The Cambridge Club: Feel-good music festival for ravers of all ages
It was founded by three friends who already ran an urban music event but decided, like good boys do, to listen to their mums, who were less than impressed with the music, and try launching a festival for a slightly older crowd.
The festival’s website says it’s founded on a “shared passion for feel-good music, letting loose and dancing”, bringing together “friends and family of all ages”. While the Radiohead-obsessed indie-lover in me twitches nervously at the very suggestion of “feel-good music”, anyone who follows my wife’s Instagram account will know I am prone to the occasional bout of “letting loose and dancing”.
Being one of the, uhm, slightly older crowd myself, I decided we should give it a whirl and chose their field in Cambridgeshire – Childerley Orchard to be precise – to introduce our two boys, age four and 22-months, to the gloriously grubby world of British musical festivals.
It kicked off early on Saturday afternoon, like all festivals should, on a dusty airstrip next to a field of wheat, waiting for an old double-decker bus to take us from the car park to the site a couple of miles away (thankfully, the inevitable trek at the other end with bags of bedding, booze and stuff to keep small children amused/alive is mercifully short).
Festivaling with children means the music sometimes has to take a back seat, and so we headed straight to The Orchard, a wonderful self-contained green space packed with healthy pursuits for the little ones. There’s a ‘throwing bean bags into a hole’ game, a small tent with giant Jenga and Connect 4, beachball tennis and even a mini skateboard half-pipe.
It’s also where you’ll find the comedy stage, which on Saturday was headlined by Marcus Brigstocke. Listening to him loudly eviscerating the “f*cking Tories” while I tried to help my four-year-old negotiate his first ever game of Swingball was hilariously jarring.
But what about the music? Luckily for us, the soul, funk and disco-heavy line-up largely matched the weather – sunny and breezy tunes were the order of the weekend.
While many would have been gutted that the big headline act, Lionel Ritchie, had to pull out, apparently fearing he might catch Covid if he caught a plane to the UK, there were plenty of retro big hitters on the bill – including Brand New Heavies, whose hour-long set was packed with instantly-recognisable classics including Dream on Dreamer, Never Stop and Midnight at the Oasis, as well as Mica Paris and, fresh from her glorious performance at the Platinum Party at the Palace, Diana Ross.
The crowd lapped it all up.
Inevitably at any festival, there’s one show that’s the talk of the next morning’s inordinately long coffee queue. Without doubt, it was the Saturday night headliner: Nile Rodgers + Chic. Their 90-minute set was a joyous, hip-shaking tour through Rodgers’ finest songs, spanning four decades. I Want Your Love, Everybody Dance and the closer Le Freak are the stuff of festival dreams.
The crowd was also treated to the full spectrum of his astounding and diverse collaborative work – a short version of Madonna’s Like A Prayer segued into Material Girl, both of which Rodgers produced. Lost In Music, David Bowie’s Let’s Dance and Daft Punk’s Get Lucky – all of them lit up by his signature choppy, laser-accurate groovy guitar – soared across this green and pleasant corner of England. The verdict on our family festival debut? A big thumbs up from the four of us. Another “feel good” weekend is already in the diary for 2023.