Review – Western Park Festival, Saturday 22nd July 2023

Siobhan Mazzei. Photo (c) Kevin Gaughan

Reviewed by Imogen Cresswell

Western Park Festival is an annual festival located at Leicester’s wonderful Western Park. This park has a significant history to it, in which our wonderful Leicestershire musicians continue to become part of it each year.

The weather, as we can all agree, was not ideal. However, the crowds were still vast and the artists performing remained enthusiastic. I arrived just in time for the rain to heave it down, but I was not phased, as I had high hopes to enjoy the entertainment, environment, and of course the local food trucks that would kindly feed me their delicious produce.

The crowd at the main stage. Photo (c) Kevin Gaughan

I was thrilled to know artists such as Michael Vickers and Her Burden were performing, as well as some ‘Unglamorous Project’ bands/musicians including Kath Moskvina as well as Bellatones. I would also like to acknowledge Luke Broughton’s continuous enthusiasm for upcoming musicians, by designing a ‘Take the Stage Takeover’ on the Valley stage, where they presented fresh tracks and friendly artists to showcase their work.

Code Switch Theory were first on my radar, as I knew they had talent but I never had the opportunity to observe them in person. I was thrilled to be greeted with warm, funky tones and good vibes. I would like to praise the guitarist and bassist in particular for having such good rhythm and daringness to add all the unique flares we needed to hear and hammering those notes so we can appreciate them.

Code Switch Theory. Photo (c) Kevin Gaughan

Going back to the take-over stage, Luke introduced us to an artist called Sean Eliazah, who took me back ever so slightly. As a young singer-songwriter, Sean introduced us to his new single Mr Computer Man, which was very well written particularly for an upcoming artist. He has clearly had a long-term passion for songwriting, and I would encourage everyone to keep their eyes peeled and support this talent from its origins, as we need more acts like Sean Eliazah on our Leicester stages!

Sean Eliazah. Photo (c) Kevin Gaughan

I took a wander to the Bandstand as at this point I knew Hugh McManners was playing, who delicately played his guitar and sang familiar songs that could put us all in a trance. It was very peaceful, and relaxing.

Another artist who really caught my attention was Sherilyn; a jazz vocalist who honoured the likes of Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra with her incredible voice and beautiful stage presence. I admired everything about her, and if I was my ten-year-old self watching her during Western Park Festival, I would have only been able to dream of becoming the swing and blues star that she is today.

Sherilyn. Photo (c) Kevin Gaughan

Heading to the main stage, I learned about the band Out of the Blue. I’ve never seen so many people dance in the rain when this band came on. The utter joy that emanated from my being when they began to perform acoustic covers of songs like Mr Blue Sky was unlike anything I have ever felt. Their power and coordination as an acoustic band was bewildering and they are a band I will promise to see again.

Out of the Blue. Photo (c) by Kevin Gaughan

The last musician I wish to talk about is Alex Gardener. I caught Alex previously at open mic nights a few years ago, so I knew I would enjoy his set immediately. Alex is the only musician I’ve met where I can sit in the rain and not feel a single drop because I am that fixated on his incredible vocals and cosy, gentle guitar playing and finger picking. I was immersed in his choice of chords and lyrics for his original masterpieces.

This day, although damp, did not dampen anyone’s spirit. People of all ages continued to thrive with the music and socialise with one-another, granting this strong sense of community- reminiscent of how lively these events were before 2020. As the popularity of these events continues to grow and recover once more, I can’t help but feel anticipation for next year’s Western Park festival, and who in the next year will become part of our wonderful, unforgettable history as Leicestershire’s music scene.

Unfortunately the Music in Leicester team had to leave at this point as we were soaked, our equipment was waterlogged and the rain was relentless [editor].

Our Vlog of the day:


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