Returning for its 15th year, it’s fair to say that the evergreen LIVERPOOL MUSIC WEEK have assembled their strongest line-up to date to celebrate their decade and a half so far (Crystal, if we’re talking about celebrating a 15th anniversary in traditional terms). Garlanded with Best Metropolitan Festival at the UK Festival Awards 2016, the line-up for 2017 shows how the gong was entirely deserved, as a genre-strafing mixture of the iconic, the bubbling-under and the on-the-rise combine for a 10-day shindig across a score of locations.
Kicking proceedings off on Thursday 26th October 2017, the legendary CHIC/NILE RODGERS headline the LMW Opening Party at Liverpool Echo Arena (more of whom to follow). Elsewhere, venues stretching from the Baltic Triangle up to the Invisible Wind Factory in the North Docks, taking in city centre venues Leaf, EBGBs and The Magnet are all pressed into service for this year’s bunfight. With so much quality on offer, where to start with it all? We’ve scanned the myriad highlights and suggest the following events for your delectation.
As previously mentioned, the opening fixture of Liverpool Music Week 2017 is an absolute belter, as the truly legendary Nile Rodgers brings Chic to the Echo Arena on Thursday 26th October. With sales that now top 300 million albums and 75 million singles, the Opening Party date is the first time Rodgers has played the city in four decades. The multiple Grammy Award winner – replete with his 1960 Fender Stratocaster ‘the Hitmaker’ – has been responsible for a head-spinning number of stone cold classics, solo and in tandem with late songwriting partner Bernard Edwards.
With a career that stretches from late 1970s disco anthems Everybody Dance, I Want Your Love, Le Freak, the foundations of the first ever hip hop cut Rapper’s Delight, through to the need-no-introduction likes of I’m Coming Out, Upside Down, Let’s Dance and Like A Virgin all the way up to modern classic Get Lucky alongside Daft Punk and Pharrell, the setlists will include some if not all of the aforementioned. If reports from Rock In Rio and Chic’s outstanding Pyramid Stage performance at Glastonbury this June is anything to go by, attendees are in for an absolute treat.
A score of big hitters are set to venture to the city’s Northern dockland as Invisible Wind Factory hosts several of LMW’s main attractions this year. London electronic duo MOUNT KIMBIE are first out of the traps at IWF on Friday 27th October, with the first show on a tour supporting their upcoming new album Love What Survives which features collaborations with James Blake and King Krule. Making their return to LMW, London neo-soul outfit JUNGLE make their long-awaited return to the city on Wednesday 1st November. Making serious waves with their highly successful eponymous debut in 2014, the funk-pop outfit are currently working on their as-yet untitled second LP, with material from the forthcoming disc likely to feature.
A scintillating hip hop banquet is in store at the Wind Factory on Friday 3rd November, bringing together three acts firmly in the ascendant. Hailing from Spanish Harlem, NYC, rapper PRINCESS NOKIA is on headline duties in support of just released new disc 1992 Deluxe, which was praised by The Guardian as “One of the most exciting, assured hip hop releases of the year, on which Princess Nokia asserts her claim to the throne.” Joining the New Yorker is British talent, Brixton dancehall/grime artist – and newly-appointed Political Editor-at-large for Dazed Magazine – GAIKA, whose genre-spanning 2016 debut Spaghetto was issued to impressive notices. Gaika’s new project – a concept label called The Spectacular Empire – sees the brooding South Londoner expanding on his worldview, centred on an imagined future for the next 50 years as the world changes irrevocably. Philadelphian rapper MOOR MOTHER – whose 2016 debut set Fetish Bones was applauded as one of the best albums of the year by Pitchfork and The Wire – also features as part of a packed line-up.
Spinning around 180 degrees and heading south of city centre, the Baltic Triangle gets in on the LMW action as 24 Kitchen Street and District host a gig apiece. Led by Benjamin John Power, one half of Fuck Buttons, brooding, bleak electronica act BLANCK MASS appear at Kitchen Street on Tuesday 31st October, airing material from new album World Eater, issued to universal acclaim in March. Jamaican reggae legend DAWN PENN – whose classic You Don’t Love Me (No, No, No) has been sampled and covered by such luminaries as Rihanna, Beyoncé and Ghostface Killah – brings rocksteady rhythms to District on Thursday 2nd November.
