Liverpool Sound City Day One, 27 May 2017
Sound City, for its tenth anniversary year chose to celebrate at a new venue, The Clarence Dock with four stages and the Tim Peaks Diner providing a sumptuous mix of established and emerging artists.
A very heavily fortified site complete with roadblocks, police armoured cars and roving machine gun toting officers served to remind us of the tragic events that had unfolded earlier in the week in Manchester. Their presence however, gave us the confidence to turn out and carry on enjoying live music.
Fickle Friends got us in the Bank Holiday mood on the main stage with their happy synth pop as the wind whipped up the Sound City dustbowl into a sandstorm.
Carl Barat made his second appearance on Merseyside in seven days, previously being reunited with the Libertines the week before at Wirral Live. The crowd had now established itself and settled down to watch him strut and rock the stage with his Jackals.
Over at a crowded Baltic Tent, Derry punk outfit, Touts were wowing the fans with their brash but beautiful big noise. “Bet no one here can understand our accents?” they joked, only to be met by a huge cheer and much waving from a Northern Irish contingency within the crowd. Irish accents and musicians are always understood and loved in Liverpool; end of story.
Slaves put on a highly charged show and interacted well with the audience. There was a comic moment when front man Laurie Vincent paused for too many seconds and the crowd hijacked his train of thought with a bout of “Oh Jeremy Corbyn!”
On the Cavern stage, guitar maestro Ali Horn mesmerized us with his warm and fuzzy brand of psychedelia. He is definitely one to watch this year.
The Kills warmed up the crowd for headliners Metronomy who faced tough competition from the offering at the competing Baltic stage at the end of the evening. The tented venue was fit to burst as everyone piled in to witness the spectacle that is Peaches. From the off, it was a highly charged, provocative performance. Peaches emerged on stage sporting a hat with a huge vagina sprawling on top of it which set the scene for the whole set. Singing half nude for the entire evening, the whole tent was under her spell; jaws dropping to the floor, breath literally taken away. “Hold your dick in the air!” she ordered and what should appear but a huge inflatable penis which she walked into and was held aloft above the audience. An explosive mix of theatre, art and music had stolen the show from the main draw on the first day.
Liverpool Sound City Day Two 28 May 2017
The second day of Sound City appeared to pull in a larger crowd overall. There was a very generous offering of local music which kicked off over at the Atlantic stage with the Red Rum Club. The local lads had found somewhere big enough to accommodate all six of them and pulled off a tight and slick set as well oiled as the lead singer’s hair for those few folks who had not had a late one the previous night.
Brand new Skeleton Key label signings, Peach Fuzz got things started on the Cavern Stage. Curious to see what they sounded and looked like, they were five lads with lots of hair playing psychedelic tunes. I sense a definite house style for the Wirral based label; must be psychedelic and have long hair.
Marvin Powell, troubadour and antidote to the madness of the modern world was on hand three days after his epic support performance at the John Cale gig to perform to a small gathering. The world should take note of Marvin and his peace offerings. Sadly he was drowned out in part by the exuberant Paris Youth Foundation in the Baltic Tent next door.
Cabbage brought their customary chaotic set to the Atlantic main stage and attracted a large crowd who had turned out to see if they could behave themselves. It was all good clean fun, one wearing a space raiders multi pack wrapper on their head, and another removing his shirt. For the finale, the bass drum was held aloft and for one terrifying moment we feared the worst and that it would be flung into the audience, but it wasn’t to be.
The Shimmer Band packed out the Baltic tent, something of a trend in there, so many bands filling it to capacity, leaving many outside in the cold, staring wistfully inside. Local rockers The Jackobins stirred up the crowd with a lively set and proved why their diary is full of festival appearances this summer.
Staying at the Baltic tent, local stars on the ascendant, The Vryll Society pumped out psychedelic offerings to a pumped crowd followed by She Drew The Gun who kept the tent packed to the rafters and happy with a mixture of protest songs. Their cover of The Beloved’s ‘Lets come together’ was a most poignant final song that perfectly summed up the mood of a whole nation this week.
Amazons, then the Cribs put in powerful appearances, in yes, you guessed right, the Baltic Tent which once again saw many people locked out. I think next year, Sound City need to hire a much larger tent for their second biggest stage.
Just before the Kooks took over the main stage, the mayors of Liverpool and Manchester, Andy Burnham and Steve Rotherham addressed the crowd and vowed to stand united against the threats of terrorism. A minute silence was respectfully held with seagulls on the River Mersey the only sound to break it. The crowd then united to sing ‘Don’t look back in anger’.
As darkness fell on the second and last day of the Sound City festival, The Kooks treated us to a set of absolute bangers, showering us in confetti and ticker tape as the curtain came down on a 10th birthday party at Sound City.