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29-30 August 2010

Neil Tudor

When we refer to free festivals, Isle of Wight always comes to mind. They seem like a distant age when hair was straggly, ‘merch' was an ice cream man and security was the farmer's sheepdog. Yet they do still exist and by the evidence of the Mathew Street Festival in Liverpool the tradition continues albeit with yellow jackets and minus the option to pitch your tepee on demand.

The Mathew Street started life in the 80's. Once the city council finally woke up to the fact that four lads did actually make a huge impact on the planet and could stimulate tourism, the stage was finally set.

Inevitably the line up was Beatles oriented. Why shouldn't it be? People from a large variety of age groups sang along through a variety of albums by the Fab Four from Revolver to Sgt Peppers. Unfortunately I missed the latter but did manage to catch Dundee based band, Revolver running through what for most is the ultimate Beatles album. John, my companion was a Beatle fan so gave the thumbs up on these guys. And Neil Tudor's uncanny resemblance to McCartney extended also to his Macca Band's ability to nail those seminal songs from Wings, Beatles and solo era with aplomb.

As rockers, we could be all sniffy and ignore what The Beatles did for us. Rather like the Monty Python sketch let's dismiss harmonies, musicianship, at least five classic albums, a string of no. 1 singles, complete mastery of studio techniques and ultimately the craft of song writing as a passing phase.

Yet ask any rock star from Gillan to Gallagher and he will tell you that The Beatles was a major reason for getting up there. 30,000 people came to play homage to those guys and I am not about to argue with that.

Nods were paid also to other musical maestros and ones whose place at the rock n' roll hall of fame is more tenuous. The cursory glance to the stage of the Lily Allen act was little to do with the undoubted talent on board than the need to do a tribute to a media darling who only launched in 2006. I also missed the Amy Housewine set. Do I sound bovvered?

Elsewhere other tributes like The Small Fakes, The excellent Hendrix Experience, Guns 2 Roses and The Kinks rubbed shoulders with original artists like Connie Lush and The Boomtown Rats (without Sir Bob).My son caught the Rats but texted his brief review which opined that The Rats without Sir Bob is like Everton without Arteta. We had to think about that analogy for a while before finally agreeing that it was more like Palace without Coppell. Mark hate mail for the attention of ‘scouser at GRTR!' please.

One nagging thought was underlined by a conversation I had with a guy, Peet Walsh from called Sir John Mandeville who I found propping up the bar at famous The Philharmonic pub. I'd played some Mandeville in my Rockwaves show a couple of Sundays ago as it fitted with the "dawn of classic rock" theme I did that week. He wasn't complaining and declared his like for Beatles music, but these lads should be up there selling their wares on big occasions like this.

Apart from the non-existent litter control which LCC should investigate for next time, I would like to see a stage with genuine original talent from Liverpool and beyond.

Tribute bands should be balanced with the original bands, I totally "get" the PR element of Mathew Street Festival but surely this would be enhanced with a nod to those who are, in the face of enormous competition, trying to make their own waves in this era.

Having said this, The Beatles will form the inspiration for a Rockwaves in a few Sundays time. It's customary to moan at councils and I am more than happy to praise this one for its efforts.

Review by Keith Thompson

Keith presents 'Rockwaves' on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio every Sunday at 21:00 More information

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