Llangollen Fringe – preview

Llangollen Fringe Festival will be happening between 13 and 22 July and Dave Jennings has taken a look at what will be on offer.

If you have chance, between July 13th and 22nd, you may like to consider heading to the North Wales town of Llangollen for the increasingly successful Fringe Festival. In doing so, you will be supporting a group of determined volunteers who are determined to ensure that this beautiful part of the world continues to host an outstanding annual event that this year includes Wilko Johnson, The Beat, Charlotte Church, Bristol Reggae masters Talisman and the legendary Kanda Bongo Man in its line up.

Llangollen has become famous for the International Eisteddfod, which was born in the years after World War 2 with the noble aim of using music to heal post-war divisions across Europe. However, in the past few years, the Fringe Festival has also developed an enviable reputation for combining established acts with up and coming talent to offer festival-goers a wide range of musical and spoken-word entertainment.

Previous festivals have included performances from the likes of Cerys Matthews, Alabama 3, John Cooper-Clarke, John Otway, Will Self, Reginald D. Hunter and art workshops with Tracy Emin and Damien Hurst. Last year I enjoyed a typical Buzzcocks set delivered to a packed venue on the Eisteddfod field and have vivid memories of seeing the Damned kick off their appearance with three back to back classics before Captain Sensible announced ”ËœI now declare the Llangollen Fringe Festival open!’ to loud approval. The next morning saw him achieve a lifetime’s ambition of driving a steam train, captured by BBC News for posterity.

At times in its recent history, the Llangollen Fringe festival has been placed at risk due to economic pressures and funding cuts. The festival is run on a not-for-profit basis and it’s a tribute to the volunteer organisers that they have managed to survive and still offer a varied and exciting programme at very reasonable prices. This alone is a good enough reason to support the festival, but the opportunity to see some great acts in intimate venues in a town that, once visited, you will never forget should persuade those who are able to check it out.

This year’s line up is one of the strongest yet. Opening on Thursday July 12th with Charlotte Church and what has been described as her ”Ëœbold and unique new sound’, followed by the patron saint of guitar heroes, Wilko Johnson, who will perform in his inimitable style on Friday July 13th. Promising ”Ëœthree chords, twelve bars and lots of whizzing about’, Wilko will certainly get the weekend off to a flying start.

This is followed by a ”Ëœspoken word weekend’ with Keith Allen on Saturday and Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy appearing with National Poet of Wales Gillian Clarke on Sunday 15th.

The following week sees North Wales’s very own WE//ARE//ANIMAL, veterans of The Camden Crawl and Radio 1’s Big Weekend on Tuesday 17th. Wednesday sees a hotly anticipated appearance by Manchester’s up and coming Doyle and the Four Fathers, while Thursday July 19th sees ska legends The Beat perform. A pretty impressive trio of live bands is followed by ”ËœWorld Music Weekend’ with Bristol reggae masters Talisman appearing on Friday followed by Congolese Soukous legend Kanda Bongo Man and his band on Saturday July 21st.

Llangollen Fringe – preview

Sunday sees the festival closed by Wrexham band Heal the Last Stand and the Wrexham Community Choir in the in the timeless setting of Valle Crucis Abbey which, if the weather plays fair, will be an unforgettable climax.

This is a festival that offers so much and deserves all our support. If you’ve ever visited Llangollen, you’ll need no encouragement to return. If you haven’t, a visit this year will most likely see you come back again and again.

All words by Dave Jennings. You can read more from Dave on LTW here.

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