LIMF 2015: Central Stage feat Labrinth, Katy B, Naughty Boy: Sefton Park, Liverpool

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Labrinth

Labrinth

Taking in the action on the main stage, Getintothis’ Del Pike leaves with a new found love for Labrinth.

What a turnaround on the LIMF main stage today, a lot of surprises and most of them pleasant. The field filled up pretty quickly, and due to the mainstream pop flavour of today’s line up the demographic was mainly teenage girls covered in handprints and tribal markings smeared in glow-paint and teenage lads in search of said girls, not so efficient with their face-painting skills – think Avatar meets 1970s TV Hulk X 70. The Juice FM DJs start off with the obligatory Uptown Funk to get things moving. When will Britain realise there is more to life than bloody Uptown Funk, overkill doesn’t even cover it.

First act up is Port Isla, four clean cut lads from Suffolk who can certainly play. Despite their Vaccines flavoured set, there were a few Gary Barlow moments when the singer took to the keyboards, which commercially might not be an issue to be fair. Their upbeat moments gave way to a more laid back 1953, which showed the band had scope as well as capability. They’re a good opening act for the day, setting positive vibes for Kaleem Taylor.

Taylor, a young Londoner with a very smooth line in hazy soulful RnB came across as charming, almost humble, pleading to the crowd; “Please forgive me for closing my eyes, I’m in the zone. I’m a little bit nervous but don’t panic”. So refreshing when compared to some of the inflated egos that came later in the day. Some great vocalising over deep basslines, setting a serene tone over the gradually warming park was just what was required.

17 year old Zak Abel was an early main stage highlight with his Jarmiroqui affectations but lacking the Jay Kay arrogance, and he could certainly be set for big things, as could MIC Lowry, a 1D model boy band who sang a song called Supermodel. Need we say more? Putting sand in the wheels of political correctness might be a starter.

A heartfelt video tribute to Michael Molloy, a budding Liverpool musician who died on the way back from Bestival in 2012 who would have been 21 this year, plays on the big screen and sobers the audience before Conrad Sewell takes the stage. The Australian singer in the key of Maroon 5 flew in from L.A last night and the crowd certainly respond to his radio friendly anthems Firestorm and Start Again. Sewell is the first act today to really bring the crowd to attention and it’s all jumping around with hands in the air from now on in.

There has been a lot of excitement in the air surrounding the presence of X Factor judge and street dancing Brit diva Alesha Dixon, but her act is pretty disappointing. A lot of jumping around and repeating “Liverpool!!!” endlessly is no substitute for singing, but unfortunately she opts for the latter.  Her audience-rousing works, but this is a hollow set that didn’t really show her talents, which she clearly does possess.

Becky Hill is better vocally, but the Voice contestant has a poor attitude and her dialogue between songs which comprises tales of her manager calling her in LA when she’s still in bed in the afternoon and a liberal sprinkling of F bombs to the family crowd, shouting to a girl in the crowd, “You are so fucking gorgeous!” Feels brattish and ruins an otherwise punchy set of songs. Echoes of Joss Stone come to mind.

DJ Naughty Boy is a highlight, no doubt, and brings a festival set that is faultless. Vocalist and sister of Labrinth, SheZar is phenomenal and the collective that Naughty brings with him are as vibrant and infectious on stage as Soul II Soul or Black eyed peas in their prime. SheZar’s versions of You got the Love and Get Lucky have the crowd absolutely pumping, as does the break through La La La, with ShaZar shamelessly stealing the Sam Smith crown and flaunting it. A faithful version of The Beatles’ Come Together wins the scousers over and they are gone. Brilliant.

Katy B keeps the quality going and delivers a killer set that includes versions of Robin S’s Show Me Love, Missy Elliot’s Get ur Freak On and Baby D’s Let Me Be Your Fantasy. Katy B’s set is all about crowd pleasing festival anthems, and she doesn’t forget her own 2011 hit, Keep On Moving With The Lights On. Katy B was definitely the surprise success of the day.

The crowd is primed for the final act tonight and all the more excited by a cheeky drone that is flying around amongst the Frisbees and flying Mountain Dew bottles, filming the ecstatic hordes. The atmosphere is in place and Labrinth simply blows us away. He delivers hit after hit in his too short set, through Beneath Your Beautiful, Lover Not a Fighter, Jealous and Let The Sunshine. The latter prompts a festival highlight as the crowd create their own sunshine with a sea of illuminated smartphones, stunning against the pink sky. Earthquake closes the set and it is stunning. It is difficult to recall a tighter set in such a short amount of time, Labrinth is so much more powerful live than recorded and needs to be heard as such.

The park crowd disperse with a heartful of soul and what looked initially like an uninspiring set proved to be more killer than filler. A great afternoon and an incredible evening.

Photos by Getintothis’ Peter Goodbody.

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