All the portents were bad: the last festival I went to I almost died from sickness and disease and this time the weather forecast was for Glastonbury-like weather but wetter and colder! This was, after all, the midway point in July - a month notorious for being shit.
Roger and I decided to set off at a leisurely pace; there wasn't a lot of point getting there early as there was only really on band we wanted to see. So, in strained sunshine in Shoesville, we hit the road for Gloucestershire and the home of bulky rugger players. It didn't rain. We got to Banbury and it didn't rain. We got to Chipping Warden and we saw a spit or two of rain, but the sky in front was clearing up; there was a rush of optimism from both of us. By the time we got to Stow the bright sky had been replaced by more grey uniform cloud and ten miles further on, while still dry, the sky looked ominous.
We stopped at the Royal Oak in Andoversford for a pint and a sandwich; neither were particularly inspiring. We then took the 4-wheel drive into off-road territory and found our way to a field cum car park. We got our shit together, locked the car up, got to the gates of the festival and the heavens opened and it struggled to improve from that point on.
We were pleasantly surprised that the two bars sold real ale, so we settled on a pint of that as we sheltered from the rain and when it stopped we made our way down to the main arena, where the rain started yet again, so we made our way to the main bar, found a couple of straw bales and settled down - Amplifier weren't due on stage until 7.15, it was 2.15...
The most incredible thing for the first two hours was watching the rain - it was a mixture of horizontal and that thick drizzle that permeates everything. We saw people getting drenched in minutes and Roger spent ages whinging about kids coming to festivals 'prepared', with wellies and waterproofs and pondered the fact they were all lily-livered mummy's kid who wouldn't know a real festival if it bit them on the arse and gave them a hickey!
About 4, as the rain eased for a moment, we headed back to the car - me to get my raincoat and get out of the soaking wet denim shirt I was wearing and Roger because he wanted to see how the Test match was doing - it was being rained off... On our way back to the festival, the heavens opened again - big time and we got into the Tree Lounge with about 700 other people and were treated to a nice little set by alternative folksters Sailorette, who were jolly enough to raise spirits. We decided to get down to the main stage to check out Sucioperro, but had missed them - they got drenched as the rain was driving towards the stage and Roger started worrying that the weather might delay the gigs because of health and safety reasons - frankly, I thought being electrocuted might have livened some of them up...
We also missed The Chapman Family, but got to see Charlie Barnes, a friend of Amplifier, who performs solo and is a bit like a walking one man Sigur Ros, with some balls. The guy is very amiable, came across well and his 26 minutes were, frankly, just not enough. We weren't expecting much and Charlie exceeded our expectations - check his page on Facebook out, but it doesn't really give you an idea of this guy's fantastic range.
Back to the bar while Rolo Tomassi were scaring adults and children alike with a set that from where we were sitting looked full of energy, screaming and plippy ploppy keyboards. Exit Ten were also stymied by the rain and sounded like a poor Pearl Jam, but they tried hard in front of a crowd that was outnumbered by those in the bar - by about 3 to 1.
Then something wondrous happened. I went for a piss at the eco toilets (15 bales of straw sewn together and you piss on them - presumably cows like urine soaked hay!) and when I came out there was something strange on the horizon - blue sky! By the time Amplifier came on stage to do their soundcheck it was quite feasible they would be the only band that day to play when it wasn't raining and the fact it started teaming it down five minutes after they finished, God was smiling on the boys from Manchester.
We were right down the front; I was using an umbrella I found (commandeered) as a leaning stick - my back doesn't take to standing for ages in damp conditions and Amplifier were having problems with their leads and behind us the biggest crowd of the day so far had formed. Finally the band broke into their first number and boy did they rock. I even found myself banging my head and jigging about as they thundered through a 55 minute set almost flawlessly - apart from Sel's guitar problems during the final number. Never has an hour whizzed by so fast and left me with the feeling that 2000 Trees had made the wrong decision to put Fightstar on as headliners - Amplifier were/are better than Fightstar - not that I stayed around to compare the two.
It took us 2 hours and 20 minutes to get there and 1 hour and 4o minutes to get back. I took the longer, more speedy route on the way home, mainly because my back and shoulder were now beginning to scream blue murder at me. I pulled up outside of Roger's house at 10 on the dot, just as Fightstar were about to embark into the arenas of mud. And that is what 2000 Trees became - on the way back to the car after Amplifier, we saw just how much and what damage the rain had caused; rivers of mud everywhere and even the 4x4 struggled on the slippery slopes. We both agreed that if the sun had been shining it was have been an idyllic setting; but it was cold and wet and only an hour of decent weather during Amplifier made it worth it.
Wouldn't be fair to rate this, but I'd give Amplifier 9 out of 10, roll on their next UK tour!