Review: Variety and real ale was the spice of life at Galtres Festival

HIGH NOTES The Levellers headlined the first day of Galtres Festival at Duncombe Park, Helmsley.
HIGH NOTES The Levellers headlined the first day of Galtres Festival at Duncombe Park, Helmsley.

In contrast to the typical stress, tight scheduling and toilet block infernos that sometimes accompany a big music festival there was something pleasant in the leisurely pace of amicable real ale mishmash Galtres.

And one would have ended up with an Olympic-sized hangover to even make a dent in the huge beer menu, most of which came from God’s Own Country.

The Levellers, who headlined the Friday night, were the act most typical of this kind of event and put in a crowd-pleasing performance.

But Saturday’s headliner, trip-hop legend Tricky, was somewhat more divisive.

Though his fans might have expected the unconventional lack of bright stage lights and unorthodox song-structures a few punters were left bemused.

And the show’s organisers had not anticipated the stage invasion he encouraged at the end of the set. Though this mostly consisted of people in ponchos and straw hats swaying from side to side rather than anything more mutinous.

The Human League sounded as stadium-ready as ever when they closed the weekend on Sunday. Whatever could be said about their kitsch classics, they remain a band built for a big stage.

But notable performances on smaller stages and in beer tents across the weekend from Gawthorpe singer-songwriter Ryan Spendlove and York folk act The Buffalo Skinners, among others, ensured a rousing atmosphere across the site.

There were some questions raised over the payment system for all food, drink and attractions on the site, which required cash to be transferred to a single card. An innovative idea, no doubt, but it was hard to avoid the grumbling when punters had to pay £2 each time to transfer their own money to the card.

Galtres has more in common with a village beer festival that has swelled to a great size than most major music festivals, but it is precisely that pastoral and meandering charm that sets it apart.