Having a little look back at our adventures so far in Liverpool Music Week 2018.
Sometimes we worry that Liverpool Music Week has the potential to be its own worst enemy.
With a number of shows under the same banner taking place within mere walking distance of each other we’d be excused for questioning such decisions that essentially force your audience to split and potentially reduce in number.
Thankfully, this has not been the case. The essence of Liverpool Music Week after all is to make live music the centre of the city’s consciousness. To celebrate it with as many people as possible, to highlight the breadth and depth of whats on offer and to utilise the cities music venues night after night, and you can’t hope to achieve that without going all in. And anyway, a festival isn’t a festival unless you’re forced into a couple of tough decisions at somepoint.
So instead of walking into half filled, sparsely populated rooms we’ve so far been treated to snugly and enthusiastic crowds almost everywhere we’ve been, something Liverpool Music Week should take pride in, even more so considering this is Halloween week and there’s no shortage of events vying for our attention.
On Sunday night our attention belonged largely to one man. Jalen N’Gonda. Supporting Dan Croll at the Arts Club, the adopted scouser absolutely mesmerised everyone within ear shot with his mixture of upbeat melodies and low and slow ballads.
If you were to devise the perfect recipe for incredible singer-songwriter, the desired outcome would be Jalen. Gifted with one of the cleanest voices we’ve ever heard, it comes straight out of his mouth like it’s been fully studio mastered. So remarkable is his quality that during his solo numbers he achieves something most support bands could only dream of, silence and undivided attention.
Those who came to the Arts Club tonight unfamiliar with Jalen, left talking about him. As we waited for the headline act we overheard two girls still singing along to his final number “I need yooouuu” and another attendee telling his friends that his performance was “just unreal“.
Dan Croll offers a more produced live show with his four supporting band members and the first couple of tracks make full use of that musicianship, weaving numerous musical elements in and out of bars, building up to produce towering choruses in Compliment Your Soul and leaning more on electronic elements for Away From Today. The opening numbers display an impressive versatility to Dan‘s songwriting that always seem to result in massive soaring pop-rooted singles, no matter what route they take to get there.
After a trio of tracks we’re a bit miffed as it seems we could be going the whole set without any between song chatter from Dan, but after settling in the man of the hour addresses his crowd of “friends, family, fans and failed Tinder dates” that made it feel like a real ‘our boy’s done good’ homecoming show.
Gloriously catchy (we’re listening to it for the fourth time this morning right now) Be Alone saw Dan and his band really come to life, visibly enjoying themselves and physically responding to the steady bobbing rhythm, instruments in hand. It’s these more upbeat, guitar heavy stompers that prove the highlights of our night, although we might be in the minority as slower subtler numbers like Wanna Know and Can You Hear Me (another criminally catchy number) gets the majority of the crowd moving in a gentle hypnotic sway.
Ultimately the biggest compliment we can give to Croll and Co is that we’ve woken up the morning after ready to discover his music all over again with a headline worthy performance of pop perfection behind us.
Just a few doors down at EBGB’s, Spinning Coin played to a crowd that did unfortunately grow increasingly sparse as the night wore on. Having local support can be a double edged sword; on the one hand, it does convince people to show their faces. On the other, they tend to leave after their mates’ sets. Spinning Coin definitely fell victim to this tonight.
They did the best with what they had to work with, and it is to their credit that the room didn’t feel scantly filled as they were playing.
That SPINN are such a new band was palpable. There was a definite lack of experience throughout their set, and times felt a little Now That’s What I Call Indie. But that they are so inexperienced means they have plenty of time to grow, and find a somewhat less generic identity. We all have to start somewhere.
If EBGB’s belonged to anyone, it was a toss-up between opener Emilio Pinchi and The Fernweh.
The Fernweh were a bold choice for this line-up. They were a sort of slightly psychedelic folk-rock, with the occasional lashing of a more progressively tinged amalgamation, which makes them sound like Jethro Tull.
But the change of pace was refreshing. At times they could have been in danger of sounding a little twee, but they managed to avoid this entirely, and occasionally pulled out a left of field saxophone solo.
Pinchi was the biggest surprise. Having only seen him solo, it was a real thrill to see him in a full band set up. Musically, it was somewhere between 60s guitar pop and grunge, and what appeared to be an observational lyrical approach. It brought to mind bands such as Florida’s Fake Problems. It helps too that his personality shone through, even without saying much.
EBGB’s being the home of Music Week‘s DIY shows means that the bag is ultimately going to be more mixed, and whoever stands out is entirely subjective. But it’s existence is central to Music Week‘s mission, and one must be aware that the bands on the bill need time to grow.
Photo Gallery by Graham Smillie, Andy Sunley, Brian Sayle, Vicky Pea