Nestled amongst the Liverpudlian town houses and standing without a care in the world is the Unity Theatre. This weekend, it has played a major part in holding the very first ever Liverpool Acoustic Festival, unravelling the talents of music, poetry and even some free beer tasting, worthy enough to have its own room at the festival! Spreading across Friday evening and all through Saturday, the artists came from all over – ranging from born and bred Northerners to even an American Olivier and Grammy award winner. With its small proximity, the Unity Theatre provided a perfect playground for artist and audience to interact as masterclasses were taught in the arts of song writing, slide guitar and the ability to create the perfect piece of techno track. As an amateur who barely passed her primary school guitar lessons, these masterclasses even provided interesting and educating so for the musical geniuses amongst the audience they must have been an absolute afternoon of amusement.
As the afternoon sun shone brightly into the foyer of the theatre, the quirky festival vibe was buzzing. Each artist had varieties of EPs and albums spread across the merchandise table whilst the expansive vinyl sale on the other side of the room grabbed my attention first. This was a sight for sore eyes to a poor student with an ongoing and expensive love for records.
Xander and the Peace Pirates, Photo Credit: Liverpool Acoustic Facebook
After dragging myself away from the collections, the first act of the day was from the brotherly duo Xander and the Peace Pirates who brought from their Liverpool roots the unique soulful, blues-based rock ‘n roll sound to the Main Stage of the festival. In between their impressive guitar solos and blissful lyrics Keith and Stuart Xander gave an insight on how their song writing process works. They made sure to interact with the large crowd who asked varied questions such as where their song writing inspiration comes from and the most important question of where did Keith purchase his stylish trilby from. The inviting atmosphere made this set and masterclass a delightful start to the day.
It wasn’t too long after that I made my way upstairs to the Liverpool Live TV Stage which was perfectly located near the free beer tasting, just the right refreshment needed after a gruelling climb up a flight of stairs. In the lounge of the theatre, samples of some of the finest ales and beers from Liverpool’s Craft Beer were presented with a polite and friendly event representative encouraging the purchase of such fine beverages.
Dave O’ Grady, Photo Credit: Liverpool Acoustic Facebook
The main act I was looking forward to in the day was the Dublin blues-rocker, Dave O’Grady who recently supported rising artist Rae Morris at her last Liverpool gig. Supporting a strong beard and a witty personality his deep and moving music added the icing to the cake in his act. The one song which captivated his talent was ‘My Oldest Friend’ pouring his heart out and using his whiskey-soaked sounds to tell the faithful friendship between himself and his mammy.
To break up the evening, two artists on different ends of the spectrum provided the build up to the festival finale. 2014’s Liverpool Acoustic Song Writing Challenge winner Jo Bywater impressed on the main stage with her poetry and blues binding rhythm whilst showing her impressive winning artistry on a slide guitar. Legendary, Liverpool outfit The Coral’s Nick Power took to the decks on the bar stage and gave a DJ set centred on the co-headliners of the night, The Lost Brothers. The set was bursting with blissful melodies and slow grooves to bring the festival to a close.
Helping bring the lights down on the festival, critically acclaimed Irish musical duo The Lost Brothers performed a stunningly enchanting set that proved why the two have had excellent reception in the past at Glastonbury and SXSW. They defined what Liverpool Acoustic Festival is all about and how sublime storytelling can move through the waves of music.
Here’s to what’s to come from 2016!