Read our rolling coverage of 2023’s Lytham Festival – from end to start. Jamiroquai, George Ezra, Sting, Lionel Richie, Def Leppard and Motley Crue made for a bonkers mix of events on the Fylde Coast between 28th June and 2nd July – so they all fit right in.

Save the dates of 3rd-7th July 2024 – a limited number of five-day passes are already on sale. Festival organisers best be thinking hard about their acts – they’ve got some big boots to fill.

Day 5

The first band announced for the festival is now the last to play and see the sun set on Lytham Festival. Hair metal giants Motley Crue split the bill with Def Leppard for a night of debauchery and rock for the ages.

As the final day of Lytham Festival arrived, crowds had been entertained by A class performances since for four nights already. In what has probably been the worst week for weather in the past six weeks, through wind and rain, people have gathered in their thousands to witness what has become a landmark on the northern festival map. The party still hadn’t stopped by the time we’re usually getting ready for a normal working week. There was still time to let your hair down – or, rather, grab the hairspray and put it back up.

Def Leppard’s last time on the Fylde Coast was back in the late ’70’s, frontman Joe Elliot announces, in Norbreck Castle. Over 40 years later, the Sheffield rockers have come to prove how timeless they are. Starting early in the evening, they delighted the crowd to a full set of their own, spanning their entire career.

As well as powering through the hits, they also played recent songs, such as Take What You Want and This Guitar from 2022’s album, Diamond Star Halos. The audio levels are great compared to previous nights and it makes a world of difference. The clarity of dual guitarists Vivian Campbell and Phil Collen was fantastic as they slid effortlessly in and out of solos and cement their legacy as classic-rock guitar virtuosos.

The physical energy the band has is astounding for a group of men in their 60s – especially bassist, Rick Savage, running up and down a huge ramp set up on the stage, that took them from one microphone to the another, as all band members provide flawless backing vocals.

Heavy hitter, Rick Allen, played the drums flawlessly, despite only having one arm to do it with. He even performed a crazed solo they saw him fall back on his stool in exhaustion as he used his bare feet on extra pedals to play all the equipment and not miss a beat. He then pushed two fingers in the air for everyone to see as he started his second round of wowing the crowd.

Joe Elliot kept the pace going with his distinct vocals, barely taking time to breath as he rasped his way through Lets Get Rocked, Photograph and Pour Some Sugar On Me with ease. Considering the adversity the group has faced over the years (their original guitarist dying, the drummer losing an arm in car accident), Def Leppard proved that perseverance can get you anywhere, including back to Lancashire.

Having always seemed to run towards controversy, bad boys, Motley Crue, have kept the gossip articles busy over the years, with sex tapes, fist fights, and more recently, a lawsuit with ex-guitarist Mick Mars. But whether you love them or hate them, they know how to put on not just a good performance, but an outstanding show. As punters rushed to the toilet and to grab their next four beers and squeeze back to the front, the roadies manically set up the stage with platforms and large spiked structures.

When the theatrics started, Requiem in D Minor was blasted through the speakers, building up into a frantic news report on the screens that Motley Crue are coming – so be prepared! The crowd should have buckled in, because the next hour and a half was an absolute ride. From one fist pumping song to another, the Crue ripped through Wild Side, Shout at the Devil and Live Wire like they were brand new songs.

Recent addition, John 5 (former Marilyn Manson guitarist) absolutely shredded his axe and had his own solo section to tap and sweep pick for five minutes straight. In between songs, bassist and band lead, Nikki Six, took the time to tell everyone how much the support means to them and even invited a fan onto the stage for that once in a lifetime selfie.

Reviews from previous gigs suggested singer, Vince Neil, was seriously lacking in the vocal department when the Crue originally ended their second run back in 2015; but keep your expectations low and you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Neil did a good job keeping up in what was a high range of singing to begin with when he first recorded his vocals back in the 80s. He still has the ability to hit those high-pitched falsettos that hair metal is renowned for.

Along with fast-paced visuals and lasers shooting out across the arena, the Crue was also accompanied by two talented dancer/backing vocalist. They grinded their way all over the stage, doing slow acrobatics in-between posing and sing the chorus to Girls, Girls, Girls, while dressed in skimpy outfits.