Setting our sights on Bold Street, BELLA UNION LOST HORIZONS takes place at Leaf on Monday 30th October. One of the finest independent labels in these isles and long-standing keepers of the alternative flame, the outfit is home to the maverick likes of John Grant and Father John Misty. Co-founded and run since its inception by Simon Raymonde, the label celebrates its 20th anniversary by hosting a showcase of their best and freshest at LMW. Raymonde, the Cocteau Twins alumnus, will be unveiling LOST HORIZONS, his new project with drummer Richie Thomas (Dif Juz, The Jesus And Mary Chain), at the event. On the road to plug their debut release Ojalá, the forthcoming LP features appearances from Sharon Van Etten, Marissa Nadler and former Midlake frontman Tim Smith. Joining Lost Horizons on the bill is New Jersey-born, Manchester-based multi-instrumentalist BC CAMPLIGHT who released the critically venerated How To Die In The North in 2015.
Sandwiched in between all of this, Honourary Scouser DAN CROLL rounds off an impressive EU tour at Arts Club on 29th October, still basking in the glow of his new record Emerging Adulthood, full of skittish pop hooks. And there’s something special chalked in at 24 Kitchen Street on the same night, the UK’s premier instrumental hip hop outfit ABSTRACT ORCHESTRA take on MF Doom and Madlib’s legendary Madvillainy, 13 years after its original release. The Magnet also joins in on the fun, with a pair of shows in November: CHILDHOOD’s Ben Romans-Hopcraft brings his new slew of exploratory psych to the Hardman Street venue on Wednesday 1st, and slouchy guitar geniuses GENGAHR rock up on Friday 3rd.
Running concurrently to all of this, the BREAKING OUT series of shows returns to LMW, this time taking place in subterranean gig parlour EBGBs. These shows are a highly reliable indicator of ascending talent, and have become a hugely popular strain of Liverpool Music Week’s bill. Last year’s run boasted a superlative line-up, including off-kilter electro-pop duo Let’s Eat Grandma, alt. rock doyens Dream Wife and Mercury Prize nominees The Big Moon. This year’s slew of notables is equally enticing: Domino Records signings SPINNING COIN bring their Pastels-hued melodicism on Sunday 29th October, while purveyors of lo-fi romanticism GIRL RAY (one of Bido Lito!’s favourite acts of 2017 so far) drop in on Monday 30th October. London DIY outfit GOAT GIRL – part of the Rough Trade stable – let their fizzing, guitar-driven energy take centre stage on 2nd November, while slick “schoolyard dancehall” trio KERO KERO BONITO swing by the Seel Street venue’s basement on 28th October. With each of these shows weighing in at just £4 a go, you’d be daft to miss any of them.
Heading into the final strait, the reliably excellent LMW CLOSING PARTY on Saturday 4th November rounds things off in spectacular style. A worthy conclusion to a standout year, Mancunian indie rock titans EVERYTHING EVERYTHING are headliners as Wind Factory and North Shore Troubadour are pressed into service. The Manchester quartet created with Fever Dream one of 2017’s most acclaimed albums; produced by James Ford (Arctic Monkeys, Depeche Mode), the disc crashed into the Top 5 of the UK Album Chart and saw the band’s sparkling alt. pop score across-the-board critical acclaim.
PERFUME GENIUS, whose sumptuous chamber pop has accrued a cult audience and the support of R.E.M. legend Michael Stipe, makes his Liverpool debut on the night. The Seattle-born singer is joined on the bill by US noir-pop artist ZOLA JESUS, the alter ego of Wisconsin-raised Nicole Hummel. Toting an eclectic sound that straddles pop, goth and industrial, the singer is touring in support of recently released, much-praised fifth album, Okovi. Heavenly Records signings The ORIELLES, who appeared on the cover of this very publication back in February, also feature, bringing a helping of beguiling indie pop to the party, which also features the super smart grime talents of AJ TRACEY. All this is buoyed by a host of the region’s own superstar talent who’ll take their place as supporting acts, upping the ante on the quality even further.
A phantasmagoria of delights, then, with a scarcely-believable amount of music crammed into 10 days. If you think you’ve got enough stamina to take it all in, you can get a wristband that ensures entry to absolutely all of the above priced at a ludicrously affordable £65 (tickets for individual shows are available too). So, what are you waiting for? You’d better start planning.
Liverpool Music Week runs between 26th October and 4th November. Tickets for each show can be purchased now, as well as a whole festival wristband priced at £65 (which includes a middle tier seated ticket for Chic featuring Nile Rodgers).