As Natalie McCool returns to her hometown after an arduous tour and new album, Getintothis’ Amaan Khan joins in the celebrations.
It’s the first day of October and the day saw a confusing alteration between sun and hard rain. The chatter on the streets is, “North England weather is back”. So are the students back. Along with the return of all other familiar things, is the return of one of Liverpool’s most widely loved songstresses, Natalie McCool.
After spending considerable time touring mainly across northern England and cultivating a long awaited album, Natalie is returning to her hometown to celebrate her new album, The Great Unknown and the success of its supporting tour, with her fans, friends and family at The Buyer’s Club.
Merch stands, balloons and windows overlooking a drenched Liverpool are the setting of the evening and kicking the event off is the five-piece band Black Mountain Lights. It’s easy to pin the group as a country band. With the banjo, acoustic guitars and surprisingly good harmonies present, it seems to be traditionally so. However, there is this addition of synths, psychedelic basslines, pitched percussions and melodica that slightly lifts them above the status of a band with a dated sound. Describe them how you may, they showcase impressive amounts of melody, intricate vocal harmonies and stomping rhythms.
Following Black Mountain Lights is the electronic duo Halem. Staged between bright rectangular lights, drums, pads, keys and laptop, the duo makes the evening quickly shift from country stomping to dance music. All the instrumental groove sections are handled by the intensely busy Reece Cairns. On the vocals, is the confidence and perfection that is Katy Alex.
Along with the sound levels, the amount of people in the room have significantly increased. Though neither the event nor the audience is the dancing kind, a bit of foot-tapping and head-bobbing is inevitable. Halem brings a standard dose of dance music with love-sick lyrics that is easy to get your head around.
After a the varied entertainment from two considerably different acts, it is time for the person whose music is being celebrated tonight. Natalie McCool graces the stage with her supporting duo of keys and drums. She has been around the scene for a while and that is evident as the whole atmosphere turns much more intimate. The music, the musician and the audience are mostly all familiar with each other.
While the synth textures and strong grooves are carried on from the previous act, there is now an added ferociousness of guitar riffs that now takes us to the land of alternative rock. However, it is in the songwriting and the delivery that one finds the important refinement and experience that Natalie McCool and her band has acquired after numerous radio appearances, releases, tours, support shows and radio appearances.
Natalie expresses her happiness to be back in Liverpool numerous times, explains some of the songs and of course, performs the album in it’s entirety. The early release Dig It Out is played and is followed by the single Cardiac Arrest. Both the numbers stand out as being the most cultivated pointsof the setlist and generating a hearty response from the public.
The high point of course comes at her anthemic earworm, Fortress. As expected, she teaches the chorus to the audience, many of whom are already familiar with it and have in fact, helped her record it as well in a studio session, memorable to all involved. The wait during this singing lesson is long but it pays off when the song is performed. In the end, Natalie and her band end the evening with climatic fervour. Thus proving that they know not only how to put up a show but also how to end it.
In the end, the enjoyable night goes down as a good example of a standard weekend musical affair with its two easily likeable support acts, a celebrated headlining act and fairly loving audience.