People Powered – Our NHS – Michael Head, James Skelly, Hooton Tennis Club, Liverpool 02 Academy, 10 June 2017

Rocksalt events curated a diverse offering of local artists and bands to raise funds for the NHS awareness campaign. The date had been set many months in advance, but poignantly came two days after the general election; the future of the NHS having featured widely in party manifestos.

Liverpool singer songwriter, Edgar Jones, was on early shift and deserved a larger audience than the one that slowly developed before his eyes. Appearing this particular evening as a solo artist, he performed offerings from his recently released album, Song of Day and Night. Speaking after the performance Edgar said that he didn’t hesitate to sign up for the event because “the NHS was there for all of us”.

Kathryn Williams, Mercury Music prize nominee and an artist with a career spanning 14 album releases, played with real passion and fittingly dedicated her song ‘Beating heart’ to the NHS.

Steve Pilgrim, drummer in Paul Weller’s band and also an accomplished singer songwriter in his own right was joined by his band and vocalist Rachel Jean Harris. We were treated with songs from his new album, ‘Morning Skies’ as well as songs from the back catalogue; songs with feeling that were infectiously foot tappingly good.

By now the crowd had now started to swell and fill the room, with a lot of people gravitating towards the back of the room coincidentally near the bar facilities.

Next up were Hooton Tennis Club who were delighted to be supporting a cause close to their own heart. Three out of the four band members have mothers who work as nurses in the NHS. They turned the volume up a somewhat, going all electric for their stellar set . Particularly fitting was the inclusion of the song “Scared” which summed up perfectly how all the audience felt about the future of the NHS.

The Coral’s James Skelly was joined by fellow band member, Paul Molloy and together they delivered an acoustic set of crowd pleasers. There were lively sing alongs to classics such ‘Jacqueline’, ‘Pass it on’, and ‘In the Morning’. We were treated to the first public airing of ‘Undercover of the night’, a song which James later told Gigsoup was to feature on a new Coral album. They signed off with ‘Dreaming of you’ and alongside the enthusiastic applause, the ’Oh Jeremy Corbyn’ chant came storming in. Speaking to fellow member of the audience, The Farm’s Peter Hooton, this chant had been doing the rounds all day in the city everywhere he went.

Michael Head of Shack, Pale Fountains and Liverpool music legend that he is, took to the stage and immediately upped the political ante in a t -shirt that said “Don’t buy the S*n”. His opening address to his loyal fans was a short and sweet “**** the Tories”, cue huge cheers.

We knew that this was going to be a very highly charged performance by band and audience alike. One woman in her excitement to get closer to the front, accidentally bumps heads with me; luckily not enough to knock me out, whilst another greets me upon departure from the photo pit quizzing me as to where she will be able to see my photos of Mr Head. I do totally get the situation. It’s all about feeling a connection to the artist and what they are singing about, and when it is about the place you call home, you can’t surpass it. ‘Streets of Kenny’drives home this point and resonates deeply with the audience. The whole set is a mini musical biography brought bang up to date by the inclusion of soon to be released ‘Josephine’. When the show comes to a close, it is greeted with much applause, cheering and chanting befitting for a local musical hero.

Speaking afterwards to GIGsoup, Michael Head gave his take on the evening’s proceedings: “It’s great to see a mixture of different bands uniting to heighten awareness of challenges faced by the NHS. It blew me away! There are passionate people out there, proving you can mix politics with music!”.

I came away from this gig with the feeling that it would not be too long before there would be another heady mix of politics and music somewhere in the city, this is Liverpool, after all.

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