Music Critic Bethany Carter reviews the Salford Music Festival and is delighted by how the festival adapts to its new online format

Music Critic

When one thinks of a music festival, the last thing that comes to mind is sitting at home watching the line-up live from your laptop. However, this is exactly what the Salford Music Festival (SMF) did this year from May 29th to the 31st, and let me say, it was a highly rated experience. The festival was founded by Ed Blaney (former member of The Fall) 10 years ago, and this year Blaney adapted to the circumstances to create an amazing event for great causes. The event was free to watch but we were encouraged to donate to help organisations such as Salford Lads Club, Salford Loaves and Fishes, and more. Below will be the acts that were a few of my personal favourites along with the links to watch their performances.


Ed Blaney:

Not only is Blaney the founder of the SMF, but he is also a complete Rockstar. Blaney is an artist who clings to his roots and has the iconic Salford attitude that shines through his music. Performed on stage with the help of his guitar player, Blaney provided the ultimate at-home rock experience. On the final day of the festival, Blaney appeared before the final act playing his 2017 single ‘Happy Return,’ which was the perfect way to draw a close on the festival as it added a nice personal touch from the founder himself. Overall, if there was one person to watch who would give you the tone of what the Salford Music Festival was about, I would recommend Blaney for that one.


His performance – 8:28:45 –

Any performance you will see of Peter Hook is sure to leave you mesmerised as his passion erupts on stage

Peter Hook and the light:

Peter Hook is the artist who first focused my attention on the festival. Hook is a man of many talents and is known for his work in Joy Division, New Order, and now Peter Hook and the Light. Let me just tell you this, any performance you will see of Peter Hook is sure to leave you mesmerised as his passion erupts on stage. This performance involved five musicians in total who were joined together virtually. Hook began his set with the iconic ‘Love will tear us apart’ by Joy Division which instantly got everybody in the mood for the rest of the gig. The evening consisted of two New Order songs and five Joy Division songs totalling in at a half an hour performance. This set deserves a 10/10 rating, not only because the music was pure brilliance, but for all of the efforts put into their gig.


Their performance –


J B Barrington:

J B Barrington is a poet for those who love poetry and for those who do not. Anybody will enjoy poetry read by Barrington due to his bright personality and humour throughout. Barrington began in front of a giant Salford city transport canvas, beer in hand, and a Salford Central t-shirt on. The tone for the set was established within the first five minutes of his performance which was something that was appreciated as I knew I would enjoy the set from the moment it began. The first poem was entitled ‘I’m doing time with the wife’ which was written about his experience of spending lockdown with his wife. It was a satirical poem with lines such as ‘She’s been digging a six-foot hole in the garden, go check it if I disappear.’ The poem ‘Things me mam used to say’ also stood out as it was not only a poem that many could relate to with lines such as ‘Where did you lose it? I don’t know, I can’t find it that’s why it’s lost,’ but it also gives a personal insight into Barrington’s upbringing. The set overall was very enjoyable and it was great to hear a poet with fresh ideas whilst making them humorous at the same time.


His performance – 3:37:09


Natalie McCool:

Natalie McCool is a singer-songwriter from the Liverpool area who prior to this festival, I had not heard of. McCool performed a set that had a distinct mystical/enchanting feeling to it, one element that helped create this atmosphere was the use of a second microphone that echoed as she sang into it. Throughout the performance, McCool used a variety of different guitars and performed completely by herself. This was very impressive as the quality of the set was immensely high considering the circumstances. The first song McCool performed was ‘Someone Nue’ which had her classic indie vibe intertwined within the lyrics and melody. McCool has a very soft voice which enhances the type of music she plays. Despite the fact she stated she was nervous about performing via live stream, McCool did remarkably well and was my favourite discovery from the festival.


Her performance – 7:56:08


The Slow Readers Club:

Manchester-based rock band The Slow Readers Club was the showstopper of the entire event. The band performed socially distanced over a live stream and had an array of musicians with instruments ranging from the piano to the violin. They began the set with ‘I Saw a Ghost’ which is a very intense, yet enjoyable song. Just by this one song, you could feel that seeing them live would be an amazing experience. The musicians gave 100% when performing and it made the gig even more appreciable. The fact that the band was used as the closing act of the entire festival shows they have the power to produce an incredible performance, it was the best way to end the festival.


Their performance – 8:33:04 –


All performances are currently still available to watch for free on the Salford Music Festival’s YouTube page. They are currently at just over 50% of their target for raising £5,000 for really great causes, if you are able to, feel free to donate as anything at all helps the cause.


Link for the SMF YouTube page :

Donation page :


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