GIG: International Pop Overthrow Liverpool – Day 1 (Tuesday)
DATE: Tuesday 13th May 2013
VENUE: Cavern Pub & Club, Mathew Street, Liverpool
COST: all free today

This is blog is intended to be a way for us to capture our personal memories from all the gigs we go to see. The International Pop Overthrow in Liverpool hosts over 150 artists, across 3 stages, ranging from solo acts with an acoustic guitar to full on rock bands covering different music styles from folk, pop, rock and everything in between!!!! Whilst we can’t see every artist / band, we try to catch as many as we can. Some we like, some we love, some are pure nuggets and some are just not our cup of tea. This is just our personal opinion of the acts we see through the IPO festival, highlights and lowlights included. If there’s a band we are not fond of, do still check them out as tastes differ and you could have a different opinion from us.

Bands seen today = 12
We Patriots, Sonya Titus, The Amazing Kappa, The Ace, The Reflections, The Parkas (part), Thomas McConnell, Janne Borgh Identity, Rob Clarke (part), Freddie Calls, Ocean City, Scott Howells (part)

CDs: Thomas McConnell, The Reflections, The Ace, IPO Vol 16

We Patriots
Our 2014 IPO kicked off in the Cavern Pub, with Dutch band, We Patriots. A five piece, including Dad and two sons, the single vocal was at time fighting against (and lost) the resonance of the two electric and one acoustic guitar, bass and drums. Indeed, for the first song we could not hear the vocal at all and it took the sound engineer a while to tweak a few knobs to bring the level  up a bit. Having said that, they did play some foot tapping numbers and had a good beat about them, with some use of a wah wah pedal to give the “Shaft” kind of guitar sound. For a Tuesday afternoon, there was a half decent sized crowd in the Pub too, so not a bad start to the festival.

Next up was Londoner Sonya Titus. Billed in the programme as “stylings reminiscent of Joni Mitchell and Sheryl Crow with slight Alanis hints” we thought “oh no” but were pleasantly surprised by her fresh sounding gentle vocal that didn’t grate on our ears at all. A slight echo on the microphone and a keyboard player added to the overall experience. As she introduced each song, she was at times almost apologising for not having a band behind her, telling us that on her album, the song was more up beat with the full band version. There was no need for her to apologise for the songs – they could stand up on their own as acoustic versions.

The Amazing Kappa
The Amazing Kappa, consisting of a male lead (Paul) with Maria on bass and Laura on drums, took to the pub stage next and gave us a real bluesy number (Big Bad Blues) to start their set which would have been right at home in a BB King set in New Orleans. Paul Kappa has an amazingly strong voice which sounds like it’s tuned up on a cheese grater! Aside from one song described as a power ballad, the rest of the set was quite Led Zeppelin influenced with lots of improvised guitar. He rocked. Minty liked the drummer’s style – quite a Cathy McGowan look. It comes as no surprise to learn that this band are regulars at the pub every week, playing a five hour set!

The Ace
Across to the Club for the first time this year and in time to see a band we really like from Yorkshire on the Front Stage. The Ace are regulars at the IPO and we have also seen them play in Camden’s Dublin Castle. With an authentic garage/mod beat they really sound great and put the Power into Powerpop, drawing on The Dave Clark Five / The Knack beat. They really fired through their set, including old favourites such as “Yeah Yeah” and introducing new songs from an EP just out, with “Egil’s Head-Ransom” and “I’m Leaving You”. The drummer Daz, generates so much energy with his mad drumming, he could power a small town on his own! A fantastic set and thoroughly recommended.  Check them out on facebook
The Ace

The Reflections
On the Back Stage, The Reflections delivered another good set. This is another band we have seen a few times and really enjoy watching them. They had promised a more psychedelic sound and they gave us just that. The keyboard added an eerie haunting sound, and it worked really well, especially on their new song “Haunted House”. The last song of the set was a firm favourite, “Last Chance to Turn Around” which sounded fab. We look forward to catching them at the London IPO aswell.

We were able to catch the last two songs from The Parkas, a band which will also be playing at the London IPO. This is a young, vibrant mod band who seemed to go down really well with the audience at the front stage. From what we heard we liked them and are looking forward to catching the full set in London.

Thomas McConnell
Next up for us was a local singer / songwriter, Thomas McConnell. Switching between acoustic guitar and keyboards, he is a young Roddy Frame in the making, and just as precocious. He is a really good guitar player and his professionalism and versatility showed through tonight when a string broke on his last song, an up-tempo number, and he was able to quickly transfer to the keyboard and round off his set with no bother.
He has the accolade of writing the only pop song about the Levinson Enquiry - “Blame It On Rebecca” captured the essence of the whole sordid affair. His set did include one cover, a Beatles song, but only at the request of one of the audience. A rising star for sure.
Have a listen to a track from his EP here

Thomas McConnell

The Janne Borgh Identity, from Sweden, is a band who (we believe) have played many IPOs and yet we have never seen them before. What a hidden treasure they are. A three piece, with the lead looking like a bit of a character and a drummer who looked like a young Pierce Brosnan, they delivered a well performed set, which had the right mix in that the vocals were not drowned out by the guitar and drums. Indeed the vocals were fantastic.  This is good old solid powerpop and they really rocked the Cavern. The blurb in the programme said that Janne “certainly knows his way around a great melody and a catchy hook” and that hits the nail on the head. Worth catching again.
Janne Borgh Identity

We popped back across to the pub to catch an act that was included on the bill at the last minute, Rob Clarke and the Wooltons. Obviously a local band, they have probably had a few years of gigging. However the mix in the pub let them down tonight, with the vocal so low in the mix it was inaudible, totally dominated by the guitar and drums.

The back stage was running about 30 minutes behind schedule so we were able to catch most of the set from a young London band called Freddie Calls. In our IPO research we felt they sounded quite similar to Train. Their sound was not the only good thing about them - the lead singer really made this band – he was a great front man, with charisma and confidence who jumped around on stage, kept the time, loved the audience and played a lot of air guitar.  They had a good look about them too – all young, tall, thin and some great haircuts. The energy just oozed and they really rocked. They reminded us of pop sensations the Last Carnival and have a lot of potential.

Ocean City
Next up, a band from Wakefield, called Ocean City. The main vocalist in this band had a bit of a Carl Wilson look about him and he was a really strong singer -  the best singer of the day so far. We feel that him and the guy playing keyboards (with a bit of a Lee Mack look about him) have played together for a while, and for one song the rest of the band left the stage and the pair did a song together. The same could not be said about the rest of the band though. The girl on acoustic guitar looked really uncomfortable, and seemed to not know when she was supposed to add backing vocals. Another tell-tale sign that this was a band of people put together at short notice was that the girl took the lead for 2 songs, and introduced them as from “my EP” and both the keyboardist and bass player had to keep looking at an IPad to play along with her. She had an Alanis Morrisette / Jagged Little Pill sound (grating) and we were pleased when her two songs were over. The band did keep referring to technical difficulties and indeed you couldn’t hear the acoustic guitar. Well, we say that – you couldn’t hear it when the girl was playing, but when the main vocalist used it, it came across just fine. Their penultimate song “I Need You” was the strongest and sounded terrific.

On the front stage, Scott Howells, and his new project were getting ready to play. We didn’t stay for the whole set as it was getting late and we are preserving our strength for the early starts/late nights later in the week, but the songs we did hear were pretty good. Scott is a good guitar player and his vocals were strong too.

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