Bospop 2006: The diary of a Radio Caroline ticket winner
Click HERE for the pictures.
I had an email from Pandora on
Sunday 2nd July, which read “Steve, your mission if you wish to accept it, is to
find a family member or friend, and for you and he/her to book time off work and
transport to go over to Weert in the Netherlands on Friday 7th July 2006, to
attend this years Bospop pop/rock festival. This email will self destruct as
soon as you have read it!” Seriously, I was lucky to win a pair of tickets from
Radio Caroline thanks to Pandora and Bospop organiser Paul Adriaens. I failed in
my challenge to find anyone to go with at such short notice, despite trying very
hard, because none were as lucky as me to have an understanding boss who let me
take the necessary time off. I research the various transport options and
decided that the most cost effective option was to book the Dutch Flyer, which
is the combination of rail and ferry travel that starts at London’s Liverpool
Street Railway station and ends at any Dutch station of your choice, including a
ferry sailing from Harwich to the Hook of Holland. This can cost as little as
£50, if you book more than one week in advance, but because I was less than
this, I had to pay the full fare, which was still good value at £90.
Friday 7th July.
I got up at 04.00 hours to get the 04.59 train from Folkestone to Liverpool Street, London, then the 08.18 train to Harwich, for me to sail at 10.40 to the Hook of Holland. The crossing was nice and calm, which was fortunate as it is a long one. The last time I did so, the sea was rough and I know a couple of my daughters were seasick! I arrived at the Hook at 15.20 Dutch time (BST + 1 hour) and from there I got trains to Rotterdam, then Eindhoven, then finally to Weert. There was supposed to be a frequent bus service from Weert railway station to the Boshoven Sports Park, where the festival was being held, but some Dutch guys had been waiting thirty minutes when I arrived. After another ten, I used my initiative, when I noticed there were a couple of mini bus taxis parked nearby. I asked one of the drivers how much it would be to book the full 8 seater to go to Bospop. It was only 12 Euros, the equivalent of 1.5 Euros each (I think the official Bospop bus, had it been available, was 2 Euros), so I booked both taxis, as there were enough rock fans to fill them.
Upon my arrival I picked up from the ticket office my armbands for admission to the festival and a separate one for the camping. This went smoothly by just handing in my email from Pandora. Next I made my way to the camping site and put my tent up, during which time it started to rain a bit. It was now around 20.30 hours, so the “Charlatans” were on stage, and whilst I was not able to see them, I could hear their set clearly. I had missed “Fiction Plane”, who I presume kicked off the festival as billed at 19.00 hours.
When my tent was securely erected, I headed off to the festival grounds, armed with camera to take some pictures for this report. There was only one snag. My camera was deemed to be too big, so I could not take it in with me. I had to leave it with the security staff. As soon as I got into the grounds, it was amazing that out of the thousands of people already there, the first ones that I saw were Jim Ross and Maria. We were all pleased to see each other. They had arrived this morning at around 08.00 hours, after travelling overnight on a coach. Jim had not brought any merchandise to set up a Radio Caroline stall. He had just come to talk to the artistes back stage and try to arrange interviews etc with some of them. Earlier they had seen Peter Timmerman, another Radio Caroline fan. I had corresponded with Peter via email, but had never met him before. Jim and Maria went off to do their own thing and I didn't see them again that evening.
All bands performed on the main stage tonight and at around 22.15 it was the turn of Sting, who I was looking forward to seeing. He was the headline and final act of the first evening, who played until 23.45. He started with SOS, one of many Police hits that he performed. He also sang his version of the Beatles “A day in the life”, which I had not heard him do before. After playing for thirty minutes, it started to rain, but luckily it was a fine drizzle and it failed to dampen the spirits of the crowd.
When the music ended, I decided to look around to see what food stalls were open, because I was feeling a little hungry. When I was arrived at the one selling Pizza’s I heard a voice from behind saying “Another Caroline fan”. I was wearing one of the many Caroline t-shirt that I had brought with me. The voice was that of Peter Timmerman, who lives in the north part of the Netherlands. He had also been given a pair of tickets by Pandora, but couldn't find any one to go down south for 4 days of rock and roll. It was good that we had found each other and we stuck together for most of the remainder of festival. I had a late night Ice Cream to sooth my throat, because over the preceding few days it had been sore. A final cold beer also helped. Everything at the festival had to be paid for with tickets. Each ticket cost 1.80 Euros and one small size beer or soft drink cost one ticket. After a chat Peter and we decided to retire for the night at around 01.30 hours. Despite the noise from a nearby marquee selling food and drink and piping out loud music till the early hours, I was able to go to sleep almost immediately. Mind you I was a tired after being up since 04.00 hours this morning! Peter had brought with him an old heavy frame tent, but rather than have the hassle of putting it up, he decided to sleep in his car.
