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Caught By The River Thames Festival live review - London

Prog and psych-pop stars grace the first Caught By The River Thames weekender

The crowd at a prog gig
(Image: © Katja Ogrin)

It sure isn’t your usual music festival when you enter an event, walk past a Poetry Chapel, a literary tent and a phalanx of deckchairs into a sun-baked lawn area where rapt families are watching TV naturist Chris Packham being interviewed on a main stage by 6Music’s Lauren Laverne.

This is day two of the inaugural Caught By The River Thames weekender, a boutique festival created by the folk behind the Caught By The River website. It’s a collusion of music, film, history, nature and literature, situated in the medieval grounds of Fulham Palace. We’re here for the music, but there’s plenty else: talks in the Great Hall, a museum of folklore, Prog Boy artist Pete Fowler hosting workshops for kids, a 19th-century walled garden that’s home to a 450-year-old oak… Big Big Train would literally have a field day here.

Sadly, two acts we hoped to catch – Stealing Sheep and Sun Ra Arkestra – won’t make the stage today and we’re gutted we missed yesterday’s Be collective (a classical drone rock symphony built around a beehive sample), so after cooling off in the Chapel with some prose by Nigerian Inua Ellams, it’s time for Gwenno out on the lawn. A former doo-wop indie-popper with The Pipettes, Gwenno’s stock in trade is now sci-fi Korgtronica in Cornish, Welsh and – almost à la Magma – a made-up dystopian robot language. Dreamily thrumming like Stereolab one minute, there are also sweeps of Dik Mik madness in her mix. Seek out latest album Y Dydd Olaf to have your mind politely blown.

Blossoming psych-pop stars Temples appear next, a tumble of big hair, spindly limbs and saucer eyes, slightly fazed by the village fete vista before them, and the decibel restriction on the PA. Nonetheless, it’s a fun set of chiming, Bolan/Barrett-esque scorchers from 2014 debut Sun Structures, plus some new songs amid the glam punch of Keep In The Dark and the Daytripper kick of Shelter Song.

As the light fades, the crowd swells for Super Furry Animals. Boilersuited in white and bearing placards that say ‘Applause’ and ‘Apeshit’ to egg us on, it’s a mellow set, high spots being the woozy Hometown Unicorn, a space rockin’ Drawing Rings Around The World and the warped Moroder Kraut jam Bing Bong. Reserving a more in-yer-face experience for the Liverpool Psych Fest perhaps, an ever-building finale of Steely Dan-sampling protest anthem The Man Don’t Give A Fuck, played while dressed as Yetis, is a welcome slug of anarchy, capping an unconventional and intriguing day.

Jo Kendall

Embracing weird, wild and wonderful sounds, Prog's Associate Editor Jo's also a Classic Rock columnist, an avid tea-drinker and cupcake fancier.