DJ Mag archives: Creamfields '08, Daresbury, Cheshire

DJ Mag archives: Creamfields '08, Daresbury, Cheshire

Copy from this article is taken from DJ Mag August 2008. Words by Simon Kelly 

Founded by the forces behind Liverpool club Cream, Creamfields festival was first launched as a one-day event in Winchester in 1998, and moved to Liverpool's old airport before eventually settling on the Daresbury estate in Cheshire, where it has been located since 2006.

In 2008, the festival celebrated its 10th anniversary with a two-day party, giving life to the August Bank Holiday weekender that exists to this day. Around 50,000 people descended on the Daresbury estate that August to hear music from the likes of Roots Manuva, Fatboy Slim, Paul Oakenfold and the era-defining sounds of Cut Copy, Late of the Pier, and Hervé.

DJCoin hops back on board the Myspace bus for Creamfields' 10th birthday bash in this review taken from the DJ Mag archives.

Unless you're a manufacturer of overpriced wellington boots or suspect meat products, the UK festival game is a risky place to do business these days. With the draw of cheap flights and better weather, the European festival counterparts are drawing our happy campers away like bees to honey.

Combine that with the seemingly never-ending stream of upstart UK festivals baying for their share of the muddy pound and you've got a seriously saturated market. And that's before the inevitable rain. 

Given the competitive saturation, it takes a serious winner to rise above the drones and command a 10-year legacy of manufacturer of overpriced consistently rocking events, but James Barton's Creamfields has done just that. Born from the Liverpudlian super-clubbing institution that changed the face of the clubbing market forever, Creamfields is stepping out as a two-day event for first time and DJ Mag ventures there to see if it dilutes the magic or simply extends the ecstasy.

Over its 10-year history, Creamfields has been through its fair share of changes. Starting out in the south with a spell at Winchester's amphitheatrically-set Matterley Bowl, it migrated back north via Liverpool's old Speke Airport in 1999, and now resides in the picturesque setting of Daresbury, deep in the Cheshire countryside. The location is stunning with rolling hills, lots of lush greenery and, crucially, no real neighbours to disturb.



First port of call on Saturday night is our DJ Mag and Ape tent where UK hip-hop royalty Roots Manuva is holding court in front of a sea of bobbing heads. Delivering his lyrics with his trademark sharpness, Rodney Smith fires through a selection of tight dub-infused hip-hop and gritty vocals before we get sucked into a drum & bass mini-marathon courtesy of DJ Marky, whose infinite energy has us grinning from ear-to-ear from start to finish.

In the past, Creamfields has had an ambivalent relationship with drum & bass, often leaving it off the bill entirely but – as High Contrast's subsequent set shows – it's a dedicated style that isn't partial to the same throws or cyclical trends that other genres so often rely on.

Realising that a big chunk of the night has disappeared into the drum & bass vortex, we set out to explore the site a little more. We stumble to the fairground and set out to find the least glamorous ride. It doesn't take long to locate a Victorian big wheel with not a single customer.

We duly part with our shillings and step aboard for a (very low flying) bird's eye view of the festival. From up top, the scale of the campsite in the distance is clearly visible. The festival has drawn in over 65,000 people across two days and as the tents merge into the horizon, it's clear most of them are here to camp.


Sitting between the main arenas are a selection of small stages with big personalities. The Myspace bus is rocking all weekend to sets from Cut Copy, Late of the Pier, Hervé and DJ Mag competition winner Half Man Half Mattress. Annie Mac's 'Presents' tent is also bringing the eclecticism with a edge-cutting selection that includes The Black Ghosts and Boy 8 Bit. 

We set out in pursuit of some harder medicine and find just the remedy in the Chibuku tent, where Swedish techno don Adam Beyer is throwing down solid, bass-heavy techno missiles to a raucous response. Proper heads down, no frills techno, Beyer's set is a bona fide highlight – both strong and relentless but programmed to perfection.

Sunday comes round all too soon and we find ourselves back on site for the early billing of last month's cover star Deadmau5 in the huge Radio 1 tent. Taking prime position upfront as this year's hottest crossover artist, the Canadian otherwise known as Joel Zimmerman dons his trademark mouse head and gets to work as his responsive early-peaking crowd punch the air to the rasping hi-hats, cheer every bassline drop emphatically and shower enlivened screams back at every big breakdown. A little too frantic for DJ Mag's fragile Sunday sensibilities, we soon steady ourselves with some much-needed downtime before the imminent big finale – with Sunday's festivities all drawing to a close at 11pm, there's a lot to squeeze in a short space of time.

First on our early evening agenda, then, are new wave synth pioneers Soulwax. Surely one of the strongest live acts around at the moment, they don't disappoint. Kicking off with 'Part Of the Weekend Never Dies', the Ghent electro masters tear their way through an acid-drenched disco set that's uniquely their own. Washing away the cobwebs, it leaves us perfectly rejuvenated for a sprint finish propelled with nostalgia.

We pop into the cavernous Cream tent to see the end of Oakenfold's set – a trance-sprinkled retrospective by a man who played the very first event 10 years previous. Needing to keep up the pace, we move on to Underworld, who hammer out a solid set as Karl Hyde dances about stage with sparkling techno energy, showing there is much life in the old gang yet.

With just an hour to go, we turn to Swedish House Mafia as Axwell, Ingrosso and Angello close their own tent with a seamless blend of seminal big room tunes to the strongest atmosphere of the weekend.


Chatting to James Barton after the event, we notice a modest hesitancy to bask in success and a genuine desire to keep improving the Creamfields concept. It says something that it took 10 years before a brand as established Cream were prepared to tackle a two-day event – this was no rash lunge but a perfectly executed growth by experienced masters who know exactly what they're doing.

"It's like starting all over again," opines Barton. "We are always very critical of ourselves because we always want to keep improving."

It is perhaps this perfectionist attitude and constant desire to create the perfect event that has kept Creamfields at the forefront of the festival game for so long.

Want more? Dust off your whistles, glowsticks and white gloves for this report from Dreamscape's July 1998 edition, also from the DJ Mag archives

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