If there’s one band I’d never quite had an overwhelming desire to see it was The Libertines, even from some of their biggest fans I’ve heard about live performances that have been much of a disappointment. Perhaps it is because of this that made their outstanding set on Saturday night so satisfying, those concerns of weak vocals and poor sound were alleviated from the off.
Though it was not The Libertines that made the initial headlines, but instead Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who made a speech to Prenton Park about the upcoming General Election. To a partisan crowd which usually hosts National League football with Tranmere Rovers, Corbyn told of football and the arts, and the importance of opportunity for all. Should Corbyn come into power, it will be seen as one of the most iconic events in British political history, the sound of thousands of fans singing his name to the popular tune of Seven Nation Army. His appearance came during Reverend and The Makers’ set, lead singer Jon McClure is a huge Labour supporter, he finished their set with ‘Silence Is Talking’, which alone creates a celebratory atmosphere. On the back of an appearance of a celebrated politician, the evening was kick-started in fanatical style.
Following this came The Coral, local heroes introduced as “from just down the road”. They come from Hoylake, very close indeed to the venue hosting Wirral Live. Madness were the headliner on Friday evening, whilst Little Mix featured on Sunday night; the crowd response was hugely positive and the festival can be regarded as a success. Somewhat predictably, it is ‘Pass It On’ and ‘Dreaming of You’ that get the most people on shoulders, they are early 2000s hits and incredibly there is much nostalgia about their set, we’re now 17 years on from their critically acclaimed debut album.
The unrivalled sight of summer gigs is of course the sun remaining visible at the appearance of the headline act. The Libertines appeared on time, and the 20 songs that followed were a trip through their discography, the star of the early part of the set is The Delaney, lyrics that beg to be fist-pumped back to the stage from a packed pitch at Prenton Park. Things are slowed down with ‘You’re My Waterloo’ and ‘What Katie Did’, both threaten to expose Pete Doherty and Carl Barât individually but instead they highlight the musical quality of the duo. Pete was on form to such an extent that he performed impromptu excerpts from The Farm’s ‘All Together Now’, and The Smiths’ ‘What She Said’. It took a tattooed boy from Birkenhead… and all that.
‘Gunga Din’ is from their latest album, 2015’s ‘Anthems For Doomed Youth’ and the response to it is not too dissimilar to the following song, their iconic ‘Can’t Stand Me Now’. Doherty and Barât’s relationship has been of much public interest, and their bond is reflective on stage. They often dynamically swap microphones, or scream songs into each other’s faces; it is entirely unique and adds to the incredible live performance. They round off their set with ‘Time For Heroes’ and ‘Don’t Look Back Into The Sun’. Drummer Gary Powell is last to leave the stage, pleading for fans to register to vote. An American, he knows all about political conflict. Not only was this a brilliant event for music on Merseyside, but also a political moment that put the Wirral in the national spotlight.