After Cornbury Festival suffered “financial meltdown”, many feared that it was gone for good. But that was to underestimate Hugh Phillimore’s fanatical commitment to “his baby,” which in its eighth year was transplanted down the road to Great Tew Park.
With glorious surroundings, lovely sunshine and an impressive bill stretching over three days, ‘Poshstock’ fittingly managed to bring us a truly great band that few expected to see perform again. The Faces, headliners on Saturday, split up in the mid-70s when Ronnie Wood joined the Stones and Rod Stewart went solo. Stewart’s foolish refusal to join the party suggested a reunion might never happen — until Wood and company decided to recruit Mick Hucknall of Simply Red and ex-Sex Pistols bass player Glen Matlock for a handful of dates.
At Cornbury, the Faces were finally able to lay to rest the idea they had just been Stewart’s backing band. They were sensational in a way the Stones could never be without Mick, or Zeppelin without Plant.
Hitting their stride with a raucous Miss Judy’s Farm, they ploughed through a back catalogue that included hits (Cindy Incidentally), superb covers (Maybe I’m Amazed) and memorable tributes to late member Ronnie Lane (Ooh La La and Debris). There was even an encore of Small Faces songs (Tin Soldier and All or Nothing), to remind us that Ian McLagan and Kenney Jones belonged to two legendary bands.
Taking centre stage for much of the show, Ronnie Wood’s guitar playing was blistering, never more so than on I’d Rather Go Blind and I’m Losing You, two great Faces songs that Stewart managed to nab for his own (and best) albums.
As for Hucknall, faced with replacing one of rock’s most distinctive voices but without Rod’s distinctive stage presence, he simply sang his heart out, hitting high notes I fear today’s Rod would struggle with. I saw Stewart at Newbury a month ago. The Faces did not win on points — it was a knockout.
Ray Davies had earlier put Cornbury in party mood with Kinks favourites Sunny Afternoon, A Well Respected Man and Victoria, while Vietnam Cowboys showed he can still turn in a bitingly insightful lyric. But with the sun going down over the beautiful North Oxfordshire countryside, he inexplicably left out both Waterloo Sunset and Days, satisfying himself instead with bringing the festival to its feet with Lola.
Reproduced with thanks to Reg Little and The Oxford Times