The Good the Band and the Queen are the cornerstone of the whole 6 Music Festival, Getintothis’ Steven Doherty discovers whether the night deserves such acclaim.
The only sold-out night time event of the weekend, this amongst some grumbling about overly expensive tickets, venues being too far apart and even individual line-ups being too diverse.
There’s also a nagging doubt that tonight they may have sequenced the order of the bands incorrectly, but more of that later.
The Olympia does give us 4 non-obvious bedfellows. but this just goes to highlight the breadth of material that 6 Music champions and we should be truly thankful that it exists.
It’s the most un-rock and roll time of 5:30.
It’s time for Idles.
They are the reason that tonight is a sell-out, even at this ungodly hour the place is rammed and the majority of the crowd has some piece of merch or other.
An unnamed 6 Music DJ tells us it’s contentious they haven’t headlined tonight, such is their current popularity and they are cheered onto the stage like some sort of all-conquering indie heroes.
They fly straight into Heel/Heal and the guitarists are straight into the crowd, one of whom is dressed solely in a pair of Calvin Kleins.
Vocalist Joe Talbot bites his lip when he realises he’s broken the strict no swearing rule on the intro to Love Song and there’s a palatable air of anticipation when they play Mother, a song with a very sweary chorus, however they manage to navigate that with no issues.
Talbot introduces every song with some kind of message and every target he aims for he hits, with brevity yet passion, immigration (point off though for the Salah reference in Danny Nedelko), the NHS, the Conservatives trying to kill off the city and everything in between.
Idles are truly a band with a message, but that’s not to discount the music, the screaming ball of intensity that it is.
There’s so many highlights, but the point that that encapsulates Idles is the break in Samaritans, where Talbot screams “I kissed a boy and I liked it” and then the band crash back in. It’s such a perfect moment, an emotional, somewhat overwhelming, moment.
They end with Rottweiler, before which Talbot pays tribute to Her’s, and tells the crowd “Don’t buy The Sun, it’ll give you cancer.”
At the end of the song, guitarist Bobo screams out the Her’s song Harvey, showing their genuineness, not just trite soundbites.
This is a band to warm the soul. The same 6 Music DJ tells us at the end that they won’t see a better set throughout the whole festival. They are at present peerless, and anyone who doesn’t love them are silly.
Silly and wrong.
An elaborate opening by Stealing Sheep sees them clad in matching gold suits issuing robotic introductions to themselves. Getintothis first saw them at one of the first Liverpool Sound City and it’s interesting to see how they’ve changed and grown since then.
Outgrowing their previous whimsical twee-ness, they are now a real force. Third album Big Wows is set to arrive in April and True Colours from it is the first big tune of the evening.
What follows though feels a bit like following the Lord Mayor’s show, they don’t have the one big definable single to get the crowd completely onside (a common theme for the evening as a whole).
They end with latest single Show Love, this could be the tune though that does take them to the next level.
Villagers are a band that has, somewhat extraordinarily, passed Getintothis by, so we were intrigued to see them live.
They started with the lovely folk vibe of Again and Sweet Saviour from last year’s The Art Of Pretending To Swim album, from which much of tonight’s set is taken. The songs are well received enough but is disconcerting to hear the amount of chatter in between songs from the easily distracted crowd.
Last year’s single A Trick Of The Light gets their attention with the biggest cheer of their night and they finish with 2013’s Nothing Arrived, in which the “Guess I was busy” refrain instantly becomes a big crowd singalong.
They are soon to be seen in arenas supporting Mumford And Sons, our sympathies go out to all concerned and we hope it doesn’t affect them to much.
The evening climaxes with The Good, The Bad and The Queen, who are back after a big absence in between albums and are about to embark on a full UK tour, which sees them come back to Liverpool in just 3 weeks time.
Damon Albarn (for it is he) takes the stage and immediately needs to make an announcement. After playing with both Africa Express (another side-project of his) and thankfully re-uniting Blur last night, his throat is seemingly in a bad way. Not so you would notice in the next hour or so.
Having so many fingers in pies suits Albarn, he’s looking younger and suaver than he did back in the day, and they kick off with Merrie Land, the title track from their recent second album, from which their set takes most of the tracks.
The album is a love letter to the country, a defiant message against the passing of time and the mess that we find ourselves in as a nation which resonates somewhat with the crowd, but as with the previous bands tonight, without the killer singles.
The musical theme of the record seems to be akin to a haunted fairground, and although Albarn is one of those rare artists who you would be happy listening to him sing anything, he is somewhat let down sonically, and it swiftly turns into a certain degree of blandness musically.
All in all, it was one of those nights where perhaps the bill should have been reversed, the bigger names don’t always result in the bigger reactions.
Images by Getintothis’ Warren Millar