Photography: Brian Sayle / urbansubrosa.com

Skeleton Coast

Leasowe Castle 31/8/19

Over the past few years, boutique festival SKELETON COAST has become somewhat of an exclusive retreat for festival fanatics across Merseyside, and even further afield. Taking place in the last weekend of August, the Wirral day event has secured a comfortable spot on the gig schedule; bringing an increasingly hectic festival season to a close, not to mention, in recent years, providing a timely escape from the increasingly hectic political landscape.

The achingly grand Leasowe Castle – usually reserved for weddings and other such luxury events – provides the perfect setting for the day as its haunting beauty and seclusion immediately throws you into an aura of exclusivity. The location, however, is certainly not the festival’s main draw. Cherry picked by Skeleton Key Records, the day’s line-up is seriously impressive; a testament to today’s emerging talent and antithetical to perceptions that guitar music is somehow dead.

The Getintothis stage – in Leasowe Castle’s Keep, where wedding vows are usually exchanged – is populated by Skeleton Coast’s more unplugged performances. Nonetheless, the stage manages to maintain its sentimental ambience as it plays hosts to the day’s most tender tunes. With a gentle vocal delivery and lolling guitar sound, LUCY GAFFNEY draws comparisons to Bill Ryder-Jones. The small but appreciative crowd are treated to her blend of soft rock, including a delightful cover of The Cranberries’ Linger. MARVIN POWELL, a Skeleton Key stalwart, similarly impresses with his collection of wistful songs. Throughout the day the stage serves as a pleasant interlude between the rock ’n’ roll stages.

Skeleton Coast 2019 Image 2

Over at the EVOL stage, THE SNUTS stamp their mark on the festival. Frontman Jack Cochrane’s cheeky confidence is backed up by his impressive vocals and energised tunes. All Your Friends is an instant crowd pleaser, with a thumping bassline running right through the spirited track. The young Scots seem a band likely to continue cropping up in the indie scene after a summer touring a throng of European festivals. Squeezing in unreleased songs along with hits Fire, Somebody and Hey Heartbreaker, DREAM WIFE continue the vigorous atmosphere on the stage. The all-female trio have made waves over the past few years with their likeable mix of rhythmic punk. They are undoubtedly passionate and even manage to instigate an artist-crowd conga (yes, really). The penultimate act on the EVOL stage, RED RUM CLUB, prove why they are one of the hottest acts on Merseyside. Frontman Fran Doran’s voice powerfully amalgamates with cool guitar licks and intermittent trumpets to create a sound that is emphatically sonorous.

A personal highlight of the festival comes at the Shit Indie Disco stage with BUZZARD BUZZARD BUZZARD. Freakishly Mick Jagger-esque, Tom Rees embodies all the characteristics a frontman needs to propel his band into stardom: cool, charismatic and unabashedly confident. Remarkably, his voice never falters as the band blast through singles Love Forever, Late Night City and Double Denim Hop, permeated with just the right amount of glam rock. Tense anticipation awaits THE MYSTERINES as they headline this stage; they amply deliver, quickly turning the small room into a sweat-box of energy. Their commanding set is stocked full of songs almost recklessly formidable, with Lia Metcalfe’s voice booming amid the bands swaggering riffs.

"The Mysterines quickly turning the small room into a sweat-box of energy"

MILES KANE brings the festival to a close in exhilarating fashion. Ensuring the energy of the day is sustained, he explodes out of the blocks with Silverscreen and fan-favourite Inhaler – encouraging the already lively crowd into pits and on to shoulders. Looking genuinely buzzing for his headline slot and first (yes, first ever) show in his native Wirral, Kane rattles through his discography; from Rearrange to Cry On My Guitar, to Don’t Forget Who You Are, knowing the crowd will lap it up. His newer songs LA Five Four (309), Can You See Me Now and Blame It On The Summertime show that Kane is not only writing songs at a terrific pace, but also evolving as a songwriter, experimenting with his lyrical delivery and beefing up a recurrent riff. Kane and his band’s blistering set, which peaks with the lovely Colour Of The Trap, rubberstamps his status as an astute and assured festival acquisition. As Kane’s songs are chanted around the room, his ecstasy is visible and infectious; and with a feeling like that, who’s going to stop you.

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