WITH lyrics about thieving from a girlfriend's handbag while she is at the bar and fumbling with first time lovers on school trips, it was understandable that Gareth Roberts seemed a little perturbed to spot his mum in the crowd at Warrington Music Festival.

( Click here to watch a video report including some of the musical highlights)

The frontman from Red Badge of Courage may of course claim that these themes are purely allegorical, but either way his band's songs were brimming with wit and one of the many highlights of Saturday's event.

Warrington Music Collective had organised the show in Palmyra Square, Queen's Gardens as part of CultureFest 2007 and, playing across two stages, 25 bands gave a taste of the wealth of talent in the town.

Alongside a Red Stripe beer tent, food vendors and a Kung Fu skills exhibition by Woolston's May FangFa school of Pak Mei, Guilty Warfare, Jacs Creation, Bill Davro and The Popes and The Stocks had built up an impressive crowd as the show kicked into gear around noon.

After the droll lyricism of Red Badge of Courage it was the turn of French Eggs to bombard listeners with their eclectic ska, incorporating elements of punk and hip-hop with the vocal dynamics of Nathan Moseley and Alex French.

Sly Digs rattled through a powerful set of classic indie rock before The Cordels took to the stage, with a sound that brought to mind The Police, especially in the tender vocals of Dave McNamara. Nevertheless it was the brilliant drumming of Dave Wimbush that propelled the band - even after he temporarily broke his drumkit!

The range of influences and sounds on offer was no better illustrated than in the brooding, dense hip-hop of China White and the complex song structures of chaotic five-piece City Lights, who threw inflatable footballs and rubber rings into the crowd while one band member took to a cello.

From the cocksure swagger of The Kingsway to the charismatic performance of 4ft Soldiers' frontman Jim Green, the gig certainly seems to indicate a bright future for music in the town.

Headliners Exile Parade best epitomised this optimism, with a triumphant take on northern rock that explains why they may just be on the cusp of greatness.

Currently adding the final touches to an album produced by Owen Morris, famous for his work with Oasis and The Verve, they could be the band to help carry this festival forward in the years to come.