MTV Brand New Review

MTV kicks off the Liverpool International Music Festival with a line-up of fresh UK vocal talent.

I'll be honest…I didn't quite know what to expect going into this gig.
The cynic in me though "Oh, here we go…MTV parades a bunch of marketable girls all 
billed as 'the next big thing'". The cynic in me was quickly silenced. 

As soon as we got under way, one thing was abundantly clear…..these girls can really do it. 
And they can do it well.

Becky Hill was first up with a strong performance of old and new material. 
There always seems to be this sort of stigma attached to the whole 
'reality TV contestant goes legit' thing, or maybe it's just me, but again, this was dispelled
from the get go. Becky proved to both me and a warehouse full of 300+ Liverpudlians that she's the real deal.

Next up was Jess Glynne.. and yes, even I've heard of Jess Glynne. This girl just seems to be everywhere at the minute.                                                                                                             Giving off a much less animated presence than Becky, Jess was fine letting her voice 
do the talking. In her short career, she seems to have already built up enough hits in her back catalogue to keep almost any crowd screaming …and this crowd was no exception.                                             Backed up by a slick band (and I don't say that often) and some pretty energetic backing singers, this whole group put in a stylish performance leaving the crowd hungry for much, much more.

So there's me. Stood in the trendy setting of the Camp and Furnace with my cameras round my neck, pleasantly surprised by what I'd seen so far.
Then it was time for the final act..and trust me when I say that this crowd was already pretty bloody happy with what they'd got for their £3 ticket purchase, but when Ella Eyre was announced,                 they kicked it up a notch…and by 'kick it up a notch'…I mean they went mental.                             Figuratively, of course.

On to the stage runs this electric lioness, dressed like a sexy x-men character and absolutely rips the crowd to shreds. Whipping around in a blur of hair and Spandex, Ella worked this crowd like she's been doing it since she was born. 
Honestly, I just shot Kendal Calling and even there I didn't see stage presence this good.
Of course, she dropped some crowd-pleaser's like "Deeper" "Love me like you" and "If I go" (which sent the already manic crowd through the roof) – and the ones we didn't
know, she taught us the words to.                                                                                                   Even through a few technical difficulties (let's face it, sh*t happens sometimes) she managed to keep the crowd right in the palm of her hand.

It's kind of ridiculous to think that this girl is only 20.  
What's even more ridiculous is to think how good she'll be in another few years.
Probably the worlds next International super awesome ultra mega star. Or y'know, words to that effect.

All in all, this was a stellar line-up of absolute vocal powerhouses who definitely brought their A-game for the MTV cameras..and whilst they were busy doing that, they also restored my faith in the future of UK vocal talent. Thanks ladies.

An excellent way to kick off the Liverpool International Music Festival.                      

Well played, MTV. Well played…

Kendal Calling 2014 Review

 “Make sure you pack your sun cream…it’s going to be a scorcher next weekend!”

These words did not end up ringing wholly true. In fact, this was one of the wettest, muddiest festivals I have ever experienced…and I've been to at least 20. If you are going to have your festival in the Lake District, who knows what weather you are going to get, but this was a Northern festival, with proper double-hard Northern people who were ready for anything.

…then this little guy turned up and showed us all how it was done…

Mud monster

We arrived early on Thursday, this being the first year to allow entry the day before the main festival.
After finally getting up our beast of a tent, we caught the first half of Craig Charles’ 
thumping set in the Glow tent, before some Yorkshire Ska in Chai Wallah, courtesy of The Talks.

Friday started out in the real ale tent, and not even for beer (this time!), but instead to avoid the first
heavy downpour of the weekend. Samba bands were a feature across the site, and kept everyone
entertained until the stages started. By the early afternoon the rain had stopped, giving way to sack
races and plenty of activities to keep families busy in the Ladybird Kids area. Teenagers got their dancing shoes dirty early on at the J├Ągermeister stage and in the House Party tent. The first big crowd
of the day was for The Dub Pistols, a band who just seem to be made for festivals, getting everyone
stomping those wet weather blues away.

There was disappointment for some as the next act Ella Eyre was unable to attend due to illness, but fear not…The Sunshine Underground served up an extremely last minute indie dance set that kept everyone happy while they refuelled in anticipation of De La Soul

Unfortunately, owing to an accident on the M6, their set was cut short, but the enthusiasm they provided more than made up for it. 
“Me, myself and I” put lots of smiles on faces. With as many years of experience as they have they worked the crowd as you would expect.

Just enough time to grab some food. There was plenty on offer, ranging from exotic burgers
(Llama; wild boar and wagyu beef) to delicious momos from the Tibetan Kitchen (my photographer is now completely hooked on these badboys).

