I started writing about Britpop in June of 2017 with a short article on the wonders of Mantaray. That was at about the same time that I started using Twitter regularly as a means of finding people who might be interested in reading the fings wot I wrote. I quickly discovered that I wasn’t alone in remembering the era with fondness…there was, in fact, a whole community of Britpop people out there.
Two months later I attended the Star Shaped Festival in Glasgow and saw, first hand, what that community looked like. More importantly I felt first hand what that community meant to people…everywhere I looked there were smiling faces, raised arms, friends and couples embracing. It was ace.
I saw every band on the bill…Salad, My Life Story, Dodgy, Space, Sleeper and The Bluetones. Six bands I had loved to the point of obsession in eight joy filled hours. In between the bands the Star Shaped disc spinners had kept the party going with one Britpop banger after another. It was just about the best day out I had had since…1997?
Here we are a year after my Mantaray article and another Star Shaped Festival is looming in September. The line-up this year is, incredibly, an even greater source of giddy thrills than the last one.
Chris Helme (The Seahorses) will kick things off with a solo acoustic set. I have seen Chris play before and I cannot tell you how good he is. A rich, powerful and emotion packed voice working its way through songs from his solo career and the hits of his former band. I will be in the venue from the moment the doors open to make sure I don’t miss him. He really is that good.
Andrew Montgomery (Geneva) was responsible for one of the most beautiful albums of the entire era and his voice was like a precious and rare treasure. It soared, swooped and left you swooning. I saw Geneva only once at V97 and the very idea that I would miss the chance to see and hear Montgomery again is just ludicrous.
Another of the more esoteric and eccentric of the Britpop era bands are also appearing in the shape of Ultrasound. Accusations of conservative thinking and a lack of creativity are the criticisms that are often (well, anytime The Guardian or The Quietus write about the scene) flung at the nineties British music scene but Ultrasound were genuinely…otherly. Peculiar. Out there. Exciting.
Northern Uproar were cheeky scamps with big tunes, bigger riffs and bigger still choruses. There is a very real chance that they might just take the roof of the venue. A proper rock and roll band. I’ll be honest…I’d pay the price of a ticket for the entire day just to hear them play “From a Window” live.
The Real People play a key role in the Britpop story thanks to their links to a certain N. Gallagher of Manchester. With a defiantly, deliciously, deliriously Scouse sound their set promises to deliver one of the surprises of the day and help bring some much deserved attention to this band.
Robbie Williams is always begging the public to let him entertain us but the truth is that for pure entertainment there is only one band who can deliver…My Life Story. Jake Shillingford is THE greatest frontman in British pop history. Yes he is. I don’t care what you say. I’m serious. The GREATEST.
Scotland’s role in the Britpop story is limited but the one Scottish band who really made their mark were The Supernaturals. I saw them back in the day (yo) and it was mind blowing. Pop. Pure pop. Perfect pop. Pop perfection. They are back together and a Glasgow crowd is going to welcome them with the same sort of love and adoration normally reserved for cup winning football teams.
The headliners are Echobelly.
The actual Echobelly.
Sonya will be there.
That set is going to be epic.
What Star Shaped have done is remarkable. They run club nights that draw huge crowds both here in the UK and in Europe. They have built relationships with all of the key players from the era. They provide a platform for those bands and artists to reach their audiences. They have crafted a brilliantly unique festival experience. They have become the loving curators of a living, breathing, dancing and singing museum of pop curiosity.
The Star Shaped Festival will be landing in London, Glasgow and Manchester in September with different line-ups and with the added bonus of the Star Shaped DJ’s to get your hands clappin’ and your feet stompin’…get there.