The whole of the UK fell in love with Peaky Blinders when it first aired in 2013, and six-years on, lovable Brummie gangster Thomas Shelby has become a cult icon, while flat caps and sharp suits are becoming an accepted fashion statement- even on a casual day. Multiple events have cropped up over the years and it was about time for The Legitimate Peaky Blinders Festival to arrive and celebrate the show.
A day of immersive in central Birmingham activities took fans back in time to the post-war 1920s and made them feel like part of the show. The festival took place over Saturday and Sunday, transforming the charismatic streets of Digbeth and with vintage-inspired decor, a small fairground and actors who helped make the TV show become reality. On Saturday, many of the TV shows cast were also in attendance, featuring in Q&A’s along with screenwriter Steven Knight.
Of course, the weekend featured an array of music, from small bands to big names split across several stages. Many of the artists who performed had featured in the show including Anna Calvi who scored the latest season.
Saturday was a hot day, the sun was beating down on the city and when I arrived the festival was already full of people dressed up in well-tailored suits, or as flapper-girls, with feather headdresses and heeled pumps- fully immersing themselves in the TV show.
By 6pm a well-sized crowd had arrived just to see Liam Gallagher, as well as the Peaky Blinders fans who had been around all day- the attendance, was surprising since his performance had only been announced the day before as he was the “secret special guest.” Liam swaggered on stage, in a peaky inspired cap (it might have just been to keep the sun out of his eyes) and a matching black parka. He opened with classic, Rock N’ Roll Star, making his band re-start in true Gallagher style but the set saw instant ssing-alongs from the crowd, who echoed the words back to the stage creating an energy which lasted the whole set.
There was nearly a two-hour wait between Liam Gallagher and Primal Scream, I do think it would’ve flowed much better with smaller gaps between artists, especially since the festival site wasn’t massive and the day had calmed down a little at this point. When Primal Scream did arrive on stage it was well worth the wait, Bobby Gillespie walked on in a bright pink suit and the atmosphere exploded, hits like Movin’ On Up, Rocks and Loaded captured the crowd and everyone was dancing, singing along to every word their performance felt like a massive party and was definitely one of my favorites.
On the second day of the event it was a little quieter, the cast weren’t there and there wasn’t as many Q&A’s so this day so I was really able to get stuck in. I went to the boxing match, a staged game which in an old-style boxing ring, just like the ones shown in the series, actors were dressed up and getting the crowd involved, there was also a lot of street performances, staged fights and small improvised performances around the festival creating an authentic feel. There was a barber shop, which I hadn’t seen the previous day, where fans could get their hair cut like their favorite characters and Garrison Tailors boutique to kit-you-out with the latest peaky styles as well as a fashion show to showcase the pieces.
I was eager to see Slaves perform this day, the southern two-piece have a much larger sound than you’d think, their dynamic music rippled over the venue with powerful beats and rhythmic bass lines. Both members of the group interacted with the crowd, joking when anything went wrong and seemed genuine and down to earth, enabling the audience to connect with them more easily. Their performance was fun, full of energy and I won’t forget it any time soon.
Frank Carter and The Rattlesnakes headlined this day, the crowd was full of people dressed as Peaky Blinders, although I imagine this is way more overdressed than the bands usual crowd and the group had been supplied with Garrison Tailors suits, so fit in well with the audience. This was the most energetic gig I have been to in a while, Frank spent most of the time in the audience while the band crowd surfed and were fully involved with the crowd. At one point they made a “circle pit” which covered the whole floor of the venue and fans were running around in circles- it was wild.
This festival was so unique, incorporating drama, theatre, dance, music and of course the Peaky Blinders. I couldn’t forget the weekend if I tried, I didn’t find one moment boring because there was always something interesting or weird going on and I can’t wait for next year.