X&Y Festival 2014: The University Guild, Liverpool

half moon run gaz jones 2

Half Moon Run at The X&Y Festival 2014, The University Guild, Liverpool

A welcome return to The Guild and the X&Y Festival, GetintothisEmma Walsh goes back to her student stomping ground for an evening of the best music from home and abroad.

Opening it’s brand spanking newly painted doors to Liverpool’s gig goers, The Guild played host to X&Y Festival. It was rather odd being back in the hub of Liverpool University, everything was so clean and fresh and shiny – we were relieved to find later that the downstairs toilets still look like something out of the Hostel horror series.

Thankfully things were a bit brighter on the Courtyard stage where Natalie McCool was warming up a sun soaked crowd in a room which might as well be a greenhouse. It’s still a surprise that a headline act like McCool ever graces a stage before the sun goes down at a festival not that seems to make a difference to her with a typically kick ass performance, Thin Air going down particularly well.

One little problem that made itself impossible to ignore at the shiny new Guild (apart from the lack of ice by 6pm) is the very obvious botheration of putting two stages in close proximity without any dead space in between to buffer out the clash of sounds making for a bit of a headache when two bands took to the two stages at the same time.
Black Mountain Light, a band of the Lumineers/Mumford variety  delivered good old rustic folk with beards and blues harmonies that wouldn’t have been out of place on a Richmond Sausages advert, but as soon as the awesome Broken Men kicked off on the smaller stage next door, Black Mountain Light had lost our attention.

But who could blame us, Broken Men are boss. They make us swoon with their grunged up rock and a voice that Tom Smith of Editors aspires to match, and here in their dream team formation with Natalie McCool they’re the first act to really grab the audience by the proverbials and fill that dreaded vacuum just in front of the stage.
As the evening got going we were treated to standout performances from Matthew and the Atlas in Mountford Hall and Racing Glaciers in the Courtyard, but few could match up to the pretty phenomenal set from Catfish and the Bottlemen. This was starting to feel like a real festival with a jam packed Mountford Hall, crowd surfers, strobe and girls atop of boyfriends’ shoulders. Big tunes Pacifier and Kathleen were welcomed with outstretched open arms and choral approval creating that long awaited X&Y buzz.

From here it just stayed special with Little Comets kicking up a socially conscious storm over in the Courtyard. There’s something bright and vibrant about Little Comets despite the sharp, unforgiving grit of the subject matter (one of their stand out songs, Violence Out Tonight, is about rape and victim-blaming). The lyrics of A Little Opus were particularly at home in The Guild, a song which berates the elitism of the political class (“I’d rather starve than become a member of your old boys club, sooner depart than see the ascension of the Bullingdon”). It was all over too soon. Thankfully, they’re coming back in October for another love in at The O2.

Canadian indie folkers Half Moon Run drew the night to a close in Mountford Hall and as charming to tired ears as their cottony tones and arrangements were, once we’d heard Full Circle the big player in their repertoire we had regressed full circle to a student stereotype, sinking a (not so cheap anymore) cider and going in search of something deep-fried.
First Class Honours for X&Y. A welcome back to Mountford Hall and The Guild, but comforting as the familiarity of skanky toilets was on our long overdue return, a lick of paint wouldn’t go amiss in the bogs either.

Pictures by GetintothisGaz Jones