Base Sessions special - Midlands music fest on song to give big boys a run for their money

Paul Young on stage at the Upton International Music Festival

Oliver/Dawson's Saxon rocking out at Upton

First published in Base Sessions

AUGUST bank holiday music festival attention is generally focused on Reading and Leeds but that is not the whole story.

The small Worcester town of Upton upon Severn may not be on the musical radar for many, but it boasts a family-friendly event for festival fans of all ages.

The Upton International Music Festival is a three-day extravaganza, which even the rain-soaked summer of 2012 could not turn into a damp squib, despite a number of downpours and subsequent mud baths.

The festival, at the riverside Fish Meadow, is in its third year and has grown quickly to become arguably one of the biggest shows of its kind in the Midlands.

This year saw sets from big names including The Beat, The Selector, Dr & The Medics, Hazel O’Connor, Alvin Stardust and Paul Young’s Tex Mex supergroup Los Pacaminos.

The impressive main stage was the focal point for the arena but the new-for-2012 Stage 2 also provided a packed line up throughout.

The dance tent and silent disco were also popular with people looking for more musical moments.

The event also has all the other attractions to be expected at a large festival including a fun fair plus traders and food stalls.

Bad weather on day one, Friday August 24, may have been the reason for a sparsely populated arena but on Saturday (August 25) the crowd grew to several thousand and by the time Oliver/Dawson’s Saxon was dishing out a hefty dose of heavy metal, all the acts were getting an enthusiastic response from plenty of punters.

The on-site camping facilities coped well with a lot of rain, most of the field remained reasonably mud-free and only high traffic areas became boggy.

The campsite had showers and standpipes and, although festival toilets will never be anything but an assault on the senses for all the wrong reasons, they were by far not the worst that seasoned festival-goers will have seen - or smelt.

The festival site is just a short walk from the town and the people of Upton made their thousands of visitors welcome, they were genuinely exceptional hosts.

On Sunday (August 26) the sun was shining and there was plenty of the feel-good factor to go round.

Recent years have seen a proliferation of outdoor music festivals in the UK and most do not attract the vast numbers of people required to pay the biggest stars.

Reading and Leeds have little to fear from festivals like Upton in terms of like-for-like completion, but Upton is on a par in terms of being able to deliver a great weekend away.

Upton 2012 gave us a varied and high-quality line up of live music plus plenty more for the young, the not so young, families or anyone looking to let the good times roll.

The town should be proud of its music festival and organisers can also congratulate themselves for delivering an outstanding event in difficult conditions this year.

The Base Sessions team was busy filming at the Upton festival, their exlusive interviews, an unusual ariel view of the festival and backstage footage will all be online in the Base Sessions section of our website soon.

Martyn Smith

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