Liverpool has long been considered a “sound city la” by a good many of its inhabitants; a vibrant, enticing hotbed of revelry in which music (of a good many genre’s) is of inherent importance. Put simply, music is in Liverpool’s lifeblood. It is intrinsically woven into the city’s make-up and history and has undoubtedly played a huge part in making Liverpool and the unique Liverpudlian brogue famous and instantly recognisable worldwide. Described as “the cradle of British pop”; Liverpool as a city, is responsible for producing more number one hits than any other. Whilst many might cry foul at this point and attribute this fact solely to the fact that that ‘good little band’ as Macca once dubbed them, The Beatles hailed from ‘the pool of life’. However, anyone with a modicum of musical awareness and understanding of the evolution of pop music in Britain, will recognise that Liverpool’s musical heritage and history is one of such richness, diversity and vitality that anyone trying to ascribe Liverpool’s position as the nation’s musical mecca solely at the feet of the Fab Four is failing to take into account the substantial impact played by a great many others both before and after Liverpool’s most famous sons had shook the world with their moptops, quirky one liners and genial good manners.

Liverpool, through its role as a major port was one of the first cities which embraced the unique and mind-blowing sounds of rock ‘n’ roll in the 1950’s. The records brought back by Liverpudlian sailors were soon accepted nationwide and the face of British culture and music was inexorably changed forever. It is well known that in the early sixties, the sounds of Merseybeat emanating from Liverpool’s Cavern Club made the city the nation’s musical capital. Although only a notional crown, many Liverpudlian muso’s have gamely clung onto the ideal ever since, even in the light of the rivalry of that lot from down the M62 amongst others; Liverpool has prided itself on its seemingly innate ability to consistently and effortlessly produce new music that manages to encapsulate the energy, visceral angst and feelings of both solitude and superiority with regards to the rest of the country which are often found in the cities more desirable citizens.

The recent ‘Sound City’ festival in Liverpool was a superb event which celebrated both the cities rich musical heritage and abundant enthusiasm for ingesting new music of all genres. It was an event which incorporated elements of the cities undoubted musical past (including a tribute to the late, great John Peel involving some giants of Scouse music past), whilst also taking time to recognise the recent upturn in the cities fortunes (the city if you haven’t heard, is currently European Capital of Culture for 2008). It offered local musicians and people interested in the music industry the opportunity not only to perform live, but also to attend seminars and conferences on all aspects of the music industry. It attracted a fantastic line-up featuring both some of the cream of the UK independent music scene (the list included Adem, Reverend and The Makers, Haduoken, The Wombats, Hot Club De Paris, Mystery Jets, Four Tet, Lightspeed Champion amongst many others) as well as a plethora of dynamic and diverse talent from all corners of the globe.

The highlights of the festival included a stellar performance from Reverend and The Makers, featuring the de-rigueur acoustic street performance from The Rev who charmed the crowd both with his tunes, his revolutionary rhetoric and praise for the city. Given the fact that his acoustic was stolen by a scally the last time he visited this parish, his Reverence’s lavish eulogies were made all the more surprising, yet they took on a greater resonance because of it. His performance was a thing of wonder and the new tunes moulded into his band’s impressive set suggest an even more buoyant future for The Rev. It was also hugely impressive to see a number of venues across the city chocca bloc for an array of bands and musicians ranging from the highly charged, intensified electricity of Crystal Castles to the shimmering indiefied beauty of Lightspeed Champion and Glasvegas taking in everything in between. Whilst there were undoubtedly a number of teething issues (a number of highly annoying and unforeseen cancellations which scuppered a few plans, a seeming lack of communication between venues and promoters and a lack of foresight in terms of placing hugely tipped upcoming acts like Santogold and Ladyhawke in what is little more than a highly poncey and pretentious wine bar), the festival was in the main; a great success.

It was both hugely refreshing and very welcome to have the opportunity to see a wealth of talent performing within the city and with a little more planning and organisation; the event could be an even greater success in future. It was perhaps fitting that the event culminated with newly conferred ‘local heroes’ The Wombats performing in the palatial setting of St George’s Hall, even though the band are not going to be troubling my all time top five Scouse band’s anytime soon; it was difficult not to feel a smidgeon of respect and affection for them as they played a frenetic homecoming show. The crowd greeted them with the expected level of reverence and love which Liverpudlian’s often bestow when one of their own makes good and this in turn seemed to both touch and fuel the band on the night. Liverpool is indeed a “Sound City” and this event went some way to proving that fact.

Here’s to next year.