One of Mumford & Sons intentions for their Gentlemen Of The Road tour is to celebrate the local people and areas they visit, and for their tour opening date at Huddersfield’s Greenhead Park they certainly succeeded.

Lots of the festival goers took on the festival’s suggestion of following Huddersfield’s Real Ale trail, and the station’s Head of Steam pub was a popular meeting point judging by the number of waistcoats and straw hats on show. A short walk from there is Greenhead Park which has recently benefited from a set of multi-million pound improvements. The approaching walk up to the festival’s arena area showed off the park to its best and began to set the expectation that Huddersfield were serious about this being a successful festival.

The main arena was well laid out with the main stage and second stage easily viewable without having to move, meaning you could happily camp out in one place for the whole day and miss nothing. There was a raised, sloped area of to the side of the main stage which meant we had an uninterrupted view all day long! The only hiccup was that the loos were initially unisex and this lead to queues of over 45 minutes. To their credit the festival organisers and security sorted this quickly and by the time the evening rush of festival goers arrived normal festival standards were in place.

The focus on the local area continued with the food and drink, with a one off festival ‘Stop Over’ ale available for that day only, as well as some excellent food. I had some succulent Pig’s Cheeks with Mash and Scratchings by Mustard & Punch, which I’d recommend to all.

The afternoon’s acts had to compete with the drizzly Yorkshire weather, but all of them got the crowd moving and refused to let things dampen anyone’s festival spirits. Huddersfield’s own Rag Tags did their home town proud, and another highlight was Sheffiled’s Slow Club with their folk based sound using alternative instruments (I think glass bottles were in play at one point). By far the stand out act for the afternoon was Willy Mason who had the crowd at his whim with his amazing lyrics and crowd pleasing set, seeing him alone was worth the visit!!

As the evening came the weather improved and Michael Kiwanuka’s set got the crowd swaying and singing along – a good choice of warm up to the main act as his performance of ‘Home Again’ had us all singing together.

The arrival of the main act was heralded by Huddersfield’s town crier in full dress, and the crowd did as he asked when they gave Mumford and Sons “a big Yorkshire Welcome”.  The band opened with ‘Lovers Eyes’ followed by ‘Roll Away Your Stone’ and the crowd went wilder with each song they performed. The set was mixed with performances of new material, the epic sounding 'Below My Feet', as well as 'Whispers In The Dark' and a more low key song titled 'Ghosts That We Knew' - the new songs bode very well for their second album.

The band put in a strong set lasting near to an hour and half, and left me knowing that when I now listen to the album flashes and recollections of this amazing gig would be with me for a long time to come. The fitting climax to their performance was watching the crowd bounce and holler along to ‘Sigh No More’ and the final song ‘The Cave’.

One of the great aspects of The Gentlemen Of The Road festival is that it doesn’t end with the main act, and Mumford and Sons were immediately followed by The Correspondents who soon amassed a good crowd. My repeated recommendations for them to everyone I met (I have been a strong fan since seeing them at Camp Bestival last year) may have helped, but I suspect it was the infectious swing beats of The Correspondents that pulled them in. One of my lasting images of this festival will be the crowds of back lit people jazz handing and jive dancing to ‘Bad Ragsaw Boogie’!

Unfortunately I had to be on the road soon after this, but on my trip home I got a tweet from a friend stating “I just raved my chuffing ass off”. Not bad going for a folk festival in a Yorkshire town.

Gentlemen of the Road and Huddersfield, you did us all proud.

9th June – Gentlemen of the Road Stopover In Galway – Mumford & Sons, The Vaccines, Willy Mason, Zulu Winter, Nathaniel Rateliff, The Correspondents Tickets HERE

Part 2  Part 3 Part 4

Review by Seb Greenwood