As the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra pay tribute to their hometown and the world of cinema, Getintothis’ Del Pike pops up his brolly and flips out his deck chair for a truly awesome night.
To kick off this year’s Sefton Park festivities for LIMF 2016, an old fashioned Prom in the Park is clearly a great idea. A real family event took place tonight on the main stage that attracted every generation and guaranteed a safe and friendly atmosphere from start to finish.
Liverpool’s Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra have been recognised as being one of the world’s most enduring and excellent orchestras and it’s clear to see why as when we arrive the Philharmonic Youth Orchestra are in full flow. To call this a support slot would be grossly unfair; they are superb and prove just as entertaining as the main show. London’s XamVolo is fronting the orchestra as we settle down and his voice is so right for the moment. His version of The Zutons Valerie is spot on to get the gathering crowd in the mood for a party night. Xamvolo is a hugely talented jazz / soul singer and one to watch when he takes the Itsliverpool stage tomorrow (Saturday) at 5.30.
Eleanor Nelly takes her place, fresh after winning LIMF’s Most Ready award and this incredibly singer/ songwriter of just sixteen years is once again breathtaking. This is the first time we have seen her with a backing band as she usually stands alone with her guitar, and what a band she has. Her new track Paper Aeroplanes is given the full Philharmonic treatment and her voice soars high over the sweeping strings.Her tribute to Cilla, Step Inside Love is beautifully fragile in its verses and as powerful as hell and just like Cilla in the chorus. It’s strange to see her singing without her guitar, but she looks like she’s having the time of her life.
Amique is up next. Sold at last year’s LIMF as Liverpool’s answer to Prince, Amique has found his own style in the last 11 months and delivers his songs with ease. His Liverpool song tonight is the much overlooked Beatles rocker, Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except for Me and My Monkey, given a much more soulful treatment here.
Last up is Suedebrown, a DJ / producer who has found success in his mixes of grime, hip hop, bass and soul. Tonight he lays some gorgeous soulful beats down over lush orchestral arrangements and somehow he manages to squeeze a little sunlight out of the rainy evening. This is what the Youth Orchestra is all about, mixing traditional orchestral pieces with new youthful ideas to create something very unique.
After a short break, Radio City DJ and professional Scouser, Pete Price, arrives to introduce the grown up Orchestra, led by conductor Richard Kaufman. It’s a short introduction before we are whisked off to a galaxy far far away. The Star Wars theme starts a movie themed first half and it just sounds amazing. Within seconds kids are running around having invisible light saber fights and Mums and Dads grin like Cheshire Cats.
The Harry Potter theme brings a sense of magic to the night as the rain finally takes a rest, and a run through various James Bond themes (Dr No, Thunderball, From Russia with Love and Goldfinger) just sound sublime. It is always great to see kids mesmerised by shows like this and the choice of these family favourites is a perfect introduction to life outside of chart music.
When Pete Price informs us there’s going to be a medley of songs from Frozen, there are audible groans, but the audience are soon won over as hearts are melted by the exquisite arrangements of these frankly over-played Disney tunes. The less forgiving are treated with a rousing version of John Williams’ Indiana Jones theme, followed by a specially commissioned piece, composed by the orchestra with Titanic composer James Horner. The piece was completed just before his death in 2015 and runs through the gamut of every human emotion, calling in on fear, romance, joy and adventure. The piece is garnished with a version of Titanic’s love theme, My Heart Will Go On, and four women in pac-a-macs film themselves singing, arms outstretched a la Kate Winslett.
The film section ends with John Williams’ theme to E.T and Pete Price points to the sky in search of a little boy on a bike with a very unusual passenger.
A 20 minute interval is followed by a heartfelt journey through some of Liverpool’s most loved songs, starting unsurprisingly with Ferry Across the Mersey and Cilla’s Anyone Who Had a Heart. Obviously the inclusion of two Cilla songs tonight are worthy tributes to one of our most famous celebrity figures and Pete Price tells us how the Cilla statue is on its way.
Penny Lane is an inspired choice and is led by the brass section, as in the original Beatles recording. It’s brassy and playful and the crowd are starting to sing along. Billy Fury’s Wondrous Place gets an emotional airing but the party really kicks off with The Real Thing’s You To Me Are Everything. People are up dancing and singing along, and continue to do so through Here Comes the Sun and Frankie’s Two Tribes. It’s crowd pleasers to the end as The Farm’s Altogether Now sounds incredible given the full orchestral treatment and The Teardrop Explodes’ Reward is given a whole new life. Lou Reed’s Perfect Day certainly reflects the mood of the show but we’re not quite getting the Liverpool connection. All You Need Is Love ends the show with enormous 60s-style love balloons and streamer cannons, a fitting climax during these seemingly loveless times. Kids run amok gathering up the streamers as the orchestra play Lennon’s Imagine as a final treat. Another song of hope just when we need it.
With a powerful and joyous choice of songs tonight, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestras, young and old have given us an evening to remember. A warm and friendly night, that as cloying as it sounds, could only happen in Liverpool. A true tribute to the legacy of the City’s music and talents from some of the most talented musicians in the country
Photos by Getintothis’ Vicky Pea and Martin Waters