Liverpool’s newest festival brought a lot of hope but when it finally arrived, there was little glory. Here’s what went down at Hope & Glory Festival.
Gates were scheduled to open at 12pm on Saturday and already a lengthy queue was building, with the first band due to perform at 12:10pm. However gates weren’t opened until nearly 1pm and the queue now stretching nearly the full length of St. George’s Hall.
Upon entering, looking down the cobbled road was The Great Exhibition Stage that still had roadies on it, setting up for Clay, who were now due on over an hour ago. Over on the Wonders Of The Age Stage in the gardens, Blank Parody officially got Hope & Glory underway.
The four-piece rockers from Birmingham brought their raw energy to the festival, with hard-hitting riffs and an in-your-face style of rock that you couldn’t avoid, even if you tried.
Clay finally made an appearance on The Great Exhibition Stage over an hour later than they were scheduled to. While they tried to make the most of their shortened set, it was plagued with technical glitches from what was most likely a rushed job to set up from falling behind. It was the beginning of a theme on the main stage.
Back on the Wonders of the Age Stage local lads The Jackobins, went out all guns blazing for a rare hometown performance. Each time they perform they never fail to entertain and continue to grow as a band to watch. Their joy when on stage is infectious and didn’t take much to draw the crowd in while frontman Dominic Bassnett bounced around and off the stage throughout the set. One of a few moments where you’d forget about the problems that already mounting at Hope & Glory.
The Membranes were due to perform on The Great Exhibition Stage almost an hour and a half earlier than they actually did. Their frustrations weren’t held back as frontman John Robbs said “we’ve only got time for four songs, this is one of the worst organised festivals we’ve been to”. The Blackpool band were meant to be accompanied by a 25-piece choir but sound problems plagued the set and for the most part, the choir were seen but not heard.
More issues flawed their set as guitars would cut out briefly mid-song on occasion. While the music on the line-up promised a great day, when it came to show time, artists and fans were being massively let down.
The wait for Pigeon Detectives after The Membranes wasn’t as long but by this point stage times were close to being two hours behind schedule. During the changeover, it was time for a little wonder around and to get in and out of the gardens was near-impossible. People weren’t moving in either direction for a long period of time as a bottleneck formed.
The main issue with this bottleneck is it led to the only place were toilets and food were available, as well as the other two stages. Security’s solution was to force their way through the crowd with barriers and split the crowds for one side to go in and the other out. How nothing was put in place in advance is a joke, especially, as pointed out by Reverend & The Makers singer Jon McClure in of all cities, Liverpool.
What happened @ Hope and Glory is part of a wider problem the music biz is too ashamed to talk about. Plz share pic.twitter.com/V8NkU4SEwW
— Reverend&TheMakers (@Reverend_Makers) August 7, 2017
The queues for the bars were also in disarray with no organisation to help people form a proper queue. People just huddled in large groups, slowly etching their way closer to the bar, making it a tedious and long task just to get a pint. You’d have to feel sorry for those who wanted to pay on card, which was advertised, only to find out they actually didn’t.
After that exhausting walk around the site, Pigeon Detectives didn’t waste time and launched into their breakout hit, ‘This is An Emergency‘. Another band facing a shortened time than planned but Leeds rockers put on an electrifying performance, leaving “no time for our usual banter” as singer Matthew Bowman announced. Throughout the set, people were hooked by the classic indie sounds coming from The Great Exhibition Stage. It was a breathless show, as they put on an adrenaline-pumping set, with raining bottles of water, jumping off the drum kit and getting as many people to jump up on shoulders. Pigeon Detectives made the best of a difficult situation and turned out to be one of the highlights of the day.
Yorkshire lads Embrace, made a long-awaited return with their self-titled album back in 2014. With a reputation for their emphatic live shows, it was always one to be bookmarked when stage times were revealed in the build up to the festival.
A nostalgic set, ladened with classics such as ‘All You Good, Good People‘, ‘Come Back To What You Know‘ and ‘Gravity‘, they reeled in the years and showed exactly why they were missed during the eight years they went to ground. Uplifting songs that were definitely needed at Hope & Glory, it came to an end with a hair-raising performance of ‘Ashes‘.
The festival continued to reel in the years with The View and The Fratellis following up Embrace. Both showing just how lucky indie fans were ten years ago, invoking huge sing-a-longs wether it was The View during ‘Same Jeans‘ or The Fratellis’ anthem ‘Chelsea’s Dagger‘. It was an hour of indie at it’s finest on the cobbles of St. George’s Quarter.
However, given it’d been awhile since something else went wrong, Hope & Glory announced between The View and The Fratellis sets that Charlotte Church’s scheduled performance had been cancelled. As the day went on and they failed to catch up, it did seem inevitable that someone was going to be controversially axed, it seemed that Church drew the short straw.
All wasn’t lost as EBGBS opened their doors for the Welshwoman and her Late Night Pop Dungeon. Those with tickets that were turned away from the festival after overcrowding inside and long queues outside, had a chance to catch the show for free on Bold Street.
The Great Exhibition Stage was filled with blasts to the past and Razorlight kept that trend going as the warm-up act for headliners, James. Their set was like a best of as they tore through their allotted half an hour on stage, with the crowd in the palm of their hands, singing back every word from start to end.
While bands seemed to be on stage, the overwhelming problems that plagued Hope & Glory were forgotten. But then you’d want to grab a drink, need to run to the toilet or just want to move to another spot and you’d quickly be reminded of the flaws this festival had.
Before James closed out what would turn out to be the first and final day of Hope & Glory at the In The Lady Garden Stage, Sex Pissed Dolls had an intimate crowd singing and dancing along to various hits from over the years. With an in-your-face attitude, their performance was fast-paced with covers from Sex Pistols, Foo Fighters, Nirvana and more. Then for the most unique collaboration of ‘Is This The Way To Amarillo‘ occurred when Tony Christie was brought out to sing with the band in an all-out rock rendition of the hit song.
The party atmosphere created by the eccentric rockers was refreshing and deserved a bigger turn out than what they had.
Headliners James, were the main act most people were there to see, every second person appeared to be sporting a t-shirt of some kind showing support to the Manchester band. Throughout the set people were hooked on every word coming from Tim Booth and each chord played or beat struck appeared to grip the crowd every time.
With the loudest sing-a-longs and reactions to each song, it was no surprise that when Booth revealed their set was close to its end after just over an hour that boos rang out around St. George’s Quarter. You couldn’t help but sympathise with the band, they wanted to give more and all they could do was play an extra half an hour before they were being asked to leave the stage.
Overall, Hope & Glory Festival provided a lot of hope but by the end of the day there was anything but glory. The manner of which organisers conducted themselves over the last week is nothing short of embarrassing from the now infamous “no festival today” statement to finger-pointing, to attacking artists and no clarity over refunds.
Liverpool showed how it should be done when venues and music fans came together to try and salvage something and The Zanzibar did that, hosting The Lightning Seeds and Clean Cut Kid. EBGBS hosting live music all evening and the valiant efforts from The Magnet, Vinyl Junkies and This Feeling to try and put something together.