People Powered #OurNHS featuring Michael Head, James Skelly, Hooton Tennis Club and more: O2 Academy, Liverpool

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Mick Head at the #OurNHS gig

Mick Head at the #OurNHS gig

An emotional evening in Liverpool sees some of the city’s finest come together for an NHS charity special, Getintothis Jamie Bowman joins the congregation.

What a week it’s been – a grizzled veteran who many dismissed as an 80s has-been performs a spectacular comeback based on values of community, togetherness and inclusion.

But enough of Mick Head – because tonight’s People Powered #OurNHS gig was all about different generations of Liverpool music coming together and raising awareness of the current plight of one of our more treasured institutions.

That fact it also came just two days after Labour and Jeremy Corbyn’s incredible General Election result didn’t exactly spoil things either.

Talking of institutions, garage rock veteran Edgar Jones opens this impressive bill of Merseyside old and new still enjoying the momentum that last year’s Stairs reformation has brought to one of music’s most peripatetic careers.

Jones is the first of a trio of artists at different stages of their journeys with Liverpool-born singer songwriter Kathryn Williams continuing to impress with her delicate voice and excursions in loop-based song structure.

The Stairs make their remarkable comeback in Liverpool

Former Stands drummer and Paul Weller side man Steve Pilgrim, meanwhile, takes a more traditional stance with his big, passionate acoustic guitar backed by double bass, brushed drums and Rachael Jean Harris on ever-present harmony vocals.

Our first band of the evening sees Wirral’s finest Hooton Tennis Club take the stage for a fuzzy gem of a set which lifts the crowd as the beer begins to flow and the Corbyn chants begin. They’re perfectly suited to a situation like this and produce a performance which already sounds like a greatest hits collection.

Katy-Anne Bellis, Jasper, Bootcut Jimmy and a storming POWERFUL PIERRE are all caked in Hooton’s trademark slackerisms and fair play to James too for narrowly avoiding electrocution by covering his dodgy mic with a tea towel.

While they’re now virtual elder statesmen of the Liverpool  scene it’s still an easy thing to revel in the playful innocence of The Coral‘s James Skelly as he gently strums a touching version of their debut single Shadows Fall.

We’ve shaken off the shackles of the past – Getintothis chats to The Coral 

Skelly is joined by lead guitarist Paul Molloy and the difference he has made to this already fine band is clear as he embellishes the frontman’s crooning with the kind of psychedelic flourishes that made last year’s Distance Inbetween such a mind melting treat.

Songs like In The Morning and Pass It On are beginning to sound like standards while a new song sees the Skelly croon back in full effect. We should treasure them.

For those faithful followers who’ve stuck by Shack‘s Mick Head through thick and thin his recent redemption has been a joy to behold.

Where once there were genuine fears about the 55-year-old’s life through a self-destructive pattern of a drug and alcohol abuse, Head now appears on stage leaner and fitter and seemingly well-prepared to make up for lost time.

If anyone has a lot to thank the NHS for, you suspect it’s Head and he repays the debt in spades as Streets of Kenny and a fantastic Comedy provoke mass-singalongs and much male bonding.

The three-piece band are tight and Head responds in kind with a set full of flourishes and breathless testimonies to those who have helped him down the years.

There’s rare treats too in the form of a beautiful Mood of the Morning – the opening track on Shack’s legendary Waterpistol album and the closing, euphoric Meant To Be which sees the crowd sing the mariachi horns part which make up the song’s spiralling crescendo.

It’s a special moment on a night when Liverpool pulls together and looks after its own.

Nye Bevan would surely have approved.

Pictures by Getintothis‘ Tom Adam.

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