It all sounded so promising. A pretty impressive line-up of bands old and new in a city centre location, the inaugural Hope & Glory Festival had all the makings of a special weekend. Sadly for many, it turned into something of a nightmare.
Much of the detail of what went wrong has been well documented elsewhere – including this report from Liverpool music site Get Into This – but in a nutshell, some of the main problems included huge queues to get in, equally long queues for facilities once people were on the site, massive overcrowding, thousands of ticket holders locked out, and a hugely delayed and messed up schedule of bands. The net result was that the second day of the event was cancelled on Sunday morning, leaving many festival-goers – and bands booked to play – high and dry. An official statement from the organisers was issued on Monday lunchtime which bizarrely seems to focus as much on their own spat with the council than the issues that more directly affect festival-goers caught up in the day’s events.
It has to be said, for those arriving early in the day, a lot of the problems were less acute, with many having a great time in the Liverpool sunshine. Despite the delay to the running order, highlights included Badly Drawn Boy, Pigeon Detectives, Clay and Saturday night headliners James.
There was also an impressive commitment by fans to the festival’s Victoriana theme, with some superb outfits on display. Sadly, the organisation shown by some of the attendees was not matched by the event itself, which clearly should not have been held in a location with such tough logistical limitations and on the scale of a supposed 12,500 capacity.
What’s certain is that the first ever Hope & Glory will be the last. Coming so soon after the debacle that was Y Not Festival and not long after the headline-grabbing nightmare that was the Fyre Festival in the Bahamas, this has done the wider reputation of music festivals no good at all. Certainly beyond the tried and trusted established events, it will certainly make it tough for new event launches in the future.
Added to the disappointment of fans who paid around £90 for weekend tickets to the festival and whose refund prospects are currently unknown but slim at best, is the fact that profits from the event were due to go to the victims and families of the Manchester bombing.
No-one wins from such a disastrous venture and for the sake of the live music industry, the only hope is that lessons will be learned to prevent such shambolic scenes in the future.
Photos: Arta Gailuma