Suede headlined Friday night and began with a quiet opener “The Next life” from their first album.
They had won the crowd over by the third song “Trash”, followed by “Animal Nitrate” giving
everyone a chance to sing, and Brett Anderson to strut his stuff like the mid 90’s were here again.
Mid set we were given a new song “Tightrope” which the crowd were not really sure about, and
their set finished with “Beautiful Ones”.They closed the main stage with an encore of
“She’s in Fashion”, and a wonderful rendition of “Stay Together”.


After hours there was plenty to do with particular highlights being the Britpop set in the Tim Peaks Diner and the jazzy breaks of Mr Scruff.


As morning broke on Saturday, the site was turning to a liquid red thanks to the Cumbrian mud and morning rain. That didn’t stop large numbers of aliens, and sci-fi characters emerging from their tents to lighten up the gloom. The Glow Tent hosted a mass moonwalk to the song “Billie Jean”, as hundreds of MJ’s strutted their stuff.

Mid-afternoon, as the sun peeked out, Newton Faulkner played to a background of bubbles drifting across the field, “Teardrop”, and Justin Timberlake’s “Like I love you baby” bringing the crowds in. Athlete continued the summer vibe, and the sunglasses were out by the time Razorlight took to the stage. Sporting a lovely beard (trust me, I know about beards!) Johnny Borrell and the boys played a high energy, hit filled set.

Then, it was ALL about Madchester, with bucket hats and Lennon glasses being the necessary uniform. The Happy Mondays began with Bez informing us of his political intentions, which is either genius, or the most bonkers thing you’ve ever heard. The majority of this crowd would definitely vote for him. Shaun planned to keep it a PG performance, and entertained the crowd by never being quite sure which songs were coming next. Rowetta looked fantastic in her cowboy hat and tassels, and people were literally climbing the trees to get a good view. The sound was great and the whole arena was rocking to party classics from “Loose Fit”, to “24 Hour Party People”.

The Happy Mondays

Frank Turner started his set with a smaller crowd, hampered by the rain, but that crowd grew and got to enjoy a very special headline slot. This being his third time at the festival, he’s
definitely earned his Kendal stripes, and when he announced how honoured he was to play, you really knew he meant it. His band, The Sleeping Souls, threw themselves around the stage and really stepped up the volume, with stomping tunes like “Photosynthesis” getting the crowd all clapping and singing along. He dedicated his new song “Angel Islington” to all the Northerners. Despite a re-tune mid song and a broken string, nothing could faze Frank tonight!

Frank Turner

Sunday, originally predicted to be the best day for weather, was the worst, with frequent showers turning the main arena into a mud bath. Children and adults kept their spirits up by sliding down the hillside, and one of the great moments of the weekend was the chap in neon and a flat cap, cruising round a pool of mud in his electric wheelchair, chasing people. The Lancashire Hotpots played at lunchtime and won the award for most costume changes, and as they said, it was like a Lady Gaga gig! Conga lines, beach balls and songs including “We Love the North”, and “Chippy tea”, were just what was needed to keep everyone from flagging.

Reel Big Fish were the afternoon high point, Masters of styles they gave us the Ska Punk we all expected, but also a touch of Disco, and even a bit of Square-dancing. With choreographed kicks they finished with “Take on Me”, and as the dancing increased, the mud was flying. Tom Odell didn’t go in for quite the same level of onstage action, but instead let his music do the talking. It only took him to point to the girls at the front to get them all screaming, as he hammered away at the piano. A new song “Jealousy” from his upcoming album was particularly well received.

Miles Kane was taking no prisoners with a straight up rock and roll show. Dressed in a psychedelic shirt, his strutted around owing the stage, scissor kicking as he went. By the time he played “Don’t Forget Who You Are”, he had the audience joining in from the front to all the way up the hill.

Miles Kane

The final act on the main stage was Example, the biggest crowd of the weekend, and everyone wanted to be at the front. The sound from the stage was massive, with filthy bass lines shaking the sodden ground. Dressed in black he electrified the entire field, with lasers and a completely awesome neon drum kit. “One more day (Stay with me)” “Changed the way you kiss me” and “Kickstarts” were by far the biggest sing-a-longs of the weekend. As the set finished with air cannons
and ticker tape, the epic firework display was a worthy end to a sometimes challenging but ultimately celebratory weekend.


After the main events, we headed back to Tim Peaks Diner for some energetic table dancing and a storming funk and soul set from Tim Burgess.
Just time to pop back to the real ale tent, this time for a well-deserved pint, we’d all survived!


Words by Reuben Crowther
Photographs by Andy Sawyer