The Mondays thrilled the 2,000 + with their own brand of indie music, for well over an hour, (a free ticketed event). Shaun Ryder appeared in fine fettle, with a healthy looking tan and the crowd roared approval when Bez displayed his nifty dancing and interactions with the crowd, even down to whipping a guy out of his wheelchair and bringing him on stage at the end. Rowetta too is much loved, and her kinky twirling of her double whips and black shiny boots was to set those male hormones into overdrive. She does it with such fun and enjoyed teasing one of the security guys at the front of the stage. The fans were extremely delighted at hearing such anthems as ‘Kinky Afro’, ‘Step On’ and ‘Loose Fit’, amongst others. The Mondays were well received by all, and it proved to be a very successful and trouble free event, despite the beer throwing and a bit of jostling around in the mosh pit (but my own fault for going down the front).
It’s now Saturday and my second date with Warrington’s Golden Square. Each act are given a twenty minute slot and its just about right to give everyone a chance to shine. People behind the scenes are working really hard to achieve the timings and setting up for the next act. I emerge as The Diamond Bays were showing Warrington just how brightly they shine, an impressive little outfit.
The organisers this year decided to offer an alternative stage, which was folk themed, but also proved to be a hit for those with a more chilled taste in music. So down at Queens Gardens they were offering award winning husband and wife duo Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman. And playing across the road at 3pm in the Palmrya Bar I found a Little Sparrow aka Katie Ware, (a Mudkiss favourite) who was to deliver her own kind of folk music. Armed with her acoustic guitar and two musicians, singing her beautiful heartfelt songs, proceeding with ‘Rest Your Head’, leading to much loved songs ‘Sending The Message’, By My Side’ and ‘The Hunted’ (a song written about a love affair between a bear and a human – I kid you not). Little Sparrow managed to captivate the small gathering into a stunned silence, with her breathtaking vocals and chirpy banter between songs.
A quick dart back to the main area, and it’s a welcome change to witness female artists on the stage, and this is up and coming teenage singer Kim Jennett. Decked out in a mini skirted ensemble, doc martins, straddling a big ivory Yamaha guitar with ease and belting out pop songs with aplomb.
Other performers of various genres, are presented from solo acoustic artists Rob Scotney, and Steve Millington (brought in as a last minute replacements), such a shame the Kindest Of Thieves didn’t make it this year.
Rock music was represented early on in the form of The Black Circles, (with some incredible guitar playing) and the Black Lights, who both fired the crowd up nicely for a spot of dancing.
Yet another female fronted singer in the form of Chi & The Twelfth Wall, provided us with some unusual ambient folky sounds, even boldly trying their hand at a cover version of Joy Divisions classic ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ which actually worked really well.
Sonnic Image, send rays of psychedelia, and a touch of Oasis, announcing this was their last ever gig together, and with a touch of humour professed their hatred to one another. A refreshingly tight performance by teenage band called Stillia who riveted me to the spot. Frontman Jack Bennett looks too kool for school, dressed all in black, with the obligatory shades. Well worth checking out further. Exile Parade never fail to entertain the troops, and again delight us with some of their new tunes, which are given more of a rock theme, these guys are leaving our shores in a few months time to undertake a tour of the USA. Good luck Guys, can’t believe your going to be playing at the legendary Whisky. It’s another great slot ahead from no nonsense rock band The Dientes, with lots of riffs, entwined with a throbbing heavy bass, a mixed bag of influences here, and fronted by the rock god himself Chris Roberts.
China White who are Warrington’s finest electro, hip hop, funkateers appear next, and by now we have a decent crowd in the house. They almost lift the roof off the stage as the partying commences, with Rowetta making a cameo appearance and declaring her love for singer Liam Croker, Inder Goldfinger (Ian Brown’s percussionist) is also on hand providing those funky rhythmic beats & harmonies. The Phoenix Experiment brought their cosmic rays, and psychedelic meandering to the stage, with just one 20 minute track ‘Fire Up The Sun’ which was dedicated to Daniel Rimmer (singer from The 66 who passed away unexpected last year). Frontman Mike Bee, and his majestic cohorts managed to summon up elements of the universe, without the use of mind blowing drugs and transported us into another realm. A mighty performance which surpassed all expectations. Finally the night is almost over, but not before those local lads Slydigs take charge of the stage, with their cocky attitudes and fast paced modern rock n’ roll. They are already a hit on the live music scene, having supported a myriad of top bands, plus releasing a debut album last year, but its been five years since they played at the festival and now they are bringing the day to a close. What a great night of mixed genre music, something for everyone, and not one band failed to emerge without giving their all.
Although this day is over the festival doesn’t end there, and Sunday provided another wealth of talent on the 'Plugged In' stage at the Town Hall, which showcased some of the best young talent in the area, with a stage dedicated to performers under 18.
It’s my fifth year of covering Warrington Festival and each year it just gets better and better. It’s a mammoth task accommodating 85 bands, and seven stages, but everyone worked really hard, the bands, the crew, volunteers and organisers, who all have one goal, a commitment to showing people what talent the local area has to offer. So hats off to everyone involved and here’s to next year.
Review/photos by Melanie Smith