Infamous drummer, Tommy Lee, also had his moment, as he came down from the drum stand to ask the crowd to raise their beers. And in true rocker fashion announced: “Now I’ve seen your beers, I want to see some titties”. It’s crude, it’s crass, but it’s part of the experience – and many women in the crowd happily obliged. He later demonstrated his sensitive side by playing the soft piano intro to Home Sweet Home – it all balances out. Kind of.

Finishing on anthem Kickstart My Heart, Motley Crue finished off Lytham Festival 2023 with a bang, leaving the gig on a high. Festival organisers best be thinking hard about next year’s acts – they’ve got some big boots to fill.

Day 4

Lionel Richie’s fans are a loyal crowd at Lytham Festival on Saturday night, but his vocals lack the power they once did.

Lytham Festival 2023 SaturdayLionel Richie

Sometimes it’s easy to forget how much impact an artist had at a certain time period, but Gabrielle quickly reminded people on Saturday night how she dominated the UK charts throughout the ’90s and into the early ‘00s. In contrast to Kim Wyldes bubblegum pop, Gabrielle’s laid-back, soulful music seemed a bit of an energy shift for last night’s party. Perhaps not fully geared up for this festival atmosphere, but Gabrielle impressed the crowd with her strong vocals 30 years since her breakout single Dreams.

Lytham Festival 2023 Saturday. Gabrielle

The sound mixing was spot on, which really helped define the quality of her material and why she was good enough to have a greatest hits album. With a series of festival dates all throughout the summer, future punters can be reassured that Gabrielle is worth a watch – for Rise and Out of Reach alone. Taking September off for a quick breather, Gabrielle will be doing a nationwide tour including coming back to the Fylde coast, performing at Blackpool’s Opera House.

An waiting an hour after Gabrielle left the stage, Lionel Ritchie finally came on. A low-flying helicopter had previously swooped over Lytham Green leaving the crowd wondering whether he had literally just got here from yesterdays gig in Wales. Coming in strong to make up for lost time, Richie opened with Running With the Night, which finds the audience instantly singing along with every word.

Lytham Festival 2023 Saturday

Cursed with the previous night’s poor audio quality, Richie’s backing band dip in and out as the speakers don’t seem to project the overall mix. Rather than sideways rain, it is instead the wind blowing hard through the arena – probably a large factor of displaced sound, but it begs the question how one band can sound so different to the previous one.

Richie’s voice holds up, but it doesn’t have the power it once did, often his notes would end abruptly and his use of pointing the microphone to the adoring crowd to sing the lyrics instead got tedious after a while. One thing that can’t be taken away from Richie is his showmanship. The man knows how to entertain a crowd, and despite his vocal shortcomings, he makes it up in bravado and his ability to easily interact with the crowd.

Lytham Festival 2023 Saturday

After three costume changes and playing a mix of Commodores songs and his own solo material, the crowd loved every second of his back catalogue including Easy, Hello and Dancing on the Ceiling. What was apparent was that Richie draws a varied crowd, with a younger generation being present – perhaps the love for Lionel having been passed down from their parents. As the evening draws to a close Richie finishes off his set with All Night Long, a song that is hard not to love and bop along to.

Having been performing for over 50 years, it’s safe to say that Richie has done his part for music, but maybe it’s time for him to hang up the microphone and enjoy retirement.

Day 3

Despite the rain, Sting proved to be one of the main draws of this year’s Lytham Festival, as he wowed a sodden crowd last night.

Indie pop mob, Kaiser Chiefs, seemed a odd choice to support two legendary acts, but despite being slightly out of place, and performing in sideways rain, frontman Ricky Wilson puts out some serious energy to get the crowd going.

Starting what would be a night of absolute hits, the band ripped through the songs that made them, including I Predict a Riot and Ruby, with Wilson asking the crowd with a cheeky smile on his face, “Do you remember who we are yet?” Jumping off the stage to join everyone in the downpour, he hugged and and high-fived fans as he raced up and down a corridor that split the crowd.

Finally, the rain died down and Blondie hit the stage opening with the guitar driven One Way. With such an eclectic mix of songs, Debbie Harry, who looks great for her 78 years (it’s her birthday today in fact, happy birthday Blondie!), struggles to hit some of the higher range vocals such as in Heart of Glass. But can we blame her? It’s hard to critique someone who still has the guts to perform well past retirement age. Alongside her, original guitarist and drummer, Chris Stein and Clem Burke also have the passion to carry on performing live. They clearly still love what they do, and they got the love straight back from the crowd. Debbie Harry still remains a fine example of what a front woman should be.

