Wednesday 9 August 2017

James, Razorlight, The Fratellis, The View, Embrace, Badly Drawn Boy, The Pigeon Detectives, The Membranes, Clay - Liverpool Hope And Glory Festival - 5th August 2017

Given the events that occurred at Hope And Glory on Saturday and the subsequent cancellation of Sunday's festival (documented here), the music almost feels like an aside, but despite the difficult circumstances in some areas of the site, the bands themselves manage to brave on against technical issues, stage times overrunning by up to two and a half hours and curtailed sets to deliver a show for those fans that stayed.

Clay (finally) opened up proceedings and demonstrated to a much bigger crowd than we're used to seeing them perform in front of why we think they're a band on the rise. Joe's unfazed by the shenanigans that have gone on - asking if anyone is in love before introducing Nothing Happened as a song about being cheated on - and the bleed from the other stages as they deliver an impressive set of the songs we've come to know and love them for. By the time they reach singles Sundance and final song 6am they've won over a whole new bunch of admirers older than their usual crowd but with the same appreciation of a great tune and a band that can play.

The Membranes are next up and they're clearly pissed off with what's gone on, restricted initially to three songs but squeezing four in. Their sound is awful though, they've got a twenty-five piece choir with them that you can hardly hear for most of the set although the cameraman probably thinks he makes up for it by spending a lot of time lingering on the chest of one of the women in the choir. Their songs about outer space don't appear to capture the audience, although to be fair the sound is so poor at this point it's a pretty impossible situation for them to be in as they suffer more than anyone, other than the appalling treatment of Charlotte Church, from the chaos that's unfolding around them. From John Robb's comments, it would appear things weren't much better off and behind stage.

There's a big Yorkshire contingent in for The Pigeon Detectives and they're very vocal in telling us of this fact. We're not fans of them, but they do bring atmosphere and humour to the party, quipping whether anyone has a watch or if anyone knows how to tie down speaker stands and later bemoaning the fact they can't banter with the crowd as they'd like due to the time restrictions. They get the crowd going too, particularly when they go back to their early material such as This Is An Emergency and Take Her Back as frontman Matt bounds around the stage with an infectious energy that transmits itself to their faithful down the front. Not our thing, but they do exactly what their fans want and get the rest of the crowd going as well.

We cringe as Badly Drawn Boy starts playing and Damon's subs start emitting all sorts of strange noises, the sort of sound issues that would have set him off track a couple of years back, but things have changed. He tells us he's just become a father again and that's all that matters. He takes things into his own hands and sits down at the keyboard and starts up The Shining and Magic In The Air. The battered romanticism of the songs might take the mood down a little, but they're beautiful. You Were Right, Silent Sigh and a final About A Boy bring it back up and have the growing crowd swaying from side to side and mouthing along. It's a delight to see him enjoying doing what he does best again, promising new material for 2018 as well.

Embrace are next up and the chaos ensuing at the back of the arena seems to transmit itself to the stage (which is already over two hours late at this point) as Danny's mic fails as he tries to talk to us, so they disappear for five minutes while it's fixed. Some unkind souls might have said that was a blessing in disguise, but his voice sounds better tonight than it's ever sounded in our opinion since they burst onto the scene in the mid-90s. Sensibly they focus primarily on their best known tracks for their six song set including All You Good Good People, Come Back To What You Know, Nature's Law, Ashes and Gravity with Richard singing their most recent track of the six Refugees. They get a great response from a crowd that now feels like it's come together and is going to enjoy themselves whatever (including piss) gets thrown at them.

The View and The Fratellis have a big Scottish contingent down to support them and both of them provide perfect early evening entertainment for the crowd, getting them bouncing around, singing along to every word of their favourite songs that remind them of a time and place. Underneath The Lights, Superstar Tradesman, Chelsea Dagger and Whistle For The Choir get an ecstatic response as they deliver just the right level of energy and sing along bounce along for the crowd as evening descends. Whilst so much else might have gone wrong, the organisers did a good job of matching the bands to the prevailing demographic of the crowd, many of whom had decided to stay put rather than venture to see some of the bands on the other stages. Razorlight's set has been cut significantly so they go for the jugular with the likes of In The Morning, Stumble And Fall, Before I Fall To Pieces and America all present and correct. It's a professional performance in the circumstances, delivering what the audience would expect rather than veering off with lots of new material that the audience might not be so familiar.

James, as is their wont, refuse to play by such rules, but when your last album went in the charts at number two and you're selling more tickets than you've ever done, you're entitled to do just that and defend yourself against accusations of not delivering what your audience wants. Their set is cut by half an hour before they come on and again during the set, yet the roll call of Sit Down, Sound, How Was It For You, Sometimes, Just Like Fred Astaire, Getting Away With It (All Messed Up) and Out To Get You is a big sandwich for those demanding the hits from back in the day, whilst those wanting a taste of the newer singles get Curse Curse, Dear John and a glorious crescendo of Nothing But Love that has thousands of arms waving in unison like you'd expect at the following night's cancelled Beatles tribute finale.

Tim doesn't do his traditional crowd surf until the last song, a sensible move given the potential rush that could have led to in this confined space, but the band, obviously frustrated at the delays and lack of information they'd received, deliver a glorious set. There's an energy to them when faced with adversity that manifests itself through Saul, the band's agitator, whose violin solo in Out To Get You is simply breathtaking as Mark plays the strange-looking melodica and coaxes the intimate claustrophobic feeling of the song out of it whilst Adrian lets loose during Sound and Sometimes with the air of a man who belongs in the band again and is making these songs his own. The curfew leaves those that have braved the whole day going out into the night singing Laid, the song Tim later tweeted they'd have loved to have come back and played.

With other issues overshadowing things, music, like so many other things in life, saved the day for those that stuck it out.

Clay's official site can be found here and they are on FacebookTwitter and Soundcloud.

The Membranes' official site can be found here and they are on Facebook and Twitter.

The Pigeon Detectives' official site can be found here and they are on Facebook and Twitter.

Badly Drawn Boy's website can be found here and he is on Facebook and Twitter.

Embrace's website can be found here and they are on Facebook and Twitter.

The View's website can be found here and they are on Facebook and Twitter.

The Fratellis' website can be found here and they are on Facebook and Twitter.

Razorlight's website can be found here and they are on Facebook and Twitter.

James' official website can be found here.   They are on Facebook and Twitter.  Some of the band - TimAndy and Dave - are also on Twitter.

We also run the One Of The Three James archive, the most detailed resource for information about the band, and the site also has a Facebook and Twitter page.

Follow Even The Stars on Twitter at @eventhestarsuk and like our Facebook page for all the latest updates

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