I’m one of those people who when hearing about a free offer or a giveaway is immediately interested and eager to get my nose in the trough so when our fair city Hosts it’s own free musical giveaway it’s a case of ” Right. I’m on my way. See you in a minute.”
Music on the Waterfront returned to the Pier Head once again and having enjoyed last years Smooth Radio concert I was eager to be entertained by this years outing and on my arrival at 5.30pm I could see the sentiment was shared by the already capacity crowd.
Kicking off the event was singer songwriter Thea Gilmore .Playing songs from her album ‘ Regardless ‘ she gave the crowd a few reasons to be cheerful in the hot teatime weather. She was swiftly followed by the gifted Mancunian songstress Josephine who’s album ‘Portraits ‘ has recieved rave reviews from Uncut, Q magazine and a host of daily tabloids and whose sound is not unlike that of Joan Armatrading.We then had another female northerner Heather Peace ( or for those who love their bit of telly,Miss Nikki Boston from Waterloo Road ). Referring to her musical pursuits in her own words as her second job seemed a modest declaration as she looked more at home singing behind a piano than in front of a classroom of deep and brooding teenagers.
The artistes changeover seemed pretty swift and any breaks between acts were filled with presentational finesse by Smooth radios DJ’ Emma B as she continued to charm the appreciative crowd. It was a real mixed bag too. From scousebrows to unabashed European style armpit waving types and infant parents to elderly couples.There were even those who preferred to taste the experience via their i pad. A real cross section of happy smiley people who were about to have the ante well and truly upped by the next artiste.
Jack Savoretti romped through a foot stomping performance getting the crowd off the ground and jumping to a bluesy americana country flavoured party he was having on the stage and it was just what the crowd had been waiting for and furthermore deserved. What followed next was a for me a masterclass in how it should be done.
With an effortless cool that makes fonzie look like a geography teacher the full line up of the Christians took complete possession of their time on stage opening with ‘Born Again’ and showing us that with their trademark slick sound and with vocals that can cure cancer they are a must see at any live event. The self proclaimed ‘token scousers’ had the crowd firmly in their pocket giving us ‘Forgotten town,’ ‘Harvest for the world’ and ‘Ideal world’ as well as an open invitation to hop on their bus to a following concert that night in Southport. If it wasn’t for my blogging commitments I’d have definitely bagsy’d the back seat of the bus.
The artistes that followed like Leddra Chapman, Tunde (Lighthouse family) and K T Tunstall all gave strong and worthy accounts of themselves but after having been treated by our own ‘token scousers’ token full band ( not forgetting Jack Savoretti’s line up ) I felt that not only had there been a missed opportunity by all the stripped down acoustic acts but an element of shortchanging of the crowd ( I know it’s a free concert and I may appear greedy but there was a perfectly good drum kit gathering dust for the most part to a crowd who were on ‘ lets have it standby ‘ )
As if to hear my plea a beautiful angel named Katie Melua sporting an oh so beautiful hat and equally beautiful guitar sauntered onto the centre of the stage with a complete band , exulting the crowd with her faultless performance. ‘ The Flood ‘ being my personal highlight of her set and familiar hits ‘Closest thing to crazy’ and ‘ Nine Million bicycles’ became a recipe for turning the elderly couples into lovestruck teenagers at a school disco.Finishing the night off as he did the previous year Russell Watson yet again brought a touch of poignancy and Majesty ( with the aid of his backing band ” The Firework display”) . His presence on stage is undeniably huge but maybe the greedy pig voice in my head would have liked to have seen a live band behind him . Leaving the Pier Head contented was easy enough to do for at least two reasons. 1)Liverpudlians could claim bragging rights for the best band of the night being the Christians .2) I was asked for my phone number by an actual real female. I’m not saying buy a hat just yet but…………..
We all know we’re living in austere times. Liverpool City Council is still in the midst of making massive cuts to jobs and services following the savage cuts to the funding it receives form central government. And so it would be easy for the Council to cut funding to arts and culture programmes. And yet, after going to Music on the Waterfront on Saturday night, it was plain to see that the Council has made at least one savvy decision here.
I’m not a politician and I’m certainly not party political, but as a Cultural Champion, one of the big issues that concerns me is funding for the very stuff that makes people come to Liverpool. Music on the Waterfront is one such example.
Put on in partnership with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Smooth FM, this is a celebration of a whole host of musical talent and, importantly, a place that the whole family could go to and enjoy.
There were an estimated 20,000 people at the Pier Head on Saturday night and, while the event may have been free to attend, there was certainly money generated on the back of it. The atmosphere was wonderful, helped no doubt by the sun popping out for the evening, and anyone experiencing Liverpool for the first time would, I’m sure, have gone away with a great impression of the city.
We made a bit of a Cultural Champions family night out of it and the acts all delivered great performances, from little Joe McElderry, he of the lovely voice from the X Factor, to Paul Carrack via Jackie Graham and Honey Ryder.
My personal favourite was the supremely wonderful Jocelyn Brown and I confess I may have embarrassed myself by bouncing around in an unseemly manner as she belted out the old club anthem Always There.
Headliner Russell Watson strutted the stage like an operatic rock star and delivered a rousing Nessun Dorma as the sun went down and fireworks lit up the sky.
The Capital of Culture year in 2008 was a great one for Liverpool and I think it’s vital that we carry on the Cultural legacy for the city to continue to grow. I also think that in these dire economic times we need to embrace the things that are unique to the city because these are the things that help to bring people in and build a thriving economy.
Long may Liverpool City Council have the foresight to support the arts and music that run through the veins of the city.
And after all that seriousness, here’s Jocelyn Brown doing what she does best. That woman rocks my world.
Check out the Music on the Waterfront website for more info.
Had lunch there on Saturday.
Really great location on top floor of the Maritime Museum. Great views of river and Pier Head.
Food is straightforward and simply but stylishly presented. I had fish and chips and my companion had mackrel fillet in a cockles and mussels stew. Very meditteranean!!
Both meals delicious.
Staff very attentive without being over the top. Nice people.
We had dandelion and burdock to wash it down. Really took me back to my childhood.
Great value family meal at £20 for a family of 4.
Bit of a hidden gem, much better then the normal run of the mill bar food you find in town.
Check it out!!!!!!