Beech Road Festival - Chorlton - 1.7.07

Remember the days when festivals were about bringing communities together rather than the music being secondary to the sponsorship of lager companies or hair products. As we walk through Beech Road we're reminded of the possibilities of local festivals celebrating independence with street traders on either side of the street; stalls from Greenpeace, the Anti-War movement and political organizations; plus cheap beer and toilets that aren't a health hazard. Could Beech Road Festival be a blueprint for how festivals should work?

First up are The Difference who aged between 12-14 make Fear Of Music look pensionable. Musically somewhere between the blues rock of Brendan Benson and Manchester's very own 9 Black Alps, the band have an assured air about them and despite their ages can play better than most musicians twice their age. Eschewing simple 3 chord rock the likes of "The Future Comes Today" and "Open Your Eyes" hint at dark nihilistic lyrical subjects and its only a cover of Electric 6's "Gay Bar" which lightens things up a bit. Definitely ones to look out for in the future!

The Blochead? pah. Horrors massive mops? No way. The coolest haircut in the UK must go to Joe Ezekiel - an afrotastic mop that nearly eclipses the fact he's a skilled beatmaster. Proving the fact that its possible to be young and not an indie band Ezekiel take their props from the likes of Miles Davis, Funkadelic, Herbie Hancock and a litany of jazz great's. Even Bob Marley gets a look in with a jazz-reggae version of "Get Up, Stand Up". With saxophonist Emily leading an audience into a singalong they prove they're the ultimate festival band and their 30 minutes on stage threw up more surprises than the jazz stage at Glastonbury. The perfect summer festival band

Its left to Little Engine to finish the trio of the teenage Chorltonian talent. One of the finest bands to come out of Manchester in the last few years Little Engine are virtually veterans playing numerous mini-festival gigs for Blowout already this year at Jabez Clegg and Sounds From The Other City. Sadly today within the first few songs the heavens open and half the audience head to the trees for cover. "Romeo" and "Sex Appeal" are the distillation of pure punk-rock'n'roll with Callum being an engaging frontman but somewhat overshadowed by Ben's bass-faces. Other Manchester bands may be getting the column inches at the moment, but in the long run it will be the public that are looking at Little Engine.

We don't know what they put in the water in Chorlton, but if today is anything to go by they should push it out nationally. 3 very different, but 3 quality bands that in years to come will be household names

Alex McCann
Photos: Rebecca Lee

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