The Bar is firmly set and this festival is set to grow.
From the outset the Neighbourhood weekender lay down a bold statement of intent for this fledgling festival.
Firstly, the line-up over the two days was awesome, set over three stages, the array of artists for the Saturday was immense. The 3rd stage named after Warrington’s very own Viola Beach, was a nice touch and a very poignant touch to the tragic loss of a band that where destined for a bright future.Kicking off with “Black waters”, “Wild Front” and the very entertaining “Queen Zee” along with “Hey Charlie”. Taking to the stage mid afternoon was the excellent “Touts”, followed by “Feet” and “Sam Fender”, closing out the stage was “The Pale White” and “Red Faces” as the curtain finally came down on “King no one” who attracted an awesome crowd, the stage proved that new and emerging talent is in the ascendancy for sure.
All credit to SJM in not only attracting such a line up, but also making sure attention to detail for the 25.000 concert goers had everything they needed, a great diverse range of food to cater for all tastes, plenty of bar space and staff to keep the crowds watered during what was a scorcher of a day. If the 3rd stage was showcasing emerging talent the second stage was definitely for those that have made big strides over the last few years along with more established artists enjoying a revival. Opening up was the enigmatic “Yonaka” and “Ten Tonnes” next up was the brilliant “Tom Walker”, who delivered his set to a full house, Tom was followed with a performance from “Lewis Capaldi”, for those that have not had the pleasure, my advice is you must. Vocals and lyrics where a pleasure, once again another full house. Another set of bands who had come to let themselves cut loose, quickly followed “Blaenavon” and “The Magic Gang” have developed a solid following and are steadily climbing the festival rotas, after a short delay in set up “Cabbage” ensue to bring their stage chaos to the masses, certainly a growing crowd favourite. It was a pleasure to welcome “Starsailor” to the stage, originally formed down the road in Wigan. “James Walsh” began the set with the Classic “Alcoholic” with a set strewn with some classic tunes. Closing out the stage “Sundara Karma”, with a full tent and a massive following, these guys are heading for the main stage soon.
The main stage was a hive of activity from fans all day, “Spring King”, Fickle Friends” and “The Big Moon”, kicked off things, to me all three seemed a little lost on such a vast stage, something I am sure they will grow into. When “Reverend and the Makers “take to the stage the atmosphere perked up as only the “Rev” can do, Heavy weight champion had the crowd bouncing in their masses. Taking to the stage showcasing his new album Coup De Grace “Miles Kane” provided the highlight of the day so far with a blistering set. “Circa Waves” have developed into a super festival band full of energy and power, which rightly has them near the top of the bill. Next up was another festival favourite “Jake Bugg”, what a crowd pleaser and another fantastic addition to a great line up, a set of high quality and hits gave the crowd exactly what they wanted.
Finally the Head liners, and for me possibly the biggest catch of the weekend, “Courteeners”, if ever there was a band born to headline festivals this is the band, headlining Heaton Park and Lancashire Cricket ground over the last few years, the support and following made them the go to headline act.
As they take to the stage to a see of multi coloured flares, that now accompanies them at every performance, the opening chords of Are you in love with a notion, had the crowd at it from the off, a nice touch was when they dedicated Small Bones to the victims of last years bomb attack victims, Not nineteen Forever and What took you so Long closed out the set and a wonderful day. As a showcase it was up there. As the masses left, with many returning for a second round tomorrow, I head back to my car with hint of sadness and deflation…….. Sundays line up is as strong with “Anteros”, “The Pidgeon Detectives” as well as “Beth Ditto” and “The Editors”, Being joined by “DMA,S” “The Coral” Stockport’s “Blossoms” as well as “Noel Gallagher and his High Flying Birds”.
Thank you, Neighbourhood Festival we will see, you next year, with an even bigger line up, well you have set the bar.