Saturday 8th July.
I got up and found that the camping facilities included hot showers at a cost of one ticket. You rarely find such luxury at UK festivals, although this year's "Rockinbeerfest" advert, currently being run on Radio Caroline, states that these will be available. The water for washing and shaving was cold though, but a good way of waking you up! There were two types of toilets available for the campers. Portaloos that were emptied and cleaned every morning, after which was the best time to use them and several others also thought so to as there was always a queue afterwards. I think it was Richard Lavelle who recently said on his breakfast show that he had seen a documentary on the Glastonbury Festival and they had shown how disgusting the toilets were. The men also had the option to have a "P" standing at a plastic tower thingy that they even have in the some Dutch town centre streets. I found these a bit degrading to use, because everyone, including the woman can openly see what you are doing. I think they tried putting the same type of urinals out in Ashford (a town in Kent near where I live) town centre on Friday and Saturday nights. I am not sure if this was a success and if they still do so. In the actual festival grounds there were plenty of proper flushing toilets, probably because this is normally a sports stadium. Well I think that's enough toilet talk!
After a shave and shower I went into the nearby food and drink marquee to have what seemed to be a traditional Dutch breakfast. This was two slices of white bread. One with a slice of ham on and the other with cheese (probably Edam), then these were both topped with a broken fried egg with mixed in small strips of bacon. I washed this down with a cup of tea. The total cost was 3 tickets.
I met the organiser Paul Adriaens briefly this morning at the entrance to the festival and I was glad that I was able to thank him personally for my tickets. The previous night I had also spoken to another member of the family. Bospop is the smallest rock/pop festival in Holland with an attendance of around 20,000. The family want it to stay small. It has done so for 26 years now. At the end of the three days I could see why. There was certainly a nice family, friendly atmosphere about the place. I didn’t see any trouble and everyone young and old got on well together and seemed to enjoy the mix of music, old and new.
I went into the festival, but again my camera was not allowed. Every time I went through the security I was given a different reason (too many mega-pixels, no camera with a detachable lens, too big etc). It seemed that each security person had his own rules. However, I was lucky on the last day. I was told my camera was OK, because it had a focal length of 18 – 55 mm, which was less than 75mm, the maximum allowed. What this guy did not know is that on a digital camera the focal length of a lens needs to be multiplied by approximately 1.5, so I was slightly over his specified limit. Despite these rules, some of the compact cameras and even mobile phones these days have high mega pixels, powerful zoom lens and even the capability to record video with sound. I even saw someone using a domestic camcorder! On the day I was allowed to take my camera in, when using it to photograph Simply Red, I was told NOT to use it. The whole situation regarding photography was a farce and the only major criticism I had of Bospop. At the last festival I went to, which was the “Rockinbeerfest” in 2004, I had no problems using my camera at any time and in fact the organiser asked me for permission to use some of my photos in the following years programme.
My only other disappointment with Bospop was that you could not buy a shirt printed with the artist line up. They were selling ones from previous years with the names on, including last year’s 25th Anniversary edition. A T-Shirt with the names was printed exclusively for the staff to wear, but I was told that due to copyright reasons they could not print and sell these to the general public, because some of the more famous artists wanted to sell their own merchandise instead.
After watching a couple of the lesser know bands and eating some festival food, of which there was a wide variety available (Chinese, Pizza, Pasta, Waffles, Vegetarian, Burgers, Hot Dogs, Frittes with or without mayonnaise and even healthy stuff like fruit), I decided to take a short music break and went to look at the town of Weert, which was nice. I made sure I was back for Popa Chubby, who my camping neighbours told me was good and worth seeing. I was not disappointed by the blues/rock that he played, including a great version of “Hey Joe”.
Next up with Beth Hart, from the US. She certainly made it known that she hates President Bush and she dedicated a few not so complimentary songs to him. I know Maria, Jim Ross’s partner, thought she was great!
I went over to the tent for “Stream of Passion”, who are a band with three rock chicks in their line up and they sound like a heavier version of “Evanescence”.
Afterwards, I went back over to the main stage for “Starsailor”. The members of this band looked so young, or maybe this is just a sign that I am getting old! It was amazing that even the more senior members of the audience appeared to be enjoying their music.
I returned to the tent for Glen Hughes (ex Deep Purple), who disappointingly only did one Purple track, “Mistreated”, and that was a cover song that they did. I know several in the audience were expecting him to do “Child in time”, so like me, they went away disappointed.
Over on the main stage Anouk were very popular with the Dutch crowd. Peter Timmerman, who I had managed to meet up with again, informed me that they have been one of Holland’s top bands for many years. I didn’t think they were as good as the likes of Focus, Golden Earring (how I wish they had been there!), Earth and Fire, Shocking Blue or Kayak.
