DATE: Wednesday 18th May 2011
VENUE: Cavern Pub and Cavern Club, Mathew Street, Liverpool
COST: All free
OUR VERDICT: A Grande experience
Again, the intro blurb…….International Pop Overthrow, organised by David Bash visits Liverpool every year, and puts on a fantastic free music festival for a whole week in the land of the The Beatles. It attracts Powerpop bands from all over Europe and the rest of the world (including this year, once again, Japan, the USA and Canada). It is impossible to see every one of the bands as 3 stages are on the go simultaneously but we try to see as much as we can. We can’t promise to like all of the bands that play and certainly we will favour some over others, and indeed, some bands we like the sound of after checking them out on Myspace, may not be great performing live (and vice versa for that matter) but in this blog we offer our own personal opinion on the bands and the music we hear.
We joined the party quite late today, with the first band we say, Spygenius (www.myspace.com/thespygenius) on the back stage at 6.45pm. The first thing we noticed was the backdrop for the stage – which had changed from the Liverpool skyline we saw yesterday to the IPO logo. That looked extremely good.
|The Backdrop for the Backstage|
Anyhow, Spygenius are from Kent, with a lead singer that looks a bit like Phil Everly, who introduced their set as being Art, then Pop, then Art. He also joked that the first song was written for a movie that they never made, before easing us in gently with a lovely melodic, almost broody number. Regarding the movie comment – they are not far wrong. Their set was filled with quite a lot of numbers that would lend themselves very well to cinematic themes. They also played “A New Best Friend” which appears on the last IPO compilation CD.
Next up, also on the back stage were The Herron brothers, Derby’s answer to The Proclaimers.
|The Herron Brothers|
We moved across to the Front Stage to see a band from Ireland – The Wags (www.myspace.com/thewagsireland). We had found out earlier in the evening, that their next record was being produced by Duncan Maitland who recently supported Nelson Bragg (from The Brian Wilson Band) and Anny Celsi on their European tour. The band also name-dropped this fact into the set and added that not only Nelson was going to be playing on their new record but also Scott Bennett.
We really enjoyed The Wags – they had a great power pop sound, with punchy, foot tapping melodies and great harmonies to boot. “Don’t Be Shy” was a particular highlight, but their entire set was impressive. The lead guitar had a great surf sound to it. Their drummer is probably the most laid back drummer we have seen so far in this IPO – he hardly broke a sweat but still created a great rhythm. Their last song was really quite garagey, and not typical of the rest of the set but we had seen more than enough to snaffle up the last CD of theirs left at the merchandise table.
We caught the second half of Captain Wilberforce (www.myspace.com/captainwilberforce) on the back stage. This is a band from Leeds (although the lead singer sounded like he was from the US), a six-piece with keyboard and also a trumpet. Indeed the trumpeter was practising in the toilet after the gig!! There is a risk that a six piece and all of the instrumentation on stage could overpower the vocals, but this didn’t happen and the band had a great sound. Well worth checking out.
Next up – Evaney, a duo from near to our neck of the woods, hailing from Aylesbury. This was a girl / boy duo with an unusual quirk of playing a stand up double bass. The girl had a Kirsty MacColl look about her. The front stage was quite full, but mainly with people at tables chattering, so this is a challenge with just an act with one vocal.
The Grande (www.myspace.com/thegrandeband) are a local band, and one we have seen at every Liverpool IPO we have been to. They are firm favourites with us, a fairly large band, with a steel guitar included in the line up. The Beeb was salivating big time, as a White Falcon was sitting on the stage just tempting him to grab it and make a bolt for the door. The guy who played it got a really great sound from it of course, and with space on the stage very limited, he had to be very careful not to scrap the roof and side walls with the neck. You could see The Beeb sweating every time it came close!!!
|That White Falcon|
This time around, they played a lot of material we haven’t heard before, which was a great thing. The co-lead vocalist was a bit put out when the sound engineer asked for a sound check from the “backing vocalist”, and rightly so, as she has a terrific voice, and sounds great on the lead on many of the songs.
Back to the Front Stage, and the second year in a row, an appearance by The Soundcasters (www.myspace.com/thesoundcastersmusic) . We loved them last year, but this year they were even more impressive. The lead guitarist is excellent, and continually bops around the stage to every song, playing a really well worn-looking guitar! The energy from this band is amazing, and their songs are terrific. They did one cover – from what we gather it was a James Brown song which the Moody Blues covered, we don’t know the name but it sounded superb.
This is such a remarkable band, and the audience really warmed to them. The lead singer has a distinctive voice, and is a good front man as well as being a good guitarist. They have no frills on stage – we think we saw just one guitar pedal so they keep things simple but they are really infectious and you can’t help but tap your foot and nod your head along to their songs. They dress in a quite 60’s Kinks style and their influences are certainly that era.
Last year the novelty thing about them for us was the fact that they were so young. A year later and you realise the youth thing has to be laid by the roadside, and what you’re left with is a band with a catalogue of great songs ready to compete in the music business. Job well done guys.
The night was starting to wind down now, and next up was a band from Glasgow, Penny & The Restless. Because we had seats around a table, we didn’t move and just about beared their 30 minute set. The only good thing about their set was the fact that “Penny” had lovely shoes on!
The programme described them as having a female Kurt Cobain on lead...... well she was singing in there somewhere but the guitars almost drowned her vocals and we had no idea what she was singing about for the first couple of songs. After that, once we did hear her, it was a bit tiresome after one song. She lacked the charisma you would hope to see from the lead in a band –she stood rooted to the spot and Minty felt she wasn’t comfortable in her choice of wardrobe – a white basque - as she kept having to hoik it up!! We didn’t feel this band were really IPO material - they were just that little bit too grungey and heavy to be in a power pop festival.
We wandered to the back stage next and saw the second half of the set from a band called Night Parade (www.myspace.com/nightparade). This was a four piece and the lead had a big acoustic guitar. Their songs were a mixture of soft acoustic starts building up to quite rocky numbers and great pop songs. We liked this band, and are hoping to catch them when they play again on Friday.
Our final band for the night, Black Sun, were already playing on the Front Stage when we joined them. This was another band with the lead playing an acoustic guitar. They had a quite a heavy sound, and only one vocal, so no harmonies. Hats off to the guy – he broke two stings and still kept going! Their set was unremarkable, and included two covers – “Make Me Smile” and “Paperback Writer”.
And so ended night number two. It was 1am and we wandered back to the hotel, stopping off for some chips along the way!!!
See you all tomorrow.
Day 2 Summary:
No. of Bands seen : 11 bands
No. of Bands seen more than once: none
Best Original Song: Don’t Be Shy – The Wags or any of The Soundcasters songs.
Best Cover: Soundcasters James Brown cover
Highlight of the day: The Soundcasters