Lytham Festival 2023 Friday. Blondie

Sting is one of few artists whose solo material, outside of an already massively successful band, is just as good. But knowing what the crowd came for, and acknowledging what got him to where he is today, he opened up with The Police’s Message in a Bottle which set the crowd into a frenzy.

Blasting through a 16-song set that contained a mix of The Police songs and his own (primarily off his best selling album Ten Summoners Tales), there is no time to breath as nobody wants to stop singing – this man’s back catalogue is pure gold.

Sadly, not every gig can sound amazing, and unfortunately with the concert being outdoors and with so many different factors effecting the soundscape, the mixing wasn’t perfect. It took a while before the bass could be heard properly, and sometimes even the guitar kept dipping in and out. Fortunately, Sting’s voice is still incredible at 71 years of age, and he demonstrated he’s clearly in great shape as he strode across the stage whilst singing through his headset microphone. 

Keeping anecdotes to a minimum, he instead gave out praise to his band members, even giving one of his backing singers a moment to shine and sing lead vocals. Joe Sumner also joins to sing two songs, for anyone who missed him at the start of the evening, proving his vocals are just as good as his dad’s. If you closed your eyes, you would swear it was a young Sting. Sting showed his appreciation by shaking the sign language interpreter’s hand, who gallantly stood side of stage, in the rain, signing every single lyric. The stand out gun for hire though was the harmonica player. Blowing everyone’s minds with a gorgeous rendition of Shape of My Heart and adding melodies to other tracks that don’t normally feature harmonica.

Lytham Festival 2023 Sting

Granted, the songs Sting plays tonight are mainly all over 30 years old, but to hear different interpretations of King of Pain, Englishman in New York and Desert Rose really gives you bang for your buck and keeps the show fresh and unpredictable. When an artist can make a 20-thousand-strong crowd forget that they are soaking from head to toe, then there’s something more special about them than just a good set of songs.

Day 2

The party spirit remained very much alive at Lytham Festival’s second installment as George Ezra delivered his pop anthems (and a healthy dose of jazz) to the seaside crowd.

Photo: Jack Kimber Photography Ltd

Limerick-based three-piece Kingfishr kicked off the day’s lineup with some unforgettable melodies, followed by the cool, calm and collected sounds of indie-rock trio The Big Moon. Set against one of Lytham’s famous sea-blue skies, each of the acts brought something new to the party as the crowd settled in for a night of live music. It was great to see such a diverse audience at the event with everyone enjoying the festivities in their own way, be it by bouncing along to the beat, unwinding on a picnic rug or, for those lucky enough, chilling in Lytham Festival’s exclusive VIP Garden.

London’s Cat Burns was next to the stage and instantly intoxicated the crowd with her buttery-soft voice and relatable lyrics. As well as introducing audiences to her original music, the singer-songwriter got everyone humming along when she played some Ed Sheeran classics following her tour with the megastar in 2022. The highlight though, of course, was a live rendition of her viral TikTok hit, Go – the song she credited for changing her life forever.

Photo: Jack Kimber Photography

A sulky sunset created the ultimate atmosphere of anticipation as crowds awaited George Ezra’s arrival. Several little ones were poised on shoulders with glitter, bucket hats and banners in tow. In fact, Lytham Fest’s crowd really demonstrated the expanse of Ezra’s impact – music-lovers of every age came out to experience his music first-hand last night.

Photo: Jack Kimber Photography

Entering the stage to a roaring crowd, the singer came dressed in his signature double-denim (matched by his eclectic band), emblazoned with Gold Rush Kid, the title of his latest album. He began proceedings with Anyone For You, followed by a powerhouse of tracks that served as a reminder of just how many bangers he has brought to the table. Blame It On Me, Gold Rush Kid, Green Green Grass and Budapest kept the crowd bouncing right until the end of the set. One nearby bride-to-be was even left crying floods of tears during his performance of Hold My Girl, a track that sent the whole audience into a communal slow dance.

