Photo: Tunes in the Dunes
Growing up, Perranporth was my family’s yearly holiday destination. Crammed into our rusting camper van, we’d camp for a week in the local sites, and come rain or shine, we’d spend hours on the beach. So, when traveling back to the golden sand-dunes of Cornwall for Tunes in the Dunes, (now in a car which won’t break down every 20 miles), I was excited to party in the idyllic destination.
Through the gates, the cosy festival holds only two stages – The Main Stage, and The Other Stage, plus an Estrella DJ stand (which gifted us with non-stop bangers) and a circus tent. Lined with bars and local food stands, the festival has everything you could need to survive three days of music – besides fresh water (come on guys, it’s an essential!).
Friday brings Newton Faulkner’s rugged voice to the Main Stage, as he intertwines both originals and covers, including Kanye West’s ‘Gold Digger’, all while providing anecdotes of having to wear children’s factor 50 sunscreen. Moving to the Other Stage, we catch – what turns out to be our favourite set of the weekend – The Skatalites, who define the sound of Jamaica through ska, even bringing the original singer from the 60’s on stage to join.
As the sky grows darker, Plain White T’s power through an array of ballads, the crowd shouting along to their famous hit ‘Hey There Delilah’ like a well-rehearsed choir, before John Newman dons the stage in a gorgeous gold jacket, pulling the rowdiest crowd of the day. Circa Waves bring extra class to the Main Stage with sharp suits and jaunty keys, their music providing the heavy riffs we’ve been missing.
Saturday morning starts with outdoor yoga to wake up the campers, and despite the muggy weather, the artists come out in full-force. Winner of ‘The Voice’ Molly Hocking swoons emotive vocals on the Main Stage, while The Barefoot Bandit get bodies moving on the Other Stage and the circus tent fills with stilt performers and silent disco dancers. Local hero’s Fisherman’s Friends sing of celebrating life and love, their accordion and violin bringing light to the grey sky as the clouds disperse. Chef’Special get the filling crowd swaying on their feet as they serenade with a full band, including trombones (the best of all instruments?), before ramping up the pace and walking along the speakers and barrier – frontman Joshua Nolet exhibiting surprisingly impressive balance.
As the sun hides and the stage lights illuminate, Gabrielle spills nostalgia onto the beach, and proves that dreams really can come true as members of the crowd clamber onto each other’s shoulders to watch a real wedding roll-out on stage. Another artist wearing a striking jacket, Gabrielle hops from one hit to another, ending on crowd pleaser ‘Out of Reach’. Bananarama close the night with their faultless harmonies and 90’s synth backing – ideal boogie bangers.
Sunday sees Company B filling the Other Stage, their smooth notes and bouncing double bass getting the crowd dancing swing – not to mention their vintage army uniforms looking the part. Diablo performances impress onlookers in the circus tent, while The Sugarhill Gang get the crowd jumping to bongos and suave basslines. Gentlemen’s Dub Club follow, providing intricate riffs, as the band synchronise and dance across the stage. The festival swills with movement and life after the injection of rap and funk, just in time for the headliner’s Madness. Opening with ‘Embarrassment’, and laughing with the crowd between songs, it seems they’ve been what everyone has been waiting for – all eyes are on them. The full length of the beach is piled with festival-goers bopping along to classics ‘Baggy Trousers’ and ‘Our House’, the perfect way to end a fun-filled weekend.
If you’re looking for a small, family-friendly festival with views to die for and music for all ages, Tunes in the Dunes would be well worth the trip. Just be prepared for wet weather and sandy socks!