Liverpool Sound City 2013 – three days of amazing music and mayhem that left us utterly exhausted, but provided us with memories of some genuinely life affirming highs of the sort that only live music can provide.
Day one started with a couple of conferences at the Liverpool Hilton, most notably Jon Morter’s (the man behind the Rage Against the machine Versus the X Factor) engaging presentation on the effective use of Social Media. So watch out Cowell, we know the secrets and soon your pale flaccid ass will be ours!
However, it was soon time to take in the music and after a longer than advisable dalliance at the complimentary bar we headed off to the first gig of Sound City 2013 to catch Black Eye’s set at the Zanzibar Club. Despite some critics claiming the band are essentially a collection of Brit Pop musical clichés we thought they were rather wonderful with a fizzing mix of punked up Indie pop and grunge slacker cool. True their angst ridden tales and don’t give a fuck attitude may not quite reveal searing inner truths about the human condition like say, Dostoevsky, but then again could old Fyodor write such fist pumpingly engaging tunes ?
Our second gig of the evening took us to one of our favourite venues, the Leaf, a stylish, bohemian enclave just out of reach of the stag and hen zombie apocalypse that occasionally weaves its vomit-flecked way up Bold Street. On stage was local girl Natalie McCool fresh from her debut album launch and she produced a set full of poise and calm assurance that confirmed her status as one of the brightest new talents in the North West. Her voice filled every square inch of the venue, rich with emotion but devoid of any histrionics that some singers erroneously feel conveys passion. Pretty much a flawless set and one that found a very appreciative audience.
Next, it’s over to Mello Mello to catch part of Generators’ North East showcase just in time for Natasha Haws, a precocious talent who writes songs of subtle poignancy, which are often in direct contrast to her blunt wryly-sarcastic introductions and asides. She possesses a raw honesty and depth of complexity that runs much deeper than many of her contemporaries, and on this showing, we predict a bright future for Natasha. (Natasha Haws is also the perfect name to say in a Geordie accent)
We stumble down to the lower deck of The Shipping Forecast, which actually resembles a subterranean dungeon boasting the sort of minimalist décor that looks like something straight out of the “Fritzel collection.” We’d been looking forward to catching Manchester’s PINS again but the venue was already packed and alas, we are unable to fully enjoy the experience due in no small part to our head being rammed up against a pillar (à la Stan Laurel in “Towed in the Hole.”)
And in one those unfortunate but inevitable scheduling clashes we decided to leave PINS earlier than we would have liked, to catch FINDLAY.
The Arts Academy photo pit was full which is always the sign that an act is generating a substantial buzz and having caught Findlay live a few weeks back at her Manchester EP launch, we knew this had the potential to be one of THE defining Sound City performances. However even we were blown away by just how amazing this set was. When Findlay and her boys ripped lose they produced a bravura performance, full of verve, vitality and raw power that was frankly “just fucking WOW!” Please record labels don’t do your usual ‘Dementor’s Kiss’ and squeeze out all that is great about this girl and attempt to turn her into just another singer to shift units, she’s worth far more than that. When the set was over there was genuine electricity in the air and you really did feel you’ve seen an artist who should be and deserves to be bigger than Jeremy Clarkson’s massive fucking head. Unlike Clarkson’s aforementioned cranium, there is nothing empty about Findlay’s performance.
A no show due to sickness at the Brooklyn Mixer from Italian Electro pop artist Tying Tiffany sees us instead head over to Screamadelica for some moth n’ roll where Leeds dark rockers BLACK MOTH are attempting to dismantle the premises with mammoth riffs and huge power chords which reverberated around the venue with the sort of sonic thunder that make Black Sabbath sound like a One Direction tribute band. Their debut album The Killing Jar is a visceral howl at the moon kind of affair, possibly not surprising when you learn it’s been produced by a man who knows a bit about the dark side, Jim Sclavunos of Grinderman and Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds fame. A pretty explosive end to an incredible first day.