REVIEW: Pete Doherty @ Liverpool Sound City

Infamous Libertine and Babyshambles frontman Pete Doherty charmed The North Stage on Sunday night to close the Sound City weekend.

Doherty’s set proved to be a sweet escape from the madness of the main stage into the madness of Doherty’s world, which you’re instantly enveloped in when watching him perform.

Unlike the main stage, which had suffered power difficulties during both Circa Waves and The Coral’s sets, The North Stage seemed to be a hive of energy and excitement in anticipation for the musician’s solo venture. Pete and his band began their set with ‘Down for the Outing’, highlighting a slight folky sound with a harmonica to open the performance and a gentle starter for his headline slot.

Typically, Pete wasn’t playing by the rules, parading around the stage with his guitar, dressed in a silver suit and bowler hat with a glass of wine in hand, he is oddly charming. Watching Pete on stage felt more like looking through a window into a band practice, a more chilled out approach for a festival headliner.

Pete was joined by a violin and accordion on stage, before ‘I Don’t Love Anyone’, which saw the crowd continue to grow. Crowd favourite ‘Last of the English Roses’ followed, the Londoner’s debut solo single released in 2009 and the first taken from the album ‘Grace/Wastelands’, which saw beer glasses in the air and people on shoulders.

Pete enjoyed the reaction from the crowd in the intimate space, who by now had started to chant “Peter is a scouser”, which he seemed to enjoy.

The Libertines’ ‘You’re My Waterloo’ came next, a nostalgic nod to the frontman’s other life, which allowed the crowd to take over the vocals, before ‘Arcady’, another marvel of Doherty’s song writing expertise. The set continued with ‘Do You Know Me’, the B-Side to ‘Albion’.

“Look at that beautiful view!” Doherty stopped to point out the incredible setting in which he was playing, as many of the bands over the weekend had done before.

The Sound City crowd were treated to the new and unreleased ‘Hell to Pay at the Gates of Heaven’ from his forthcoming album, before ‘The Whole World Is Our Playground’, which was released on Record Store Day earlier this year.

The set continued to be an assortment of both new and vintage material, concluding with ‘F**k Forever’, uniting the crowd in chorus, proving a perfect end to the weekend.


REVIEW: Circa Waves @ Liverpool Sound City

Sound City is very special to Circa Waves. Not only is it held in their hometown of Liverpool, but it’s the home of the band itself, the place where frontman Kieran met band members Sam and Colin through mutual friends whilst working at the festival in 2013, before joining up with guitarist Joe a year later.

Since then, the band have gone on to become modern indie royalty, with their debut album ‘Young Chasers’ becoming the soundtrack to many summers.

“Liverpool, let’s see your hands!”

The four piece enjoyed a warm reception from the large crowd gathered beneath The Atlantic Stage, before leading into ‘Getaway’, released in 2013 and one which featured on their debut EP and subsequent album.

The delightfully rugged indie rock beats of ‘Good For Me’ followed, before Kieran confessed “it’s so good to be home!”

The trademark Circa Waves sound of ‘Stuck In My Teeth’ came next, the second single released and one which was featured as Zane Lowe’s ‘Hottest Record In The World’ back in February 2014. ‘The Luck Has Gone’ fuelled the energetic set, whilst ‘Lost It’ proved to be the soundtrack to day turning into night, as Kieran pointed out “The sun’s going down! Bye Bye sun!” as the crowd continued to clap along.

The band played the title track of their album and summer staple ‘Young Chasers’, before a seeming slight shift of genre ensued, with the band flogging a darker and broodier sound. “Let’s dance to this next one” ‘Fossils’, the third track off the album, came after ‘Give Up’.

The charming and affectionate single ‘My Love’ led to dancing throughout the crowd, with many getting on others’ shoulders. Around 20 seconds before the end of ‘My Love’, the stage went black and the band could no longer be heard.

With a burst of technical assistants and stage directors flocking to the backstage area, the crowd were left for around half an hour, waiting for the Liverpool lads to return. The band burst back onto the stage and roared back into life, jumping straight into a cover of fellow Liverpool legends The Beatles.

‘Revolution’ was enjoyed by all ages in the crowd, after Kieran dedicated the performance “to Liverpool”. ‘T Shirt Weather’, crowd favourite and the song nearly as summery as the sun itself, concluded the set.

