Liverpool Sound City Day 1 Review: All Bull, Spinn and Easter come early…

So my first Liverpool Sound City. An excellent pre festival burger and pint at the Love Lane Brewery and we were then in at the Arts Club perusing the best T-towel merch in the indie world. Why not? We were here to see those York melody weavers, Bull.

Bull were instantly likable, and as they were a couple of weeks into their tour relaxed and tight. Or at least I thought so until the lead fell out of lead vocalist Tom Beer’s guitar on their first song.

In his rush to plug it back in, he knocked his trumpet off its stand. That’s what I’d call ‘displaying likable and relatable imperfection’ hahaha. The rest of the set was pretty darn perfect and Tom suffered for our pleasure through gaining some rare and painful chaffed nipples, as he wincingly told us. Half of the audience move their hands to their own nips in an act of group sympathy. Bull played quite a few tunes from their new album Discover Effortless Living, which is excellent.

I did ponder the Bull t-towel thing, but looking around some of the audience revealed a very mixed age group. I myself have been pondering the question that comes to us all eventually; ‘at what age do I have to go to jazz club and pretend I love it’ but there were a few here that perhaps had a couple of decades on me. Reassuring was the word. I was by the way seriously tempted with a t-towel.

While Bull were excellent, less could be said for the Arts Club. As well as having no beer taps on stream, the real ale choice was non existent (could they really not sell a small stock of local real ale cans?) and the sole can of San Migual we bought between us was at the hefty price of £6.30. It was very good and public spirited of Arts Club to reassure me that I didn’t have an addiction to alcohol.

Unfortunately, worse was to follow as the stage downstairs was in pandemonium, full of instruments and loose wires. It was quite clear early doors that Moa Moa couldn’t play. Annoying for the guys and for us, but these things happen at city festivals. Moa Moa played a much later set at leaf which we had to miss as my beloved’s cold got the better of her in the end. Moa Moa our day of meeting will yet come.

So, our mind was postive and set to see Spinn rather than hang around a fairly dry, music-less music venue. I was a touch surprised that the Spinn set at Grand Central (very grand, very central indeed), wasn’t rammed to the rafters (very busy but not full) and even more delighted that this elderly gentleman found himself on the barriers once again. Sadly it was John Smith’s Smooth or bust on the taps (I went for bust), but we could again be proud of our resolve.

It’s been a while since I’ve seen Spinn, and there’s a new maturity in the new music. Those jangling guitars and heartfelt vocals remain, but there’s a slightly slower and lusher melody. Mixed these new tracks up with the older tracks, this Spinn set was magnificent.

On the barrier, I made new friends, and they were apologising for their energetic dancing (no worries by the way, I just wished my body could flow like it once did). It was their first Spinn gig, and just as the music died down, she explained Spinn were her 6th favourite band. Lead vocalist Johnny Quinn picked up on the comment and made light of it on stage, sharing it. Hahaha, I think Spinn may well have gone up the ranking pile after tonight.

So, back to the Arts Club for Jaws The Shark. The queue outside moved a bit but then stopped. Fred Farrell (Saytr Play) who just happened to be in the queue a little ahead, helpfully told us the place was full (and the Snuts were next too), so it was over to Leaf for us and no Jaws The Shark for me tonight. Again, it happens. Spinn on the barrier a bonus, now it was a bit of karma payback.

So, Zoe Graham from Glasgow was my next unexpected gig choice, and she impressed with a great voice and a vibe that felt a little St Vincent. That was a very likable set, and again, you can plan your day to an inch of its life, you can end up off piste, and it ends happily. Haha, that leaf sold OK real ale also assisted. At last.

We were at Leaf to eventually hear Edinburgh based Callum Easter, a man that had intrigued me during my ‘research’. We always look for something a bit different in music and Easter has it all as he deploys things like disco beats to back his accordion and a soothing lush Bolan style vocal laid overtop.

It is no exaggeration when I felt that the cost of the whole of Sounds City was recouped in that short set. There’s something dustbowl 30’s about the raw and strong sound of Callum Easter. The Ry Cooder of accordion perhaps, but it’s also very British with an Ivor Cutler twist. Anyway, check him out to see what you think.

I relish discovering an artist that shakes me up and give me lots of thinking about to unpick

That was just day 1, dear reader. Who knows what more delights await.

Chris R

* all images are mine dear reader. Haha can’t you just tell…

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