Liverpool Music Week: Daniel Johnston

Posted on 4 November 2009
By Danny Keightley
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Day Six in the Liverpool Music Week house – which is the Masque tonight. The evening kickstarts with André Reflex who calmly introduces himself with a polite ‘Hello, I’m Andrew’ before playing his five song set which (whilst musically endearing) doesn’t manage to fully capture and captivate the small audience gathered before the stage.

A short interval sees a few more people shuffling through quietly whilst Glaswegian harpist Rebecca Joy Sharp takes the stage. Her intricate display of melodies and her own dream-like compositions is intriguing at first but when she begins to offer us some spoken word performances, the nattering crowd dilute Rebecca’s already soft and often inaudible voice, though credit to her for playing the most sleep-inducing instrument known to man and holding the attention of almost half the room.

Following her is a band who are ultimately impossible to ignore. a.P.A.t.T. quite simply blow the fish out of the water with their loud, bombastic, cheerful and beautifully odd collection of songs. The quintet gallivants round the stage, swapping instruments at regular intervals; they are a joy to watch. Their set closer is around six minutes of pure doom, reminiscent of Sonic Youth whilst their previous songs echo a conglomerate of influences. Truly a highlight of the evening.

Stig Noise are fourth on the stage, and their set consists of toe tapping rhythms, sharp mariachi trumpet stabbing, and a tonne of bottom end bass to fill your boots. They rage through their set in a frantic half hour, boasting their capabilities and proving their place here tonight.

They are a hard act to follow, especially for dad-rock band Voo, who have as much enthusiasm as a goldfish and are as flat as a pancake. Their blend of indie-rock/pop sounds like something being played by three American teenagers and unfortunately following four ‘original’ acts, Voo are a letdown.

Barbieshop, however are a delight. A trio of charming ladies who show off their phenomenal vocal skills throughout their entirely self-arranged a’capella vocal set; covering classics such as Radiohead’s ‘Creep’ and The Undertone’s ‘Teenage Kicks’ they are a breath of fresh air and entirely lovable.

Daniel Johnston is to follow, and the venue is packed waiting to see the cult-legend take the stage. ‘Daniel! Daniel!’ is repeatedly chanted and he is greeted with a barrage of applause when he comfortably takes to the stage by himself.

His raw, childlike lyrics and honest delivery in his opening songs are heartbreaking and utterly moving. His set includes a range of his classics including the excellent ‘Walking the Cow’, and ‘Grievances.’

He proves to the crowd he can still rock it when he brings Hot Club de Paris to the stage. With a feisty ‘Rock n Roll, Ega’ to finish, and after an apparent demand for more songs from the enthused audience, he revisits the stage delivering an emotional encore of ‘True love will find you in the end’. He is a magnificent climax to a fabulous evening.