LIVE REVIEW: Kaiser Chiefs, Manic Street Preachers, The Vamps and many more shine through the rain at CarFest North

The Kaiser Chiefs, Manic Street Preachers and The Vamps were among some of the acts performing at this year's CarFest North.
The Kaiser Chiefs, Manic Street Preachers and The Vamps were among some of the acts performing at this year's CarFest North.
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He recently topped the list of the BBC's best-paid stars, raising more than a few eyebrows in the process when his £2 million plus salary was revealed.

Love him or loathe him - and I've always liked him - Chris Evans is worth every penny of that when it comes to his annual motoring and music spectactular CarFest.

If you don't know the drill, its a mix of motors and musical acts - plus much, much more - and this year's three day spectacular featured the likes of Happy Mondays, Rick Astley, Kaiser Chiefs, Texas, Manic Street Preachers and The Vamps (more on some of those later).

This was our very first year at the event, so it was with some trepidation of what to expect at this weekend's festival in the very picturesque setting of Bolesworth Castle in Cheshire, the home to the North version (there's a similar festival down South too).

With three kids aged between eight and 13 in tow, a long day of trotting around, the unpredictable British weather and trying to keep everyone happy, a music festival can be a big challenge for parents.

However, we need not have worried. While only attending for one day of this year's CarFest (Sunday) we were never short of stuff to do or things to see in the twelve or so hours we were traipsing around the site, dodging between the occasional heavy showers which threatened to spoil things on more than occasion.

Acting as huge-fundraiser for Children In Need, the focus is firmly on family-friendly. My two car-mad lads had their eyes out on stalks as a succession of souped-up supercars roared by just inches in front of their eyes, while my partner and young stepdaughter whiled away an hour or so in the sunshine listening to some nostalgic sounds in the Vintage Village area.

A hit with all ages was the steam fairground - a real throw back to the fairgrounds of old - traditional carousel rides, test your strength machines, chair-o-planes and even a coconut shy - and what's more, most of the rides were free.

Fortunately, making our way around the vast site was easy - the map in the official programme was easy to follow and fortunately, heavy downpours on the Saturday hadn't turned the fields into a muddy quagmire, unlike YNot, the region's other music festival which fell victim to the storms.

Replenished by the usual festival food fare (believe you me, every single possible taste was catered for, from fish and chips to Indian, Chinese, pizza and paella, we headed for the main stage to take in the the six bands lined up for the evening's entertainment.

The good thing about CarFest is the two adjoining main stages mean there are no long gaps between acts - switching from one band to another seamlessly.

Things kicked off with Billington and Quinn, a country and western duo who opened with an upbeat working of Dolly Parton's Nine To Five and then continued a feel-good set of crowd pleasers such as Whitney Houston's I Wanna Dance With Somebody and Johnny Cash's Ring Of Fire, despite being blasted by a torrential downpour.

The teenage girls in the crowd were in their element with boy band The Vamps, who to trademark screams and posters such as "We love The Vamps More Than Wi-Fi, left most of the dads puzzled, although this one was pleasantly surprised by songs such as Matoma - All Night and a Simon and Garfunkel Cecilia-sampling Oh Cecilia - and a quick rundown of their catalogue from my more clued-up 13-year-old teenage son.

Up next were Texas and Sharleen Spiteri and her radio-friendly collection of hits such as Summer Son, I Don't Want A Lover and Black Eyed Boy provided the perfect musical backdrop as the rains finally cleared.

In between, Evans, clearly relishing his job as master of ceremonies, scampered across the stage with the verve and relish of an excitable child, seemingly seeming amazed that he'd managed to bag a top line-up to play in his back garden - and while a mass crowd singalong of ELO's Mr Blue Sky was a huge hit, a somewhat bizarre rendition by the Electric Vegetable Orchestra (they play music on instruments made from vegetables) left more than a few scratching their heads.

Dodgy, best known for their two 90s hits Good Enough and Staying Out For The Summer were musically adept and entertaining enough, but many in the crowd used it as the customary "tea and toilet break"

Songs about alienation, despair and misery and with lyrics referencing the Spanish Civil War, the Holocaust and rapists aren't your usual family festival fayre, but the Manic Street Preachers (a band I'll freely admit to having seen 17 times) somehow pulled it off, although the normally vocal Nicky Wire stayed silent and left frontman James Dean Bradfield to lead the chatty bits in a greatest hits set which included the likes of Kevin Carter, If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next, Everything Must Go and of course, A Design For Life.

What the Vamp-ettes and the younger kids made of it is anyone's guess, but as my all-time favourite band, it certainly made for a different setting for Wales' finest.

The Lionels, little more than a pub covers band, were the perfect starter for the evening's main course of the Kaiser Chiefs, playing a "jukebox" set of songs suggested by the audience, which meant the crowd could cheerfully belt out the likes of The Proclaimers' 500 Miles, Blur's Parklife and Sweet Child O' Mine by Guns 'n' Roses.

Which led us nicely into the Kaiser Chiefs, a band which surely need little introduction.

Festivals were made for Ricky Wilson and co and again, the hits were duly belted out to huge cheers as the consumate showman reeled through all the expected classics - Ruby, Everyday I Love You Less and Less, I Predict A Riot and Parachute.

By the time Oh My God and a cover of The Who's Pinball Wizard were echoing around the field, the fireworks were erupting in the night sky, providing a fitting finale for a wonderful day of music, entertainment and attractions.

"See you all again next year," booms Evans from a giant screen as we make our way towards the car park. And on this year's amazing efforts and all-round family fun, we most definitely intend to be back.