Despite the lack of Sunday sun in the park, Getintothis’ Paul Fitzgerald still managed to roll out his tartan picnic blanket in front on the bandstand, to soak up some very special selections from Mellowtone.
Those lovely Mellowtone people brought a gallery of chilled magnificence to the bandstand on a lazy Sunday afternoon, calling in at all stops on the acoustic, Americana, rootsy country folk highway, before finally pulling into Funksville at the close of the afternoon’s play. Away from the Juice FM madness of the packed review field and the Central Stage, the mood was considerably more relaxed, and called for a few hours of more comfortable vibes. And that, of course, is what Mellowtone do so very well. There was much chilled glory, and funked up wonderment to be had at the bandstand, and a more than willing crowd ready to listen, love and learn.
It all set off with a blinding set from Dave Monks favourite Katie Mac, who showcased a couple of fine new songs. She’s being talked about favourably, and its easy to see why. There’s a hint of Rufus Wainwright in the song structures, and the delivery, and her confidence shines. One to watch.
Adopted son of Liverpool Simon Herron brought us a great set, perfectly suited to the location and the time of day, sparse and intricate guitar picking drifted out across the assembled heads, and the songs, like the man’s beautiful lilting voice, improve with every mesmerizing performance. At times tricky to hear because of the bleed from the Central Stage, the quality and worth of this Derry born writer was crystal clear regardless. I Will Watch You Son is a stunning example of this extraordinary talent.
Paul Wilkes’ band are a tight outfit, who step up to the mark with remarkable ease. Echoes of Roddy Frame‘s post Aztec Camera solo albums, and slight country leanings are highlighted with strong three part harmonies, and Wilkes‘ powerful baritone growl. These are well crafted songs, deserving of attention, and there’s no shortage of memorable moments
If the sun were only to break through the clouds (it didn’t), and we were all up for tripping gaily through meadows of sunflowers wearing nothing but daisy chain headbands (thankfully, we weren’t), then Little Sparrow would almost certainly supply the soundtrack. Beginning with an accapella three part harmony arrangement, and only a cello and two guitars for company, there’s a warm, and quintessentially English folk charm to her beautifully layered sound. There’s a lightness of being to everything she does too, yet almost haunting, and actually quite disturbing darkness to the title track of her last album, Wishing Tree. Scary. But in a good way.
Ivan Campo, are an interesting Preston two piece, and recent session guests of 6Music who know a thing or two about how to get the best out of a great lyric, in the same way as Ray Davies did with The Kinks, and the rhythm is equally key to their delivery. Early Coral vibes abound here too. Perfect Sunday afternoon material.
Sunstack Jones are next up, and throw some shimmering guitar lines around over a lazy stoner back beat. The new material they’re trying out, at times feels a little unfinished, but there’s a definite groove to the whole, which is as good a place to start as any. We’re reminded at times of A Northern Soul era Verve, big layers of guitars built on the groove, and the vocals carrying a wide eyed wonder.
There’s much excitable talk around the big soul talent of Xam Volo. Much talk. And expectations are rightfully high. A shame then, that something didn’t quite hit the mark during this performance. His voice, THAT voice, seemed lost in what felt and sounded like an incredibly loose jam session, which to be fair it may have been compared to a much better showing on the itsLiverpool stage the very same day.
It’s a brave band who use the word funk in their name, and maybe Far Flung Funk are just that. It should be all about the rhythm section, and in this case, they get it right in all the right places. It’s a sparse on-the-oneness that holds it all together, and there’s some cool fills. Some good songs here, too, and the odd ska breakdown to add to the mix. There’s an end of the day groove building in the air, and we’re expecting the Mothership to join us.
Well, if we think using the word funk in the name was brave, say hello to Galactic Funk Militia, a rag-tag gang of soldiers of the beat. There was very nearly a battalion of them, 11 altogether, dressed in combats, and many are armed to the teeth with heavy brass instrumentation. The first song was driven by the brass, including the enthusiastic and exuberant use of that most glorious of funk enhancers, the bass saxophone. There were rappers, call-to-arms vocals, screaming psychedelic guitars, and an incredible drummer. Proper downright dirty sounds, played in a proper downright dirty manner. There were slower, looser jams too, bringing the previously horizontal and prone crowd were soon on their feet, and the Militia may well have expanded their numbers, and as the day came to a funked out close, we danced off, with our tartan blankets under our arms, to find our boogie wonderland in Sefton Park.
Photos by Getintothis’ Marty Saleh and Martin Waters.