REVIEW: The Big Moon @ Liverpool Sound City

London girl gang The Big Moon brought their mix of dark and sass infused rock with heavy drum beats and even heavier guitar riffs to Sound City.

The band, who have been touring relentlessly this year, headlining both their own shows and supporting bands such as The Maccabees and The Vaccines, kicked off their half hour set on The North Stage at 20.30.

The four piece (Juliette – lead vocals/guitar, Soph – vocals/guitar, Celia – vocals/bass and Fern – drums), received a flurry of applause before rolling straight into ‘Cupid’, their punchiest and most recent release, which came out just two weeks ago and is already proving a hit with crowds, with its irresistible harmonies proving hard not to join in with.

As the sun sank into the Mersey, The Big Moon commenced their infamous cover of Madonna’s ‘Beautiful Stranger’, starting slowly and then crashing into the chorus as if out of nowhere.

The chemistry on stage between the band members was charming, and the compelling sounds from the stage evoked dancing throughout the growing crowd.

The band, who have been compared to the likes of Arctic Monkeys for their clever lyrics and thunderous melodies, made the American icon’s 1999 hit their own, with it sounding like it was made to be a rock record.

Front woman Jules sang the first few words of ‘The Road’, the title track of their debut EP released late last year, to continue the set.

The effervescent ‘Eureaka Moment’ followed, before drummer Fern announced, “Thank you so much Liverpool, this is our last song!” ‘Sucker’, the band’s powerful grungy debut single which was released just over a year ago, concluded the set. The Big Moon are touring later on this year.

REVIEW: Band of Skulls @ Liverpool Sound City

band of skulls

AS the sun went down on the first day of Sound City, the Atlantic Stage welcomed Southampton’s Band Of Skulls. The band, who’s highly anticipated fourth album ‘By Default’ was released on Friday, brought their take on gritty indie rock to Liverpool.

“We’re the Band of Skulls, it’s great to be here!”

At 19.45, the three-piece (Matt Hayward – drums, Emma Richardson – bass and Russel Marsden – vocals/guitar) kicked off their set of both older and more recent releases in front of the historic Docker’s Clock, an iconic nod to the former life of the city’s docks.

The crowd, with beers in hand, were treated to ‘I Know What I Am as the sun was going down’, before Marsden announced “this is our first festival set this year and we’re so glad we could spend it with you.”

The muse of heavy indie bluesy rock riffs and garage drum beats echoed between the waters with a flurry of flashing black and white lights darting at the crowd below, who were now dancing along to the band’s sounds.

This is a brand new song, let’s see if you can really dance!”

So Good’, which premiered on Radio X back in April, came before the more upbeat ‘Himalayan’, the title track of their third album, released in March 2014.

Marsden introduced ‘Bodies’ as their next single, which was written in their local church in Southampton along with other tracks from their most recent release. Favourite ‘The Devil Takes Care Of His Own’ followed, the stand out record from ‘Sweet Sour’ and one which saw Marsden standing on one of the amps, fulfilling the rockstar role.

The infectious beats continued through ‘Hoochie Coochie’, before the rapturous guitar solo from Marsden to kick off ‘Light Of The Morning’.

After ‘Death By Diamonds and Pearls’ taken from their debut album ‘Baby Darling Doll Face Honey’, came ‘Killer’, before the set finished with ‘Asleep At The Wheel’, which saw Marsden throwing his guitar in the air and the drum sticks sent flying into the crowd.

“Sound City you’ve been awesome!”

REVIEW: Catfish and The Bottlemen @ Liverpool Sound City

Llandudno’s indiest export, the mighty Catfish and The Bottlemen, returned from their US tour across the Atlantic to Bramley Moore Dock as Saturday headliners.

The Ride‘, the follow up to their incredibly successful seminal debut album ‘The Balcony‘, got it’s first official outing on the Jack Rocks stage after being released to the world on Friday.

The band came out to The Beatles’ ‘Helter Skelter‘, which seemed fitting against the illuminated skyline backdrop of the fab five’s home city.

