Review: Live in the Park (George V Playing Field, 29-Aug-2009)

I’ve finally recovered from what was something of a mammoth bank holiday weekend that’s going to take me a few days to cover fully, so I’ll start with the big event of the weekend, Live in the Park, and get to the others later.

While the soi disant main attractions of the event were X Factor “stars” Diana Vickers and Eoghan Quigg, miserable old cynic that I am I can’t say I was particularly looking forward to their performances; luckily, however, there was plenty to keep me happy before the grand finale.

Proceedings kicked off with the obligatory Battle of the Bands, and rather surprisingly the winners were hard core thrash metal/punk outfit Title of Injustice; not ideally suited to a family-friendly day out, perhaps, but they certainly gave it their best shot. Screaming vocals, blistering riffs, insane drumming, and plenty of presence made them stand out from the other hopeful acts, and while some of the audience may have been baffled I have to say it was a promising start.

Next up were a couple of solo female performers whose names currently escape me; nothing musically remarkable about their performances — they’d probably do fine on a cruise ship or at a holiday camp, but are unlikely to win any prizes for originality — but it’s probably worth mentioning that the first of the pair broke her back a week ago and performed wearing a body-brace, so it may be unfair to judge her based on this performance alone.

Things remained firmly in blandsville for the next act, Tim Gallacher, winner of last year’s Crewe and Nantwich Star Search. His performance wasn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination, but it lacked any real character or personality, again heading towards holiday club cabaret crooner territory.

Things took a huge leap up with fellow southerners Fearne, who performed a blinding set of upbeat indie-tinged acoustic rock; combine their great melodies, clever lyrics, and catchy choruses with a solid performance and their relentless schedule and it’s safe to say you’ll hear more from these guys soon.

By this point some portions of the crowd had become distracted by catching the odd fleeting glimpse of the headline acts and were therefore rather impolitely ignoring what was going on on stage, but despite that handicap Liverpool’s The Aviators, a blues/indie rock band with overtones of Kings of Leon and Paw, gave a great performance — it was somewhat spoiled by the cries of “I love you Eoghan” coming from the audience, but there you go.

The final support act was the ever-wonderful Chlöe, with her usual mix of melodic pop-rock and powerful ballads, and as ever the crowd warmed to her quickly; for reasons I’ve never quite understood her inclusion on the bill generated some controversy, but she showed her detractors the error of their ways and even managed to grab the attention of the “I love you Eoghan” contingent.

Diana Vickers was up next, and quite frankly I can’t see what all the fuss was about; her vocal performance certainly didn’t distinguish her in any way from the two female solo acts earlier in the show, and she did the most peculiarly distracting “dance” I’ve ever seen in my life, a curious move that involved her standing on one foot like a flamingo. It struck me as nothing more than a bland, insipid, and wholly unimpressive selection of covers, but there seemed to be a lot of people screaming with excitement so what do I know?

Inevitably we now reached the moment we’d all been waiting for (allegedly) when Eoghan Quigg took to the stage, and from the crowd’s reaction you’d have thought it was the second coming of Christ or something. His voice is far from outstanding (or even distinctive), and as he looks like a friendly potato I fail to see how he has any mass appeal at all, and I’m pretty sure that if it weren’t for his X Factor fame he’d be hard pressed to have even got a support slot.

Overall, then, a mixed bag — the “proper” bands were all well worth coming to see, but I left the event with just as low an opinion of the headliners as I had when I arrived.


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