The canal and rivers that flow through Winsford once carried pure white gold, salt, from the town’s mines to Liverpool, Manchester, and other seats of industry. Currently, the canal serves to bring people to Winsford; boatloads – quite literally! – of happy revelers descend on the area’s pubs and bars; pretty painted barges moor up and people disembark to enjoy gin and tonics in the summer sun. On Saturday and Sunday the great and good of the North West’s music scene joined them: The Offcut Festival was in its 4th year, and showing signs that it has developed into a must see for musos and festival goers across the region.
With bars, food trucks, and stalls popping up all over the Winsford common – a broad expanse of grass that runs downhill into the River Weaver – there was plenty to quench thirsty throats, feed hungry tummies, and appeal to people looking for everything from records to facepainting.
But it was the music, even more than the sun, that shone. Both days started with young, hungry bands, looking to make most of the opportunity they had been given to impress, and impress they did. Crowds that had been milling about, ordering pints, tucking into pizzas, were drawn to the stage area by the rumble of guitars – and their reaction clearly showed that they liked what they heard!
Everyone likes to see local lads and lasses do well, and bands such as Plastic, Shakedown Stockholm, and The Luka State have all made a noise that has attracted fans from far beyond the town they call home. So, after generating so much buzz, and gaining so many plaudits from further afield, it was nice for them to have such a rapturous welcome for their homecoming.
Going on just before Sunday’s headline act, Henge were perhaps the breakout act of the festival. As the sun dipped below the throngs of trees that enclosed the festival area and the stage headlights illuminate a crowd of expectant faces space-glam-rockers Henge descended. Dressed like what you’d expect if Slade had been from Saturn, not the midlands, they treated the crowd to a mind-altering display of guitar-driven psychedelia.
It was some act to follow, but legendary scouse singer-song writer John Power was more than up to the task! The former Cast and La’s fontman played a selection of his solo works, before closing on the crowd-pleasing classics from his back catalogue.
As I, and others, walked away from the stage, down the winding path, and out into the town itself, there was a sense that the people of Winsford had, for two glorious days and nights, been part of something truly special. Roll on next year!
Words by James Stanier