Ocean Colour Scene, Maximo Park, The Coral, The Twang: Day two at Birmingham’s Beyond The Tracks festival - with pictures
After day one had flirted with being a soggy affair, day two of Birmingham's Beyond The Tracks festival proved to be anything but.
And although the temperatures dropped, the heat still rose as the karaoke grew to its crescendo with Moseley boys Ocean Colour Scene closing the main stage.
Here’s the best of what we caught throughout the day:
JAWS, Main Stage
Opening a festival can be a tough gig. Sparsely populated, disinterred crowds.
The odd sound mishap as the techies wake up from the night before. It can turn a dream opportunity into something of a damp squib.
Yet JAWS – a band that formed through friendships at Halesowen College - weren’t going to let that stop them having fun. Literally whooping as they entered the stage they constantly thanked the crowd for coming out early to see them, frontman Connor Schofield remarking; “It’s cool, innit, a festival in Birmingham.”
And cool described their set. Opener Just A Boy jangled nicely from start to finish while the sing-along chorus of What We Haven’t Got Yet had the early revellers’ attention as heads began to nod all around.
We had the day’s only rain appear, but it didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of these upcoming party starters.
Sugarthief, Second Stage
Penkridge lads Sugarthief were straight up next thanks to BTT’s staggered stage approach and they continued the party with their mature sound for boys so young.
Unfortunately, the first part of their set had to contend with the roadies sound checking on the main stage for Carl Barat & The Jackals’ upcoming set. They didn’t look too pleased as some moron barking like a dog into the drum kit’s mic interrupted the first couple of songs.
Their poppy guitars shroud some heartfelt lyrics, with Joy Affair in particular adding some funk to the mix with its shout-along chorus and thumping percussion.
The former Unsigned page stars in The Ticket can pack some nifty basslines in too, and if they carry on in this vein there is no reason they can’t grab the coattails of the Pigeon Detectives/Maccabees/The Cribs scene and make something of themselves.
The Twang, Main Stage
The local names were flying out today and when The Twang took the stage it felt like the music was seriously kicking off.
Phil Etheridge has some serious stage presence; he is a joy to watch as he swaggers to and fro with his distinctive vocals piercing each of their hits.
There was clearly a chunk of their fan base in to see them as the fingers started pointing skywards and half pints of beer became airborne, particularly the more animated Etheridge became.
Their happy guitars are always a treat, and ring out through tunes like Ice Cream Sundae with its brilliant Happy Mondays-esque outro, the shouty chorus of hit Two Lovers and, of course, that brilliant opening to arguably their biggest hit Either Way.
That song in particular got people dancing and singing, and they held us all the way to their over-run conclusion where they refused to finish when told to – although Phil did apologise afterwards after sniping: “They’re not gonna switch us off, we’re The Twang.”
The Coral, Main Stage
Following The Twang on the main stage were The Coral, another band that just ooze cool effortlessly with their appearance, body language and sound.
These guys can rock, proper old school psychedelic rock that just seems to do its own thing.
The Merseysiders need no introduction, and they smashed through a gritty cross-section of their records with barely a pause for breath.
Simon Diamond is a phenomenal track from start to finish, its jangling melody masking a dark subject matter. It sounded fantastic, as did the placidly smooth Pass It On, which got the most positive reaction from the crowd as it kicked in to life.
Bill McCai, also from record Magic And Medicine, gripped with its country and western feel, and that ferocious ending to Goodbye sounded lusciously hoarse and sharp.
They closed with their biggest hit Dreaming Of You, which had the large number of couples again in the crowd singing into each other’s eyes.
Maximo Park, Main Stage
After the guitar-heavy fare on this stage previously, Maximo Park’s keyfest pop-rock sounded perhaps a strange choice to keep the crowd warmed up for OCS.
But it worked. Paul Smith’s loveable personality and robotic dance routines probably being largely to thank for that - as well as their mega hits Our Velocity, Girls Who Play Guitar and the wonderful Graffiti with its soaring rock opening that widens into a fantastical ride through the musical stratosphere.
Paul also alluded to the urban setting, pointing out the trains running past us, and this kinetic reference carried us through the fast pace of The National Health and that cracking chorus in Our Velocity.
The numbers off latest record Risk To Exist fitted in nicely. Get High (No I Don’t) is a deceptively heavy number and the staccato nature of the title track worked well, too.
They of course finished with Apply Some Pressure and this was well received by the crowd.
Ocean Colour Scene, Main Stage
The amount of mod haircuts, Pretty Green t-shirts and oversized bucket hats in the crowd today told you that these guys were the main attraction.
And they didn’t disappoint, particularly as they have a repertoire most bands would dream of to pick from.
Again Simon Fowler was quick to point out the surroundings, having us wave at passing trains before breaking into more rude gestures.
Fowler has to have one of the most underrated voices in the industry, while guitarist Steve Cradock is shockingly overlooked in many great guitarist lists.
Their crowd pleasers included the fantastic The Circle with its spaced out Britpop sounds, while Hundred Mile High City is where Cradock can really let rip with his rock riffs. This was a real high point of the set.
The air guitars were flush and plentiful for The Riverboat Song, with pretty much everyone ‘wah-oh- wah’-ing that guitar solo, and the short and swift encore was a crowd pleaser too with every word of The Day We Caught The Train screamed forcefully back at the stage by their adoring fans.
Day three of the festival today contains performances from Dorcha, Victories At Sea, Nadine Shah, Peter Hook & The Light, The Jesus & Mary Chain and Editors.