Review: North by Northwest at Olympia

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The Tea Street Band headlining the inaugaural North by Northwest at Liverpool Olympia

Liverpool Olympia has staged the first ever North by Northwest event, which saw a host of local talent celebrating the best of Merseyside music.

Despite some issues with the sound throughout the evening, which may have been down to the size of the venue, the show got off to a strong start, with Midnight Playground’s set a particular highlight.

The four-piece, who list Twin Atlantic as one of their influences, caught the eye with ‘Virginia is for Lovers’ being the standout performance.

The only downside to this and any of the other earlier performances was the sparse audience, who didn’t grow until the main headliners appeared later on. This meant they missed out on some impressive acts beforehand.

One of those was Luke Fenlon, who looked at ease on stage by himself. The 21-year-old sang of how he was ‘tired of being skint’ in his opening song and, despite the small audience, at the time he seemed to be enjoying himself.

It’s easy to see why Fenlon has earned numerous plaudits locally and comparisons to a young Bob Dylan are hard to disagree with, judging by this performance.

The next act to impress was Dead Dukes. Their style seemed to resemble those of the Kooks or even Arctic Monkeys. With a new album coming out soon, it was interesting to see what they had to offer and they didn’t disappoint with notable highlights from their set including ‘Hey Darling’ and ‘Petal Falls From a Rose’ before ending with a reggae-influenced song which went down well with the growing audience.

Broken Men soon followed, who were brilliant from the beginning. They stood out from the acts that followed with a completely different sound that was easy on the ears and set the tone for the rest of the evening.

Following them was Cold Shoulder, who have been championed by The Anfield Wrap and appear to have gained a small following on the local scene.

Heavily influenced by Oasis, the vocals were superb and the dual vocalists worked well on a number of tracks most notably ‘Down with the Feeling.’

Next were The Hummingbirds, who have built up quite a buzz from various local music publications.

The five-piece folk band’s setup is fantastic and their 60’s sound comes across brilliantly via their harmonies in tracks such as ‘Back in Liverpool’, which left the audience wanting more.

The final act of the night were the Tea Street Band. The quintet were playing their final show in a year which has seen them take their music onto another level with fist-pumping numbers such as ‘Fiesta’ and the new single ‘Disco Lights.’

I couldn’t help but feel that more people should have been in attendance to witness not just these, but the other bands who were on display here.

Hopefully more nights like this will happen in a Liverpool music scene that is in need of more events where bands are given an opportunity to showcase their talents.

About Joel Richards, JMU Journalism