Amongst a weekend full to the brim of live music in the form of numerous festivals, gigs and events to mark the start of the summer season, Party in the Pews held their own, and proved how much of an impact this festival has had since it launched two years ago. Competition for punters is always challenging but not for event founder Jo Lowes and her team, as this festival set in the beautiful surroundings of Macclesfield’s Christ Church, had completely sold out for both the Saturday and the Sunday, and was certainly the highlight in many gig-goers calendar.

Kicking off the Saturday was Saddleworth favourites ‘Stepford Wives’, this four piece, or so I thought have mellowed some what since they gained a new drummer a few months ago. This afternoon they appeared as a five piece with Maisie Jackson joining the line up with her beautiful backing vocals. The band have built up a sound reputation since the formed nearly five years ago and debuted some new material which has seen them tone down the heavy post punk with a more chilled vibe, it works!

In between sets there was plenty going on. The event is very family friendly with organised actives to keep younger children entertained. A whole host of independent food stalls and a bar serving tasty treats, a shout out to must go to the dudes selling the gyros, best I have ever had! Local artist Trafford Parsons was working on two huge canvases amongst the stalls, one which quickly took shape of the late great Tina Turner.

The event once again had two stages this year, the outdoor tent and of course the main stage inside the church, set below the stunning stained glass window. The outdoor stage was advantageous, especially in this mini heatwave, and of course allows more acts to perform. Back inside the church I caught Konkoma Maximum Love Garden Orchestra, a multi-instrumental delight! This ensemble of talented musicians really got the crowd warmed up and on their feet dancing. The indoor venue started to fill up with people doing what is suggested and partying in those pews!

Heavy Salad were certainly a highlight for me. Their vocalists are exceptional, and Rosie’s dance moves infectious! There was nearly a full house for this lot with their beautiful melodies drawing in the punters from the sunny exterior. These guys are well worth watching should you get an opportunity!

Headlining the outdoor stage was Levenshulme’s Chris Bridgett. Bridgett is best known for his work with Dubsex and Cold Water Swimmers but has recently embarked on a solo venture which we were privy to be a part of this evening. The outdoor stage started to get busy as soon as Bridgett launched into ‘Breaking Hearts’, a beautiful track that suits his unique vocals followed by one of his latest ballads ‘Were you even there’. Bridgett is an expert when it comes to working an audience, and soon got people singing along as a large crowd gathered around.

The performance by Bridgett was enhanced somewhat by Wayne Carey attempting to do a piece of performance art with a deckchair, but was wisely stalled by a steward, I imagine due to health and safety, however, I would like to see a collaboration between the two in the future, any thoughts Chris?

The evening’s headliner needed no introduction. Badly Drawn Boy was on form. All punters were packed into the church to see the Manchester native play some of his finest songs. The sound was incredible as was the atmosphere. The day was a huge success, and its is clear that after seeing who is headlining next year, this festival is growing and going places! (Hopefully only figuratively as this venue is absolute gold!) Huge shoutout again to all the hardworking volunteers and of course Jo Lowes for making this weekend one to remember for many!

Details of next years event can be found on the Party in the Pews Facebook page – check it out HERE.