The singer-songwriter brings charm, political fury and good tunes to Neighbourhood Weekender
This isn’t Jamie Webster’s first Neighbourhood, and it’s very far from his first time playing to a northern crowd. So he knows what his role is when the crowd start up an inevitable chant of “F*ck the Tories”: provide a good beat.
“Come on, Warrington!” he shouts as his band provide the accompaniment. The interlude goes on for long enough that at this point it should probably have a place on Webster’s setlist. Webster has been a popular act on the Neighbourhood line-up for the last few years, taking to the stage this year like he’s at a family reunion and he actually likes his family. The crowd respond with similar warmth.
Webster has always been a political songwriter. Proud of his Liverpool roots and full of love for his hometown, he makes frequent reference in his music to where he feels his own and other working class families have been failed. “Sick and tired of the bad news stories, sick and tired of the crooked Tories,” he sings in ‘Something’s Gotta Give’, putting his chest into it. The crowd at the main stage scream it back to him. Where there’s anger there’s also fierce love – “My city, my people, my heart,” he repeats as he closes out ‘This Place’, a love letter to the city that raised him. It receives a roar. “That one’s for you if you’re proud of where you come from,” Webster tells the crowd.
Both as a songwriter and a performer, Webster speaks directly to the heart of Neighbourhood, which brings together music lovers from a collection of cities considered some of the friendliest in the UK. He’s funny, sincere and plays a rousing set that sees the crowd throw their arms around each other. He closes with his popular festival tune, ‘Weekend In Paradise’, celebrating everything beautiful and messy about a couple of days like these. “Was it a pointless three-day bender, or a weekend in paradise my friend?” he asks Victoria Park. His reception would indicate the latter.