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Pop That Column: Laura Marling, Bruce Springteen, Lily Allen

Pop That Column: Laura Marling, Bruce Springteen, Lily Allen

It’s festival fever over here in Europe. On a train from London last week, I was surrounded by backpacks and their owners who had just returned from the Isle of White festival, which kicks off festival season in the UK. Appearing in various festivals this season around the world: Bruce Springsteen, Laura Marling, Lily Allen, Florence and the Machine (one hot redhead who makes great eye candy for the lesbians), just to name a few. 

It’s festival fever over here in Europe. On a train from London last week, I was surrounded by backpacks and their owners who had just returned from the Isle of White festival, which kicks off festival season in the UK. Sunday saw 35,000 people -- many Pagans -- descend upon the hugely popular Summer Solstice at Stonehenge in Wiltshire the weekend before Glastonbury festival.

This week I’m going to focus on some of the top new acts focusing on the folky side of the genres - to see at festivals in Europe and also try to persuade some of you that it really is worth spending your Summer holiday over in Europe next year, in a tent.

Despite the huge economic crisis that can’t be avoided, it seems that young people are still flocking to music events around the Globe. That said, I don’t think I’ll ever have enough money to get over to SXSW in Texas. It’s pretty much my dream festival, mainly due to lack of camping and the amazing line-ups every year.

This year saw a huge influx of around 200 British artists taking up spots on stages dotted around the Isle of White festival, including a keynote speech from Jarvis Cocker, of Pulp fame. Live performances included some of my favourite acts like: The Whip, an electro, rock, Indie band hailing from Manchester in the UK, which literally (excuse the pun) whips the crowd up in to a frenzied chaos every time they play.

One of my favourite female singers Laura Marling was there, doing it for the acoustic girls. She started out in the Indie folk band Noah and the Whale, which plays beautifully haunting yet somehow uplifting and catchy songs. You may have caught her name, as she seems to be slowly conquering America, and quite rightly so. With vocals only comparable to Joni Mitchell and other veteran folk greats, she whispers her way through the most sensational live music and equally beautiful recordings.

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So why come over to Europe to see live music? (I’m asking that now myself…) Well, here’s one big reason – The Boss, singing in the Somerset countryside to thousands of fans at Glastonbury, yes, Bruce Springsteen will be headlining the festival this weekend come rain and very unlikely, shine.

Also in the wake of a haze of reformations of 90’s bands – Blur will be playing to many of their lucky fans. To name a few new bands playing that I would recommend checking out – Alessi’s Ark, another young folk act fronted by a woman, but this time with slightly more hauntingly creepy vocals, which can’t really be compared to anyone at the moment -- much to her relief I’m sure.

Florence and the Machine is Florence Welch, who will be performing at a few other festivals this summer, including Bestival on the Isle of White, Lovebox in London, and Øyafestivalen in Oslo.

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She plays melodramatic, epic and exhilarating poppy music with many of her songs having already been remixed by some really big names. Check her out on my blog, or over on her Myspace if you want to know more.

Moving away from the UK, Sonar festival was held last week in Barcelona. One of a few big Spanish festivals, this one kicks off the dance party like only the Spanish know how. Headlining acts included Orbital, who are in my opinion amongst the finest British electronic acts and set a standard way back in 1989 with their trippy beats. Grace Jones, who needs no introduction, I hope! And also Fever Ray, one half of original electro masters The Knife.

After Sonar comes Benicassim in the middle of July; a festival that thousands of people travel far to get to for it’s party atmosphere and continually amazing line ups. This year sees The Kings of Leon, Oasis, Franz Ferdinand, Lily Allen and Paul Weller grace the stages. The biggest advantage if you are not tempted by camping in the heat is that this is held basically in the car park next to an incredible beach in Valencia, so why not take a holiday to Spain and plan it around the festivals.

I think that when I have enough money, I’m going to come to the States and head to Coachella or SXSW. What incredible line-ups you had this year, but in the mean time I’m packing my bags and heading off to Spain for some serious sunshine and good music. You should investigate too, there’s more information about the various festivals on my blog, and some new artists to look out for if you’re venturing out to some this year.

Miss the last Pop that Column? Read it here!

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Polly Applegate