X & Y Festival part one: The Hummingbirds, Likely Lads, The Moons, Hudson Taylor, Tiro Lark, Catfish and the Bottlemen, The Stan Smith Band, Clever Criminals, Ali Ingle: St Luke’s Bombed Out Church, O2 Academy

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The first X & Y Festival showcases a feast of young new Liverpool talent, Getintothis’ Hillary Briffa takes up her position at the Bombed Out Church.


Huddled in an open air courtyard beneath a gloomy grey sky threatening downpour at any moment may not seem like the ideal choice for a Friday afternoon, yet avid music fans across Liverpool flocked to St Luke’s Bombed Out Church, last Friday for the onset of the first X & Y Festival.
The early-birds stepping into what is arguably one of the most unique music venues in the UK were greeted with the emotional lyrics and smooth melodies of charming Ali Ingle.
Next up were sixth-formers Clever Criminals, who picked up the pace with a set of sprightly indie, followed by The Stan Smith Band who added a dash of psychedelic punk.
Although many of the tracks kick with driving riffs and a catchy bass-line, it was the quieter Salt of the Earth that made ears prick up.
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Catfish and the Bottlemen live at X & Y Festival
In contrast, the frenetic energy of Catfish and the Bottlemen positively tore through the venue. The black-clad, edgy Welsh four-piece hit hard with their infectious rock and roll, particularly the furious strums of recent single Brokenarmy. Guitars swinging, drums smashing, vocals pleading – Catfish are intense live. A highlight of the festival, and a worthy addition to any line-up.
Following such a foot-stomping riot might seem like a tough call, but next up were our standout of the day – newcomers Tiro Lark. At first glance, the teenagers may not look remotely imposing, yet once lead singer Liam Royden opens his mouth they commandeer all the attention.
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Tiro Lark live at X & Y Festival
Hearing such a huge, raspy voice emanate from this lanky kid, underpinned by sweeping rhythms and curious lyrics leaves quite an impression. On acoustics such as I Don’t Know You Royden’s vocals really come to the fore, however the standout track was belter Stand in the Way.
Cheekily altering the words to surf-esque Light Pocket, Tiro Lark profess ‘Whenever I’m feeling blue I come down to the Bombed Out Church and play to all of you and my worries just go away‘. Well so did ours boys, so did ours.
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Hudson Taylor live at X & Y Festival
Next up, hailing from Dublin and playing in Liverpool for the first time, were Harry and Alfie, the Hudson Taylor Brothers. Ahead of the release of EP Bibles, the folk pop duo played hymn-like love songs with beautiful harmonies, at time echoing a stripped down version of Mumford and Sons.
Set gems include Harry’s gorgeous falsetto, and Alfie’s utterlybreathlesswithoutpause mash-up of Eminem‘s Lose Yourself with Bon Iver‘s Flume and The Police‘s Walking on the Moon. If a folk-Irish Eminem isn’t worth a listen nowadays, what else is?
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The Moons live at X & Y Festival
Starting to round up the day were The Moons whose old school look was accompanied by a pastiche of upbeat tunes. Beatles haircuts aside, the clanging intro, chill keys and tambourines of recent single Double Vision Love got the crowd nodding along and brought to mind warm, summer days far removed from the bleak English overcast.
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The Likely Lads live at X & Y Festival
Having only been together 18 months and already signed to the same agency as Muse, Foster the People and the Black Keys, it was little surprise that Likely Lads then put on a solid indie showing reminiscent of Oasis and Stereophonics.
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Jay Davies of The Hummingbirds live at X & Y Festival
By the time acoustic headliners The Hummingbirds graced the stage, we were feeling pretty chuffed at the day’s entertainment.
The five well-dressed Scousers understandably drew the largest crowd yet. The folky, Cajon-based, harmonica-infused sound of Wayne Rooney‘s favourite band hearkens back to skiffle-times and is perfect to unwind and float away to.
They also maintain first class backing vocals which warrant as much credit as Jay Davies‘ mellow vocals. When not singing happy birthday to their mate Owen, the band wooed the crowd with the title track Doesn’t Really Matter from their new EP.
Overall, a fantastic day with some first rate sets and hopes are high for a repeat of X & Y to hit Liverpool next year.
Pictures by Marie Hazelwood
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