Although it’s been running for several years now, this Bank Holiday weekend I attended the Mathew Street Music Festival in Liverpool for the first time. The event was actually cancelled last year due to some political issues between the local authority and the organisers but it was claimed that this year it was back «Bigger and better than ever».
Although it started life as a celebration of The Beatles and their music and was almost exclusively located in Mathew Street, the event has now spread to the extent that it covers many different music styles and the number of venues for the events is now around 40! In addition to the large number of bands focussing on the Fab Four, there are tribute bands to many old and new artists, one or two originals and a significant selection of bands performing under the heading «new music».
Whilst many of these are indoor venues, pubs and clubs, etc., there are now six large outdoor stages in various locations around the city centre, which is almost completely closed to traffic. The largest of the stages is the «Tunnel» stage, situated close to the entrance to the Queensway Tunnel. With a huge arena in front of the stage, this venue attracted several thousand fans to its larger events and is where my visit began on at 1.00 p.m. on Sunday when I went to see «The Police Force», not surprisingly a «Police» tribute band.
As you might expect, they simply worked through a selection of the Police’s biggest hits and attracted quite a large crowd, many of whom joined in even though it was quite early in the day. The crowd was a mix of old and young and many had clearly come for a picnic, with tables and chairs dotted around, mostly on the edges of the venue.
After The Police Force, there was an interval of 15 minutes and I realised that this was standard across all venues, as this was probably the amount of time needed to go from one venue to another if you needed to do so. But I was staying firmly put because the Tunnel stage was about to play host to none other than Chas and Dave; not a tribute band but pure Cockney Gold, the original themselves, complete with Mick on the drums!
Running through «Rabbit», «London Girls», «No Pleasing You», etc., they quickly won over the audience and had a huge «singalong» atmosphere on the go. Who’d have thought it, on the banks of the Mersey? I was reminded of when Bjorn and Benny of Abba appeared at a U2 concert some years ago as this was widely acknowledged as the start of the Abba revival. Are we about so see Chas and Dave storm up the charts again?
After all the singing it was time for a drink at one of the many outlets dotted around the place, all of which seemed to charge £3 for a pint of lager or cider, or a glass of wine. But it was a decent pint and very cold, so was greatly appreciated. Incidentally, the seasoned festival goers were clearly noticeable as they all seemed to be carrying 24-can packs of Carlsberg, Becks, etc.
Overcoming the urge to go back to the Tunnel to see «Rocks Off», a Rolling Stones tribute, I decided that it was time for a touch of «what it’s all about» and so strolled down the normally heavily congested Dale Street and Castle Street to reach the «Beatlemania» stage at Derby Square.
Playing host to non-stop Fab Four bands, I arrived there in time to watch the curiously named «American English». Playing the usual repertoire, though more heavily focussed on the later stages of the Beatles music, they had a good look and a good sound. But in the breaks between songs, it was quite disconcerting to find that not only do they work on looking and singing like the Beatles, they actually try to talk like them (well, at least «Paul» and «John» did – the other two never spoke).
But they were pretty good and whilst the start of their show was to a smallish audience, thanks to a heavy shower, the latter stages had quite a gathering as the sun broke out. I was later told that this stage and its bands got steadily better as the day wore on.
But now in the 60’s mood, I headed away from Derby Square and went to the Exchange Street stage, dedicated to «Merseybeat». I arrived there in time to catch the back end of «Mike Pender’s Searchers», playing «Needles and Pins», followed by the one and only Merseybeats themselves. Playing to an audience which comprised significant numbers of people with grey hair (or no hair!!), this was also a well received performance.
Deciding it was time for another drink, I went to the Slaughter House on Fenwick Street. This is normally an Irish themed pub but they were hosting a performance by a man whose name I didn’t catch, singing lost of Bobby Darren, Sinatra, Dean Martin, etc. The music formed a good background to the shouting at the bar as I fought to get served!
After the refreshments, it was time to head back to the big Tunnel stage in time for the last performance of the day, that of «Roxy Magic». I reached there just as the previous act «Summer of Love», a 60’s tribute band, were finishing their show with «House of The Rising Sun». Approaching from the back of the crown, it was a fantastic sight as the crowd had swelled significantly as the day progressed, and even the «picnic» set were standing now.
And so to Roxy Magic. Fronted by a man in white tux, black slicked fringe falling over his eyes, this band really were the business. As always with tribute bands, they focussed on the big hits but clearly this is what the crowd were here to see and almost to a man were singing along to each and every word.
With a passing «Thanks» to John Lennon, they performed «Jealous Guy» before finishing with «Over You» and «Dance Away», bringing to an end the first day of the festival. Slightly foot weary, I had seen some really good shows but hadn’t had time for more than one of the Beatles bands, had missed the tribute acts «Led Zed», «Cream’d» and «Elvis Brettini» but was eagerly looking forward to day 2.
