Last weekend saw a unique event brought to the town, the turnstiles that are more used to having football supporters come through them welcomed thousands of music fans over a weekend that featured a star-striking variety of the world’s best tribute acts.
Wannasee Festival was formed just last year, and its’ popularity at Bishop Auckland Football Club in 2014 led to organisers not only arranging a second festival, but bringing it across the North to Cumbria. Tickets were grabbed eagerly, over 2,000 sold days before, and when word spread closer to the event it made for a real festival atmosphere.
After Friday night’s line-up that included The Long Tall Beatles, those that opted not to set up camp adjacent to the stadium flocked to the event on Saturday both open-minded and yet to realise how much they actually like ABBA. The Police tribute, Police Academy began the day before 1pm and they’d hardly sung a line before revellers swapped their cash for tokens and exchanged them for refreshments at an encouraging £3 a pint. Wannasee regard themselves as making festivals both enjoyable and affordable, and being able to have a drink at a live event without breaking the bank only added to the atmosphere that developed through ‘Elton John’ and The Killerz. The best act of the day so far came as the sun began to shine, Oasish were not only an accurate copy but also a superb live act in themselves. Playing the songs that a huge amount of the crowd have amongst their favourites, they set Saturday evening off to a great start.
Bon Jovi Forever will have been been penned as the highlight by the club’s England international Bradley Hodgson long before the weekend, and he was amongst a now very large crowd to see the tribute of New Jersey’s band that have been popular for towards 30 years. It was when Planet ABBA, costume perfected, that the festival shifted into sing-along mode and the entire crowd were enjoying singing every word of “Waterloo”, “Chiquitita” and more. The headline act followed and a resurrected Freddie Mercury made Penrith as close to Wembley in 1986 as it’s ever been. ‘Freddie’s’ showmanship was as striking as always, and an assault of classics for 90 minutes brought the day to a close in reminiscent and majestic fashion.
Sunday was held in similar fashion, Guns or Roses ended the weekend at the end of a day which featured sets from tributes of Red Hot Chilli Peppers and The Clash either side of the impressive Stereotonics. A year since their Leicester homecoming, Kasabian (almost) played just after 6 o’clock on Fathers Day as the weather held up for the duration of the weekend. By the time Axl Rose walked on to the stage on Sunday evening, many were already certain they would be back again next year, and with the festival being such a success you would expect nothing less than there to be a second Wannasee Festival in Penrith in 2016.