Written by: Olivia Kenny
Over bank holiday weekend, Neighbourhood Weekender returned to Warrington’s Victoria Park for its second year, bringing headliners George Ezra, Richard Ashcroft, Primal Scream, The Vaccines and many more artists, bands and DJs for the two-day event. 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 had 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 quite full, even though they were one of the earliest bands to perform. Anteros have a clean, pop infused sound, fronted by a female vocalist, 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, the smallest of the three. Here there was a crowd of people along the barrier and many more sat surrounding the stage enjoying Glass Caves. The band have a very bold sound which projected effortlessly across the field, incorporating powerful vocals with rippling baselines and bright synth chords.
One band I was excited 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 undoubtable excitement in the air as the band began with “Gotta Get Through”. Frontman Thomas Heywood, 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 performance featured a brass band and backing vocalists, as well as an extravagant and beautiful backdrop. 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, bringing the night to a close.
On the second day of the Neighbourhood Weekender, I started my day at the the main stage, where 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. Next up was Jade Bird, who began her set with “Uh Huh”, the track starts slowly and builds marrying together rock, pop and folk. 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.” Don’t miss them on tour in November.
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 Neighbourhood Weekender neared its 2019 end, ready for a performance 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 closed with “Lucky Man,” before Ashcroft came back on stage with another two of The Verve’s anthems, “The Drugs Don’t Work” and “Bitter Sweet Symphony,” which he only just regained the rights back for from The Rolling Stones. 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. A great end to one of the first of summer 2019’s festivals.
After an incredible weekend, the north-west indie festival announced it’s return in 2020! Special early bird pre-sale starts 9:30am on Friday for one week early.Buy Tickets