'Headlining iconic Knebworth ticks one off my bucket list'
PUBLISHED: 16:36 31 August 2018 | UPDATED: 16:40 31 August 2018
The gates have opened to Knebworth's new Cool Britannia Festival, with Happy Mondays headlining on Saturday night.
Alan Davies spoke to one of the band's members ahead of their appearance at Knebworth Park.
Headlining iconic rock venue Knebworth will “tick one off the bucket list” for one member of Happy Mondays.
The new Cool Britannia Festival pitches up at Knebworth Park from Friday, August 31 to Sunday, September 2.
And headlining the Saturday night will be Happy Mondays – Shaun Ryder, Bez and co.
For singer Rowetta, playing Knebworth is a dream come true.
“Honestly, my ears pricked up when we were first told about this gig,” said Rowetta.
“Knebworth’s iconic. Rather than all the bands that are playing, for me it really was like doing Woodstock, doing Knebworth, doing Glastonbury, which I’ve done quite a few times now.
“I’ve done almost everywhere where I want to, and Knebworth’s another one to knock off the bucket list.
“As I opened Glastonbury last year, this year we can say, ‘we’re topping the bill at Knebworth’, which is fantastic.”
Cool Britannia will celebrate the 1990s Britpop era and the festival’s name is apt.
Rowetta said: “Knebworth’s just very cool. Some places aren’t as cool as that.
“I remember when we did V Festival when it was quite cool in 1999.
“Over the years it became very poppy, so it wasn’t as cool to do.
“But I think Knebworth has kept its coolness, as Glastonbury has.
“There are certain places you want to play, like the Albert Hall and Knebworth, as they have not lost their iconicness.
“People still look up to them because they have not gone naff and have not gone poppy.
“It’s just great to be able to say you’ve played Knebworth.”
As well as Happy Mondays, Cool Britannia is due to feature sets from Feeder, Embrace, Cast, Dodgy, Space, Ocean Colour Scene, The Lightning Seeds and Razorlight.
“We’re really looking forward to it,” said Rowetta.
“We’ve played Shiiine On, which is a little bit similar, but the fact it’s celebrating British bands from a certain era I think is great.
“And the fact we’re topping the bill... we’re all really looking forward to it.”
She added: “I’ve got something amazing to wear, something I got at the beginning of the year when we got booked. We’re all excited.”
Happy Mondays are best known for 1990 top five album Pills ‘n’ Thrills and Bellyaches, which featured hit singles Step On, Kinky Afro and Loose Fit.
The Madchester heroes are currently top of their game live, according to Rowetta.
“We’ve got a fantastic catalogue, so we’re very lucky.
“At the moment we’ve got a great set.
“Cool Britannia are very lucky to get us this year as I think we’re at a peak, I really do. And I hope it will continue.”
Despite enjoying chart success more than two decades ago, Rowetta says there’s still a lot of love for the Britpop era to this day.
“When we do our own gigs, the Happy Mondays always sell out and it’s the same with a lot of these bands. The music is still very, very popular.
“A lot of people grew up listening to it through their brothers and sisters or through their mums and dads.
“The fact that some of these bands are still going and you are able to see them is amazing.”
Rowetta added: “We’re a real rock ‘n’ roll band, not just a record. You’ve got to see us live to realise that.
“The fact you can see quite a lot of those bands over one weekend is fantastic for fans of this music.”
The singer continued: “It’s great that a lot of us are still going and collaborating together, and events like this [Cool Britannia] which are fantastic for the fans.
“It’s expensive to go to gigs now, but I think it’s fantastic that you can see a load of them over one weekend.”
Happy Mondays split up – for the first time – three years before Oasis played their two mega outdoor shows at Knebworth in the summer of 1996.
However, they did support Noel and Liam Gallagher when they first reformed.
Rowetta said: “We played with Oasis in their 2000 shows. We did Wembley with them and a lot of the stadiums.”
As for the Cool Britannia line-up, she said: “There’s loads of bands on the bill I’d like to see.
“You know what? I’ve never seen Feeder, and I like to see people I’ve never seen before.”
Rowetta has performed with former New Order bassist Peter Hook, who is on the Britannia bill the same day as the Happy Mondays.
She is also good friends with Saffron from Republica, who will be part of the Britpop Classical premiere opening the main stage on September 1.
“I’ll be glad to see her,” said Rowetta, who doesn’t enjoy watching other bands from the side of the stage.
She said: “The best place to watch a band is out the front.”
• For Cool Britannia tickets, visit www.coolbritanniafest.com