Norfolk Spectacular making big noise

Some of the biggest chart-topping names in urban music will be bringing the sights and sounds of the city to the normally countrified surrounds of Norfolk Showground this weekend for Norfolk Spectacular music festival. And organisers have big plans. SIMON PARKIN reports.

Norfolk Showground is more used to countryside activities — but this weekend it will be the site for some alto-gether more urban sights and sounds.

Some of the biggest names in urban music will be taking to the stage for the first Norfolk Spectacular, a two-day festival that is already rivalling some of its bigger more established events.

Organisers have assembled a genuinely impressive line-up of talent that reads like a who's who of recent chart toppers, including Alexandra Burke, N-Dubz, Chase and Status, Example, Tinie Tempah and Taio Cruz.

More than 30,000 people from across the region — including thousands of youngsters from Norwich, who perhaps still can't quite believe its happening right on their doorstep — are expected to descend on the Showground.

Many will be making a weekend of it and either camping on the site or checking into nearby hotels and bed and breakfasts, offering a late summer boost to the local economy.

It is the second new music festival of the summer following on from the inaugural Play Fest, a smaller indie-focused event at Eccles Hall, Quidenham, which proved a success in May and adds to Latitude which over the last seven years has firmly established its place on the national festival scene.

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Norfolk Spectacular organisers have made no secret of their hopes that the event will proved a success to match its name and will become an annual event, slotting into the late summer festival calendar.

They have already secured that all important factor for modern festivals — sponsorship, securing a deal with mo-bile phone makers HTC.

Event organiser Dion Clements said: 'We're very excited about the way the line-up for the Norfolk Spectacular has shaped up.

'There are very few events which could provide such an opportunity to see so many of the hottest UK R&B, hip hop, rap and grime artists performing in one place.

'With Tinie Tempah, Chase and Status, N-Dubz, Tinchy Stryder, Eliza Doolittle, Taio Cruz, Alexandra Burke, Example, Chipmunk, Labrinth, Yasmin and Maverick Sabre all confirmed, it could already be argued the Norfolk Spectacular will be the biggest outdoor MOBO event in the UK.

'With expected crowds of 30,000 per night, tickets for the two-night event have proved highly popular. A large percentage have already sold. And with only a few remaining camping spots, it looks as though it will generate a great deal of tourism for the Norwich and Norfolk area.'

Most eyes will be on the Main Stage that is set to see performances from Chase and Status, Example, Eliza Doolit-tle and Professor Green on the Saturday. While on Sunday it will be the turn of N-Dubz, Tinie Tempah, Taio Cruz, Devlin and Tinchy to entertain the masses.

And some of the performers are looking forward to the festival almost as much as the fans. Chart-topping grime star Chipmunk is looking forward to coming back to Norwich after previously visiting on the N-Dubz tour.

The 20 year-old rapper is performing on the Saturday night of the weekend festival alongside award-winning and breakthrough acts such as Professor Green, Devlin and Example.

'I think the festival is going to be absolutely amazing and the more line-ups there are like that the more fans will get to see R&B and rap artists as a collective,' said the MOBO winner who has sold more than 300,000 copies of his debut album, I Am Chipmunk, and had two top 10 hits with Diamond Rings and Look For Me.

'I have already done a couple of tour dates in Norwich, and the big festivals are always something that I look for-ward to because they give you the inspiration you need to get back into the studio and start coming up with new material,' he added.

The rapper's second album, Transition, released in April, featured collaborations with Mavado, Keri Hilson, Kalenna Harper of Diddy Dirty Money, Trey Songz and Wretch 32.

'All I really want is for people to respect my music — and me as a rapper,' he said for his hopes of the event.

High profile urban acts have obviously hogged the headlines but the festival music bookers have also gone out of their way to broaden the festival's appeal beyond fans of pop, hip hop and grime.

The second Arena Stage has a much more diverse range of bands and performers taking in indie, rock and folkier sounds.

The line-up ranges from indie bands like Chapel Club and Young Knives to rockers Terrorvision and Ginger Wildheart to local folk favourites Dove & Boweevil. Recent additions have included The Duke and Spirit and Manchester indie outfit Dutch Uncles.

Dion Clements said: 'These bands add a little something extra to the event. These are two bands which create a lot of buzz with their big underground following of indie fans. They create additional diversity of music, artistes and performers available at this inaugural Norfolk Spectacular event.'

And in a clever move the festival is, as well as the usual weekend and day tickets, offering separate tickets aimed at people who just want to see the second stage offerings.

The festival is also another major boost for local talent with several bands on the bill and getting the chance to play in front of large crowds.

Among the Norwich artists taking to the stage will be indie outfit These Ghosts, who have been getting good reviews, singer, songwriter and music composer John Fisher and rock three-piece Cutback. There will also be a set from Ipswich band The Cads, who are tipped for big things.

Firm favourites on the local music scene and also tipped for a breakthrough, The Kabeedies will also be playing on the Arena Stage on Saturday just after 5pm.

Drummer Fab Bell said: 'We've been a little quiet on the gigging front as we are writing and recording our second album at the Mill Studio in Norfolk, which will be released late January 2012, so taking a break to play the Norfolk Spectacular will give us a chance to cut loose a little and have some fun.

'The main stage line-up is pretty nuts and playing with acts like Tinie Tempah , N-Dubz and Chase and Status is frankly a tad bizarre. I guess we are a little more at home on the Arena Stage with Young Knives, Chapel Club and our friends These Ghosts, The Cads, Foreign Office and Dutch Uncles, who we've not shared a stage with since an acoustic gig in a Manchester youth hostel many moons ago.'

Other local talent will include Norwich blues-rock band The Dirty Tricks and Norfolk heavy-rockers Dead Red.

Dead Red singer Nikki Wilcockson said: 'It's a great opportunity for us to be heard in front of such a large crowd. It should be a great event. We're proud to be part of the very first one, and look forward to seeing it grow years after year.'

t Norfolk Spectacular takes place at the Norfolk Showground on September 3-4. Tickets cost �45 per day for the R&B event on 0871 224113. Tickets sold separately for the indie rock stage are �17.50 per ticket (including book-ing) and are only available from the UEA box office on 01603 508050,

Camping tickets cost �110 for three nights camping and are only available at Disabled tickets are only available at