The inaugural Whisky Sessions at Victoria Warehouse boasted an eclectic line-up of big names and soon-to-be big names alongside a hearty commitment to promoting the old water of life, with whisky tastings and cocktails all part of the mix.
Stand-out performances over the weekend included British Sea Power – in rather more sober form than their last visit to the North West (where the lead singer made compelling viewing not least because he was several beer-soaked sheets to the wind at Ramsbottom Festival) – and I Am Kloot, local lads done good (and in fine fettle), as the headline acts on the Friday.
On Saturday, young guns The Tapestry kicked off proceedings with a rip-roaring set which deserved a bigger audience. Follow this lot – they’ll be playing to some far bigger crowds in 2015. Upcoming folk/rock outfit To Kill A King performed an energetic set before Badly Drawn Boy took to the stage. Performing solo, he showed a few nerves, as he admitted himself – but he won the crowd over with an honest and subtle performance of some old familiars. Turin Brakes absolutely nailed it – just incredible both instrumentally and vocally. Highlight (perhaps of the whole festival) was their cover version of Chim-Chim-Cheree from Mary Poppins. It could easily have been a gimmicky curiosity, but the tune was transformed into an Eastern European gypsy folk song, complete with crowd sing along. Just brilliant.
When Gomez hit the stage, they hit it hard – and the reception they got from the near capacity crowd was deafening. If I’m honest, I don’t remember them being that big – but they more than justified their headline slot with an assured and rousing performance.
There was a nice vibe to the event – plenty of staff, some great independent food sellers and local real ales. With this blend, there’s more than enough to suggest that this well run and deftly programmed weekend has the potential to become a long-term fixture on the crowded festival calendar.
Words and Images by Chris Payne