Melanie C's fantasy festival: Beyoncé, Prince and five kinds of chips

The Spice Girls star heads to the Lake District for a carb-laden, booze-heavy weekend with Queen, the Beatles and more


I’m not going too tropical or exotic. I was lucky enough to play a mountain festival near Keswick in the Lake District a couple of years ago, and the location really stayed with me. I never went to the Lake District as a kid – we went to north Wales, the “scouse Riviera” – but the Covid nonsense has really made me appreciate the beauty of the United Kingdom. There’s an incredible lake [Derwentwater] near Keswick and, when the sun is setting, it is just incredible.

The headline act

I never got the opportunity to meet Freddie Mercury, so my headline act would have to be Queen. I was 11 years old in 1985 when they brought the house down at Wembley for Live Aid. We recorded it all on VHS – four tapes, cos it was that long – and watching Queen over and over made me want to have a career in music. Freddie had the whole stadium eating out of his hand and they were ahead of the game in mixing genres, which everyone does now. As a singer and a frontperson, Freddie is the ultimate.

Five more acts

I’m not sure how they couldn’t be headliners, but I’d have to see the Beatles, ideally in the Revolver period. It’s my favourite Beatles album but, by then, they had retired from live performance because the 60s sound monitoring systems couldn’t compete with screaming audiences. So I’d bring them back with decent speakers.

Beyoncé – she smashed Glastonbury and, like Freddie, is so phenomenal physically and vocally that she might be superhuman, or half-robot. I met her when she was in Destiny’s Child and she said she was a Spice fan, which I always remember when I watch her.

I was lucky enough to see Prince at the O2 and then the Indigo club afterwards, where he duetted with Amy Winehouse. He was tiny, but his presence was so huge that he filled any room, whether a tiny club or an arena. He had the songs, the band, the spectacle, but in somewhere small you would really see his virtuoso talents as vocalist and guitarist.

Arctic Monkeys are top of my list of artists I still want to see live. I love that observational, poetic world that Alex Turner brings to his songs. I grew up in a similar working-class area and I really love that rawness and earthiness, especially in a festival environment.

The Prodigy transformed from a rave act into this incredible festival slayer. I first saw them in Mr Smith’s in Warrington when I was 18. It might actually have been the under-18s night, which is very irresponsible of me, but I was right down the front and Keith Flint grabbed my hand. My claim to fame.

The non-musical activity

Usually at festivals I don’t see as many bands as I should because I’m too busy chatting and boozing. So my non-musical activity is … chatting and boozing! I don’t want any yoga activities or a sound bath. Let’s keep it real, but with drinks-dispensing machines all over the site to avoid queues at the bars.

The food

There’s no room at my festivals for protein. It has to be potato-based food, and it’s all about chips. So there’s chippy chips, french fries, crisps, sweet potato fries and if you’re feeling a bit posh, truffle chips. They are fat chips smothered in truffle oil with parmesan all over. Here’s me thinking I’m down to earth and normal and I’ve really shown my true colours with the truffle chips, haven’t I?

• Melanie C’s new self-titled album is released on 2 October. Tickets for four global live-streams to coincide with the album are available via her official website.


Interview by Dave Simpson

The GuardianTramp

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