SevenStreets has crossed, er, paths with Garry Christian and the Head Brothers in previous lives, and nice chaps they are too. So a trip to Crosby Music Festival – perhaps one of the more unlikely music festivals on the block – during a sunny Bank Holiday weekend seemed an obvious choice.
The main stage area is set in Crosby village, between a few pubs and a frozen goods store, although dozens of other bands play in the surrounding bars.
It’s aimed at promoting awareness of mental health, particularly in young men. A laudable sentiment, although the most obvious beneficiary of the day’s events seemed to be the local bars; but that’s not a bad thing either.
John Head hits the stage with his backing band, to deliver a predictably wistful and lovely little set, though the audience is, perhaps, not the most obvious for Head Junior’s folky stylings.
Moonlighting for another publication, SevenStreets is crouched in the pit to reel off some shots of Head, when another looms into view at the front of the audience. It’s older brother Mick, and he is clearly enjoying himself.
It’s not long before Mick is on stage, but anyone hoping for a rousing rendition of Pull Together will be disappointed. Head Senior delivers an unlikely version of Baker Street, but the crowd seem to enjoy it. Mick is wearing the same coat he was sporting when snapped by SevenStreets in Crash Studios in 1999.
Be-camera’d, and in the presence of a reporter, SevenStreets is entreated to take photos of various groups of people. “Ey mate,” says a young lad, “do you want a story? A girl’s been raped over there.” He gestures vaguely towards the other side of the square. This seems unlikely, and he settles for having his picture taken.
A little late, The Christians take to the stage, and deliver a set of crowd-pleasers from their impressive back catalogue. Garry’s voice really is a remarkable thing and he knows how to work a crowd.
Six years ago he was stood on Greenbank Drive for a photoshoot while SS, in a different guise, looked on; on-stage he seems to smile in our direction as he announces the song. He is, relatively speaking, mobbed when he comes off stage.
Following several hours of outdoor drinking on a hot day, some of the sights on display veer dangerously close to what some may choose to label ‘Broken Britain’.
The other way of looking at it is that the music festival reveals the quintessential Bank Holiday weekend Great Britain, in a particularly Liverpudlian idiom. Liverpool prides itself on being a city that knows how to party, something that Paul du Noyer talks about at length in his book Wondrous Place.
Attitude is everything. It’s easy to be snobbish about boozy do’s like the Crosby Music Festival; and the confluence of live music, pleasant weather and a Bank Holiday is always going to lead to a certain amount of inebriation.
But, really, this is back to real Liverpool; and real working-class Britain, and real northern Britain, and real Great Britain for that matter.
No doubt, the Crosby Music Festival is a bit of a strange one. Wind howls around the partly-enclosed square that houses the outdoor stage; pubs are packed to the rafters; many of the acts are not obviously alike; and the worthy connection to mental health awareness seems a little tenuous.
But it’s something that brings live music and cheer to this north-end outpost, and the small team behind it have worked miracles to get the festival on its feet year-after-year; a real-life example of what can be done when people put their minds to something, and that’s always something SevenStreets can respect.