The tent did not have a large enough capacity for everyone who wanted to see Alan Parsons. They should have been on the main stage instead of some of the earlier lesser-known bands. When the tent was full it got too hot and claustrophobic, or certainly it was for Peter and I. We had to come out and listen from outside. We could not see the stage much after we did, but it sounded like there were a few technical problems during one of their numbers. It was clear that the highlight for the fans was when “Don’t answer me” was played.
The headline band today was Simple Minds, who did a great performance from 23.00 to 00.20 hours to finish off day two. They performed most of their hits. By now, after standing most of the day, my feet were really aching, so I was glad to go back to my tent and lie down. Like last night I was able to get to sleep with ease, despite any local noise.
Sunday 9th July.
After a shave, shower, the same breakfast as yesterday and some time writing rough notes for this report, I went into the festival grounds ready for Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel to appear on the main stage. I met up with Jim and Maria again. Unfortunately Steve and his band were only given a slot of forty-five minutes. He stated that they normally do a two and a half hour set. Towards the end, Steve took a video of the audience and said he was going to put it on his website. I am not sure if he did so, but I think it is only fair that I can include photos of him with my report. Steve teased the audience before he played a fantastic live version of “Sebastian”. Jim and Maria went back stage and I did not see them again during the rest of the weekend.
The first band on the tent stage today was the Julian SAS Band (Blues), followed by the popular Dutch band Racoon on the main stage. I met up again with Peter Timmerman and we had our photo taken by Bert Treep, who is a Dutch professional progressive rock photographer (IO Magazine). You can see a collection of his great Bospop 2006 photos at http://home.planet.nl/~bert.treep/
After a few relatively unknown bands, it was great to have a performance by Joe Jackson. Bad feedback spoilt the introduction of his first song, resulting in him starting it again. In fact he was so P’d off with poor sound quality throughout his set that he ended by saying, “See you again and hopefully next time we’ll have had the opportunity to do a sound check”. Despite the sound issues, Joe was excellent and went down well. However, it must be said that apart from some glitches yesterday with the Alan Parsons Project and the poor quality Joe experienced, the sound quality during the rest of the weekend was very good and trouble free.
Later on the main stage was Bryan Ferry and Roxy Music. From the distance I was from the stage (about twenty feet), Bryan looked the same as he did when he first hit the charts in the 1970’s. Notably he had the same amount, style and colour of hair. He sounded good too and so did his band, especially young guitarist Ollie Thompson, who was very popular with the crowd.
Next the Waterboys were on stage in the tent, but like Alan Parsons, they were too popular to be in there and should have been on the main stage. Peter and I had to listen from outside, which was a shame, because they sounded good. It was around this time that Peter and I met a couple from Scotland, who had heard about Bospop through Pandora. Unfortunately I have misplaced or lost the piece of paper on which they wrote down their names, so if they are reading this report, please email me your details. Once again wearing a Caroline T-shirt made me stand out from the crowd and this resulted in me making contact with fellow listeners. I recommend that all Caroline fans and supporters wear their Caroline merchandise as often as possible, to not only publicise the station, but to facilitate the meeting of other listeners.
The final act of the evening and the festival was Simply Red. They are not really a Radio Caroline band, but even so they gave a professional, good sounding performance, which the audience certainly enjoyed as the finale to what was a great and well-organised weekend. They played all their hits and ended with their cover of “If you don’t know me by now”.
Monday 10th July.
I was up early to shower and pack, then eat and enjoy one last Dutch breakfast. Peter gave me a lift to Weert Railway station. On my way back to the Hook of Holland for the 16.00 hour sailing, I stopped off at Eindhoven to do some sight seeing, because my Mum and Dad spent some time here after they first got married, as Dad at the time was employed by Philips in Blackburn, Lancashire and this is the town were the company was founded. The original factory has now been turned into a museum.
After several hours of being on trains and a boat I eventually arrived back in Folkestone to reflect on a very enjoyable weekend for which I thank Pandora, Radio Caroline, Paul Adriaens and every one else that was involved in organising Bospop 2006. I hope that the festival was a financial success. Thanks also to Peter Timmerman for his company over the weekend. It was nice to meet you and hopefully we will do so again in the future.
Steve Szmidt, Hawkinge, Kent, England.
PS. I received this nice email shortly after the above report was published: Hi Steve Just read your report on Bospop, been keeping an eye out for it - we were that couple from Scotland! You're spot on with your summary of the event & the facilities, it is about the right size, not too big, and if the line up is anything like as good next year we will seriously be considering going again. Really good to meet up with you, keep up the good work & I'll be wearing my Caroline t-shirt on a regular basis in future - I also have a newer Caroline baseball cap, guess what, they both arrived from Caroline Sales on the Tuesday after Bospop, never mind. Anyway better get back to listening to Pandora. Cheers Justin & Joanne Kirkhope, Falkirk, Scotland
Click HERE for the pictures.