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Review: Split Festival, Ashbrooke Sports Ground, Sunderland

FOR the fourth year running Sunderland’s Ashbrooke Sports Ground played host to the Split Festival.

John Lydon performing with Public Image Limited at the Split Festival
John Lydon performing with Public Image Limited at the Split Festival

FOR the fourth year running Sunderland’s Ashbrooke Sports Ground played host to the Split Festival.

The musical mix of local talent and international headliners saw thousands attend the two-day event headlined by John Lydon’s Public Image Limited and festival organisers, The Futureheads.

The Split Festival won the award for Best Event in Sunderland at The Journal Culture Awards 2011, and after another successful weekend more awards seem likely.

Public Image Limited closed the festival on Saturday night in empathic style.

As Johnny Rotten in punk band The Sex Pistols, John Lydon was one of the most controversial characters of the 1970s, a reputation he clearly enjoys.

Ever the entertainer, the frontman whipped the crowd into a frenzy as the band played hits from their new album and back catalogue stretching over three decades.

Those old enough to remember the first incarnation of Public Image Limited danced energetically besides those who clearly didn’t and all were treated to a memorable performance.

Other Saturday highlights included Leeds rockers Pulled Apart By Horses and rising local star Lulu James.

The folk element of the festival was well represented by The Unthanks and The Lake Poets, otherwise known as Martin Longstaff and his guitar.

Yesterday’s highlights were undoubtedly Sunderland band Field Music. The Main Stage audience was at capacity to see the local heroes play their first hometown gig since their album, Plumb, was nominated for the Mercury Prize.

The band, led by brothers David and Peter Brewis, proudly played a their hits before nearly bringing the tent down with A New Town.

Not just about the music, the Split Festival also has a comedy tent and stalls showcasing local food, drink and vintage clothing.

Although growing bigger each year the festival continues to have an intimate, family feel to it.

Part of this feeling comes from the fact it must be one of the few festivals where you can you enjoy a great pie, pint of local ale and dance around to the music of a former Sex Pistol or a Mercury Prize nominated band, at the same time.

A rain-free weekend was brought to a close by The Futureheads, who the region can really be proud of.

Ian Benet

Journalists

David Whetstone
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Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
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Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer