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Southport Reporter® covering the news on Merseyside.

Date:-  15 May 2006

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Written by Wendy Chalke and photographs by Patrick Trollope.

EUROPE'S best loved indoor music festivals; the Southport Weekender was yet again a total sell out. The music event is held now twice a year due to its increasing popularity, but strangely most of Southport is still unaware of just what really goes on and how much of a credit this event is for our area… The 38 Weekender was run over the 5 May 2006 to 7 May, at Pontins holiday complex, as normal. The event attracted a staggering 5000 fun loving music fans and top artists like Dawn Robinson and Byron Stingily, it was more than just flashing lights and huge speakers that made your whole body shake. It was all about the music and also catching up with friends from past Weekenders. With Hip Hop, Jazz, Funk, Drum 'n' Base, Soul, R&B and some Techno, yes techno got in some how, the walls and floor were vibrating to the beat and you could feel the rhythm in the air. From one arena to another, there was an amazing contrast of music, style and atmosphere in each one. Dancers also were performing acrobatic tricks on the dance floor and more! There was something for everyone, even the bar staff were enjoying themselves. Neil showing off with his party trick of opening a bottle of Bacardi Breezer, followed by a double act of some serious cocktail mixing (very impressive boys). Good job Pontins were equipped with a high Tec quality air conditioning system as things really started to heat up as the weekend went on. Sadly, I missed Sounds of Blackness who played live in concert and from what our other reporter told me and our editor, who was taking the photographs throughout the event, told me, it was just stunning. It is not often our editor gets lost for words, but this was one of them. I have to say I was impressed by the atmosphere at the event, it was so friendly and everyone was just out to have fun… The highlight was for me was chilling in the VIP lounge with some great people and amazing artists, but it was amazing who I met outside the VIP room and did not realize who they were! The best way to sum up the weekender for me is to give you a quick idea of Saturday night two main acts…

At 12:30 slightly later than scheduled Soul legend Alexander O'Neil worked the stage with his outstanding vocal and comic stage presence. Even when there was a slight technical hitch with one of the tracks jumping, he never dropped his professionalism. Veteran Weekender punters told me that this type of hitch has never happened before, well it would happen when I was at the event… Saying that it did not spoil what was a fantastic and staggeringly stunning performance and I can see now how he could sell out at Wembley Arena six times over! The audiences and I loved it, with some great dance moves both on and off stage; it was hard not to join in!

It was an exciting wait for a certain female artist that got more intense by the second, as whistles were blown, horns were being let off and the audience was shouting for Dawn… At 3:30 with Ronnie Herel, working his skills on the decks, Dawn Robinson was soon to grace the stage. The wait was worth every second… The crowd went wild as she opened up the set with her huge hit of Don't Let Go! Her sensational vocal was breathtaking and she looked fantastic. A great performance from start to finish, she ended with yet another huge hit Don't Mess With My Man!

I got the chance to meet a lot of people from all over the world at the event and it was not just the artists who travelled from the USA to the event. Some of the audience had come from the good old USA and others came from Australia, Netherlands, France, Iceland and some even from Russia and that was just a few we met along the way. I would like to say thanks to Damo, Stoney and Tiny (Ainsdale guys) "Weekender Virgins" who helped me, a fellow "Weekender Virgin" find my feet. I agree with Mike, Chris and Rob (London Boys) who say that "The Weekender should not to be missed!"

So to sum up the Southport Weekender in just a few words - huge arenas, enough lighting and sound equipment to sink a battle ship, a fantastic atmosphere and big, big named artists. The whole event was a big success, safe atmosphere provided by the security and working staff at Pontins. This was a full weekend of non-stop partying!!! Though it did make me wonder, when do these people actually sleep??? I know our editor didn't... he was having too much fun!

Live acts photographed by our photographer and editor Patrick are as follows:- J-Davey, Don-E, Fund*Mental03, Dawn Robinson, The Rebirth, Una, Alexander O'Neal, The Mutherfunkaz, DJ Pathaan, Monique Bingham, Sounds Of Blackness and Byron Stingily.

As well as this weeks 30 pages of photographs... Please keep an eye out for next weeks update as the second part with lots more shots of the Weekender will be added to the site!

Added extra...  The Powerhouse afternoon set on Saturday was dedicated to the memory of DJ Swing and Lynden Daid Hall.

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