Festival Review: Liverpool International Festival 2017

Liverpool International Festival 2017

Words: Rebecca Worthington
Photos: Graeme Watt

Europe’s largest free music festival, LIMF, returned to Sefton Park this weekend for a four-day celebration of musical diversity. With torrential rain and Merseyrail strikes hitting the festival hard, it was down to the spirit of the Liverpool people to bring the festival to life.

The rain was a-pouring down on the Friday evening, but this didn’t stop dedicated fans from heading to the ItsLiverpool stage to see a hat-trick of Liverpool’s finest talent – Zuzu, Xam Volo and The Vryll Society. Looking slightly dishevelled, with wet hair and her signature glasses all steamed up, Zuzu took to the stage for a high energy performance that included the singles Get Off, What You Want and future hit Can’t Be Alone – a personal highlight for me. Xam Volo’s smooth vocals washed over the crowd. His effortlessly cool demeanour, with one hand in his pocket at all times and dressed in black from head to toe, commanded the attention of the audience. He has his performance down to a T… and the T stands for true professional.

Introduced as ‘the perfect festival band’, The Vryll Society drew the largest audience of the evening so far. Their new song Tears We Cry, with its opening line ‘The tears we cry yesterday have become the rain’ certainly seemed apt for the drizzly weather. The band are currently in the process of recording their debut album so it’s no surprise that Michael Ellis’ ethereal vocals were on top form. There were even shouts of “One more song!” coming from the excitable teens down at the front – many of whom were probably seeing the band for the first time, due to the age restrictions at their shows. The weather certainly didn’t stop entire families getting onto the ‘groovy train’ for The Farm, who headlined the stage. These acts deserved the larger audiences gained on the Saturday and Sunday, but those who did brave the weather were fully rewarded.

With Saturday headliners, Naughty Boy, Jax Jones and Gorgon City, drawing the masses to the mainstage. We headed back over to our familiar retreat at the ItsLiverpool stage to indulge in the atmospheric shoegaze riffs of heartthrobs Paris Youth Foundation, and The Sugarmen, who are sounding bigger and bolder than ever. Other memorable performances were provided by We Were Glue and Mary Miller on The Academy stage; and the haunting tones of Marvin Powell over on the Bandstand stage

When the sun set over Sefton Park, we headed over to Smithdown Road to see Indigo Moon and Strange Collective thrash the hell out of Kelly’s Dispensary. It was packed, it was sweaty and it was carnage. Semi-nakedness and stage invasions are customary for any Strange Collective show, though, new bassist, Lucy Hope, added a cool and collected feminine touch to the chaos.

The Philharmonic Orchestra nursed our heavy heads on the Central Stage on the Sunday afternoon, followed by Etta Bond and Kate Nash. However, Kirkby’s own Louis Berry, raised the energy levels of the masses with his bluesy guitars and scouse charm ‘You’re not allowed to have JD on the stage, get us that JD lad.”

On the ItsLiverpool stage, the anarchy of Jo Mary, juxtaposed the psychedelic, sultry tones of Jane Weaver. Walking over to the Bandstage Stage during a momentary opening in the clouds, we saw Ali Horn lull the crowd with his melancholy acoustic set. Standout tracks included Jesus Take The Wheel, a moving song about suicide and the his latest emotive track to be uploaded onto Facebook, Modern Voodoo.

Hooton Tennis Club’s own brand of scuzzy indie pop was lapped up by the ItsLiverpool stage. But, the highlight, however, was She Drew The Gun, who captivated us with a set charged with political scouse-poetry. The performance was topped off with a cover of The Beloved’s Sweet Harmony, which got the entire field bouncing. Crowd-pleasers Tea Street Band, hard a hard act to follow but they too had entire families dancing together to their groovy electro-indie pop. A cover of Donna Summers’ classic I Feel Love on the 40th anniversary of the day it topped the UK singles chart, coincided with a gap in the clouds before Andy Mac took to the decks. Perfect.

We took one final trip over to the Central Stage to see Sunday headliners Cast. Scouse anthems Alright and Walkaway provided a fitting end to a wonderful weekend of music. It was simply brilliant. The skies opened up for a final downpour and we escaped to Lark Lane to drink to the weekend’s antics. A pleasure as always, until next year LIMF…

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