Over bank holiday weekend, Neighbourhood Weekender came back to Warrington’s Victoria Park for its second year, bringing headliners George Ezra, Richard Ashcroft, Primal Scream, The Vaccines and many more artists for the two-day event. This year, there was no genre favoured in the lineup, but instead, a wide variation of artists were carefully chosen and the festival brought together some of the best musicians from across the board, catering to everyone’s taste. The diverse line-up, along with the well-timed sets made sure you could see every band you wanted to, while also discovering new artists and having a dance in the sun (of course).
Gates opened on the Saturday at midday and the sun was shining. The festival has three stages and I began the day with Anteros at Stage 2, the mid-sized stage is covered by a large tent and it was already pretty full, even though they were one of the earliest bands to perform. Anteros have a clean, pop-infused sound, fronted by a female vocal, their music is lively and catchy- the perfect start to any summer festival. The group played fan favourites, Drunk and Breakfast, as well as a cover of These Boots Are Made For Walking, while singer Laura Hayden danced around the stage and enjoyed the music, beginning the day with an infectious and uplifting atmosphere.
I then went over to the Viola Beach Stage, this stage is the smallest of the three and is outdoors. Here there was a crowd of people along the barrier and many more were sat surrounding the stage enjoying Glass Caves, the band have a very bold sound which projected effortlessly across the field, incorporating a powerful vocal with rippling baselines and bright synth chords.
One band I had to see was The Blinders, the ‘punkadelic’ trio were playing at Stage 2 and their set had been moved forward, giving them a little extra time to play. Although the set time had changed, news travelled fast and the tent was super busy. There was an undoubtedly excitement in the air as the band began with Gotta Get Through. Frontman Thomas Heywood had painted his face with black streaks under his eyes, the intimidating persona instantly captured the room along with the roar of the music as he chanted the fierce lyrics. The entire tent was bouncing as the pounding, tribal-like drums and dark-toned baselines added layers to the dystopian lyrics and created an unforgettable atmosphere.
You couldn’t miss Bobby Gillespie walk onto the main stage in his bright fuchsia suit, as Primal Scream arrived the crowd cheered and when the band began with fan-favourite Movin’ On Up, they danced and didn’t stop. The band truly captured the festival atmosphere with their sweaty anthems as the crowd spent the set dancing and singing along to every word until the band closed with Rocks.
Closing the first day of the festival was George Ezra, his on-stage set-up featured a brass band and backing vocalists as well as an extravagant back-drop. Ezra played his best-known songs including Budapest, Paradise and closed with Shotgun, his powerful voice took over the field as the crowd echoed back the lyrics and danced to the energetic music before the set ended with a firework display while the band closed the night.
On the second day of the festival I began the day at the main stage, here I saw Clean Cut Kid. The band, from Liverpool, have an upbeat sound, merging together the best parts of indie and pop music to create an explosive sound- another great start to the day. Next up was Jade Bird, (one of my favourite new discoveries this day) began her set with Uh Huh, the track starts slowly and builds marrying together rock, pop and country. By this point in the day, the forecasted rain had subsided and Bird continued her set in the sun with a cover of 80’s classic Walk Like An Egyptian and her own tracks Lottery and Side Effects.
The Amazons were the only band I saw at Stage 2 on Sunday, the group released their album Future Dust just a couple of days before the festival and they played some of the songs featured on this release and old favourites. Mother is one of my favourite tracks on the album with pounding stun beats and stadium-worthy riffs. The audience arrived early to watch the band and were all singing along to every lyric until the set was closed with the instantly recognisable hit Black Magic.
Over on the main stage, The Vaccines took over with electrifying indie staples, everyone knows the words to If You Wanna and All My Friends Are Falling In Love– if you don’t they’re easy to pick up, making their music perfect for singing along to. During their set the atmosphere at the festival lifted, frontman Justin Kay didn’t stop moving and the whole band seemed to be enjoying the performance just as much as the crowd were- and the crowd were loving it.
Everyone congregated at the main stage as the weekend was closed by Richard Ashcroft. Dressed in a sequin jacket and oversized sunglasses, the ex-Verve frontman spread his infectious charisma over the whole festival. Playing a mixture of his own back-catalogue including Break The Night With Colour, A Song For The Lovers and some of The Verve’s hits, his voice remaining unchanged. The Set Was closed with Lucky Man, before coming back on stage with another two of The Verve’s anthems, The Drugs Don’t Work and Bitter Sweet Symphony. There was a sense of unity and peace as the crowd hung onto every word, singing them back to the stage and the sun set casting an orange glow across the sky.
If you want to go to Neighbourhood Weekender next year early bird tickets are already available!
All Photos by Amalia Gherman
I originally wrote this article for Gigs and Tours on 28/05/19- read it here!