Blue and Heather Small treat Irlam to a Hit Frenzy

This year when I saw the line up I could not believe my eyes when the band I idolised as a kid were on the Line up. Then Jerico! And some other popular band called Blue? 

Blue were so big in the naughties and still are, the opportunity to shoot them aswell was exciting, I was definitely going this year, Heather Small and The Lottery Winners too.

My first ever concert in the 80s was in 1987, Manchester Apollo, Then Jerico………and also one of the first ever bands I shot live was Then Jerico in 2013 at Manchester Academy 3. 10 years later I get another chance but first was Northen Soul Train.

People forget sometimes how bands like this can get a festival rocking, some were possibly rocking due to the footie score too.

They help create a party atmosphere, getting totally involved with the crowd, the area front of stage was like a dance floor.

So did Abs Love and Ben from Phats and Small. As well as their own stuff they played Old Skool Hit after Hit.

They even played a Chemical Brothers classic.

Next came Then Jerico, formed in 1983 they hit the charts in 1987 with The Motive and from then on I was a big fan. In 1989 they released probably their most famous tune Big Area, their first 2 albums are probably the most under rated albums of all time, they get battered on my Spotify. 

They opened with Helpless, which they always did after The Big Area was released in 1989. All their best tunes were played…….What does it take, Sugar Box, Let Her Fall, Muscle Deep and many many more, finishing with Prairie Rose.

Mark Shaw is now 61 and he still skips around the stage like he is 30. One of my highlights of the weekend.

Next up were Blue, first Simon Webbe hit the stage to play a few of his solo singles, my fave was No Worries.

Following this both Antony and Lee entered the stage, sadly Duncan wasn’t able to make I due to TV commitments.

These 3 guys are some of the finest vocalists I’ve seen live. Sadly I wasn’t able to stay too long as my long journey home beckoned.


Sadly on the Sunday I missed Toyah, I was gutted because I’ve never seen her live and a bad gamble on transport cost me the chance.

When I got there Brutus Golds Love Train were in full throttle, there was a massive conga doing the rounds.

These were so much fun and even the kids were lapping it up. Will definitely take the time to see these again at other festivals.

Next up were The Lilacs, I’d heard of them but sadly I didn’t get the time to give them a listen beyond the first couple of songs.

They had a catchy sound and I’ll keep an eye out for them on my future music travels.

I won’t lie, I didn’t know what to expect with Tom Hingley, I really didn’t expect a trip through a really well performed Inspiral Carpet back catalogue ( i know hes ex Inspirals bit wasnt sure what to expect, it was so so good. Will look out for him again. Brilliant interaction with the crowd.

Now I’ve seen The Lottery Winners plenty of times, there really isn’t another band like them. I love them. Favourite Flavour was the song that caught my attention a few years ago.

Thomas Rylance is such a funny guy, he had the crowd in stitches, even us back stage prior to the show. 

I have been left with a song in my head that won’t go away……….’It’s like a burning house and I’m just sitting on the couch, Chilling out as it all burns down around me’.

I played that song about 30 times at work on Monday, what a tune!

Last of the weekend was Heather Small. I’ve seen her before and M People were massive in the Nineties, some fine tunes.

Moving on up, Don’t Look any further, One night in heaven, Sight for sore eyes, Open your heart and Search for the Hero is just scratching the surface of their back catalogue. Possible the best house band ever!!!

Sadly I again had to go after a couple of songs, Shit aren’t I?

The weekend yet again was soooooo good, cheap bars, friendly people and the line up again was class. I am always treated well while I’m at Irlam Live. Thank you. Check out the gallery below with lots of crowd pics…..

Photos and Words by Philip Goddard 


Philip Goddard

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