Review by James Attwood with photography by Ian Dunn.

In it’s initial year as a first festival, Beyond The Tracks had a point to prove. With a lineup full of Indie/Alt greats from Birmingham and Beyond carefully cultivated by the masterminds behind the City’s prestigious Moseley Folk Festival, it certainly did this. Over the course of the weekend, the Festival hosted acts such as Orbital, Faithless, indie royalty Maximo Park and the Coral before closing on Sunday evening with The Jesus and Mary Chain pioneers of the early noughties Birmingham Indie scene, Editors. Sadly the weather was not on the side of Beyond The Tracks, but this didn’t stop music fans showing from far and wide to enjoy a well crafted line up.

It was the turn of Nadine Shah to kick off the main stage proceedings on Sunday, the sun even made an appearance for her set. The Festival’s layout was simple but effective, the smaller stage was located next to the main stage and saw smaller acts play in-between the larger ones, a haven for musos looking for their unsigned fill.


This also meant that there was a consistent crowd all throughout the day. Brummie band Dorcha followed suit on the smaller stage, warming the crowd ready for ex Joy Division/New Order man, Peter ‘Hooky’ Hook and the Light. He delivered all an avid post punk fan could want in a set from an individual who was at the forefront of the movement. Bass slung round his ankles in true Hooky style, he closed his set with classic Joy Division track ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’, which still sounded every bit as iconic as it did way back when.


Notable sets from the smaller stage included Brummies Hoopla Blue and B Town Veterans Victories at Sea, whose set was sadly delayed and fell victim to poor sound, but still stood out as one of the better sets of the day. Blackash also stood out to me, with their unique blend of garage rock, Chemical Brothers style beats and synthesizers and questionable stage outfits that looked as if they were stolen from the set of a Star Wars film.



Taking to the stage after Slowdive‘s eagerly anticipated appearance, the first on Birmingham soil in a very long time, was Wild Beasts. I’d only heard snippets of their music before and was pleasantly surprised by their set, a mixture of electro and 80’s robo-beats & Guitars. They’re humble nature also shone through during their set, thanking the crowd for their turnout despite the worsening weather. I would definitely highlight this as one of the festivals weaknesses, being one of the very last festivals of the 2017 season. However, this did definitely refine the audience to true music fans, who were there for the music and nothing more.


Slow 01


Penultimate act, Glaswegian’s The Jesus and Mary Chain were also well received, tearing through tracks such as ‘April Skies’, ‘Head On’ and ‘Just Like Honey’ as well as more recent material, all of which didn’t fail to capture the attention of the audience.


Editors did not disappoint, notorious for their live show and lead singer Tom Smith’s energetic stage persona, they delivered a set full to the brim with post-punk indie anthems. Opening up with ‘Cold’, a taster of the band’s upcoming sixth release, it was clear that the audience were going to be treated to new material throughout the set. Some of these new tracks however were not quite up to my expectations of a band that has tracks such as ‘Munich’ under their belt. Having said this, ‘Magazine’ and regular live track ‘The Pulse’ were both very strong and typically Editors, sparking equal reactions from the crowd as ‘An End Has A Start’ and ‘The Racing Rats’.



Debut album tracks such as ‘All Sparks’ and ‘Blood’ still sounded as fresh as they did ten or so years ago in venues much smaller than the one they played this evening. After the anthemic ‘Marching Orders’, the band left the stage to rapturous applause. Upon returning to his position centre stage, frontman Tom Smith made the only allusion to Editors’ Brummie heritage of the set. “Here’s some songs we wrote in Kings Heath 13 years ago” he states before the band launch into ‘The Back Room’ track, ‘Open Your Arms, which was shortly followed by fan favourite ‘Munich’. They close their triumphant set with Synth-pop epic ‘Papillon’.


It was a real honour to watch a band I’ve grown up with play within such an intimate space. However, for a ‘homecoming’ gig, the attendance was very poor considering I have seen Editors play to much bigger crowds of adoring fans before this. This felt like the case throughout the day, with the festival ground never being more than 1/3 full.

Beyond The Tracks needs time to grow, just like anything that has never been done before. In a city like Birmingham, I’m sure there is a home for a Festival such as this one, to celebrate both past and present musical culture of the city.

Our Gig Junkies colleagues will be covered Friday night (with headliners Orbital, Faithless DJ Set and Leftfield)  before Saturday with local lads of the Ocean Colour Scene, The Coral and The Twang.

Latest news is that Beyond The Tracks 2108 won’t happen, as that plot of grass for the site venue will be no more due to the HS2 redevelopment. No matter, there are plans to bring back Beyond The Tracks in 2019, bigger and better in a new City Centre location…..

One Response to “DAY 3: Beyond The Tracks Festival , Birmingham – 15th-17th September 2017”

  1. phil locky Says:

    got to thank the organisers for such a fun and really well run festival, looking forward to the next one which could be 2 years away?
    The idea to play smaller bands on the second stage whilst the main stage was changing for the next act was a stroke of genius………which meant Blackash owned the day, I came to see hookie, marychain, editors but Blackash stole the day for me, really hypnotising keyboards with subterranean vocals, major heavy metal guitar and a dance beat that went straight through your spine….mainly due to the very low bass, the costumes were one part hilarious….but worked funnily enough, this band are really one to watch…..check out their black witch track on youtube
    reminds me a bit of spacemen 3.

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