - H&S frontman Simon alternating between singing, conducting the crowd, and taking a free kick each time one headed his way. The anthemic chorus chants during One Way Home were as rousing as the stirringly emotive ‘hold your chin up high’s which echoed during Eurospin but before it all became too serious, guitarist Rich requested that they then be sung “in the style of an opera singer” – the resulting effort reducing both he and the crowd to giggles. The smiles on the faces of the audience were rivalled only by the smiles on the faces of the band as their makeshift communal choir grew in volume with every song. And then as the last notes of guitar, banjo and ukelele faded, so did my wonderful, vivid, musical dream.

If only real life could be as much fun. The strange thing is, I found a clothes peg in my bag today. But it could only have been a dream, couldn’t it, because as everybody knows – there is no beach in Knaresborough...

With thanks to Feva Festival, Henshaw’s, Hope and Social, The Grand Old Uke of York and Beth McCarthy.

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