Cancelled artists, shortened sets and unanimous disappointment – Hope & Glory 2017

  1. Saturday

Steps away from Liverpool’s world museum; history was about to take place. Such an interesting day promised with an amazing line up set to sway any naysayers of the weekend’s events. Wandering round the site was a far cry from the muddy sludge pits of any usual festivals; in fact it was quite literally a walk in the park.

The scenes on the outside on the other hand were quite the opposite. Chaos ensued as the sheer scale of queues began to grow out of hand. Once inside though the chaos decreased in the form of Rothwell at the “In the Lady Garden” stage. Armed with just an acoustic guitar, her chilled out tunes were met perfectly by the glorious rays of sunshine.

The “Wonders of the Age” stage introduced Haunt The Woods’ chilled out folk vibes.  Next on was a band championed by the one and only Peter Crouch during his brief stint covering on Radio X. Wild Front brought 80’s-esque synths and an interesting violin bow/guitar combination. The resulting sound was hauntingly big and resonated heavily yet was wasted on such a small crowd.

Cute little details and features were dotted around the park. Flamingo statues signposted as “seagulls in disguise”, the woman that turned into a tree (a bra stapled to a tree), hay bale seating areas, a playable piano and benches marked “sit down next to me” to rest your tired festival legs on; were all quaint additions to the exclusivity of an inner city festival.

There might’ve been seagulls in disguise but such a luxury was never to be had by any pigeons; not with the Pigeon Detectives around. Although the tunes were on point and as lively as ever there seemed to be a bee in Matt Bowman’s bonnet. The rowdy frontman began taking pot shots at the organisers with statements like “looks like no one here owns a watch” and making comments on the fact there was no time for their usual “banter” in-between songs.

It soon became apparent that there were some serious timing issues with the main stage. At one point acts were coming on almost two hours later than the set times had promised. Despite all these serious miscalculations the event pushed on into the late afternoon.

Back over on the “Wonders of the Age” stage Dave McCabe held the attention of a sizable crowd with a number of tunes and fun stories to boot – no timing issues there it seemed. The former frontman of The Zutons even had the crowd bellowing out Survivor’s ‘Eye of the tiger’ just for the fun of it.

After much confusion as to when acts would actually be playing the main stage and rumours about the cancellation of Charlotte Church crowds were at least able to appreciate both The View and Embrace from a distance as “The Great Exhibition” stage could still be heard from the lesser packed parts of the gardens.

Just before The Fratellis were announced onto the stage a set list with the omission Charlotte Church was displayed. After a quick social media stalk; the rumours of her getting the axe were confirmed without a reasonable explanation. No flies on The Fratellis though as they flew through their set. Obviously the crowd erupted over fan favourite and all round indie classic “Chelsea Dagger” and with that their set had ended just as soon as it started.

Razorlight followed suit with brilliant recollections of classic anthems like “America” and “Before I Fall to Pieces”. However, yet again the stage presence in-between songs proved to be extremely tame. This was especially strange considering the usual controversial/entertaining nature of frontman Johnny Borrell.

Headliners James’ took to the stage 10 minutes later than the already tampered with set time after a lengthy set up. “Sit Down” was dropped about halfway through the set and it did not disappoint. However disappointment came soon after as all were informed that due to the timing issues a number of songs had to be cut. This kicked off a downward spiral of boo’s and jeers, which was met by an equally frustrated band member as the guitarist responded with “It’s not our fucking fault!”

Sunday : No Festival Today

During the Saturday event it was hard to gage how serious the problems were. Yes there were timing issues and yes the crowd control could’ve been better. But it’s hard to believe that this is the first time in festival history that these teething problems have occurred. The following morning left a sour taste in the mouth though, as the festival organisers seemed to have lost all hope and sold their glory. The ominous “No Festival Today” was the only clue most people were left with, which lead to a serious backlash on all forms of social media. A beautiful triad of finger-pointing, name-calling and scapegoating ensued and the level of professionalism was almost non-existent. As per usual the internet had cast its line waiting for Hope & Glory to bite… and they bit hard!

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A few scraps of pride were clawed back with the official statement being released on Monday (7/8/17). However the running theme of blame passing continued only this time more eloquently. Whilst explanations were somewhat provided, perhaps if they had spent less time thinking of excuses and more time facilitating the correct amendments the festival could have been a glorious success as opposed to the hopeless grovelling disaster that it unfortunately became.

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