DAY 2: Beyond The Tracks Festival , Birmingham – 15th-17th September 2017

Posted by Zyllah Moranne-Brown on Saturday Sep 16, 2017 Under Festivals, Indie

Review by: Farhana Alam with photography by Helen Williams.

The second day of the first ever Beyond The Tracks Festival brought some big-name bands to the heart of Birmingham, including Ocean Colour Scene, Maxïmo Park, The Coral and The Twang. Eastside City Park is a relatively small plot of land, just beyond the tracks (surprise, surprise) that lead a steady stream of trains in and out of New Street Station. The set-up felt rather like a fireworks events, with several fairground rides and food & drink stalls, along with the autumnal (but mostly dry!) weather.

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The first band that I saw on the Main Stage was Carl Barât & The Jackals. In fact, they remained my highlight of the whole evening. They came on stage wearing matching leather jackets, like a much cooler version of the T-Birds, and started the set triumphantly with ‘Victory Gin,’ followed by ‘Glory Days’ and ‘Sister’. I was rather taken aback by how amazing they sounded and wondered why there wasn’t a bigger crowd in front of the stage. They sounded like they musically belonged together and (perhaps controversially) made me glad about the dissolution of The Libertines. The guitarist had an incredible voice that perfectly complemented Barât’s, and the songs themselves were urban poetry. (I have always thought that Barât resembles a rough-around-the-edges Oscar Wilde.) The set was a treat for all manner of Carl Barât fans, with the Dirty Pretty Things song ‘Bang Bang You’re Dead’ appearing half way through, and the set ending with the crowd jumping along to ‘I Get Along’ from the debut Libertines album.

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Up next was Birmingham band, The Twang. Vocalist Phil Etheridge occupied the majority of the stage, with the rest of the band appearing to be statically glued into position. The crowd sang along to ‘Either Way’ and Etheridge got them “bouncing” for ‘Two Lovers.’ In between songs, a football chant-like noise rose from the fans of the band. They sang along to all of ‘We’re A Crowd’, the lyrics of which I found a little unsettling. Territoriality seemed to be a theme with The Twang; they overran their set by over 10 minutes, cutting into the subsequent band’s set on the Second Stage, with Etheridge exclaiming, “They’re not going to pull the plug! We’re The f***ing Twang!”

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A couple of the highlights from the Second Stage included The Sandinistas from south Wales, who were great fun to watch, as well as The Americas. The latter looked like they were from the US Midwest, rather than Birmingham. They were brilliant, with ‘Something’s Gonna Happen’ as their standout song.

The Americas

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The Sandinsitas

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Superfood

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The Coral were the next to take the Main Stage. They looked resplendent in their folk outfits. The band did not interact much with the crowd and they seemed a little vacant and somewhat aggrieved. I think there was a valid reason for this: how can a plethora of hits from the best part of two decades be compressed into a mere 45 minutes? The Coral were too big for this stage, both literally and figuratively. They rose to the challenge with a stream of favourites: ‘I Remember When,’ ‘Pass It On,’ ‘In The Morning,’ ‘Bill McCai,’ and ‘Goodbye’ (in all its glory!). Interspersed among these were a few more recent tracks, including ‘Holy Revelation.’ As would be expected, they ended their set (punctually) with ‘Dreaming Of You,’ much to the merriment of the ever-growing crowd.

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It’s always a pleasure to watch Maxïmo Park. Other than consistently looking great, vocalist Paul Smith has a talent for the art of frontmanship (note: I have invented this word just for him). When he compliments the crowd, it sounds genuine. He remarks on the novelty of performing in the centre of the city, amongst the passing trains. Maxïmo Park’s set is a good balance of the old and the new (rather like the city of Birmingham), including ‘Risk To Exist’ (dedicated to Boris and Theresa), ‘Books From Boxes,’ ‘The Coast Is Always Changing,’ ‘Going Missing,’ ‘Undercurrent,’ ‘Work And Then Wait,’ and new song, ‘The Hero.’ I thought it was quite apt that the festival’s stage-side medics were staring up at the band as they performed ‘The National Health’. The set ended with everyone singing along to ‘Apply Some Pressure.’

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Headliners, Ocean Colour Scene, played to a large crowd, belting out some of their classics, such as ‘Profit In Peace,’ ‘You’ve Got It Bad,’ ‘The Circle’ and ‘Riverboat Song.’ They sounded great and the crowd were having a party at the front of the stage. Moving back through the audience, there was a mix of people: some singing loyally along to every song, some dancing to songs they were hearing for the first time and, further back, clusters of people having excited conversations. Even further back were a few tipsy revellers flitting across the field.

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As Ocean Colour Scene drew the evening to a close, I looked back at Eastside City Park and tried to imagine the HS2 Terminal in its place, but all I could see was a sea of litter. I suppose that is more representative of current-day Birmingham.

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For further images from Saturday’s gig visit our Flickr page….


Our Gig Junkies colleagues will be covered Friday night (with headliners Orbital, Faithless DJ Set and Leftfield)  before Sunday with the likes of the Editors and The Jesus and Marychain. Meanwhile we certainly look forward to what Beyond The Tracks 2018 has to offer…..

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