With live gigs off the cards for almost a year now, a new project has won funding from the Arts Council to showcase the musical output of Hull and Nottingham in one mammoth event on 20 March 2021.
To Hull and Back is an innovative response to the pandemic restrictions of the live sector that aims to boost promising musical careers that may have stalled due to the lack of touring opportunities on the indie circuit of small independent music venues, a rite of passage for upcoming acts looking to build their fanbases.
Conceived by Nottingham’s Fisher Gate Point partner Ian Gardiner (Offshoots/Fisher Gate Point) and indie promoter Will Robinson (I’m Not From London), To Hull and Back is being delivered in collaboration with Hull’s iconic independent music venue and long-standing champion of new artists, The Adelphi.
Among the diverse line up of acts are the Nottingham duo Haggard Cat, who released their third album, Common Sense Holiday, via Earache Records to wide critical acclaim. With their DIY ethic and propensity for pulling off memorable antics earning them a reputation as a band that push boundaries, a recent stunt involved the two musicians holed up in a small concrete box for 24-hours as a visual metaphor for how Brexit will impair British bands’ abilities to tour Europe.
Hull’s special guest act, the post punk band LIFE have already made a splash attracting the attention of BBC 6 Music’s Steve Lamacq. Perhaps this sentence from the Hull band’s bio sums up why a project like To Hull and Back is so vital. The band’s DIY ethos came partly out of necessity – and reflects their geographical location in Hull, a geographically isolated, coastal city which resident poet Philip Larkin once said was “a city in the world yet sufficiently on the edge of it to have a different resonance”, and where things happen because people have to make them happen. On the cusp of an exciting future, LIFE have toured in Europe and America, appeared with kindred spirits Idles, Slaves and Nadine Shah, and made their Glastonbury debut.
Will Robinson said: “To Hull and Back builds on the work we’ve done over the last five years to establish musical links between the cities that we feel share a DIY spirit. We had been putting on nights in each city bringing bands from Nottingham to Hull and vice versa. Covid stopped this happening but this project will help continue the momentum that had been building.”
Paul Sarel, GM at The New Adelphi, said: “As a musician as well, I know how tough it is for bands and artists not able to play live gigs for so long. I hope this experience will be a valuable chance for them to enjoy the feeling of playing for an audience again and ignite a spark of hope for the future.”
The livestream festival on 20 March will showcase the best of each city to a wider audience to help artists reach music fans outside of their native cities. The curated line up features more than 20 acts from ambient alt pop to heavy blues and hip hop.
With live sets being played at Fisher Gate Point in Nottingham and The Adelphi in Hull, music industry presenters in both cities will introduce the acts through the day, bringing them to the attention of new audiences, interspersed with interviews and guides to each city’s music scene. If Covid restrictions allow, there will also be an invited audience at both venues.
The audience will also be encouraged to interact with presenters Chai Larden, Jimi Arundell and Yazmin Coe to let them know which acts they would most like to see on the festival bill in their own hometown. Some of those acts from Hull will secure a slot at I’m Not From London’s The Waterfront Festival in July whilst Nottingham acts will play at The New Adelphi’s Fast & Bulbous Festival in August.