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Review: Sharabang at Wheels and Fins Festival curated by The Libertines

Sharabang: a word which here means ‘the takeover of a festival by indie legends.’

Yesterday saw The Libertines, now local legends, Margate football sponsors and breakfast champions, curate the line-up of Wheels and Fins in Joss Bay.

Pete Doherty and Carl Barat have something of a god-like status among their fans, as they brought their own sense of strange and eclectic taste to the plate.

The Libertines' Pete Doherty at Wheels and Fins Picture: Pete Doherty
The Libertines' Pete Doherty at Wheels and Fins Picture: Pete Doherty

The festival was transformed into a sea of red coats, free Sharabang scarves and quirky entertainment.

Of course there were still ramp competitions, surfing lessons and bike displays, but among the sport was also a collection of oddities that could have only been imagined by those two.

In the corner was a roughly written sign saying ‘tattoos’, offering free tats saying Libertine, made famous by both Pete and Carl. Despite a good few hours' wait, this stall was busy all day, and for die-hard fans, not surprising.

On sale were Sharabang t-shirts, merch, and even Margate FC gear, sponsored by The Libertines.

There was also a Punch and Judy show detailing the history of the band in a rather explicit manner, a fortune teller, and even a strange pop up seaside-style cut out of the band with holes for your own face.

Wheels and Fins Festival 2018
Wheels and Fins Festival 2018

It’s an odd mix, but one that screams at how much they love Thanet. They also were collecting for local charities as well; The Aspirations Healthy Living Centre and Ramsgate’s Pie Factory Music.

To the music, and it was all curated by The Libertines. Boasting Reverend and The Makers, Cabbage and even Echo and the Bunnymen - it was clear this wasn’t a day to be missed.

If that wasn’t your thing though, the dance tent was headlined by Example, bringing plenty of hits and energy.

One of the first performances I watched was Mic Righteous, a rapper from Margate. Now, he does have some genuine talent, but as long as he sticks to rapping and moves away from singing. His rap verses were well thought out, with real emotion and word smithery to boot - but his choice to cover Nirvana was not one for me.

I enjoyed Cabbage, a punk band from Manchester. It’s been a long time since punk properly reared its ugly head for me, with bands such as Slaves dividing opinion, but I think Cabbage managed to combine traditional angry riffs with a strong, modern political statement. These boys are going somewhere.

Wheels and Fins Festival 2018
Wheels and Fins Festival 2018

Reverend and the Makers are a band who have been around for a while. You’ve probably heard Heavyweight Champion of the World getting some airplay on the radio, and they’re still a band to be reckoned with.

Ian McCulloch has been a household name since the 80s, fronting new-wave legends Echo and the Bunnymen. Decades on and they’re still proving that their music stands the test of time. Even the younger members of the crowd were bowled away by hits including Lips Like Sugar. Their music remains as fresh as ever.

Echo and the Bunnymen at Wheels and Fins Picture: Poppy Jeffery
Echo and the Bunnymen at Wheels and Fins Picture: Poppy Jeffery

With the evening drawing to a close it was time for the The Libertines to take to the stage.

The indie legends opened with Horrorshow before rattling through some of their best songs including Can’t Stand Me Now, Gunga Din and having Don’t Look Back Into The Sun as an encore.

It’s plain to see why they have got such a following - their music was note perfect, with some cheeky banter inbetween tracks and a range of oddities and a cappella ditties too.

Their set really was something to behold and it’s such a shame that it will be their last performance for the foreseeable future. But we haven't seen the last of them, as they’re currently in the process of setting up a hotel in Margate, called the Albion Rooms.

Pete Doherty at Wheels and Fins Festival 2018. Picture: Poppy Jeffery
Pete Doherty at Wheels and Fins Festival 2018. Picture: Poppy Jeffery

A few issues slightly marred the festival experience for me: a lack of free running water on site, a busier line-up for Friday and Saturday, and the token system for drinks at the bars meant the queue for the token booth was incredibly long at times.

Sharabang at Wheels and Fins was an incredible end - I really cannot praise this festival enough for bringing such fantastic names to our corner of the county.

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