Liverpool Sound City 2012: Willy Mason, The Hummingbirds, Johnny Sands, The City Walls, 1930s, Cold Shoulder: Zanzibar, Bumper, Bold Street Coffee, The Attic, Binary Cell

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Johnny Sands.jpg
Melodies, mishaps, missing bands and magic from one Willy Mason, Getintothis’ Alan O’Hare legs it round Liverpool on Day One of Liverpool Sound City 2012.


When it comes to songwriting troubadours, Sound City opened with six of the best. Well, five Liverpool names touted as ones to watch. And an American who has had the chequered shirt and harmonica trophy under lock and key for a while.
But before we arrived at a rammed Zanzibar club for Willy Mason (Pete Townshend‘s favourite apparently), there was some Scouse and chips to contend with.
Cold Shoulder opened up at Binary Cell with an Oasis-esque wall of sound that was so loud it would have given a shit house door in a hurricane a run for its money.
We thought the only way was down then, for the ex-Aeroplanes/current Echo & The Bunnymen affiliated three-piece. But they picked themselves up and soldiered on, making a difficult opening slot all their own.
Getintothis faves’ Wet Mouth went missing quicker than Liverpool FC’s last two managers, so Belfast guitar/drum combo 1930s stepped up. Less said the better. Though 1940 would have been more appropriate: they produced a sound that resembled a misfiring Gatling gun taking fire at a Stuka in full dive mode…
1930s live at Liverpool Sound City 2012.jpg
1930s live at Liverpool Sound City 2012
Gutted to have missed Wet Mouth, but a short walk to The Attic found The City Walls ready for blast off. It never quite happened. A shame, as the band enjoy the craft of two of Liverpool’s favourite musicians in Paul Crowe and Robbie Taylor. Great songs and great singing. But nothing doing tonight. Maybe you need a few drinks down you to enjoy their more uptempo, Bon Iver/Ron Sexsmith charm… so we headed up Bold Street to… a coffee shop. Go figure.
But local acoustic hero Johnny Sands had put a makeshift band together to wobble through a great set like a better looking Neil Young & Crazy Horse. With acoustic guitars.
If 21st century British cafe culture and traditional street entertainment were to have a love child, it would appear before us in the form of Johnny Sands and his recently thrown together band. Belting out tunes with nothing but a 12 amp fuse, between raw entertainment and cold coffee, just works. Just don’t ask us how.
Further up the hill to Bumper for a pint (watching music without alcohol is a strange concept) and The Hummingbirds. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Like The Beatles before Hamburg goes the hype. Yawn go the rest of us.
But, with two encores, they made Sound City their own tonight. Perhaps the perfect band to shake an X Factor generation (no, not us, but you knowwaorramean) out of their slumber and 32 minutes of very good live guitar music. Rattle ‘n’ roll is alive and well so keep skinning up yer bastards. Like you needed the encouragement…
Not many people take to The Zanzibar stage after midnight in a sparkling white shirt and jacket. But not many people have written a song as good as Willy Mason‘s Oxygen.
Did he play it? Possibly… the place was that rammed we missed the start. But when he declared “I’ll be appearing at a service station near you soon,” and proceeded to blast through some gutbucket Americana, we felt like Beck had come back to he knew and Seel Street had its very own Chicago blues club. Seagull and bin lorry excluded of course.
Thank you day one. Now bring on the weekend…
* EDITOR’S NOTE: Wet Mouth did indeed perform later than planned – they were bloomin’ marvellous – review to follow.
1930s picture by Richard B.

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