Festival Review: Liverpool Acoustic Festival

liverpool acoustic festivalLiverpool Acoustic Festival is a two day festival based entirely at Liverpool’s Unity Theatre and it does, well, exactly what it says on the tin. The festival celebrates just a tiny fraction of the musical talent in acoustic music in the North West and beyond.

Friday saw a relaxed affair with plenty of different acts on offer to get you ready for the weekend. Silent Cities started the proceedings off with a stunning performance, recorded for Liverpool Live TV,  while in the bar Katy McGragh got things going a little more with her rockier tempos. Katy’s set was followed by main stage opener Thom Morecroft, who quite frankly won me over with his sense of humour and generally put everyone in a fabulous mood because of it. Oh and his music didn’t hurt either!

natalie mccool and silent citiesThe main stage saw singer songwriter Natalie McCool take to the stage later in the evening to wow the crowd with her, admittedly, not exactly acoustic guitar. She was joined by friend Simon, aka Silent Cities, after having been cajoled by the crowd for them to perform their recent collaboration (a cover of Daydream). We were also asked to join in with some singing on Natalie’s last song – let’s just say that she left us all sounding rather rubbish in comparison.

New city hopeful Rosenblume showed his song writing and performance skills back in the LLTV stage where the crowd was treated to several tracks from the singer’s forthcoming debut EP – out next month we were reliably informed.

The festival managed to bring together a real diverse array of acts from within the acoustic spectrum. Friday’s headliner Neil Campbell stunned with his guitar skills. Full on pieces of music, not songs, no lyrics, just classical and modern guitar skills and pedals and loops culminated in a spell binding performance for all.

Saturday saw yet more talent take to various stages across Unity Theatre. We were treated to a masterclass in song writing (and dealing with stage incidents) by Xander and The Peace Pirate. The siblings brought an incredible blues sound with both electric and acoustic guitars and some pretty impressive pedals that could turn  a guitar into pretty much any other instrument by the sound of it. They also brought with them a great deal of fun, even if they couldn’t quite encourage the crowd to always sing along.

dave o'gradyDave O’Grady had me completely captivated with his brand of Americana, he also left me in stitches with his final quip about ditching the pricks in your life. Stating that statistically there were at least two pricks in the room. It’s the little things like this that can make acts stick in my mind sometimes, not just their music. Stage presence and building a connection doesn’t just come from playing your music – as personal and heartfelt as Dave O’Grady’s is.

Liverpool Acoustic Song Writing Challenge winner for 2014 Jo Bywater impressed with her set on the main stage with her heavy blues and folk laden styles of song writing and playing. With particular mention going to her use of a slide guitar, which, seemed to impress the many guitar enthusiasts in attendance.

marketaThe headline for Saturday was Once actress and score composer Marketa Irglova who completely brought the festival to a standstill with her pin drop performance. Her slight frame against a beautiful grand piano was a vision of beauty that equally matched the, often, heartbreaking beauty of her songs. Her vocal clear and captivating, her playing equally so. She was gracious too, telling her of her last time to Liverpool and how she considered it to have now become a “hip” place to be. She told us of the importance of the musical Jesus Christ Superstar to her life and her songwriting and thrilled with a rendition of I Don’t Know How To Love Him. Marketa’s parting gift was a duet with audience member Paul (who everyone seemed to know but me), who performed a pefect rendition of Falling Slowly from the movie Once. I’ll admit I had a lump in my throat. What a pefect end to a wonderful festival. Here’s looking forward to doing it all over again in 2016.

Listen to Falling Slowly here:

 

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