Neighbourhood Weekender 2023 Review

By Tom Lawson-Corney & Christopher Brown | Published: Thu 1st Jun 2023


Saturday 27th to Sunday 28th May 2023
Victoria Park, Knutsford Road, Warrington, Cheshire, WA4 4UK, England MAP
£127.50 for 2days; £66.50 for either day
Daily capacity: 25,000
Last updated: Thu 4th May 2023

The fifth Neighbourhood Weekender took place at a sun-soaked Victoria Park in Warrington over the late-May bank holiday, headlined by Paul Heaton and Pulp amongst a stacked lineup across three stages. The venue itself holds some very special musical history. The very first V Festival 1996 (we’ll come back to that later) and Radiohead’s tent shows on the Kid A/Amnesiac tour in 2000 spring to mind.

However, when the license application first went in for a new festival in Warrington around the corner from my house, I was certainly dubious. Twenty-five thousand people a day on the site of my local parkrun seemed ambitious. Having attended the inaugural event in 2018 and returned in 2021, my third visit to the Weekender confirmed that local hero Simon Moran and SJM have created something memorable for the town.


Easily accessible from anywhere in the North West via car or public transport, Victoria Park is a great location for a non-camper. As STONE frontman Fin Power said during their set on the Viola Beach stage, ‘Warrington is the glue that holds Manchester and Liverpool together.’

The site isn’t huge, meaning short walks between all three stages. Saturday seemed particularly busy this year but at no point was it a challenge to move around and be where you needed to be. In previous years I’d witnessed long queues on the way in, but those issues certainly seem to have been resolved.

Food and Drink

Plenty of options for a festival of this size. The cost-of-living crisis has certainly impacted prices, as to be expected. Around £6.50 for a pint of Moretti, Amstel, Inch’s or Strongbow Dark Fruit in the main arena. Decent enough organic cocktails, a few spirits, bottles of wine and the odd craft beer were knocking about too.

Queues were large at peak times on the Saturday which resulted in the purchase of some vegan fried chicken and chips which wasn’t too bad. Sunday seemed much quieter in general and a giant Yorkshire pud, pork, mash, peas and gravy went down a treat.


Neighbourhood offers an on-site pub, The Neighbourhood Inn, that offers drinks, DJ’s and live-band karaoke. Normally rammed and featuring some superb songs being well and truly butchered, I didn’t stay too long. There is the library if silent discos are your thing, the corner shop rave as well as the chapel if you fancy a shotgun wedding.



After a slightly later arrival, the first act I saw was Wrexham’s The Royston Club in the Big Top. Their army of loyal fans took the roof off in the week leading up to the release of their debut album. Impressive.

The Royston Club - Neighbourhood Weekender - 2023

Next up was Sugababes on the main stage. A huge crowd witnessed a polished performance with the group backed by a particularly tight live band. An afternoon delight in the baking sunshine.

Ocean Colour Scene rolled back the years, leading the crowd into a beautiful singalong of The Day We Caught The Train. Certainly a worthy support act for the Heatonians in the build up to the headliner.

Onto the Viola Beach Stage for young Liverpool punks STONE. I’ve been after seeing these for a while and they certainly didn’t disappoint. Confidence, swagger, and a set of tunes that got the sizeable crowd involved from the start. Money (Hope ain’t gone) the standout. Bigger things on the way, no doubt.

Stone - Neighbourhood Weekender - 2023

THE GOA EXPRESS followed on the same stage. Another band I’ve been tracking arrived on the back of their recently announced debut album and tore through half an hour of guitar-led perfection. Although (by their own on-stage admission) travelling on the struggle bus after a heavy headline gig at YES in Manchester the night before, they still showed enough to reinforce their potential to be rising up the stages over the next few years.

THE GOA EXPRESS - Neighbourhood Weekender - 2023

Where to start with Paul Heaton? The man is a songwriting genius. From the first second of this headline set, the large crowd on the main stage witnessed exactly how it should be done. Missing Jacqui Abbott due to illness, the set began with just Heaton and his band. He took the lead on a wonderful rendition of Rotterdam to Anywhere before we were introduced to the magnificent Rianne Downey. Ridiculously good. Her vocals complimented Heaton in the most perfect way. The rest of the set was a joyous affair, culminating in a stunning Caravan of Love backed by the adoring audience. Before the weekend, I read the comments of a few doubters about his credentials as a headliner. Come off it.

Paul Heaton - Neighbourhood Weekender - 2023


Early doors saw the Bootleg Beatles deliver a greatest hits set on the main stage to kick off the proceedings. A must for any Beatles fan, they hit the right note throughout. Kula Shaker followed,  starting with Hey Dude to get the crowd going and finishing with well-received set closer, Hush.

Kula Shaker - Neighbourhood Weekender - 2023

The triumphant return of The Lottery Winners in the Big Top was one of the moments of the weekend. Fresh from their latest album reaching number one, the band lapped up every second of a joyous half hour. Frontman Thom really does know how to work a crowd.

The Lottery Winners - Neighbourhood Weekender - 2023

Gang of Youths took to the main stage next. A happier The National as I heard them referred to. Vocalist Dave split his time between throwing everything into his performance and declaring his love for Everton. The set lacked personal favourite Unison, but they’re certainly on the upward trajectory.

Gang of Youths - Neighbourhood Weekender - 2023

Back to the Big Top for Everything Everything. The Manchester band have built up a solid back catalogue and have certainly improved their live show since I saw them last at Bluedot back in 2016. Confidence Man followed, turning the tent into a nineties-inspired discotheque. Choreographed dance moves backed by piano-led dance anthems. No doubt if you’re at a festival this summer, you’ll probably see them.

Everything Everything - Neighbourhood Weekender - 2023

Sunday night saw the triumphant return of Pulp to Victoria Park, 27 years on from their headline performance at the inaugural V Festival. Jarvis launched into set-opener I Spy and didn’t look back. The theatrical staging added grandiose to the show, with the addition of the string section adding depth to the performance. Disco 2000 and it’s accompanying pyrotechnics got the party started but the set did lull from time to time. Admittedly, I’m sure it didn’t for the hardcore Pulp fans. Ending in a blissful Common People, Pulp proved why they are still a thoroughly deserving headline act and a national treasure.

For the photo galleries see here.

review by: Tom Lawson-Corney & Christopher Brown

photos by: Tom Lawson-Corney

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