Fake Festival at Endcliffe Park, May 18, 2019

Oashish, The Stones, Guns 2 Roses, Stereotonics, Green Date and Duran made up the line up of cover bands that turned Endcliffe Park into a joyful, sweaty mess on Saturday.

Tribute acts (or cover bands that dress up a bit, to the uninitiated) are big business. You only have to look at the line-up of the O2 Academy each month to see that without them, plenty of live music venues would have almost knack all on. And a sold out line up of bands celebrating the best of rock music from the 60s to today showed that Fake Festival is a concept that isn’t going anywhere soon.

And yes, it’s easy to be snobby about it all, it’s not ‘proper’ music really is it? But the bottom line is, some of yours and my favourite bands are either a) no longer touring b) so old and knackered they sound nothing like you want them to or c) dead. So actually, a decent tribute act is probably as good as it’s going to get in lots of cases.

And rock music especially lends itself well to this kind of thing. There is not only a rich history of acts to mine, but it works best in the live arena, particularly when you have acts as accomplished as those on display today and a sound system that really did them justice.

The Fake Festival experience is a pretty polished one. You can buy booze vouchers in blocks to avoid queues at the bar (£3.50 a drink is pretty good value these days too) and there’s plenty to keep the kids happy outside if heavy rock and indie isn’t quite their thing. And as the whole thing is kept within the confines of Endcliffe Park and it’s easy to get in and out, with no trouble at all you can set up camp in the park and just nip in and out for whichever band you fancy.

Anyway, the music. The imaginatively titled Duran (yes, you guessed it, a Duran Duran cover act) kicked off proceedings, but as my wife wanted us to bring roughly three carboot-fulls of food and camping equipment, I’m sorry to say we missed them. But Green Date, who were next up, did a grand job of getting my particular party started – with Basket Case and set closer American Idiot the highlights.

It wasn’t until I watched The Stereotonics that I realised just how many Stereophonics songs I knew and just how much I liked them. I’d always had them down as a so-so kind of indie band but today, I was converted. Yes, the loudest singalong response came for set closer Dakota but plenty of us belted our hearts out to the likes of Have A Nice Day (“Ba, ba da da, ba ba ba da da”), Maybe Tomorrow and Caught By The Wind… bangers the lot of them.

We took a time out while Guns 2 Roses and The Stones did their thing but were back in the throng for headline act Oasish. It was a bit of shock on the way on when we bumped into the Stereotonics lead singer swapping his Kelly Jones wig for his Liam Gallagher one (“what do you mean you’re the same band?”… “double bubble…”) but that didn’t mean his Liam impersonation was any poorer than his Kelly one. And to be fair, his Manchester accent was just as convincing as his Welsh one too.

And as hundreds of us sang along to Little By Little, Supersonic, Cigarettes and Alcohol and loads of other huge 90s hits, it was hard to be cynical. Yes, you can’t ever really replace the real thing, no matter how dodgy Liam’s voice is sometimes, how expensive Rolling Stones tickets are these days or how far you’ll likely be from the stage. But if it’s a hands-in-the-air-like-you-just-don’t-care singalong you’re after at a decent price, Fake Festival nails it in spades.

Phil Turner


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