The mass of Catfish merchandise worn by both young and older fans, confirmed that this set was what the majority of the Sound City audience had been waiting for. Frontman Van McCann and band (Bondy, Benji and Bob) introduced themselves before roaring into ‘Homesick’, the first track off ‘The Balcony‘, released in 2014.

The four-piece, who won a BRIT Award back in February, enjoyed the attention of the entire crowd, from those who had seen them before to those who were experiencing their magic for the first time.

The band’s charming frontman welcomed the Sound City crowd before slipping straight into ‘Kathleen’. McCann’s passion and genuine love for his craft is evident in his energetic performances on stage, which are emulated by the crowd.

The set, which is the first time the band have headlined a festival, continued with ‘Soundcheck’, which was the tasty first offering of their second album, the sleeve adorned with a black and white alligator.

McCann continued to thank their crowd after each song, “last time we played this festival it was to 50 people in an attic”; it’s easy to forget that it’s only a couple of years since the band’s major breakthrough, particularly with the anthemic tunes and the volumes of people who sell out their shows.

McCann was bouncing around the stage to the sound of ‘Pacifier’ whilst a young fan in the crowd held a blue smoke flare, a scene suitable for an indie music fan’s postcard.

The punchy riffs of ‘Sidewinder’ maintained the set’s fast pace, with the frontman holding his guitar in the air as the record concluded. ‘Anything’, another from the band’s most recent release, saw McCann knock over his mic whilst thrusting his guitar against the energy reflecting off the crowd.

Business’ followed ‘26’, before the stage was drenched in a red glow for ‘Red’, another new album track which already had the support of the band’s followers, who were singing back the lyrics. The magnificent ‘Fallout’ came before ‘Rango’, during which McCann’s microphone broke, perhaps not being able to keep up with the 20 somethings moves.

McCann hugged the tech supporter before finishing ‘Twice’, seemingly already a favourite from ‘The Ride‘. The raunchy electric guitar was swapped for an acoustic alternative for ‘Hourglass’, a change of pace and a chance for the crowd to take over the vocals.

The band finished with ‘Cocoon’ and ‘Tyrants’ before saying goodbye and once again thanking the Liverpool crowd for their unrelenting support.

PREVIEW: Manchester After Hours #MCRAfterHours

On May 12, Manchester’s museums, galleries and libraries will open up after dark for Manchester After Hours, a night of unique experiences celebrating art, culture and heritage.

The event, which is part of the annual nationwide ‘Museums At Night’ celebration, will offer visitors the chance to see places and spaces not usually open to the public.

Here’s what happened last year:

This year, the occasion promises to be a “mixology of odd couplings and unexpected combos”, with a number of the city’s cultural hotspots taking part, joining hundreds of others around the UK.

Check out the map below to see what’s going on where and plan your nocturnal journey through the city!

Where to go if… You’re a little (or very!) hungry

Castlefield Food Festival

Get down to Castlefield Food Festival’s night market (@CastlefieldFood) at Castlefield Bowl to enjoy stalls serving up delicious treats, a farmers market, live music, demos and masterclasses! The market is open until 10 from Thursday to Sunday so there’s no excuse!

12 – 15 May / FREE ADMISSION

Where to go if… Fashion is your thing

Fashion and Freedom

Manchester Art Gallery are giving attendees the chance to see the new ‘Fashion and Freedom’ exhibition before anyone else! Accompanied by music and drinks, the display will feature pieces from the likes of Vivienne Westwood, looking at the impact of the First World War on fashion and the changing roles of women.


Where to go if… You’re a fan of Shakespeare

Neon Sonnets

John Rylands Library and RNCM are joining forces to mark the 400 years since the great writer’s death. The Royal Northern College of Music will perform original compositions inspired by the work of William Shakespeare and the library’s collection, fusing literature and music.

6-9 / FREE ADMISSION (limited capacity)

Sally Stevens, Public Programme Co-Ordinator at The John Rylands Library, said: “I thought I would ask Michelle Castelletti (Artistic Director at the RNCM) if she thought this could be inspiration for the music, and she immediately agreed that it could.”

She added: “There will be performances of music inspired by Shakespeare taking place throughout the Library, plus there will be some excerpts from plays. A rolling programme takes place on the hour from 6-9pm, so people can follow this through, or drop in and out as they wish!”

Join in the conversation with #MCRAfterHours