A Festival is Born

Singer songwriter John Collier organised Wigan’s first online music festival on Saturday 28th March 2020.

John was determined to bring together local musicians who would normally have performed across Wigan each week, to keep the town dancing, albeit from our front rooms.

The set comprised of 10 Wigan and Skelmersdale artists, with John headlining and closing the show.

John put together the event in just one night through the magic of social media. Following in the footsteps of stars such as Merry Hell, Elton John, Biffy Clyro and Frank Turner, Lancashire’s/Yorkshire’s finest talent took to their domestic stages to entertain the masses via Facebook Live.

The Performances

Opening the evening was Danny Fallows @dannyfallowssoloartist


Danny opened with his energetic and gritty interpretation of Oasis’s Slide Away against the backdrop of atmospheric lighting, creating a stage presence through Facebook live. Danny’s set was diverse and included Gerry Cinnamon’s ‘Sometimes’, Arctic Monkey’s ‘Mardy Bum’ and he dedicated Lewis Capaldi’s ‘Hold Me While You Wait’ to John Collier.


Tim Critchley @TimCritchleyAcoustic


Tim had technical difficulties and was performing on his own Facebook page, so unfortunately, I didn’t catch all his set. What I did see though was an awesome trombone accompanied version of ‘Free Falling’ by Tom Petty. Check out Tim’s Facebook page to see more.


Andrew Cantwell @andrewcantwellmusic


Andrew’s set was moving, as many of the songs he performed were personal to him and his family.

Opening with Donovan’s ‘Catch the Wind’, which was dedicated to his aunties and a mention to TMP College, who have supported Andrew in his song writing and recording.

Andrew thanked John for organising the event, stating that he missed the open mic nights, so this was the next best thing.

Andrew moved onto Dogs D’Amour’s ‘Drunk Like Me’ to celebrate 20 months of sobriety, which is also an upbeat favourite for the open mic crowd and also another track of theirs, ‘Empty World’, in a tribute to his late wife, Diane.

Andrew serenaded the crowd with Mike Scott’s ‘How Long Will I Love You?’ which many may be familiar with through Ellie Goulding’s cover version a few years’ ago.

Into the era of Punk, Andrew belted out the timeless ‘Dreaming’ by Blondie, another band dear to his heart, Parallel lines being the first album he ever bought.

‘Watching the World Go By’ was recently written and recorded by Andrew at TMP College and has enjoyed airplay across several UK radio stations in recent weeks, receiving wonderful reviews.

Andrew ended his set with a stripped back version of the epic 80s anthem ‘Will You’ which many would have remembered from the cult movie, ‘Breaking Glass’ starring Hazel O’Connor.


Tom Jones @qsoearth


Commencing with ‘Since She Came Along’ a Tom Jones original …this track takes me to the American Mid-West, trotting along on horseback, feeling the sun on my face, with all the romance of the cowboys sweeping the ladies off their feet in the local bars.

Tom is an extremely versatile singer/songwriter/performer who is a multi-instrumentalist regularly performing at many venues across Wigan. Tom organises the Wigan Live event as well as open mic nights and jam sessions. A true arts activist who is extremely humble.

Next up is a fabulous cover of Flaming Lips’ ‘Race for the Prize’. I never hear Tom playing the same tracks twice very often, his repertoire is that extensive. Every song sung with pure emotion and passion; you can’t help but get lost in your own mind as he plays.

Another marvellous and not so obvious cover, The Mountain Goat’s song ‘This Year’ delights and enchants as the words ring eerily relevant. It also reminds me of Bob Dylan’s ‘Times They are a Changing’.

Tom swings back to his own ‘House on Fire’ played at his piano, I am immediately captivated, the tune and lyrics are reminiscent of the golden jazz era and could easily have been a classic sung by Ella Fitzgerald. I am still reeling from the sheer magnificence of that track, when Tom nonchalantly picks up his ukulele and covers Joe Brown’s ‘See You in My Dreams’.

A real star and true gentleman, what a magical half hour that was.


Leah Wallis https://www.facebook.com/leahwallissinger/


Leah opened with a Motown classic ‘ I Heard it Through the Grapevine’ bringing soul right to the heart of the Wigan Lockdown Festival. Moving into ‘Go Your Own Way’ the Fleetwood Mac favourite and the Cranberries’ Zombie, Leah’s vocals pierced the night with power, building the energy of the evening beautifully.

I bet there were grannies in mosh pits across kitchens in Wigan and Skelmersdale, as Leah performed a crowd favourite, the Courteeners’ Not Nineteen Forever! Going for a mellow finish, Leah sang us out with a stunning version of Shallow and Snow Patrol’s Run.


Andy Stonier @AndyStonierMusic


8.30pm and New Orleans arrived in Wigan with a thump as Andy began with a blues interpretation of Etta James’ ‘I’d Rather Go Blind’, and on to Ocean Colour Scene’s ‘Riverboat Song’. Showing great diversity of his guitaring and voice, Andy switched to Nine Inch Nails’ ‘Hurt’ performed with sheer emotion, and gave a fantastic emotive yet up tempo version of the Eric Clapton song, Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out.

