Kew the Music stands out on the festival circuit as a week-long series of music fests based in the gorgeous setting of the Royal Botanical Gardens of Kew, London. Over previous years the event has hauled in some phenomenal acts including Razorlight, Simply Red,, Mary J Blige, James and many more. 2019 has seen a plethora of new acts join those legendary lineups including Rick Astley, Billy Ocean and even Lewis Capaldi hitting the stage.
But amidst such a dazzling array of lineups, we were particularly impressed to see 90s rockers Garbage taking centre stage supported by the indie sensation Sleeper! With the promise of an afternoon of sun, stunning gardens and nineties nostalgia we jumped on a train and hit the gorgeous gardens of Kew.
Walking through the entrance of The Royal Botanical Gardens you really could be forgiven for forgetting you’re in London. It’s a beautiful part of the city with absolutely stunning flora and fauna and seemingly every turn. Setting a music festival in such a remarkably green area really is a stroke of genius and as a location it stands head and shoulders over so many other festivals we’ve attended in the city.
What really set Kew the Music apart from so many other festivals is the fact you can bring your own drink! So often festival bars are hugely overpriced so this made for a welcome change. Not only drinks were allowed but picnics were actively welcomed, which made for a completely refreshing take to the festival experience. It should be said Kew The Music also offer a range of delicious picnic and BBQ options but it was fantastic to be offered the option of being able to bring your own dinner and eat it in such a lavish setting.
If you didn’t have a picnic though the food on offer was first-rate, with a great selection including crepes, halloumi wraps and German sausages (we particularly loved the seitan version of the latter ). So with our food sorted and drinks sorted we decided to head down to the main stage to grab a spot for the evening’s musical entertainment.
Garbage’s official tour support Du Blonde took to the stage first, offering a truly alt-rock set and felt very much in line with the two headliners that evening. Admittedly it was a little strange to watch so many people still remain seated with music on the main stage just a stone’s throw away but it was a unique experience and one we enjoyed nonetheless.
Next up the mighty Sleeper took to the stage. It’s been a joy to see the rebirth of the nineties group who’s hits graced many a ‘Shine’ album back in the day. Louise Wener is still a phenomenal frontwoman and the band are impressively tight. Crowd favourites such as ‘Inbetweener’ and ‘Sale of the century’ go down a storm – not to mention an awesome cover of Blondie’s ‘Atomic’ which gets a huge reaction of approval from the crowd.
It’s fair to say it would be a hard task to follow such a superb set from such renowned indie rockers, but then again Garbage have always carved a way through the music scene since they first appeared back in the early nineties. Shirley Manson has to be one of the best frontwomen out there today and is as ever calm and collected as she lead the band through classics including Romeo and Juliet soundtrack classic #1Crush, Queer and Stupid Girl. There’s a notable absence of legendary drummer Butch Vig who’s suffered a shoulder injury, however, his stand-in Eric Gardner who’s covered for bands such as The Smashing Pumpkins comfortably fills his place with a blazing performance. The band always appear to be in great spirits and tonight’s no difference with Shirley and guitarists Duke Erikson and Steve Marker (now rocking a mammoth beard) joking around. Duke and Steve also once again demonstrate their sheer brilliance raging through those notable riffs which have comfortably kept the band in the spotlight.
It should also be said lighting for the stage really comes into its own with Garbage’s set as the sun slowly descends. Shirley herself points out that the unique light from the ‘golden hour’ at sundown is known by her native Scotland as ‘Gloaming’ – it’s an incredible backdrop to a remarkable set.
After the crowd has gone wild for the band’s melancholy rock hit ‘Only Happy When it Rains’ the group return for an encore of their Version 2.0 classic ‘When I grow up’. Amidst the thunderous electronic drums and high energy melodies it’s an immense end to an incredible set. This might be the band’s last set for a while as they finish their European tour, but it’s clear there’s no chance anyone will be forgetting this night anytime soon.
To keep updated on future Kew events please visit www.kewthemusic.org/