Daresbury Estate, Halton, Cheshire
Despite this being the 10th anniversary of Cream in a field, the event is still only just finding its feet as a festival, and has made several big leaps for this show. Moving to this new site on the Daresbury estate, taking the event from 24 hours to three-days and providing space for camping have together transformed Creamfields from an all-night rave to full-blown festival.
The Daresbury estate is a fairly isolated site outside the Liverpool boundary between Runcorn and Warrington. It’s a long-march from the station and motorway for those without cars, but The Fly is lucky to have motor transport for once, and thus manages to arrive on site in the sunshine, and nice and early.
For all the big names playing at this event, the campsite is still relatively small compared to some of the events we have been too. It seems as if the clubbers can’t quite get as used to getting muddy as the emos, punks and rockers, and many of those who are staying over it seems opted for the ready-made boutique camping available on the other side of the event. But no 5-star hotels or even luxury tepees for Fly staffers, we’re in the no-mark dome-tent for one with the rest of the normal-camping punters.
The police and security presence on entrance to both the campsite and arena is strong but not intrusive, and necessary due to the fact that past Creamfields events have attracted attention for violent incidents. There was, thankfully, very little of that this year, helped no doubt by the security measures, but also by the planning which saw the site more isolated and controlled, and the two-day programme meaning there was less of a demand to get totally destroyed in a short space of time.
Saturday though, remains the big night to party. Simian Mobile Disco are the first big act to play, and what big beats for such little fellahs. They’re even more non-descript looking in the flesh than the Chemical Brothers, but the Simian duo still manage to cut something of a dash as they run around the humongous main stage frantically plugging in leads.
It’s the audience though that’s the real visual stimulus, and this increases tenfold when SMD are followed by Pendulum. The Aussies full-band set up, sound and presence finds it easier to fill the main stage as they battle through their battle anthems.
By the evening though, we’ve had enough with such whippersnappers. On a more traditional Creamfields note, Paul Van Dyk throws in a popular local reference with his remix of The Wombats’ ‘Moving To New York’ and ends his set in spectacular style with signature tune ‘For An Angel’, which he debuted at Creamfields first event ten years ago.
Despite Creamfields sometimes fearsome reputation, the crowd are by-and-large jovial, even if few meatheads had clearly never been allowed out of their small towns before. That said, this still probably isn’t the kind of festival for you if you enjoy wearing plaid shirts and listening to The Shins makes you cry. Creamfields remains an event for the electronic music hardcore to do what they do best, get messed up and give it their all on something resembling a dancefloor.
Sunday arrives and we’re forced to consider the difficulty with an event such as this: After a long night on the house and techno, you’re usually not that keen on hearing it again the morning after.
However, The Fly is quickly re-invigorated by a set from local-boy James Rand on the Radio 1 bus. Winner of the recent Babycream DJ competition, he plays hard electronica, glitcy and deep. The lad clearly loves what he is doing, keeps a big, knackered crowd happy, and will no doubt go far. Sander van Doorn also keeps things going daytime wise in the Cream tent with his big, bold and deep sounds. The aforementioned tent is an immense structure, the biggest we’ve seen, and actually better than Cream’s home venue, Nation, in our humble opinion.
Headliners for the Sunday are Kasabian, who Creamfields main man James Barton has been trying to land for several years. This fact has clearly gone to the cheeky monkey’s heads as, despite providing some thumping tunes and a stellar light show, they seem intent on mocking their own audience throughout their set. This is perhaps because the audience thankfully seem to care more about music and good times than inflating the ego of some hairy lads from the East Midlands.
Showing them how it’s done is Underworld. Remarkably un-packed due to the spitting of the final set crowd between Tiesto, Kasabian and these lads, Underworld’s sheer performance energy, Karl Hyde is a dynamo in a gold-lame suit, coupled with their unquestionable back catalogue, make them hard to beat, and it will be this set – an hour and a half burned in the blink of an eye and the step of a beat, which will be our enduring memory of this momentous event. Cream seem to be learning how to make this event a festival proper, and Creamfields will hopefully continue to grow.
By Kenn Taylor