VEVO choose Liverpool as the host for its Halloween Party this year and the theme running through the night is ‘phobias’. The venue is a little outside the city centre at Bramley-Moore Dock already a pretty creepy location whether you have a phobia of the darkness/deep water/a potentially haunted warehouse – the list goes on really – but it is a perfect spot to host the event in a great Northern city which has a huge history of music. The artists picked to play at the Halloween spectacular are some of the biggest emerging talents from 2016, Izzy Bizu, AURORA, Jack Garratt, Zara Larsson and Blossoms make up this year’s pretty eclectic bill which is packed out by Scousers for the night – dressed up in everything from zombies to squids to Harley Quinn to Home Alone themed costumes.First up on the stage is Izzy Bizu a singer songwriter who was placed on a number of ‘ones to watch’ for 2016 and her stunning vocals prove just why. Before the event she told Gigwise: “I wrote the album myself and got to work with producers I love so it was great.” One of the tracks from her debut album is ‘White Tiger’ a song many might recognise from a TV advert and the crowd here definitely do as they sing along to the ‘oos’ and ‘ahs’ which they’ll probably be humming for days to come.
Second up is AURORA, the 20-year-old dreamy pop singer songwriter from Norway. I thought her mellow and haunting sound wouldn’t match the party atmosphere in the warehouse but as she starts her set with ‘Winter Bird’ and later moves on to ‘Running With the Wolves’, which she jokes is her ‘only upbeat song’, the singer delivers a stunning set which echoes throughout the venue and builds the atmosphere for the next artsits to take to the stage. Plus she really gets into her Corpse Bride character on and off stage – complete with apples hidden in her corset – which is inspired by Tim Burton, she tells Gigwise: “Halloween is not a big thing in Norway but I love Autumn and I love scary movies!”
A notable emission from her set is ‘Half the World Away’ which she covered for the annual John Lewis advert. Now an event in the Christmas calendar, it comes with its own pressure if you’re ‘lucky’ enough to be chosen to sing a cover. “It opened a lot of strange doors. It was always going to be quite an intense and crazy year but that made it even more so,” she told us.
She instead showcases tracks from her debut album, all of which she penned herself, including the rousing pop track ‘Conqueror’ which shows off her confidence on the stage at such a young age. On the debut record she says: “I like fragile and emotional music and a lot of my music is powerful. It was nice to release my own music and I’m excited to release more now.”
Jack Garratt takes to the stage next, to much hype from the Liverpool crowd. The BRITs Critics Choice winner comfortably blasts through his five track set including ‘Surprise Yourself’ and ‘Worry’, he manages to own the stage despite having no backing band. He does it all himself, drums, keyboard, synthesiser and more and once he takes off his mask he looks like he’s fully enjoying playing to the transfixed audience. The singer-songwriter has had a stellar year so far and if this performance is anything to go by his headline tour is going to get rave reviews.
Apparently people in Liverpool don’t wear their jackets on a night out, but they just party and hop from bar to bar all night. That’s according to Zara Larsson who tells Gigwise she’d heard only good things about the city having never been before. The 18-year-old popstar from Sweden – perhaps the best country for producing pop singers – has so much confidence for her age both on and off stage. Before the show she jokes that “I best not say this costume is Maleficent in case I get in trouble with Disney”, her unfiltered personality is why she has such a big following on social media where she interacts with fans and doesn’t seem to worry about filtering herself to the expectations of female pop singers.
The singer proves why she’s one of the biggest stars to emerge in 2016 as her setlist features chart hits ‘Never Forget You’, ‘Girls Like’ and ‘Ain’t My Fault’ which she carries with a loud and feisty stage presence as the crowd bask in it, singing along to the tracks they probably didn’t even realise they know the words to, but a catchy chorus is still a winning formula for today’s popstars which is certainly helping Zara Larsson.
She finishes with ‘Lush Life’, one of the biggest selling songs of the year, and a highlight of the night. “I’m really excited to finally get the album out there, there’s been a lot of back and forth with it but hopefully it’s January!”, she tells Gigwise.
The final act of the night are five piece Manchester rock group Blossoms. They tell Gigwise “there’s no musical rivalry between Liverpool and Manchester” and the reception from the Liverpool audience proves that. They play a strong set packed full of material from their self-titled debut which they’ve been promoting at festivals across the country over the summer, bringing in big crowds wherever they are. As they announce the finish to the crowd the disappointment is quickly over as they start to play ‘Charlemagne’, a radio friendly hit which as lead singer Tom Ogden himself says ‘is everybody ready to have a dance’ and they are, as it gets a huge reaction from the crowd who almost drown them out with their own signing.
VEVO choosing Liverpool to host this collective of artists under one great venue proves that the city is able to host more like it and it shouldn’t be overlooked for its potential to do more in the future – and I think everyone there will agree.