Andy showcased his own tracks including ‘Anything Can Happen’ and ‘Higher Ground’ (available through Spotify) closing with The Band’s epic song ‘The Weight’ and Sinatra’s ‘My Way’. A true roller coaster ride through the musical spectrum. Just the ticket for a Saturday evening at a festival, sat on your own rug with no queues for the toilets or bar!


Harrison Rimmer @harrisonrimmermusic


York based Harrison Rimmer bounced onto the virtual stage to perform his own song, ‘Take Me To The Top again’ which is a vibrant starter guaranteed to get crowds moving, before serving them with another original, ‘Rum’ to sweeten the mood.

High off Rum, Harrison took us into ‘The Air Tonight’ the Phil Collins’ classic but a dreamier version. Then a sharp hop across the Irish sea to visit the ‘Dirty Old Town’ for a mass singalong, shhh I am sure I can hear it across the trees!

Back to his own material, ‘Buried in My Dust’ is a corker for a jive. Finally, Harrison sailed off into the Yorkshire night with a bluesesque version of ‘Iris’ by the Goo Goo Dolls ringing in our ears.


Jon and Lish @jonpeetmusic @lish


Jon and Lish, the only non-solo act of the evening, harmonised perfectly to Green Day’s ‘Basket Case’ and keeping 90s rock alive, they segwayed into Nirvana’s ‘All Apologies’ and the Cranberries’ ‘Zombie’. Perfect for the mid evening slot, lively and great for us older folk to reminisce and sing along to.

‘What’s The Story Morning Glory’ saw us all in fine anthemic voice, joining in with this superb set of classics. Lish’s unique voice and Jon’s dynamic guitaring bring these tracks into a melodic and haunting beauty of their own.

Jon announced in his thick Wigan dialect they would finish with T’Radio..ead’ ?

Street Spirit, an absolute favourite of mine sealed the deal… Jon and Lish are not only extremely talented musicians and singers but have outstanding taste in music … thank you for a great half an hour back to my youth.


Paul McHale @PaulMcHaleAcoustic


‘Billie Jean’ like you’ve never heard before, transposed into pure rock, sends chills … I am transported into the festival fields, we are all swaying along, knee drumming, foot tapping, feeling the summer breeze whip around our heads.

This online acoustic festival has delivered, it has not lost any of its authenticity being virtual. This is down to the pure talent and passion of tonight’s performers and we are still only at the penultimate act! I am buzzing and have enjoyed every minute of it, relishing the last hour now.

Paul had a few technical hitches, so we missed a lot of his set. Paul has promised to record a session and post it online, make sure you check him out on Facebook as he is fantastic.


John Collier   – Find out more about John at his website https://www.johncolliermusic.com/about


The grand finale has the full festival feel as organiser and headliner, John Collier, kicks off with Sally Cinnamon. Typing, dancing and singing is a festival first for me, normally I am tutting at teenagers talking over the music and inhaling the smoke off someone’s weed!

Another favourite of the throng, I am going to have to get out of my seat soon, which is ironic, as John is taunting me with James’ ‘Oh Sit Down!’ ….Lyrics slightly changed to be satirical given the surreal times we are experiencing at present.

So, it is fitting that despite all our current frustrations, John chooses to sing the Verve’s ‘Lucky Man’, not only paying homage to the Wigan legends, but also serving as a reminder that we are fortunate. We still have music and the human spirit and that has shone through with such brilliance tonight. John should be extremely proud of what he has achieved with this event. We thank you John.

Paul Weller’s ‘Broken Stones’ rocks out from the speaker, very symbolic of how everyone must be feeling right now, sang charmingly.

John is a keen fan of the Tansads, who later became Merry Hell, as he was taught by John Kettle who performs in both bands. His tribute to Mr Kettle, a magnificently moody rendition of ‘Spirit Man’. Quality.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s – Deep Blue Something, really takes me back to lighter days.


And Now The End is Near…

We are nearing the end now and there is no sadness, just pride.

Northern Soul, the human spirit, music and the arts. These are what we all draw from when life throws us challenges. Music always lights the way, warms our hearts, creates memories, cements relationships and heals the soul. Tonight has been testimony of this.

Now We Face the Final Curtain…

As John plays us out with the Killers’ ‘Mr Brightside’ and ‘Whatever’ by Oasis (fused with All the Young Dudes) …..

Let’s please give a final applause to our wonderful acts; as they take a virtual bow, we stand and salute you for an evening of pure enjoyment and love.


Danny Fallows, Tim Critchley, Andrew Cantwell, Tom Jones, Leah Wallis, Andy Stonier, Harrison Rimmer, Jon and Lish, Paul McHale, and of course an extra loud clap and cheer for the amazing John Collier.


Can I change the title of the event now please to the First and hopefully NOT the last Acoustics Online Festival?


Finally over to the viewers…

12,000 (yes 12!!!!) viewers have been overwhelmingly positive and complimentary.


Top comment…

*Faith in humanity restored fucking awesome the way people come together in tough times


Author: Andrew

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