With summer thus far actually being deserving of the term and Africa Oyé just passed, the next major event in the calendar, LIVERPOOL INTERNATIONAL MUSIC FESTIVAL, takes place on Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd July. Set to return to the magnificent surroundings of Sefton Park, the sixth edition of LIMF falls a decade after Liverpool was crowned European Capital of Culture. Known as the Summer Jam in previous years, the shindig is now under the LIMF banner over two stages and two tents, meaning the entire affair can now be sampled in one easy dose.
Topping out at 120,000 attendees for the past few years, the music runs from noon until 9pm on both days and features an eclectic mixture of genres across a line-up of 70 artists. Here we take a quick run-down of the big hitters and rising stars at this year’s event and find out exactly what will be happening in that park at the far end of Lark Lane (other access routes are available).
Focusing on the showpiece Central Stage, Saturday sees one of the UK’s biggest breakout stars of the past 12 months, grime/dancehall artist STEFFLON DON making her highly anticipated debut appearance in Liverpool. With last year’s Top 10 charting collaboration with French Montana Hurtin’ Me to her name, the Hackney-based artist is beginning to make big waves across the Atlantic. The first UK artist to ever feature in US hip hop publication XXL’s annual Freshman Class poll, Stefflon Don currently stands as UK hip hop’s biggest international export. With freshly released single Senseless logging in excess of a million YouTube views in only a few days, further new material looks set to be aired at LIMF.
JAX JONES – who collaborated on last year’s hit Instruction with Stefflon Don alongside US pop star Demi Lovato – has been a regular presence in the upper reaches of the UK singles chart over the past three years. I Got U with fellow UK producer Duke Dumont hit number one in 2014, while Breathe (featuring Norwegian singer Ina Wroldsen) saw him return to the Top 10 at home and across Europe late last year.
Returning to Merseyside following an incendiary show in March, grime doyen WILEY will be a huge draw prior to the headliners. With his 12th album Godfather II landing in April, the ultra-prolific East London MC shows no slowing a decade on from his crossover smash Wearing My Rolex. Skilfully keeping a foot in both the mainstream and underground camps, anyone who missed the Godfather Of Grime’s sold-out show at 24 Kitchen Street earlier this year is rewarded with his main stage appearance.
Moving from Bow over to the district of Hammersmith, platinum-selling London rapper EXAMPLE & DJ WIRE supply the headline performance on Saturday. Almost a decade since his arrival in the mainstream, Example’s first album in four years, Bangers & Ballads, is due out in July. With a score of tracks that reached the upper end of the charts, expect the sure fire crowd pleasers and a score of new cuts from the Londoner’s five album deep catalogue.
Moving on to Sunday’s menu of merriment: HAÇIENDA CLASSICAL pays homage to the era synonymous with the groundbreaking Mancunian club with a headline set on the Central Stage. Recreating tracks from the Madchester era with a full orchestra and some yet-to-be-announced guest vocalists, the venture is the brainchild of original club DJs Graeme Park and Mike Pickering. Starting initially as a clutch of standalone performances, the event has blossomed into a successful festival fixture over the past two years.
A name that leaps straight out of the listings, for our eyes anyway, is YOUNG FATHERS. The genre-spanning trio are set for a late afternoon performance on Central Stage. Winners of the Mercury Prize for their 2014 debut album, Dead, the Edinburgh-based outfit made themselves known in Liverpool the previous year with an outstanding performance at the legendary Kazimier. Proving that their first album was no fluke, the experimental hip hop outfit’s second offering White Men Are Black Men Too appeared in April 2015 to similar acclaim. Following that with a Massive Attack collaboration and a support tour with the Bristolian trip hop icons, the three-piece released their third LP Cocoa Sugar to across the board praise in April.
Recently returning to the fray with acclaimed second album Someone Out There, Blackpool born singer songwriter RAE MORRIS unveils material from the new disc. Balearic beatmakers BASEMENT JAXX on DJing duties rounds off the acts towards the top of the bill. A number one seller in her native Norway, singer/producer AURORA unveiled Queendom – the first single from her imminent second album – to a sizeable buzz back in May and a move further into the spotlight in the UK looks highly likely.
A quick journey across the park to the ItsLiverpool Next Gen Stage is next on the cards, as current and emerging local talent from this parish steps up to entertain the crowds in L8. Southport’s finest and Merseyrail Sound Station winner 2016, singer-songwriter ASTLES and recent Bido Lito! cover star, indie pop specialist ZUZU, are set to appear. Staying with that theme another cover star outfit, skiffle/alt.rock/near uncategorisible melodicists TRUDY AND THE ROMANCE also feature. With a buzz surrounding them for the past few years now, swirling psych rock outfit THE VRYLL SOCIETY are due to release their eagerly awaited debut LP Course Of The Satellite. Due for release through Deltasonic in August, the quintet round off the Next Gen proceedings on Saturday for the day with a headline set.
Listen to our LIMF 2018 highlights playlist on Spotify
Recently featured on the tastemaking BBC Introducing, where he recorded at London’s legendary Maida Vale studios, Washington, DC-born, Liverpool-based soul singer JALEN N’GONDA headlines the stage on Sunday. Prior to that, one of the city’s most incendiary live acts, alt.rockers QUEEN ZEE, continue their ascent, with performances from blues-inflected RnB vocalist SUB BLUE and rising psych rock quartet PALE RIDER among the other action.
Moving from the stages over to the tents, the line-up for TRUE SCHOOL CLUB HOUSE on Saturday sees RnB doyen TREVOR NELSON heads up the bill which also features Soul II Soul mainman JAZZIE B and Balearic rave pioneer DANNY RAMPLING. On Sunday old school hip hop is on the menu as DJ JAZZY JEFF is topliner, with BBC Radio 6Music stalwart GILLES PETERSON is bringing his globe-spanning records to the decks. Let’s hope the sun is shining on this made-for-festival set.
Following a highly successful debut appearance last year, THE SHUBZ DJ TENT makes its return for 2018. Saturday sees producer and BBC Radio One DJ TODDLA T at the top of the bill, while Sunday is rounded off with a set from UK hip hop legend TIM WESTWOOD.
All these plus a plethora of acts besides, with just under a month to go, you’ve got ample time to plan out who’ll you’ll be seeing in the Review Field at Sefton Park come late July.
LIMF takes place in Sefton Park on the weekend of 21st and 22nd July. Tickets are priced at £5 per day, available from the LIMF website – limfestival.com.