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Review: Clean Bandit at Neverworld Festival

It’s been billed as Kent’s answer to Glastonbury.

Neverworld boasts three main areas, split into three ‘tribes’ themed on some of the most popular trends for festival-lovers, including pirates and mermaids.

Formerly known as Leefest, it has evolved from its early days - its first outing in 2006 was in the garden of founder Lee Denny's parents' home - and is welcoming thousands of eager visitors.

Jeremy Loops at Neverworld. Picture: Kate Darkins
Jeremy Loops at Neverworld. Picture: Kate Darkins

Friday’s line-up in Hever included teen singing sensation Declan McKenna, who boasts some of the most enviable eyebrows in showbiz, and club stalwarts Clean Bandit.

A wonderful performer, with clean crisp notes and buckets of stage presence, he rattled through songs like Bethlehem with incredible enthusiasm.

It’s evident that he is going to go far.

At only 19, his sheer talent and beautiful songwriting is astonishing.

Declan McKenna at Neverworld. Picture: Kate Darkins
Declan McKenna at Neverworld. Picture: Kate Darkins

To have so much stage presence is baffling - getting up in front of thousands in the way he does is no mean feat when you’re in the first two decades of life.

Another surprise was Jeremy Loops.

He really got the crowd going with his incredible dance-worthy songs.

The headliners for Friday were Grammy award winners Clean Bandit.

Headliners Clean Bandit at Neverworld. Picture: Kate Darkins
Headliners Clean Bandit at Neverworld. Picture: Kate Darkins

Opening their set with Symphony, the crowd instantly went wild for the three-piece.

The band, whose hit Rockabye with Sean Paul and Anne-Marie was the 2016 Christmas No.1, obviously really enjoy performing.

The production value of their set was also very high, with a fantastic light show.

Sadly, though, not everything is always wonderful in paradise.

Fans at Neverworld. Picture: Kate Darkins
Fans at Neverworld. Picture: Kate Darkins

Neverworld says on its website that it’s committed to reducing the impact on the environment, having “outlawed” plastic cups.

However, sea of plastic strewn across the grass greeted festival goers on Saturday morning.

Cash machines in the main arena did not open until around 10am - so it was tricky to soothe the hangover with no money to get a bacon sarnie.

Overall, Neverworld is a festival with a tonne of ambition and fun.

Rae Morris at Neverworld. Picture: Kate Darkins
Rae Morris at Neverworld. Picture: Kate Darkins

It’s got everything you’d hope for in a ‘mini-Glastonbury’ - atmosphere, friendly vibes and a low-impact outlook.

Hopefully, going forward, more attention is paid to some of the practical details.

Bring on today's stars Bastille and Tom Grennan.


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