Review: Meadowlands Festival

I lived in the Meadows for almost a decade until just over a year ago when I decided to cross the river – I loved living there for many reasons so when I found out that a new one day festival with one heck of a diverse line-up was going to be held a mere 250 steps from my old back yard, I just had to head down, with the question hanging over my head as to whether this was a reason to move back…

Meadowlands festival, is a brand new city centre all-dayer which, this year, played host to some of the most diverse music line-ups the city has seen. On Friday June 3, more than 20,000 music fans descended onto Nottingham’s Victoria Embankment, the setting for Meadowlands. We were incredibly lucky. The weather was great, a bank holiday in tow and an exciting line-up ahead of us.

Three stages showcased diverse talent that day, from local acts such as Nottingham’s Cat Milk and Leicestershire-born duet Vona Vella, viral acts such as TikTok musician Miachel Aldag and more infamous acts headlining the main stage in the form of The Kooks and the incredible Gerry Cinnamon. 

Having lived so close to Victoria Embankment for so long, the first thing that took me by surprise was the magnitude of the main stage. I no longer felt like I was in Nottingham, but right in the mixer of a weekend event. Luckily though, all three stages were within easy walking distance of each other, great for accessibility and not too close for bounce backs of sound, while passing by minute details such as festival flag poles and hay bales for seating, left a lasting impression and boosted the setting. 

The majority of my festival time was spent at the main stage however – and how could it not be with a line-up like this; The Mysterines, Black Honey, The Reytons, The Kooks and the magnificent Gerry Cinnamon.

Much like the size of the main stage the production value while main stage acts performed, particularly the headliner was incredible. Set times were adhered to and there was plenty of crowd interaction. The Reytons, almost-local lads, from Doncaster, had a lot to say between songs, thanking fans for their support as an independent act without any backing. It was the first time I’d heard of them, and while I can’t deny they’re talented I couldn’t help but hear hints of Artic Monkeys – not a bad thing – but a clear inspiration of theirs.

The Kooks commanded the stage during their set – opening with hits “Seaside” and “She moves in her own way”  from their debut album. I got excited thinking they were playing the full album back to back  – they didn’t but I moved in my own way anyway. The band sounded just like they did when I first played them in my bedroom in my late teens. 

A brief break saw me stop by the second stage to see Scotland’s newest export Dylan Jones Thomas. After his performance I’d expect to be seeing him headline a festival next year.

As crowds gathered round the main stage to await the arrival of headliner Gerry Cinnamon it felt like half of Scotland had come out in support. I don’t think I’ve seen a crowd come together in Nottingham and be in such great spirits around one another. I felt proud.

In his bucket hat and guitar in hand, Cinnamon arrived on stage and everything that had happened before was forgotten. The visuals were hypnotic, his voice too and as I mouthed the words to Dark Days and She’s a Belter I danced the rest of the night away.

Fireworks exploded, everyone cheered and I was in awe. After Meadowlands 2022, I’d expect there to be a Meadowlands 2023 – and I will be there!

Review by Nadya Jaworskyi

All photographs by Michael Mills – check out the full gallery of photographs from the festival here

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