In the first year of Hope and Glory Festival, held in the quaint grounds of St. George’s Hall in Liverpool, it would be fair to say there were teething problems – major teething problems!
Racing in to make The Pigeon Detectives set, we arrived with two minutes to spare… sadly, due to the disorganised festival, they didn’t start until 3:15. Although frustrating, it meant I had the chance to catch the end of The Jackobins set – a band I whose name I had heard countless times in the past few months and was eager to see! Sounding not dissimilar to Kasabian, these local lads packed a punch. Their frontman, top off towards the end of the set, belted out the vocals with the small but involved crowd singing right back at him. I’ll be listening to more of The Jackobins.
Next up were Haunt The Woods who, so nicely quoted by my companion for the day, ‘are the first band ever who sound like their name’. Imagine Mumford and Sons but without the country bumpkin element and a lot more hair and you’re pretty much there. We were greeted by incredible, spine-tingling 4-part harmonies which included every member of the band. With mellow tones, seriously skilled vocals and bright acoustic guitars which cut through beautifully despite the windy weather, Haunt The Woods were the perfect band to enjoy while the fully-engaged crowd sipped their first few pints of the day.
90 minutes late and as on-edge as the crowd, The Pigeon Detectives took to the stage with a irritated attitude that set the tone for the rest of the bands on the main stage. ‘Welcome to Hope and Glory Festival’, they announced. ‘Where no-one knows how to use a watch and they don’t know how to tie up speakers’. Despite this, vocalist Matt Bowman strutted around the stage as if it were 2007 again: swinging the microphone in the air, soaking himself in water and egging the crowd to dance, clap and sing along to a shortened set of their greater hits. the crowd, also slightly on edge, started softly but grew into the set as did the band. The songs seemed to get better and better (as the songs got older and older?). Regardless, for a 3:15pm set and a tense atmosphere, The Pigeon Detectives coped well, rolling back the years.
After an awesome set from Embrace, a band which a lot of the crowd were definitely there for, came The View. I actually spoke to Kyle and Kieran from the band backstage and they are two of the nicest lads you’ll meet. Shoes and socks safely stored at the side of the stage, they smashed through some a shortened set. Of the day so far, they had easily the best reaction from the crowd. Upbeat music, sing-along indie classics like ‘Same Jeans’ and ‘Superstar Tradesman’ took the crowd back. The View sneaked in a few slightly lesser known, newer tracks that were not at all out of place in their set. The drummer, top off in true rockstar fashion, pounded relentlessly whilst Kieran and Kyle sung harmoniously in their distinctive Scottish accents. These top lads from Dundee have still got it.
Johnny Borrell of Razorlight was next, just as the sun was starting to set. Continuing the nostalgic tone for the day, they raced through a set of past hits including ‘In The Morning’, ‘Golden Touch’ and ‘Somewhere Else’. By this point, the crowd (well, those who had managed to make it into the festival) were completely on side. Indie music was back in the forefront of everybody’s mind and the lyrics had magically come back to them. There were times during Razorlight’s set which were awe-inspiring but, speaking with Johnny after the show, his attitude was completely the contrary. He was humble, grateful and so, so polite when receiving compliments about the band’s performance. The day was getting better.
Headlining the night were James. The sun was down and the crowd were buzzing with excitement, clambering up bus stops, walls and fences to get a good view. The now iconic daisy logo was branded on what seemed like half of the crowds t-shirts and they were ready to see their idols. Not for the first time, Tim Booth arrived on stage emitting tense vibes and an attitude towards the festival. Again, they raced through a few of their hits and, for a time, the struggles of the day were lost in call and response choruses. Standing aloft the barrier held up only by his fans, he gave a glimpse of what this festival could have been. With some better organisation and well-thought-out planning, the location and big names on the line up could and should have made for a brilliant day for all. Hopefully next time round it will.