The Great Escape 2013: Saturday

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Waking up on Saturday with sore heads, aching feet and tired eyes, it was time to embrace the final day of The Great Escape 2013. Trundling down to the centre for the final time, the streets were filled with people, including many-a morris dancer who had decided today was as good as any to swing their poles. It was a little chillier and slightly more overcast than the previous days but this wasn’t going to deter from the musical talent which awaited.

Dan Croll, Komedia Downstairs

Liverpool’s finest did a fine job of consoling many hungover punters as his lunch time set drew a surprisingly large crowd in the dark room of Komedia. Dan Croll’s smart image; pairing a crisp white shirt and thick rimmed black glasses matched his soothing and soulful voice. His charismatic personality flooded through and his whole set was an entirely enjoyable and delicious slice of perfectly executed, intelligent folk.

Brødka, Dome Studio

We next stumbled across female pop singer, Brødka, winner of the 2004 series of Polish Pop Idol. She appears on stage clad in bright orange trousers, a colourful batwing blouse, and a traditional Polish headdress complete with beads and braids. Despite her individual and unique appearance, her music is unfortunately nothing special. She sings with passion and energy but sadly, her tracks were neither memorable nor impressive. Visually, she is fun; a bundle of energy, she stomps around the stage, dancing with her band members, and shaking her tight curly hair all over the place. Yet, her music lets her down: most of the 2013 Eurovision contestants would give Brødka a run for her money.

Lab Coast, Blind Tiger

After tipping them as one of my ‘to see’ bands of the festival, Lab Coast provided a mixed bag of a set. Their lo-fi, laid back indie sounded as good live as it does on record which provided for a relaxing soundtrack to the early afternoon. The problem with their performance was very much the lack of a performance. Admittedly from the laid-back nature of their music, I had expected a somewhat easy-going set but what I got instead was a band who looked thoroughly disinterested—completely unaware that people were actually watching them. It seemed as though Lab Coast viewed the show like they were playing in an open mic slot in a pub where no one actually was there to watch them; which was definitely a shame.

Chlöe Howl, Old Ship Paganini Ballroom

Hyped by just about every pop blog in the country over the past 6 months, Howl’s set in the elegantly and exquisitely decorated Old Ship Paganini Ballroom kicked off with recent single ‘Rumour’. Vocally brilliant and with one of the coolest looking female bassists ever, it should have been difficult to criticise Howl’s performance as she sang half an hours worth of hooky pop. However, her shyness was her downfall, and she looked uncomfortable on stage. Filling a gap whilst her guitarist attempted to fix a technical glitch, Howl awkwardly muttered “I’m not very funny so I have no jokes or anything to entertain you.” It’s difficult to imagine a pop star truly succeeding without a confident and likeable persona to match, but perhaps this was just a one-off as she tweeted before the show about feeling especially nervous.

Swim Deep, One Inch Badge RSVP Party

Earlier in the weekend I had been told that Swim Deep had played a disappointing set over at The Corn Exchange—though no one could pinpoint whether it was the sound of the venue or the band themselves. At the One Inch Badge RSVP (held at Smack, which appropriately looked like a drug den) it became clear that it was, in fact, Swim Deep themselves that were off their game. Their sunshine indie was all over the place—with a real lack of any sort of cohesiveness from the band, so it certainly didn’t have the same impact, instead sounding pleasant enough but not spectacular. It also seemed as though the constant demand on Zachary Robinson’s vocals have started to leave them strained and at points, veering towards pitchy. Without the normal screaming fangirls of their audience, their performance and showmanship was completely lost. It was hard to believe it was the same band I saw at The Joiners in February.

Lulu James, Digital

In dark and dingy club venue, Digital, Lulu James slinks on stage in a black hooded costume resembling a ‘trendy’ dementor. She begins first track ‘The End’ in an eerie dark blue light, which, combined with her exquisitely soulful voice provided for a beautifully haunting performance. The audience are in awe of her until she removes the garment mid-song to reveal an informal beehive: ‘Sorry if me hair falls out, I did it meself!’ she screeches, in her brash Geordie accent. Lulu James owns the stage creating a rapport with the audience and performing a wide variety of songs flawlessly, my personal favourite being catchy pop song ‘Sweetest Thing’ (Which she recently performed on Jools Holland). She’s (nearly) got it all, the voice, the costume and the stage presence but she is momentarily let down by her slightly amateur performance: at one point she struggles to pull her hair out of its updo and starts swinging it around manically. Overall, however, I would definitely see Lulu James again. What with her soulfully passionate voice, her bizarre outfits and her hilariously entertaining banter; she’s no Beyoncé just yet, but she’s getting there.

The 1975Old Ship Paganini Ballroom

In a squished, packed-out ballroom, with a queue out the door, down the street and round the corner, we all wait excitedly for shot-to-fame band, The 1975. Their rock star auras bode well with keen fans who scream incessantly when they come on stage. After their first track, frontman Matty Healy asks “You are all aware that you’re missing the Eurovision Song Contest?!” as if super keen fans that had been queuing for an hour were going to get up and leave. The crowd goes wild at hit single ‘Chocolate’ and EP track ‘Sex’ which appeals to pop and indie fans alike, with some actually comparing their sound to that of Busted! Overall, it’s clear that The 1975 won’t be playing in little venues like this for much longer.

Reviews of Thursday and Friday are also available. The Great Escape will return in 2014 from 8-10th May.

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