Friday, 14 March 2008

Das Kapital

That last post got me thinking about life in Liverpool and the variety of musical possibilities that present themselves week after week. Being so close to Manchester, the 2 cities between them must form the best UK gigging area away from the big 'don, without the horrifying prices and gobshite Cockneys. But whilst propagating the North/South divide is a pastime of which I rarely tire, this post is directed more at Liverpool specifically and the high/low side of the music that flows from the city's crane-addled streets. Onwards.........

You can't really start anywhere without hitting up the Beatles first, which mirrors the reality of flying into the city via John Lennon Airport. I have no major beef with the bowl cut wonders but I'm also no huge fan boy. Whilst there's no getting away from the fact that they're the reason many abroad know the city exists, there's also the kitsch flip side of tacky tourist traps and overtly reverential city 'experiences'. Regardless, an overblown musical legacy is better than none whatsoever, so that's the glass filled just slightly over the halfway point.

The current music scene within the city and its environs (yes, Wirral 'woolybacks' can be included, lest my place of birth come into the equation) is quite a incongruous one, at least as far as my experiences paint the picture. The Cream club night at Nation closed its weekly session in '02 but the influence is still felt, in what I'm informed are massive nights at Chibuku. That's held at the Masque venue, above which is the reliable Barfly club, host to many different styles including my favoured indie/rock/metal. The rock scene is obviously well served both past, with Merseybeat's artists, and present with chart-hopping bands like The Coral, The Zutons, and The Wombats prospering in recent years. The line for me is quite thin between good alternative rock with the odd nod to the past (Hot Club de Paris), and the blatant, floppy haired Beatle-worship of the more pedestrian bands (Zutons). Other past notables include Echo & The Bunnymen, The Boo Radleys, The Farm, Space, and The Lightning Seeds

The glaring omission above, at least for those compelled by the powerful riff, would be Carcass.The reason for setting that band aside is that they pretty much stand alone as Liverpool's contribution to metal. It can't be argued that it's a significant contribution, of course, but they certainly stick out like a Scouser in Anfield when placed in between those referenced above! To me this is still obvious nowadays, mainly in the turnout at local metal shows and even when larger heavy bands roll through the city. The crowds are usually really sparse and the bands will rarely return if they go on to any small measure of success. I saw Arch Enemy play to a maximum of 15 people back in 2001 and only slightly more turned out for the legendary Crowbar this time last year. The punters seem to be much more inclined towards the pop-rock side of things or else the house/club scene, whose purveyors get much larger turnouts and to further evidence it have summers events like Knowsley Hall and Creamfields just down the road. No Download or Carling Festival for Merseyside folks.

This has all really been just to spout out how I have found the music here in the past 3 years of Liverpool living, no doubt fuelled by the impending exit to a much bigger city later this year. There is no real criticism, as the city does extremely well for its size and has Manchester 45 mins down the road whenever bands decide not to make the extra jaunt down the M62. Clubs like Korova, the Krazyhouse, Bumper, Magnet and Roadkill, all provide a good choice of alternative night spots in which to escape the plastic WAG chic of whatever uncharismatic trendy bar the masses choose to drink in that weekend. Then the gig calendar is always offering something, be it a larger band at the Carling Academy, the Uni, or new Echo Arena (beautiful despite the fact it should have been Royal Blue) or a smaller upcoming band at the Barfly or Cavern. Keeps me entertained and out of pocket, anyway ;-)

The best way to finish is clearly to flag up a few of my favourite local bands, many of whom are fresh-faced and hopefully going to go on to bigger things in the near future. Getting out to see them can only be a good thing, especially the ones with long hair and big riffs!

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