Festivals

Knowsley Hall -- Greetings from Liverpool!

Michael Bonner

"Don't start! This is my best shirt. And me mum's dead..."

These, you should know, are the first words I hear as I enter Knowsley Hall's 35,000 capacity festival site. They come from Pete Wylie, who's clearly taken some kind of umbrage with a heckler.

Leading The Magnificent Wah! And The Secrets Of The 42nd Dimension, or whatever the latest permutation may be of his long-standing outfit, Wylie is dressed in what appears, from this distance at least, to be a Nudie shirt, and sports a greying goatee beard.

He leads his band through spirited renditions of some of Wah!'s finest moments, from the debut single, "You Better Scream" and the 25-year-old "7 Minutes To Midnight" as well as "Come Back", "Sinful" and, of course, a rousing "Heart As Big As Liverpool".

He's followed, shortly after, by Shack, more veterans of the Eighties' Liverpool scene, whose earliest incarnation, Pale Fountains, recorded one of my favourite singles -- "Jean's Not Happening".

Shack are masters of big, Northern guitar anthems, you can hear flashes of everyone from The Las to Oasis, Stone Roses and Doves in their songs. But I always found Shack's songs a little more textured and nuanced than the plodding verse-chorus-middle eight-chorus of, certainly, Oasis' later songs. Proving a point, there's even a flute player. As befitting a band who once backed Arthur Lee, they deliver a fine version of "A House Is Not A Motel".

You sense the old guard of the Liverpool scene is planning something of a weekend of it -- tomorrow, we get the Icicle Works. Oddly, perhaps, there's no sign of Echo And The Bunnymen on the line-up. Oh, well.

Check back later for more blogs from Knowsley Hall -- including The Who.


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