Review: Long Division festival, Wakefield

Wakefield has a long, rich and diverse musical heritage. It is a city of many races, cultures and brilliantly varied citizens. It is with this is mind that Long Division 2021 began Saturday in the historic Unitarian Chapel with the wonderful LGBT raconteur The Bleeding Obvious.

Hands Off Gretel performing at Long Division festival, Wakefield. Picture: Andrew Benge
Hands Off Gretel performing at Long Division festival, Wakefield. Picture: Andrew Benge

Hearing songs and tales of sexuality, ambiguity and love and loss, were profoundly more relevant than ever in today’s society, and holding in this setting shows just how far acceptance and understanding has progressed in recent history and within the city itself.

At The Hop, another venue with a colourful gig history, were bands and fans as young as 18 gathering to support one another. Some of these young musicians were only eight years old when the first Long Division was launched, and it is testament to the city’s continued support of music and the festivals organisers that a new generation have begun to form.

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The afternoon was kicked off by yet another female fronted band, Hands Off Gretel, whom showcased their punk rock attitude and feminist rock to more young fans who will remember the riotous set and hopefully be inspired to begin their own musical journey.

The Bleeding Obvious at Long Division festival, Wakefield. Picture: Andrew Benge

Three-piece rock royalty Knuckle once more had an over capacity crowd join them, proving year on year that their local support is gaining momentum to the point where they really do deserve their place in Long Division history and more so, a bigger venue and higher billing.

Moving back to the Unitarian Chapel, another solo raconteur, this time gallantly enjoying singing folk-punk tales of drugs and youthful abandon, Beans On Toast had the crowd in the palm of his hand throughout. His twisted humour and choice of narrative not lost on the irony of the venue setting.

To wrap up my evening, I caught Glasvegas, a band very familiar with the city having played several times before, it always feels like a homecoming for the Glaswegian indie rockers. Performing some incredible fan favourites and some of my personal ones from the more synth heavy second album Euphoric Heartbreak, the old market hall was drowned in light and sound with a much receptive audience to which the band duly obliged with their anthemic hits.

It would be easy to bemoan the loss of venues during Long Division’s history, the slightly reduced bill and some unfortunate last-minute changes to the event timetable, but just 18 months ago, bands, venues and fans could not have even envisaged a return to live music.

The fact the event pulled through is the work of everyone involved, and demands great respect that Wakefield as a city is lucky enough to have this at their doorstep and that the bands and artists at the event are generous enough to come and take part. Long live the united Division.