Walking through Middlewich on Friday evening was, by all accounts, an interesting experience. Music and noise from every corner of the town flooded the streets, spilling out of pub doors and venue windows and rising up from the Market field, where the bustling Middlewich FAB Festival main stage was positioned.
Plastic, a four-piece grunge rock outfit from Winsford, were the first band to get up and do their thing. Although an unusual choice of gig for the band and with a few minor hiccups along the way, the band performed a tremendous set which included the largely popular ‘Drowned In You’ as well as current single ‘Flossing’, which premiered on Pure Grain Audio last month. The band woke up the crowds gathering at the main stage site, ensuring that everybody was ready for the evening ahead.
Shakedown Stockholm are a unique band, in many ways. With two strong female vocalists and the unusual inclusion of two sets of twins within their line-up, Shakedown Stockholm really do stand out from the crowd. Their set at Middlewich FAB Festival, which contained ‘Silence’, Forgive, Forget’ and ‘Who Says I?’ amongst others, took the evening to the next level. Their limited interaction with the audience drew from their performance, making them seem, at times, as though they were completely separated from the crowd, but they managed to entertain the crowd all the same.
One last band stood in the way of the headliners and that was Cheshire four-piece The Luka State. Their confidence was evident as was their popularity with the audience, who sang and clapped along after encouragement from vocalist and guitarist Conrad Ellis. The Luka State carry a very likeable and easy-to-get-along-with overall sound, making them the perfect main support for the evening. Highlights from their set included ‘Feed Your Soul’ and ‘Bring This All Together’, with Ellis climbing over the barrier and into the crowd in their final number.
The wait for The Lightning Seeds seemed like it would last forever and as the final few sound checks were made and clouds of smoke began to rise from the back of the stage, the overpowering electricity within the audience had reached breaking point. It was something that vocalist and guitarist Ian Broudie certainly felt, as he and The Lightning Seeds walked out onto the stage at Middlewich FAB Festival. The crowd erupted as soon as the first notes of ‘All I Want’ rang out across the park, with an energy that refused to falter throughout the rest of their set. Performing a combination of their greatest hits and lesser known newer material, the five-piece breezed through some of their most iconic tracks including ‘Lucky You’, ‘Pure’ and ‘Marvellous’, as well as a moving rendition of David Bowie’s ‘Sorrow’. Broudie looked out across his audience, a humble expression forming on his face, as those that gathered before him sung back words he’d written over 20 years ago. His music had brought these people out of their homes and in front of this stage; families, friends, couples, teenagers and children, singing their hearts out and dancing their cares away. Broudie and his Lightning Seeds left the stage to ‘Sugar Coated Iceberg’, before reappearing one final time to perform their own version of the 1963 Ronettes classic ‘Be My Baby’. The band left the stage once more, to the sound of the crowd chanting their most well-known hit ‘Three Lions’, written for the 1996 European Football Championships held in England.
Everybody would have walked away from Middlewich FAB Festival on Friday night feeling entertained. Ian Broudie and The Lightning Seeds had achieved something that all musicians long to do and made it look effortless in the process. They’d given everyone a night to remember, they’d lifted souls, gained new fans and reminded their old ones of just how good they really are. And so to answer the question on everyone’s lips, The Lightning Seeds have definitely still got it. You’d be a fool to think otherwise.