LIMFSefton Park 21/7/18
The sixth year of LIMF has a line-up any festival would be proud of. This year’s ticketed incarnation hosts four distinct areas providing the revellers with a range of music. £5 seems a fair deal for chart toppers, Mercury Prize-winning acts, well known DJs and critically acclaimed emerging local talent. Making the leap from a free festival to a paid-for festival is big no matter what the cost; but, if it means Liverpool can offer world class acts in a beautiful setting then that’s the way it has to be.
Beautiful, that is, once you’ve made it past the perimeter fence – thoughtfully in green to blend in – bag searches and a 30-minute queue. A rational mind knows the queue can’t last forever. At times it seems it might.
Needless to say, there are a few issues. The Saturday, especially, seems confused. People turn up ready to have fun, but in some areas of the festival it’s more like a school trip gone horribly wrong as groups of teenagers in hot pants and bum bags screech round the site. This is where LIMF needs to ask itself what it wants to be: a critically recognised festival with acts of a high calibre, or a youth club? In the midst of this hullabaloo, CC:DISCO! gamely carries on DJing in the True School Club House while a slightly older crowd hang round the edges of the tent with a look of ‘I don’t remember it being like this in 89’ etched on their faces.
In contrast, the ItsLiverpool Next Gen stage is a leafy oasis. Hidden away through the trees at the side of one of the bars, there are some interesting local bands on in this intimate space: RED RUM CLUB are really enjoyable, Southport’s ASTLES offers something interesting, accompanied by bass, cello and violin, while headlining the Saturday evening are THE VYRLL SOCIETY, who’re worth the £5 entrance fee on their own. Lead singer Mike Ellis exclaims he’s “made up” we’re there and the crowd gathered round the stage are made up they’re there, too. There is quite a gathering for this accomplished group well known on the Liverpool circuit. It’s a slick set.
By the time TREVOR NELSON is spinning the favourites back over in the True School Club House, the majority of the younger contingent have left LIMF and there is a much more positive atmosphere. The good mix of tunes and chilled atmosphere get the crowd, older and comprised of people who remember the good stuff the first time round, showcasing their moves. There are few things better than dancing to the classics like Crystal Waters’ Gypsy Woman and Earth, Wind & Fire’s September on a balmy Saturday night.
Sunday starts with a return to the secluded Next Gen stage where we find CAVEPARTY, whose sound takes cues from 90s Britpop swirled in a sea of psychedelia and noise. On tight pop songs like Oh Oh and Beautiful, the band basically sounds like Radiohead’s The Bends on acid. For many, Sunday has the more interesting line up on the Central Stage. YOUNG FATHERS are probably the most critically acclaimed act at the festival and, as always, they give their all. They pound out songs from albums Dead and White Men Are Black Men Too, bringing it up to date with Holy Ghost from this year’s brilliant Cocoa Sugar. They bring a whole other level of talent and creativity to LIMF. They take what’s expected, ramp it up a notch and ram it down your throat, leaving you wondering what’s just happened all the while dancing your socks off. They’re most certainly the act of the festival. It’s just a shame their efforts are met by a half-full VIP area, albeit with enthusiastic fans, before floating over to the appreciative and energetic hoi polloi.
This is less of an issue for BASEMENT JAXX as their long back catalogue proves a draw for a massive crowd in a party mood meaning the metal bar demarcating the VIP section of the crowd from the rest of the is less noticeable. Starting with Bingo Bango and selecting hit after hit, there’s a celebratory atmosphere that was missing the day before.
“We really just want to freak people out,” says QUEEN ZEE’s Frankie Wortho, moving to grab his bass atop the ItsLiverpool stage. As Queen Zee explode into their set, every member of the audience is on their feet. Could this be the most raucous performance to ever to take place in Sefton Park? Just maybe. Dressed to kill in full suits, the band give a performance similar to what you would expect from The Hives. The set quickly divulges into a sweaty chaos during tracks like Boy and Porno, with guitars and items of clothing being shed and flung around the stage. At one point the topless Zee Davine (Vocals, Guitar) reveals a heart-and-arrow sprawled across the lead singer’s bare chest, with the name ‘DAVE MONKS’ written in the middle. With the rest of the band blasting the final song, Zee vigorously climbs up the metal banister on the side of the stage and sends a guitar smashing down to the ground – 15 feet below.
Finishing the festival, HAÇIENDA CLASSICAL continue the celebrations and put on a production on an epic scale. There’s more than a nod to the music’s legendary home in the staging: a yellow motif in the tops of the backing singers and the now mythical black and yellow stripes ensure the crowd are in the mindset for a party. With an orchestra led by a conductor who isn’t averse to whipping the crowd up and having a bop, four backing singers, and three incredibly talented lead singers, all under the eye of Mike Pickering, Sefton Park is treated to an original and thoughtful set.
Along with the expected and welcomed, there are some interesting choices: The Clash’s Rock The Casbah and New Order’s era-defining Blue Monday hit the right chord. Melanie Williams’ performance of the Coldcut and Lisa Stansfield classic People Hold On is flawless and gets the whole field dancing as it echoes out round South Liverpool. Haçienda Classiçal closes the festival on a high.
Another successful weekend for Liverpool, then. With the main pulls at LIMF largely being established acts and DJs, it’s commendable that the Next Gen stage is able to showcase the incredible range and diversity of artists honing their craft on the Liverpool circuit. Thus, the survival of LIMF is vital for emerging artists all over the UK, not just Liverpool. If the organisers can fix the few problems, then the next LIMF should be spot on. This year, though, close will have to be good enough.
Jennie Macaulay / @jenmagmcmac
Joel Durksen / @Joeldurksen