Music writer Matthew Jacobson reflects on the Liverpool Sound City festival and the local band to watch.
Sound City brought this unique city to a standstill as a community of music lovers flocked and gathered in the city centre to enjoy the live music scene. It’s a scene that is still hurt, injured and bandaged from Covid and cancellations. But it has now declared itself fit to take part and at last the past remained in the past as over the weekend artists delivered the many lush lockdown tunes to the eager music masses. Passion, pride and high fives delivered music to the people who love music and as we know, music refreshes the souls of many. And it did, with style.
It was a busy Saturday and Sunday and the music scene mingled with football crowds and revellers. It was grass roots and disco boots, it was the past, the present and whatever comes next. After lockdowns I’m scared of being hopeful but this brought hope in plastic cups, wristbands, wine and stage times.
The mix of established and new artists was mixed well. And venues were tight and busy and maybe lacked the larger venue to accommodate and sweep up the loveable Lathums. But it was raw and retro and it felt new. Venues vowed to invite you in and the Zanzibar was special as the soul of legendary Tony Butler made sure artists of the future were guided and supported at all times
Illness and injury hindered my days at the festival but the eager team provided reports from afar. Artists like Brooke Combe swaggered with style, pride and potential. Rianne Downey delighted all as the ever rising Sophie Jamieson stamped her name as one to watch. And Self Esteem lived the dream with a headline gig at the Arts Club.
I scanned the impressive list of artists and made my way to EBGBS for The Sway and for me they headlined with swagger, substance and style. The band consists of Ryan McNee (guitar/vocal), Ciaran Smith (guitar/vocal), Harry Robertson (drums), Aidan McLean (keyboard/vocal) and Sean Knibb (bass).
As the heat in the basement raised the headline act took the stage. A simple but effective announcement started the gig, Ryan announced “ hello we are The Sway, thank you for hanging around, we know it’s late, this one is called ‘Sunshine Seeker’ and immediately they found a way to move and shake Sound City . The crowd loved it, singing the chorus with raised arms and thundering vocals ‘all you need – is up your sleeve “ . And then came, the blasting and bouncing, ‘Naturally’ with the Lennon’esq ‘Time’ following. And at this time, many realised, this is special.
A unique aspect is the band is the change in lead vocalist throughout as Ciaran then launched the soothing and heartfelt “Changing”, and Aidan had all dancing down the isles with “The Dreamer” and the thought provoking “Don’t You Wanna Be (Happy)” Ryan stepped back to the with the superb Step Right and then followed with the huge indie stomper ‘Living it Large’ , the band closing the night with breathtaking style. An outstanding indie belter with whoops, thundering bass, weaving guitar sounds and blistering drumming.
I asked Sway drummer Harry Robertson how it felt to be asked to play Sound City? Harry replied, “after going to the festival for years – we’ve had earlier slots on smaller stages so it felt boss to be asked to headline a stage and it felt even better when we got there and it was chokka – the crowd were up for it. “ And what next for The Sway?, “We have a few festivals in the summer and a new tune out soon, then were back in the studio getting more music sorted before going back on another tour – hopefully at the end of the year”.
And I can’t wait to see them. The Sway wrapped up Sound City in a cool and stylish wrapping paper and delivered it to the music lovers of the world. They have the sound and we have the city and they are ready to share it with you all.
Let’s be honest , there’s no other Sway, there’s no other Sway – all you should is watch them play.
With Love and Peace