While Ezra’s performance was obviously the main event, the singer-songwriter’s band made quite a splash of their own. Listener’s were treated to an incredible drum solo, as well as a powerful dose of jazz delivered by accompanying brass musicians. Even for those unfamiliar with Ezra’s music (an impossibility, some might say), dancing along was irresistible. Special mention should also be made to Martyn Kenyon and Tony Redshaw, the emotive BSL interpreters who made sure the event’s music could be experienced by everyone.

Photo: Jack Kimber Photography

After a brief disappearance, followed by chants for one more song, the performer and band reappeared on stage to deliver a two-song encore. Of course, the most notable was Shot Gun, written by Ezra, Fred Gibson and Joel Pott and produced by Cam Blackwood. Its influence since release in 2018 has been immense, capturing the hearts of adults and children alike. It was the perfect way to end a show that can only be described as joyous.

Lytham Festival continues tonight with another stellar lineup, including Sting, Blondie, Kaiser Chiefs and more.

Day 1

Lytham festival opened in cosmic style last night, with Jamiroquai keeping audiences dancing right up to the 11pm curfew and frontman Jay Kay showing no signs of wanting to stop.

Lytham Festival 2023. Jamiroquai

Soul band Stone Foundation opened the night followed by US rap/rock trio Fun Lovin’ Criminals. Despite the rain in the day, the sun began peeking through the grey skies by the time Lytham Green filled up with festival-goers and Jake Shears was performing his high-energy set of Scissor Sisters classics alongside solo material.

Dressed like some kind of disco runner in sparkly red shorts, sweatband and vest with a number 69 race bib, Shears definitely got his steps in as he ran up across the stage while belting out hits like Take Your Mama and I don’t Feel Like Dancin’ in his distinctive falsetto.

Lytham Festival 2023 Jake Shears

His band, notably drag queen saxophonist Snow White Trash, served up fabulousness while Amber Martin provided the female vocals we expect to hear on Shears’ hits. Martin also stepped into centre stage for Devil Came Down the Dancefloor, her incredible vocals matched by her dancing and sparkly kaftan. A costume change for Shears midway through the set was a natural step for this disco party set, which he rounded off dressed in a red leather hot pants jumpsuit and the crowd rousing Filthy/Gorgeous.

Did you know Jay Kay was from Blackburn? In fact, his mother was a cabaret singer and comedian who made her debut in Blackpool aged 16. Stepping out into headline position he told the crowd he was happy to be performing in his home county for one of only a handful of shows Jamiroquai are playing to celebrate 30 years. And what a catalogue of tunes they have made in that time.

Opening with Main Vein, from 2001’s A Funk Odyssey, Jay Kay drew out his 13-song set with instrumentals and riffs on lyrics with some tracks playing for about eight minutes – the crowd boogying along for every second. Big hitters included Little L, Cosmic Girl, Canned Heat and final tune Virtual Insanity – each new track reminding the audience of the sheer volume of awesome tunes Jamiroquai have produced over the years.

Jay Kay joked that the gig would stop people from asking what had happened to him. He’s 53 now, and looks it, except he’s as cool as ever – dressed head to tow in Adidas and with his signature feather headdress. And his age has done nothing to slow him down – his funky moves as much a part of the show as his brilliant band and distinctive voice.

Lytham Festival 2023

And he sounds as good as ever, delivering vocals that could have come straight out of a recording studio in the ‘90s. Occasionally it did feel like the sound levels weren’t quite right, however, with vocals drowned out by the band and the crowd which echoed every catchy chorus back. When the cameras for the big screens went behind him and Jay Kay cut a silhouette against the backdrop of a Lytham sunset it was a truly magical moment.

The songs might be two or three decade old but Jamiroquai are no nostalgia act, with every funky baseline and jazzy hook sounding fresh. Lytham Festival continues tonight with George Ezra and throughout the week there are appearances from Sting, Lionel Richie and many more. If they can deliver half of what Jamiroquai did, it’ll be a great week.

Some practical notes if you’re heading down to Lytham Festival this week:

Book your transport home if you’re not driving and give your cabby a specific pick up place away from the festival site. Wear layers! Take your Barclaycard credit card if you have one – you get a discount on drinks which are about £7 for a pint or a tin of wine. Check out Blackpool DJ collective Her House if you’re lucky enough to have Garden passes – they’re guaranteed to serve up the party vibes. Keep your eye on the weather but for George Ezra tonight it’s looking fine. The green was holding up well last night with no mud, so you don’t need wellies unless it’s part of the look.

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