SOUND CITY 2013 – REVIEW: Lolito, Natalie McCool, Rachael Wright and the Good Sons, All We Are

Sound City 2013
kicked off in grand style yesterday, with venues all round coming alive with the sound of music. Ian. D. Hall spent the evening at Leaf…

Whilst the rest of the country slumbered its way towards the May Day Bank Holiday with the first real warm weather of the year, the people of Liverpool and music lovers from the rest of the country and from further afield, made their way to Liverpool city centre for the first of three days of music in this year’s Sound City extravaganza. No venue though in the city would have had the kind of start that Leaf on Bold Street did as it welcomed a band from France, one of the finest singer/songwriters in the country right now, a woman whose voice could melt an iceberg and one of the city’s favourite groups, an evening that will rank as one of the most dynamic anywhere this year and full to the brim of electric performances.

It may have been a surprise to many to see French Indie band Lolito make their way to Liverpool but French music is gaining a lot of talk at the moment, from its pop to its rock and its heavy metal, the Gallic charm is making a lot of waves as it crosses the channel leaving fans captivated by what they hear. The Parisian ease in which Flo, Annette, Matias and Michel took the evening by the scruff of its neck and shook the spring sunshine out of the audience with songs such as Annette’s Skirt, Hold Me, Kiss Me, Choose Me, Les Filles Et Les Gars and Bastrd framing the evening to come.

One of the most eagerly awaited acts of the weekend made an early showing, astoundingly perhaps being on the first day and not headlining somewhere in the city on Saturday. In Natalie McCool, the young woman who has recently released her debut album, there is a significant buzz that surrounds her music and with good reason. Her guitar, her voice stokes a furnace of music that is rarely discovered outside the likes of the Midland’s Blues Heroine Joanne Shaw Taylor. Ms. McCool thrilled an audience that was rammed to bursting in Leaf with songs taken from the album and alongside her superb band drove the temperature up considerably inside the venue. With the fantastic America opening up her set, she set about showing just exactly why she is perhaps one of the most highly rated musicians around today and it can only get bigger and more electric. Songs such as Fortune, Size Zero and Nightcall were greeted with the enthusiasm and verve of an audience that knew they were fortunate to catch this young woman; given time, the venues are just going to sell out too quickly for everyone to attend.

It takes a personality of great stature not to be overwhelmed in the thought of following someone like Natalie McCool and in Rachael Wright and the Good Sons, there was one woman who could rise to the challenge set before her and give an account of herself that was just as well received by those that had stayed and not made their way to another venue or taken time out to breathe and digest what they had seen in the previous half hour. Rachael Wright, Steve Pilgrim, Michael Oates and Jamie Brewster took the flame from Ms. McCool and carried it forward with ease. Ms. Wright might not be as well-known as Natalie McCool but that doesn’t stop her music from being addictive, charming and haunting. Tracks such as Riflechild, Black Heart, On Hororata and Where You Are also showed that this woman is capable of breaking many hearts with her voice that sits somewhere between Marcella Detroit and the breathless beauty of Marilyn Monroe. The challenge was sportingly set, for those that stayed in Leaf it was generally agreed, albeit silently with nods of mass approval, that Rachael Wright met it with ease.

As final acts on a night go, you cannot get much better than All We Are. One of the city’s favourite bands, the atmospheric and noir like mix of Nordic, Irish and Brazilian music make a heady combination that is infectious and moody, excellent to lose yourself in and a fitting tribute to the city that embraces the band. Richard and Guro’s vocals fill the air like winter mist closing in on your reason from all quarters, fascinating the senses and mixed with the soulful drumming and guttural yet exquisite guitars. When All We Are perform, it really does feel as though time can stand still, the bewitching effect they have on the audience is astonishing as they once more proved with a set filled with new tracks and an old favourite. The surreal excellence of Cardhouse was followed up by the tracks Stone, Utmost Good, The Tide and the superb Another Life amongst others.

If any other venue matched the intensity, the stunning variety and haunting music on offer inside Leaf then their audiences would have walked out on cloud nine, however in these four acts it would have taken a herculean effort to get to the same ravenous applause given them. Leaf may not be the biggest venue in Liverpool but on the first day of Sound City its musical heart was as vast as any in the city. A tremendous start to the festival.

Ian D. Hall

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