Neighbourhood Weekender returned to Warrington’s Victoria Park last weekend for the second edition of SJM’s near enough flawlessly organised take on the festival scene.
(Photo by Graham Joy)
Neatly laid out across what feels like an intimate version of a Reading & Leeds arena, three stages provided two full days of excitement packed sets from both well loved indie favourites and some of the UK’s strongest upcoming talent; ranging all the way from headliners George Ezra and Richard Ashcroft to Marsicans and No Hot Ashes.
As well as a quality line up which ran mostly clash free, SJM managed to provide a genuine feeling of safety throughout the weekend. Victoria Park was not only filled with a proper festival atmosphere, but kept almost spotless while doing so; eliminating the dirty, messy concerns which come with most outdoor festivals.
Kicking off the weekend at Stage 2, loveable Leeds lads Marsicans and their bubbly, infectious take on pop wasted no time in spreading their feel good charm. Delivering potential hit after hit, from Too Good to Pop-Ups (Sunny at the Weekend), Yorkshire’s finest indie-poppers made themselves perfectly at home on a big stage which they’ll undoubtedly be playing many more of in the near future.
Continuing to put the vast majority of frontmen to shame with her enviable swagger, Laura Hayden fronted yet another quality performance from Anteros, packing out the tent of Stage 2 while doing so. Smashing through half an hour of crowd pleasers before ending on the alluring self titled Anteros, Laura and co left a good majority of their crowd firmly captivated.
(Photo by Laurence Howe)
Nothing suits a big festival tent like a bit of proper catchy indie pop, and who else to provide it than Pale Waves? While Stage 2 was a little on the quiet side for the Dirty Hit signees their insanely catchy pop offered a late afternoon pick me up. The much loved debut Television Romance went down a treat, setting an excitable atmosphere ready for the evening’s approaching headline set.
As the sun set on Saturday pop’s very purest took to the main stage for a headline set boasting one of the happiest festival atmosphere’s you could possibly imagine. In front of his windowed backdrop George Ezra and his charming, down to earth personality graced Warrington with mass singalongs and comedic tales of how the tracks of Staying At Tamara’s came to be.
Offering all of the hits, from Budapest and Listen To The Man right through to the booming chorus of Pretty Shining People, Ezra’s set was nothing short of joyous from start to finish. As fireworks shot above the huge main stage both Ezra and the entire crowd erupted into the sound of Shotgun, ending Neighbourhood’s first day with nothing short of pure joy.
(Photo by Niall Lea)
Soothing any sore heads with the sweetest of harmonies and plucky riffs, Scouse favourites Clean Cut Kid began Sunday’s proceedings over on the main stage. Remaining their sunny, cheerful themselves despite the gloomy arrival of wind and rain the four piece smashed through a crowd pleasing set filled with driving beats and pick me up choruses.
Stage 2 erupted into mosh pits in the early afternoon as Bad Sounds bounded into the tent with the promise of pure pop fun. Right through from the contagious synth of Wages to the funk drenched riffs of Avalanche, frontmen Ewan and Callum bounced around Stage 2 with genuine joy and passion; seemingly undeterred by having crashed their van the day before.
The Vaccines proved exactly why they remain one of indie’s most loved as they took over the main stage with one solid hour of proper festival anthems. Justin Young’s nonchalant stage presence held their impressively sized crowd firmly captivated as he strolled the stage with his familiar wild eyed swagger.
Jamming in all of the hits, including If You Wanna, Post Break Up Sex and Norgaard, as well as tracks from 2018’s Combat Sports such as I Can’t Quit and Your Love Is My Favourite Band, Victoria Park was firmly in The Vaccines’ grasp for one heavenly hour.
The brave addition of a new, unreleased track by the name of Let’s Jump Off The Top certainly raised some eyebrows, but succeeded in maintaining the excitable energy which flowed from start to finish. Pushing through past a brief mid-track sound cut, The Vaccines afternoon slot was a lesson in performance and no doubt left a lasting memory on all in attendance.
(Photo by Laurence Howe)
Fresh from the announcement of their debut album, Stockport’s No Hot Ashes gave the Viola Beach stage it’s final performance of the weekend, bringing their infamous energy and funk soaked riffs with them. Small in size but made up for in chaos, their crowd remained wild from start to finish, peaking at the sound of Bellyaches and Skank, left hyped and prepared for the final performances of the weekend.
Stepping in last minute to replace the mighty Slaves, Circa Waves filled the closing slot at Stage 2 as the weekend drew towards an end. Despite clashing with Sunday’s headline set, the tent filled nicely just in time for its wildest crowd of the year.
Offering a mighty hour and fifteen minute set filled with material both old and new, none of which failed to incite mosh pits half the size of the tent, the Liverpool lads certainly made a quality replacement for Slaves. As anticipated, Stage 2 closed to the apt sound of T-Shirt Weather erupting the tent erupted into lit flares and sheer delight.
(Photo by Niall Lea)
Those who had experienced the joy of Circa Waves wasted no time in recovering from the chaos as they sprinted down the arena to catch the last of Richard Ashcroft’s headline set. Arriving just in time to hear the introduction of The Verve’s hits The Drugs Don’t Work and Bittersweet Symphony, every face in the park could be seen plastered with smiles.
Ashcroft’s visible pleasure in performing Bittersweet Symphony having recently been given the full royalties completed the atmosphere in Victoria Park; bringing an incredibly successful second edition of Neighbourhood Weekender to a memorable end.