Blackpool Music Festival kicked off last night with a bang, with a number of venues getting their feet wet with Festival anticipation that evening I had to make a choice about where to go and it had to be the legendary Uncle Toms Cabin, why? Is it because I have history there with previous events and showcases, no…….or was it because its run by my very good friend, local entrepreneur, publican and all round modern day hedonist, Jo Jacklin, maybe…….or was it because for the opening night some of the best talent around was on show…..Oh, I think so!!!!!!
Due to a previous engagement I managed to miss the first act, Savage Jaw so I apologise to him for that but I am assured you need to go see this guy whenever you can to ‘experience new boundaries and emotions and broaden your musical mind’……..enough said there then. I’m in. However, I did manage to arrive for the first night ever of the Blackpool Music festival just after the start of Veasey’s set.
What struck me first was that these guys had a sound like early REM. I noticed from my own music tastes which are fairly eclectic there were undertones of sisters of mercy and a mixture of post punk vocal with classic rock that brought out the darker side of what seems to be an REM inspired outfit. A very interesting sound the Blackpool crowd seemed to enjoy early on in the night.
If the previous band had undertones of the sisters of mercy mixed with echo and the bunny men then this duo were sisters of mercy disguised as kiss. It is a very brave thing to do in Blackpool to play rock without a drummer, I should I did it myself 15 years ago, but this retro-rock duo pulled it off well with classics from the best such as Whitesnake and def leppard. Now where are my zebra leggings…..
Some folks started the evening with a little in trepidation over what a lot of people were saying about these guys but they answered that instantly by kicking off the set living very much up to the bill. They blew everyone away instantly with a rich sound that seemed to over compliment, nay almost flatter the in-house PA. You could see it on everyone’s faces that this was something special as the locals were forced to look up from their pints and take a rare ‘peek’ at what greeted them.
The historical guests had arrived and they meant business. They finished last year supporting the chilli peppers and will finish this year on an 8 day tour with The Pixies but somehow managed to fit the Blackpool music festival in between….and credit where credit is due the Blackpool folk could tell real quality when they heard it but lets be honest anyone would when it jumps off the stage like Rumpelstiltskin on steroids and smacks you across the face like this did.
Having never seen these live before I first recognised a good old fashioned Manchester sound, a kind of retro baggy with a modern stroke of genius, like how I Imagine the crossover would be from the pixies to 808 state, with the smoothness of the Happy Mondays to Black Grape…. basically, it was like ‘Madchester’ jumped in to a car and came to the seaside all over again.
Local favourites played on the back of the Illuminations switch on gig which has catapulted them to local stardom. This was the first time Id seen these guys play after so much hype surrounding them and I was worried that they weren’t going to live up to their reputation. I needn’t have bothered. What impressed me straight away was that aaak’s set was faultless and professional to the T as you would expect so how would they fair following a band who toured with the Red Hot Chilli Peppers last year, a band they too would dream of supporting….???
The answer is they just did their thing. They played their own game and soon the remaining crowd were as comfortable in their skin bouncing around and singing along, as the band were on stage. You could see they had had a taste of the big stage and they liked it, but they paid this relatively small crowd the same compliments which was nice to see although a little pretentious at times if I am to be pedantic…..but sod it I want to be pedantic, I want to scrutinise these boys, why? because they have talent, they have an x factor about them, they have an image that suits and wows their audience young and old(er) and they want to live up to the hype. This is a cruel industry and can take your heart and stretch every which way till it stops beating if you let it and if these guys are going to make the big time they need to be tested.
Don’t get me wrong I’m a local lad myself and the romantic notion of putting Blackpool back on the global musical map is not lost on me as it isn’t on many but there is a bigger world out there to conquer and if they want to be THAT band……then I hope they move to the next level quick and to do that they need to follow bands like aaak and quite frankly much bigger bands and say ‘we belong on the same stage’ and last night in my humble opinion they made a small yet very important step and passed the test.
They still have work to do but they seem hungry…..again playing for charity they know when to do the right things and my only concern is that they realise soon that they have to move on to bigger things.
But for now, they are remembering where their roots are and are doing the locals proud because in short they took the responsibility of getting things started and Blackpool’s finest triumphed. They were obviously not As Able As Kane, but I’d dare to say they were as able as aaaK.
Good luck lads and thank you all for a great first night.
Check out the links for all 5 bands here: