Despite a less than impressive turnout, Burntwood Wakes has shown what great talent the area can attract. The three nights of the Wakes saw an unsigned acts night on Friday, a Proms night on Saturday and a 60s festival on Sunday. A family fun day was also on during Saturday afternoon.

Friday – Unsigned

Friday’s Unsigned Acts night ended up being a slightly flat affair with only a small crowd, mostly consisting of teenagers. The atmosphere never really took off which was a shame because there were some good acts on. Metal band, Karsis did attempt to gee up the crowd but it looked like it was a lost cause. To their credit, Karsis still put up a good performance and their energy was certainly deserving of a warmer reception.

Disappointly, the mostly very young crowd seemed disinterested in the actual acts playing and more excited by the DJ.  The DJ played classics such as The Music Man and Cotton Eye Joe to get the crowd going. Despite being old classics, thoroughly enjoyed by some, the tunes simply didn’t fit in alongside the live music and put a bit of a dampener on proceedings for those who were interested in the live music. A better crowd may have produced a better atmosphere.

We were treated to some good music though. The Deadlights were very well received and with a sound that you could compare with the likes of Kings of Leon and Bloc Party I can see why. Rumour has it they may appear at Lichfield’s George IV soon too so look out for that!

Usual local favourite Chinared were unfortunately lacking something this time around due to playing without lead singer Sam. The backing singers they brought on at Fuse stepped in but without a clear lead the crowd was left waiting for the performance to kick up a notch, which it invariably didn’t. As one spectator commented, “Chinared were like Christmas without the presents.” Rumour again has it that they’ll be performing at George IV soon, hopefully with a full lineup.

ChinaRed at Burntwood Wakes. Pic: Nick Brickett. See more photos from the weekend on Flickriver.
ChinaRed at Burntwood Wakes. Pic: Nick Brickett. Click the photo to see more from the weekend.

Other bands included The Reason who although show they have talent, didn’t get a great reception. They have a sound you might like if U2 or Stereophonics is your kind of thing, but on stage they almost seemed to be trying too hard. The Lean Yellows finished things off with some great catchy riffs – definitely a band to watch out for!

Saturday – Family Fun Day and Proms in the Park

Having been unable to make the Family Fun Day I can’t do a full review but I was told by one person who attended that they were disappointed to see everything being packed up come 3pm despite the event billed to go on till 5pm.

Saturday night was a much better evening and saw a bit of Pomp and Circumstance fill the air. Arriving late, I walked in to see a field full of Union Jack flags waving in unison. The turnout was okay but it could have been much better. I found out later that this was the Proms that was previously held at Shugborough Hall and it seems some of the previous attendees weren’t aware it had moved, which may explain why.

Adrian Jackson did a fantastic job conducting the City Concert Orchestra who were accompanied at times by performances by the Midland Symphony Choir and soloist Elizabeth MacDonald. The whole night was well received with the crowd really getting into the spirit of things around their self-made picnic pitches.

Sunday – 60s Night

The final evening saw some of the biggest names from the 60s grace the stage with songs from nearly half a century ago that are still thoroughly enjoyed today. Every single act that played was given a great reception by the very buoyant crowd and these ‘old dogs’ showed just how talented they are. Being backstage with them was treat and I admired the calm that each of the acts exuded even moments before going on stage.

Gerry and the Pacemakers. Pic: Nick Brickett.
Gerry and the Pacemakers. Pic: Nick Brickett. Click the photo to see more from the weekend.

By the end of the night the majority of the crowd were on their feet dancing and singing along creating a wonderful atmosphere and making for a great end to the weekend.


Much praise has to be bestowed upon the organisers, Brian Yeates Associates along with Mike and Kate from Neon Studies for putting on such a professional display. There could have been more going on in the field and I get the impression that there wasn’t much in the way of marketing either. I know for certain that there was no marketing budget for Friday night which is a real shame because it meant that a lot of local talent went largely unnoticed instead of being shown off.

An appreciative crowd at Burntwood Wakes. Pic: Nick Brickett
An appreciative crowd at Burntwood Wakes. Pic: Nick Brickett. Click the photo to see more from the weekend.

I’m definitely looking forward to see what next year brings and I’ve already promised my old dear a ticket to the 60s night so there’s no way I’m going to miss out on another great night like that. All in all a few flaws but a fundamentally good festival that needs a bigger voice.

10 replies on “Review: Burntwood Wakes 2009”

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  1. In previous years the Proms in the Park had been a free concert and was extremely well attended, at least 3 / 4 times the number that were there on Saturday even though last year the weather was wet and cold. Someones greed in these economic times caused a large drop in attendance at this years “Proms in the Park”

  2. Proms in the Park at Beacon Park has always been free. The Proms event at Shugborough which is mentioned here was always been a ticketed event as park of the Shugborough weekend. Slightly confusing at the two events are seperate.

  3. I went to the Burntwood Proms and thoroughly enjoyed the evening. Just to clarify things, the free Lichfield Proms in the Park is going ahead as usual on Saturday September 5, featuring the British Police Symphony Orchestra, Lichfield Operatic Society, Bella Musica! and soloists. And there will be a spectacular firework finale.

  4. I’ve edited the review to highlight the fact that the dampener put on the evening was more the crowd’s fault for being so disinterested in the bands that were playing. As I say above the crowd was small and as a result there was very little atmosphere. If the unsigned acts night is to succeed next year, in my opinion, it needs to be marketed to a much wider audience to avoid the same fate.

  5. I missed the 60s acts on Sunday, however I hope to get tickets to see some of the same performers at later dates. Can anyone tell me which ones were the best?

  6. Just got my internet back and i noticed your comments about the Wakes Unsigned…….the only comment i totally agree with is about China Red all the others…….I actually wonder if you were there?! And i know you were not there for Lean Yellows……most of the time i saw you back stage and did your comments about the crowd come from them…..or again was that from you?! I find this kind of reporting unnecessary……..! I formed part of that crowd…..and me and my friends had a brill evening…….and no…..we are not teenagers!!!! We enjoyed the whole mix of music. Cioa

  7. Hi Sarah. We weren’t back stage for Wakes Unsigned, just for the 60s night. We were actually part of the crowd. Not all the crowd were bad, just the bulk of the crowd that stood right up front and seemed dis-interested in the bands and more taken by the children’s party music, which was only played because they didn’t respond to the alt/indie music earlier in the night. If you were one of the ones interested in the bands then good on you, I just wish more of the crowd were like that. As for the reporting, I’m only being honest about what I saw/heard.

  8. You were being honest yes…….but its just your opinion. And as a reporter perhaps you should have done more reporting and talked to the crowd and the bands other than those that were your friends. But this argument could go on forever……so good luck to the other events that you cover!

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