It is also worth mentioning that across all venues, the stewards and marshals did a first rate job, never more so than at the end of the day when the huge crowds dispersed and were safely routed away from the venues to the chosen route home.
There was only one place to be for the first gig on Monday and that was the Tunnel stage again to kick off at 11.00 with «Elevation», a local U2 tribute. Despite the early hour and no previous warm up, they kicked off with an explosion of faithfully reproduced U2 music, «Desire», «New Years Day», «Beautiful Day», etc. A fantastic audience sang all the way through most of the songs, culminating in «With or Without You» and «Still Haven’t Found….» Clearly a band who will be welcomed back time and again, I couldn’t help but thinking that they deserved to finish the day rather than start it.
After that, I paid my first visit to the Superlambanana stage at the top of Hatton Gardens. On Sunday, this stage had been labelled as «Pub Rock» and I hadn’t seen any of the acts, but Monday was labelled «Blues and Soul» and this was like a magnet to me! I arrived there in time for «The Sensations», billed as a «Soul Tribute» act. To be honest, they were simply a cabaret type group of one young lad and three girl singers, backed by a decent enough band. Trotting through some Motown standards they were OK, but I got the impression that the next night they would be playing at Butlins.
So I followed this with a stroll along Tithebarn Street to see «Square One», playing Coldplay music. I don’t know a lot about Coldplay but I do know that my children think they’re good, so decided to stay and watch. If I didn’t like them, I was ready to stroll around the corner to the Water Street stage to see «Dusty», the lady who recently won «The One and Only» show on TV. She was appearing on the «Divas» stage and was following «Cher», «Elton» and «Tina Turner», all the artistes from the same TV show.
But the young lads of Square One came up with the goods and kept a large audience, with a wide age range, very well entertained with some really good music. These were young, local lads and once or twice simply shouted out to the audience «What do you want to hear», and played pretty much all the requested songs. As I said, I’m not big on Coldplay but these lads were good.
By the time they’d finished, the Motown magnet was pulling me back and so I went back to the Superlambanana in time to see what was clearly a touring show, firstly with two young girls labelled «the Supremes», although they also sang some Martha Reeves songs, followed by «The Temptations and Four Tops», five American men who didn’t look like or particularly sound like either of the groups.
The girls who did the Supremes sang pleasantly enough although they seemed to be interested on having a laugh with each other and the second act sang well enough although at least one of them was out of tune. But the «Huggy Bear» type lead singer kept the crown entertained and I suppose on balance they were OK. The backing band to both artistes was worthy of mention with a four man brass section producing some really good sounds.
And so as the day moved towards and end, it was back to the Tunnel stage to see «God Save The Queen», The word spreading around town was that this was the band to see, and it was clear by the massive crowds that everybody had paid heed. The compere informed the audience that this band was from Argentina but included one local lad (strange?) and the tuning of the instruments, producing some very «Brian May»-like sounds, already had the crown chanting.
Then before you knew it, on came Pablo Padin, aka Freddie Mercury. Now this guy had his act off to a T. He looked like the man, sang like the man and strutted the stage like the man. It might sound a little cheesy, but it really was like being at a Queen concert. He had the audience eating out of his hands, screaming, singing, dancing and clapping along to all the old favourites. They even did a version of «Bohemian Rhapsody» which was just sublime and proved that Pablo/Freddie could play the piano as well.
The end of the show came all too quickly and Pablo’s reappearance in a crown and wearing an ermine cloak sadly wasn’t the prelude to an encore, just him taking a well-earned bow. But I have to say – if you ever get a chance, go and see this band! Incidentally, the compere advised the crowd that the band were playing again that night at the Cavern! Quite what they would be like with their explosion of sound in such a small venue is beyond me!!
And so the show and the festival was over for another year. I hadn’t had a chance to see tribute bands to Bowie, The Smiths, Blur, Amy Winehouse, Kaiser Chiefs and many, many more, neither had the opportunity arose to get down to the floating stage at the Albert Dock, where the 40th Anniversary of the UK release of «Hey Jude» was to be marked by the «Hey Jude sing-a-long», led by the 3000 participants of the World Fire Fighting Games, which also took place in the city over the weekend!
I went home with not much voice left, aching legs from all the walking, dancing and jumping but having spent very little money as all of the events were totally free. I am already looking forward to next year’s event and thinking that some more detailed event planning on my part will be needed to ensure I see all the top acts…but accepting that I’ll never get to see them because there are too many bands playing in too many places. And that can only be a good thing.
All I can say to you all is that if you weren’t there, you really missed it this weekend.
comprar camisetas futbol spain y selecciones nacionales y todos los clubs para hombre,mujer y niños,Camisetas de fútbol en camisetafutboles.com. by Stephen Nulty