Luke Traynor mixes with the March Hare, The Nine of Diamonds and Mark Ronson amid the transformed setting of the Liverpool Academy.
IT’S not often that I walk in the grimy Carling Academy in Liverpool and find myself taken aback at how great the place is looking.
Incredibly however, that was my reaction when I walked into Bandstand on Saturday night, the dingy gig venue having been turned into a dance paradise for one night only.
There were seductive lights, airy drapes, aces of spades pinned to the wall, mini grandmother clocks sitting in the corner and all manner of innovative props that had transformed this city sweatpit.
The brief for Bandstand is to give the reveller a quintessential British event, so cue the characters dressed up as The Queen and Alice in Wonderland et al, bumping into you on the dancefloor.
I do beg you’re pardon Ma’am.
Add to that, individuals dressed as a pack of cards, rabbits, strawberry cakes and duchesses, and it was quite a surreal feeling all around.
It felt a little like The Lost Vagueness field at Glastonbury, just not quite as lost, and not quite as vague.
If you wanted, you could have your picture taken with The Hare, join the congo-line by filing in behind the Nine of Diamonds, or swap a smile with one of many stunning laddies pouting behind their evening-wear mask.
With just two Bandstand events taking place in the UK (London is the only other date), the Liverpool clubbing fraternity had made the effort to look at their very best and had dressed to impress.
Billed as a festival in an evening, we were handed a running order in a little booklet as we entered with big names on offer both in The Main Room and the interestingly-titled Time Machine Disco downstairs.
There was some difficult choices to be made and clashes were inevitable, but it was clear that the masses had mainly come to see man of the moment Mark Ronson.
His first set of the night was downstairs, in DJ form, and the Londoner was smartly-turned out in black suit and English gentleman top hat.
He pulled in a big crowd for a 70 minute set, which initially took a while to get going, as Ronson seemed content to play 80’s classics with some semblance of a beat below in a bid to to wow us.
After a while, Ronson realised we wanted a little more for our money, and produced some dollops of Dizzee Rascal and began to mix and scratch with some decent hip hop while skillfully playing around with winners like I Want You Back and Tiffany‘s I Think We’re Alone Now (always a crowd pleaser).
We dashed upstairs to try and catch the remnants of The Cuban Brothers set, but it was unfortunately just drawing to a close – but by the looks of it they had whipped the crowd into the usual frenzy, no doubt with some element of nakedness and slapstick roleplaying which is now their forte.
Earlier in the night Bestival founder Rob Da Bank started the ball rolling with crowd-pleasers galore before we went downstairs to catch some Kissy Sell Out.
Meanwhile in the main room golden boy Ronson mixed the usual highlights of Amy Winehouse and Lily Allen inspired tunes.
The crowds were out in force for him again, and it unfortunately meant that Kissy’s hardcore acid-fuelled sounds was only appreciated by a handful of his hardcore fans downstairs.
It wasn’t a cheap night with tickets costing ÃÂ£25, but with six hours of music from ten acts – Steve Parry from Juice FM , The Troubadours and Sombrero Sound System were well-attended – it was worth the entrance fee.
When the end came and the lights came back on, a sea of exhausted but happy faces looked like they’d been though the ringer. But in the best kind of way.