Buzzcocks and EMF to headline Bish Bash

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Punk legends Buzzcocks and 90s alternative rock band EMF will headline this year’s 20th anniversary Bishop’s Stortford music festival Bish Bash.

The family-friendly festival, which is organised by a band of volunteers for the benefit of the community, will again be held on Sworder’s Field in Castle Park.

Traditionally the two-day event is held over the first weekend in May, but this year, to coincide with VE Day 75th anniversary celebrations, it will take place on Friday the 8th – which is a bank holiday – and Saturday the 9th.

Buzzcocks (28235675)
Buzzcocks (28235675)

Buzzcocks, the band formed in Bolton in 1976 by singer-songwriters Pete Shelley and Howard Devoto, head the bill on Friday.

Their bitter-sweet poppy songs Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve), Promises and Everybody’s Happy Nowadays were top 30 hits in the late ’70s and made the band one of the most influential of the punk era.

Shelley died in December 2018 from a suspected heart attack at his home in Estonia. Buzzcocks now perform as a three-piece, with Steve Diggle, who joined in 1977, on vocals and guitar.

Dolly Parton tribute act Kelly, left, with the real deal (28235696)
Dolly Parton tribute act Kelly, left, with the real deal (28235696)

Friday’s line-up also includes a tribute to American country music queen Dolly Parton, local 90s hip-hoppers Collapsed Lung and 50s-style rockers The Hawkmen.

Harlow’s Newtown Neurotics headline the bar stage fresh from the release of a film about their career, which started in the Stort Beat scene of the late 1970s.

Saturday sees EMF kick off their decade with their only UK show before jetting off to Canada to headline Shine Festival.

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Their 1990 debut single Unbelievable, one of the biggest anthems of the 90s, reached No 3 in the UK and topped the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. It was the first of nine top 40 hits, including a cover of The Monkees’ I’m A Believer with comedians Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer.

The Bar-Steward Sons of Val Doonican Picture: Graham Whitmore (28235691)
The Bar-Steward Sons of Val Doonican Picture: Graham Whitmore (28235691)

Their debut album, Schubert Dip, went to No 3 on the UK album chart. Its other successful singles were I Believe, Children and Lies, which controversially included a voice sample of John Lennon’s murderer, Mark Chapman. The band have split up and re-formed three times.

Joining the 20th anniversary celebrations on Saturday are Britain’s “nicest band… in tank tops”, The Bar-Steward Sons of Val Doonican, and all-female Slade tribute act Slady.

The festival organisers said: “The proceedings will be brought to a close with a real party groove. For contractual reasons, we cannot yet disclose by whom.”

All-female Slade tribute act Slady (28236044)
All-female Slade tribute act Slady (28236044)

On the Friday, the festival will join thousands of other events across the globe in commemorating 75 years since VE Day – the formal acceptance by the Allies of Germany’s surrender at the end of the Second World War – in traditional manner with a bugler and piper. Festivities will continue with a street party theme in the afternoon.

Throughout the weekend there will be the usual array of talented local acts across three stages, comedy, children’s entertainment and the Stortford Sound System. The full line-up will be released in the coming weeks.

Collapsed Lung (28235678)
Collapsed Lung (28235678)

Tickets are available from Bishop’s Stortford Tourist Information Centre in Market Square from Saturday (Feb 8) and available online now at

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Day tickets cost £22.50 for adults, £7 for under-18s (ages 5 to 17) and £49.50 for a family of two adults and two under-18s. Weekend tickets cost £40 for adults, £12 for under-18s (ages 5 to 17) and £89 for a family of two adults and two under-18s. Under-fives go free.



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