It was a short drive up the M56 to Warrington, for my favourite festival. After being postponed in 2020, Neighbourhood Weekender returned to Victoria Park with some of my favourite artists on the bill, mixed with some very exciting up and coming bands that I’ve been wanting to see for a while. It was basically this Indie Kid’s dream; Paul Heaton and Jackie Abbot, Shed Seven, Sam Fender, Inhaler, The K’s, Sports Team and the list goes on. The young, the middle-aged and families have all assembled in one place to celebrate being able to be at such a gathering, once again. It’s been too long!

Now as far as seeing every band, well…that would be impossible, and I apologise to bands I didn’t get to see. Let’s get into the bands I did see at this exceptional festival, The Neighbourhood Weekender.

After arriving on Saturday afternoon about 1ish, we quickly grabbed our photo and review passes, wandered into Victoria Park and the place was already buzzing with happy festival-goers, painted faces, silver flares, bucket hats, lightweight parkas and Ray Ban sunglasses. Gin bars, street food, wood fired pizza, beer and fairground rides add to the atmosphere and we were off. The bands were split over 3 stages, and thankfully the distance between the 3 was not too far, meaning with some exceptional timing, you could get to see most of the bands you wanted to – perfect!! Add to that the sun was bloody shining; it was going to be a good, good time.

Saturday started off for me with the main stage and Earlstown’s indie heroes Jamie Boyle, Ryan Breslin, Dexter Baxter and Jordan Holden, collectively known as The K’s. 2020 was going to be big year for these young lads until the pandemic hit, but going on this home town performance, and the size of the crowd in front of the stage, these lads are picking up right where they left off. The K’s are an indie rock guitar band of the highest order, tight as, with catchy-as-hell songs and big punchy choruses that the crowd just love to sing right back at them. Indie banger after indie banger, ripping up the stage, covering every inch of it, snarling and smiling, and the crowd lapped it up. Songs like Sarajevo and Glass Towns brought the house down, a couple of covers along the way, Dirty Old Town by The Pogues and a little snippet of The Chain by Fleetwood Mac, a brilliant way to start any festival.



Next up was Liverpool’s new lady on the block Zuzu, looking striking in black dress, black boots and a coat that would put Joseph’s technicolour dream coat to shame, but it’s all about the music, and Zuzu plays a blend of Liverpool guitar pop, mixed with the pop sensibilities of Taylor Swift delivered with a soft scouse twang; this lady has a very big future.

The Mysterines were up next in the big top, and they produced an electrifying set of dirty grunge rock, Lia Metcalfe’s voice was mesmerizing, powerful and effortless. The Mysterines have a distinctive rock edge blended with their own twist on their Indie upbringings – brilliant stuff!



Following them, again in the big top were Vistas, and no disrespect to the band but I was gutted when the Snuts couldn’t play, so Vistas had big shoes to fill in my eye’s, and in fairness they stepped up to the plate and knocked it out of the park. Treating the packed-out big top to some Scottish indie, Vistas sound like summer, and their set was full off indie bangers, with big sing along choruses. I have to say that sometimes this band carry their influences very much on their sleeves, I heard quite a lot of early Artic Monkeys in what they did this weekend, but it was great, none the less.

As Beer O’clock struck, it was the perfect time to head to the main stage for Nottingham’s man in black the troubadour, Mr. Jake Bugg, and a quick stop off at the bar for a very cold refreshing beer.

Not wanting to let anyone down, Jake strode on to the stage completely dressed in black, picked up his guitar, waved at the crowd, said hello and launched into his set. I really do like the way Jake Bugg perfectly blends elements of Indie and Country and then puts his own twist on it. He sucks you in with his unique voice and it filled the festival park, note perfect, his guitar so comfortable in his hands playing hook after hook, switching up tempos and slowing them down at will. Tonight, he was awesome, and he had the huge crowd in front of him singing along when they knew the words, which to be honest was pretty much every song.



Next up on the main stage were Nineties indie legends, Shed Seven, who were having somewhat of a resurgence before Covid hit. They walked on to the stage like a band that had done this a million times and I guess they nearly have, beaming smiles from the band, beaming smiles from the crowd. Perfect and yet again, another huge crowd exploded, and the band kicked straight into it. Rick Witter was in a very talkative mood, and his interaction with the crowd was a beautiful thing as the band played tracks across all their 5 studio albums, ” Chasing Rainbows “, “Ocean Pie”, “Dolphin”, “Better Days’, “On Standby”, “Getting Better”, “It’s Not Easy”, “High Hopes”, “Bully Boy”, and my personnel favourite “Going for Gold”. I am a Shed Seven fan and have some of their albums, but I have to say I do prefer them live; they always seem a bit harder, a bit edgier than on record, with big euphoric choruses. And I love that, because that’s what a live show should be all about. In my top 3 for performances of the weekend.

Staying at the main stage for 24-year-old singer-songwriter and Geordie superstar, and very much man of the moment – the Bruce Springsteen inspired Sam Fender. As he walked onto the stage, he was grinning so wide I think you could see it right across the other side of the festival, and he launched straight into a set of hometown storytelling. Sam Fender has his own brand of Anglo-American indie rock taking influences from his hero Bruce Springsteen, but also shades of Simple Minds and bringing a stadium sound that reminded me a little of Muse. This man is a talent and his status of one of the rising superstars of British guitar music is well deserved.



To finish of my first day at Neighbourhood it was back to the big top to check out a very young band from Leicester who are taking British radio and charts by storm. They are Easy Life and this band play like the sun shining, a very laid-back vibe. Synth driven pop, with, talking / singing vocals wrapped around clever witty, romantic and introspective lyrics. Now I understand why the very young audience in front of the stage liked this band so much.



And that brought a brilliant first day to end, I have to admit as I walked away there was a little part of me, even though Easy Life were very good, a little part of me was a bit disappointed that I didn’t go and see the great and legendary James, sorry guys it won’t happen again x