Festival Review: Fusion Presents 2019

Fusion Presents 2019

Kings Of Leon, Franz Ferdinand, Echo & The Bunnymen, Jake Bugg, Circa Waves, Sam Fender

Sefton Park, 30th August 2019

Words & Photos: Elena Katrina

Kings Of Leon are playing by my house. Sam Fender is also playing. If you can’t instantly imagine my reaction to this news then you don’t pay me any attention.  This was the first time Fusion Festival Presents, held in Liverpool’s Sefton Park, was being delivered. The festival usually caters only to the more pop side of things (this year they had some epic stuff for that too) but this year we got a bonus day – guitars, and we like guitars.

Liverpool loves a reason to take time off work too it would seem. Given we’d already had the Monday off for a Bank Holiday, getting to skip out of the office at 12.30 on Friday was an added bonus to get to Seffy Park in time for the bands to entertain. I wasn’t the only one, clearly. I’m happy to report that super -newbies The Clockworks had about 20 mins to entertain the already growing crowd. Signed to Alan McGee’s Creation23 label the band were looking to get a foot in the door of the Liverpool scene. A part of me couldn’t help but wonder though, would Fusion Presents not have been better off grabbing a hot Merseyside band for this slot –  there are plenty of bands who could have grabbed an even bigger crowd to start off the day.

I had messages about this gig, going back months – “when is Sam Fender on?” – because obviously, as a superfan – I know this stuff. I didn’t. I didn’t know for sure until the day before and I was sure as hell thankful I’d already booked a half-day. He had fans out though did this lad. I did my job – got in the pit  – took photos while also singing passionately (as you do) so then I got my arse into the crowd and joined in. It was joyous and had it not been for Circa Waves and Kings Of Leon I’d have happily just gone home. Sam gave his recent single Blue Monday a plug as well as bringing out new album track Boarders and ended his set on the fans new favourite cover – Oasis – What’s The Story Morning Glory. It went down a treat. If there were people there who didn’t know about him before I feel certain they do now.

Circa Waves always pull a crowd – no matter their home town or away – we’ve been watching them since day dot and to say that they have honed their skills is somewhat of an understatement. They’re seasoned pros now and delivered a set that had me and my pals not just dancing but leaping and losing precious alcohol to the ground in a bid to keep up our enthusiastic crowd interaction. I’d have happily had them much higher up the bill, to be honest as, for me, it momentarily went a little downhill in the musical atmosphere after.

Now, the thing is I find with Jake Bugg is that I don’t find him particularly interesting to watch. So I wasn’t jumping for joy when he was added to the bill. Sure he has some great tracks but he gives nothing away in his delivery, no emotion on his face, at times I’d go as far as to say he looked bored.  I will admit that I watched three songs then wandered off, so I could be at fault here for not sticking around to see if he was just warming up! Clearly, he has fans and the crowd were enjoying it, but I can’t shout and scream for someone I just don’t buy into. I’m not sure I can say that I “watched” Echo and The Bunnymen either – they were on but aside from one or two songs they didn’t hold any of my attention either. They have a crowd of very loyal fans and have, of course, that iconic sound. The fans made themselves known and that is why they were a key booking for this lineup as well as bringing some Liverpool musical royalty to the proceedings. Popped doesn’t exist for our keen interest of nostalgia bands so I suppose you can understand why I’d be more excited about the likes of Sam Fender on this lineup anyway.

Franz Ferdinand though brought with them their very own Glasgow Barrowlands style background light, which, delighted me as much as their energetic set did. Key movements – those scissor kicks – a ball ache for me to capture (though others did!) make for a band who are always great to watch live even if you’re not 100 a fan. I sit somewhere in between – loving their early work and not really knowing much of the newer stuff – I should try harder! They were very much an unexpected highlight.

Kings of Leon haven’t played in Liverpool for years – in fact – I can’t remember when they did last play – it feels like an eternity ago to be honest. Fairly sure it was in the Echo Arena and I’m fairly sure it was epic. This though – an outdoor stage was so much better. A festival set of epic proportions – not one track that I (a long-standing fan) would have wanted to hear was missed. At least I didn’t feel that way. Also a nod to say that they’ve never sounded better. The vocals, in particular, were crazy good. Saving their biggest hits for the end Sex on Fire and Use Somebody were, without doubt, the crowd’s favourites whereas mine were maybe The Bucket and Crawl, if, that is, that I had to pick favourites at all.

There wasn’t a moment’s let up from the band nor the crowd during the entire set, it was everything I had hoped for and more. The months of anticipation for this show was not left wanting. Flares were waved, people were on shoulders, chants, shouts, screams – it was all happening. This was a show the people of Liverpool (and a-far) had wanted. It was a show we all want again – the only problem is going to be Fusion – how will you top this next year?


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    Popped Music has been going since Feb 2010.

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