REVIEW festival Old Subbacultcha Old Subbacultcha

A Poptastic Day Out In Crewe... It Can Only be Total Access Live

The sun was out in Crewe on Saturday afternoon, and by Crewe, we mean… Betley Court Farm. It’s a simple journey really, you hop on the train to Crewe, walk five minutes round the corner and hop on a shuttle bus and end up at the glorious Betley Court Farm, on today’s agenda… Total Access Live.

The gates opened at 2pm and we quickly made our way backstage to conduct an interview with Pete Gardiner. He’s a kind chap with bursts of energy and if you listen below, you can hear what he had to say; we discuss everything from his debut EP, reality television and guilty pleasures.

We were just in time to catch Subba-Cultcha friends Lawson mid-set. It was nice to see them in performance mode and they did not disappoint, with their electrifying set of “Roads” and “Juliet”. Afterwards we popped backstage to see the guys and were forced us into a photo. Sadly, the boys weren’t able to join us for a drink as they were headed back to London that moment.

After the excitement of Lawson, we headed back to the stage to check out JAGMAC (Jared, Angelique, Gabriel, Manjo, Alyssa and CJ) who sing, dance, rap and even perform martial arts on stage. It was all utterly bizarre and mesmerising at the same time.

The nice little warm-up gave a prelude to one of the star attractions… Alesha Dixon. The singer has been fairly quiet on the performance front in the last few years, seemingly focused on her judging role on “Britain’s Got Talent” and her recent little baby. However the moment she hit the stage to bombastic “Let’s Get Excited”, it was like the diva had not been gone a minute. She decided to take us back in time to the Mis-Teeq classic “Scandalous” and even joked to the audience, “Were any of you even born when this track came out?”. The irony being, most of them hadn’t, but nevertheless, Dixon stomped her way through the track and ended her set on current single “The Way We Are”.

Interestingly, Alesha has now gone independent and discussed the future album release “Do It For Love”. The set felt too short, but the organiser reassured me everyone was only doing 3 or 4 tracks.

Pete Gardiner soon came onto the stage with an acoustic guitar in hand. He was the only artist playing his own instrument. He serenaded the crowd with three tracks from his EP “Idols”, including the title track itself. He gave a strong and fearless set, and despite moans from some audience members who wanted the fast paced tempo that Alesha had just exhibited, the crowd seemed keen for Mr. Gardiner. His witty lyrics sat well with the audience and his personality shone through.

Melissa Steel (from the Blonde single “I Loved You”) came out onto the stage and whether it be nerves or whatnot, the vocal performance wasn’t great.

Thankfully, the set was soon over and Shane Filan (better known of Westlife fame) strolled out onto the stage and gave as good as he got. He has a great vocal but the most interesting moment of his set was his cover of “What About Us”. Of all the Westlife covers to do, he decided to do Daughtry’s. There we were hoping for “Flying Without Wings”. He gave a nice little lead into Louis Walsh’s new boyband Hometown who boasted of having an Irish #1 single and gave the girls around us panic attacks.

They were fun but nothing particularly stood out about them on the original front. It was particularly enjoyable when 2/6 of the mics were turned particularly higher than the other 4. Keeping the theme of Louis Walsh (he must have been a promoter), Jedward appeared. Now one thing you can say about Jedward is they have incredible energy. They are real show men, except their music is just awful. They gave a sweet little speech about how they wrote the song they were about to perform, and whilst they performed the hell out of their set list, their entire set list was just awful. Someone give these guys a chat show or something though. Next up was Australian heartthrob Conrad Sewell whose set seemed to go down a treat with the younger crowd.

On the X Factor alumni front, Only The Young soon appeared on stage and gave an energetic performance of “Jailhouse Rock”, the song that sounds like a Demi Lovato song from 2013 “Hold Back The River” and their own single “I Do”, which was sung  by nearly the entire crowd but managed to not even hit the top 40.

Sarah Harding (of Girls Aloud fame) hit the stage and gave us one hell of a performance. She performed Girls Aloud classics “Love Machine” and “The Promise” and solo material “Live Before I Die” and solo single “Threads”. The set was high energy and phenomenal. It was a shame that the majority of the crowd were too busy wanting Dappy to come out to appreciate Sarah Harding. The only disappointment from the set was the fact she didn’t perform her “emotional ballad” “Indelible”. Aside from that, Sarah showed that she didn’t need the other girls to have fun. She did that by herself.

And finally… giving us a break to grab some food and coffee whilst hearing the likes of Karen Harding, Mr Probz and AJ Brown, we were quickly in time for Nathan Sykes and his set which included musicians playing the saxophone. One thing that needs to be noted about Nathan, his voice is like oil. You almost want to relisten to The Wanted’s back catalogue to see where his voice fits in (I said almost). He thoroughly impressed us more than expected and was a great way to end the day. And no, we did not stay for Dappy.

To find out more about Total Access live click here.

Words & pictures by Daniel John Sado