Mystery Jets, Folks, Ben Caplan: The Arts Academy, Bombed Out Church


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Liverpool Sound City kicks off with a thrilling if bizarre slant as Getintothis’ Emma Walsh laps up apocalyptic folk, rock and roll and the Mystery Jets’ crowd-pleasing pop.

It was a little unnerving to kick off Liverpool Sound City with an angry preacher at St Luke’s, who claimed he could swear in a church with no roof. Apocalyptic was the word that came to mind – but the sun was out, surely this couldn’t be the end of the world?
Seaworthy was another word which came to mind on first sight of Ben Caplan‘s wonderful beard and sailor’s cap, while his band the Casual Smokers found the perfect balance between hairy men and beautiful strings players.
Caplan announced on arrival that he had come from Canada, to teach us the secrets of the universe, something he hoped to work out while on stage.
The man had a booming voice which, had he wished, might have brought the ruins of the church down on top of us but thankfully he was in an upbeat mood, high on life and his beautiful surroundings.
There is something of the Gogol Bordello about Ben Caplan and his band, a wonderful transient feel to the melodies, and a story-telling element to his songs.
Even the angry Birds with Broken Wings which lamented the loss of the Arts in this ‘financial crisis thing‘ touched on the folklore, so you might imagine it was all a horrible nightmare.
With a voice akin to Tom Waits, you could hardly expect Caplan to rest easy in his song writing, his bibilical motifs and message of enlightenment seemed inevitable.
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Folks live at Liverpool Sound City
The message was to be free and to scream, which he encouraged the audience to do, as though they had just had ‘a really great orgasm’, an interesting sound for Liverpool City Centre on a Thursday evening.
And bizarreness seemed to be the theme for the evening on reaching The Arts Academy for Folks.
They are an amazing band, but I couldn’t help but feel watching the pouting lead singer with hips and a tambourine that perhaps we had gone back in time to watch a young Rolling Stones. There is something of a throwback to the sixties in their performance, although a subdued audience didn’t give them quite the rock and roll reception they might have expected.
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Mystery Jets live at Liverpool Sound City 2012
By the time the Mystery Jets took to the stage there was a full house and more than enough ‘six footers’ to hamper the experience a short-arse like myself, but the great sound and open feel of the garage provided perhaps the most authentic ‘festival feel’.
The Mystery Jets lived up to their surroundings with tune after tune, banging out songs you didn’t even know you already knew. An unusually early set in the evening, the band reinstated themselves as crowd-pleasers with hits such as Young Love and Two Doors Down.
Pictures by Conor McDonnell and Marie Hazelwood.