Updated: Sep 8, 2019

Words by Tilly Louise with a segment from Liam Ash


The August bank holiday weekend was upon us and what better way could it be spent than going to hear live music in Birkenhead. That is correct, Birkenhead.

Future Yard, 2019, kicked off at iconic venues in and around Birkenhead, for example, the Birkenhead Town Hall, Birkenhead Priory, Bloom Building & Coffee, and Gallaghers Pub.

The evening commenced at Birkenhead Priory. Making way through the oldest standing building on Merseyside, a beautiful open-top building with a church at the back. The room was surrounded with pillows and bean bags, creating a relaxing atmospher, this accompanied by the abstract sounds from the centre piece of cymbals. The room was filled with fog from the machines dotted around the room and red-orange lighting set the mood, the vibe of the room held relaxation and peace.


Stella Donnelly turned heads with her set taking place in a blue-lit yard and, of course, the sound of her energetic Australian accent, the air smelled of the salty river, spicey food, and beer. Stella bounced around the stage behind her pink guitar with a beaming smile and a carefree energy; she had the crowd engaged the minute they saw her and the band, it was evident the team were having the best time on stage. In-between her songs Stella would tell short witty stories in her incredible accent which had the audience in the palm of her hand.

Towards the end of her set Stella played her song ‘Die’, it didn’t sound as grim as the title, she and her bandmate had created a dance routine which the audience joined in with, myself included. Stella Donnelly put on a great performance that just had everyone so buzzed and happy at the end, her radiant happiness was so intoxicating - she had everyone smiling!

Stella was followed by, Liverpool Lad, Strawberry Guy, whos set was a synth-spacey heaven, with elements of Claude Debussy's influence. His set was relaxing, creating the impression that the crowd were being taken back in time with his vintage feel and look on stage, the whole band was smiling and grooving along to the songs and the audience was swaying to the lo-fi style beats.

Birkenhead Town Hall was host to the headline act, for the Friday night, Bill Ryder-Jones. Bill took to the stage to the roar of the audience that filled the entire town hall, with that warm welcome he greeted the audience and began to play his music. His soothing voice that has a texture only he owns sweeps around the room, over the sound of his guitar. Bill’s presence on stage seemed comfortable and at ease, he owned it completely. He was very real and talkative with the audience, almost like he was chatting to friends. During his song ‘Seabirds’ the whole room felt so completely intimate with his band stood side stage, the spotlight was on Bill and he held the audience so marvellously that you could hear a pin drop.

My friend Liam came along with us as a part of the ICYMI team and he shared his experience of Future Yard:

I was invited by ICYMI to Future Yard for the first day and as an audience member, I found Future Yard as a good experience delivering on everything I expected of it. The sound quality was superb (which is the most important aspect at a MUSIC FESTIVAL) and the venue settings were beautiful, with the magnificent town hall as the centerpiece. Lack of signposting made navigating Birkenhead difficult as I got lost more than once however that's one detail for the new festival to improve on.

The headliner and Birkenhead’s own Bill Ryder Jones was the highlight of the day, in particular, the very intimate solo rendition of my personal favourite “Seabirds” which entranced the whole town hall. There was a welcoming feeling all day by staff, audience members and artists, particularly with Stella Donelly who engaged well with the audience making everyone move and have a good time instructing the crowd on how to dance to her song “Die”.

With a mixture of local talent and foreign imports on the bill, it shows that the festival is willing to give local talent exposure to the budding music scene and show “The Future is Birkenhead”.

Bill played an amazing set with huge instrumental sections that were insane to watch, the music was so expressive and creative, you could see how much Bill felt each note he was playing. ICYM had a chat with Bill about his music and songwriting after the set - and we can confirm, Bill is quite the Legend. ,

Day 2 coming up!

Check out all the photos I took at Future Yard on my Flickr and Instagram!

Disclaimer! I'm by no means a photographer or think I am one, I just enjoy taking photos :)

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