WHEN the line-up was announced for Neighbourhood Weekender 2023, I was slightly bewildered.

Having been given advanced sight of the line-up, it put me in a strange predicament - I wanted to shout about the fact that Pulp were returning, but then I also saw the rest of the line-up.

Personally, I felt that the festival might be running out of steam, or it had forgotten its base audience, and was trying to appeal to every music taste under the sun in the hopes that more and more people would buy tickets.

Warrington Guardian: How did this year's headliners stack up at Neighbourhood Weekender?How did this year's headliners stack up at Neighbourhood Weekender? (Image: Newsquest)

So when I saw that Pulp were coming back to Warrington, 27 years after they stole the show at V Fest '96, I was more than a bit surprised.

Months of strange battles with Pulp's management regarding photography, and which photos they were happy for the press to use slightly soured the taste of the band's music before they even took to the stage.

Pulp rescinded photography passes for all media just hours before they headlined Neighbourhood Weekender's second day, for example - so it had not put any of us in the best of moods.

And then they came onto the stage.

Without mincing my words, it can only be described as a triumph.

The crowd was in awe as the words 'this is real' were projected across massive screens, before a large stage curtain was drawn back and frontman Jarvis Cocker made his entrance up through the stage, to thunderous applause.

There are few frontmen I have seen who can have a crowd of thousands eating out of the palm of their hand, and Cocker is one of them.

Decked out in a brown suede suit, and demonstrating that he is capable of pulling off Cuban heels, the audience was transported to Pulp's heyday, and it was a true spectacle.

From the moment the catchy - and, dare I say it, iconic - riffs of Disco 2000 were blurted out, streamers exploded from the top of the stage.

Cocker conducted the crowd through a 90-minute set, culminating with an encore that had fans literally begging to hear Common People.

Did Pulp's awkward relationship with the press and publicity sour the taste for me? A little.

But I cannot fault the show that they put on at Neighbourhood Weekender, and they were easily the best act of the weekend.

Pulp performed on Sunday evening, but one act that was met with incredible enthusiasm on Saturday afternoon was Scouting for Girls.

Having already performed at Neighbourhood Weekender in the Big Top in years gone by, Scouting for Girls are a sure-fire way to please a crowd.

From She's So Lovely, to I Wish I Was James Bond, and Heartbeat, the band were in spectacular form, and it was probably one of the best sets I've seen from them across the gigs of theirs I've been at.

Warrington Guardian: Ella Henderson put on a spectacular show full of uplifting tunes for a Sunday afternoon slotElla Henderson put on a spectacular show full of uplifting tunes for a Sunday afternoon slot (Image: Newsquest)

Another afternoon artist that projected positivity at this year's festival was Ella Henderson on Sunday afternoon.

The former X Factor contestant led the crowd in pop hits and was clearly having a ball on stage.

In terms of performance, Henderson ranks pretty highly for me, and she sounded incredible - especially when performing fan-favourite Ghost.

Warrington Guardian: Self Esteem's set was met with roars from the thousands-strong crowdSelf Esteem's set was met with roars from the thousands-strong crowd (Image: Newsquest)

Another act on the main stage that drew in the crowds was Self Esteem.

I've never listened to Self Esteem, but the crowd absolutely loved her, as well as her 'out there' choreography and vocals.

At one point she did start woofing like a dog, which I didn't understand very much, but the audience seemed to love it - so fair play to her.

All in all, there were some stand-out performances at this year's Neighbourhood Weekender, and the weather certainly showed up for the weekend.