To be alive in interesting times is to be seen as a curse, the strung out meted response by those who wish you ill; yet in many ways it should be seen as a blessing, that you were there in that specific time to see History unfold, to tell perhaps in your words, be it recorded or just to friends and loved ones, just what your take on the situation was. 2016 may go down in history as one that was cursed in terms of the amount of stars, beloved icons and unbelievable talent lost forever to us; the only consolations being that we saw them when they were magnificent and the abiding work that they have left behind for us to enjoy over and over again.
However such things are fleeting, the year will be remembered for what it was, one filled with dynamic expression from many and in some the bitterest regretful tears. 2016 has been one that has taken so many, whether in the arts of not, let us not forget after all that ordinary people from many different backgrounds and beliefs have hopes dashed, their lives taken cruelly away by war, disease or simple neglect. Art shows us just how great we can be as a species but when those that we admire die on an almost daily basis throughout the year is taken more seriously than for example the ongoing and disgraceful situation in the Middle East, then art perhaps only reflects the shame of our cause upon the Earth.
The year will be remembered for so many iconic figures, heroes all, so many in fact that to name them all in a mere on line review could be seen as sensory overload but one perhaps stood out for Liverpool Sound and Vision above many others. Peter Fiddler was a young musician, a cracking vocalist from Liverpool who sadly lost his battle against a disease in the late hours of the previous year, however to receive a message from his band mate Tom Owen on New Year’s Day that a rising talent and above all someone that you had not long reviewed had finally lost the fight, it somehow puts the year into perspective.
There are many ways in which you can leave your stamp on the world and whilst Peter Fiddler had not had the chance to go on and prove the potential seen in him by those fortunate to witness his excellent performance at Zanzibar with Mr. Owen, it is a night that will always stick in the mind and rightly got him the praise he richly deserved.
With David Bowie’s sudden passing a couple of weeks later, (a particular hard one to bear at the desk of Liverpool Sound and Vision as his hit song was the reason behind the website’s name) and absolute legends in Status Quo’s Rick Parfitt, Liverpool’s Pete Burns, Eagles founding member Glen Fry and Progressive Rock Godfather Greg Lake, all who at one time had been seen by the man behind the desk or in the case of the great Greg Lake, interviewed over the phone, the year has taken on a dark edge; we thank them always for the music but we grieve for what they gave us, the art, the love and above all Hope.
Music has once more been a blessing for Liverpool and beyond but it could be seen that once again sinister forces are behind the scenes in trying to drive any venue from off the street; unless you are one of the big venue names, the constant grabbing up of land to turn into student flats is a worrying prospect.
Gig wise, like theatre, recorded music, films and theatre productions, of course not everything can ever be seen, one person’s great gig is another’s missed opportunity and vice-versa, however one of the great nights put on in Liverpool in the last year was the brain child of Roxanne de Bastion and put together with the superb Graham Holland of Liverpool Acoustic, in which a night at Leaf turned into a celebration of music as the 50th anniversary of The Beatles album Revolver hung upon the Liverpool skyline like a beacon of joy, of memory and to the future as a whole host of performers, including Thom Morecroft, Eleanor Nelly and Joe Symes and the Loving Kind, gave absolute respect and tremendous affection for the band that started it all off for everybody in Liverpool.
Val Colvin and her team once more undertook the impossible and made it incredible with this year’s We Shall Overcome. Elsewhere the team behind the ever enjoyable weekend of Threshold once more gave Liverpool an abundance of sublime and talent artists and The Cavern once again played host to the many bands taking part in The International Pop Overthrow.
Liverpool isn’t just about music, its theatres also have staged some of the most entertaining productions possible in the next year and the news that there is once again to be a rep company in the city is a huge reason to celebrate. Absolute congratulations must go to actors who have given complete pleasure in a different direction this year as The Royal Court hosted The Royal which was written by the much loved Lindzi Germain and Angela Simms, the team behind YEP and to all who give so much to maintain Liverpool’s position of the hotbed of talent that is forever on show.
Special thanks and unashamed praise must go to Tayo Aluko for his sparkling performances in both Edinburgh and Liverpool this year for the smash play Just An Ordinary Lawyer, a performance of a lifetime from the genial actor and singer.
The year ahead is an exciting prospect, so many talented names coming to the city, for the Heavy Metal fan the news that Iron Maiden is coming to the Echo Arena is sure to be a big draw but with albums due out by the aforementioned Joe Symes and the Loving Kind, Ian Prowse celebrating 25 years since the release of the Pele album Fireworks and Ian McNabb on the verge of releasing his latest work, to name but a few, there is no better time to know that the arts in the city, in all its different forms, is safe in the hands of those that truly care for it, from the people at Liverpool Acoustic, to the nights in the small and large venues, the city can still look forward as long as those placed at higher tables remember that to build a city on the structure of students is to play the same game as the people of Amsterdam did when the craze for tulips enveloped them.
Top 15 gigs of 2016.
- Brian Wilson Philharmonic Hall Liverpool
- Paul Dunbar and the Black Winter Band Leaf, Liverpool
- Billy Joel Wembley Stadium
- Marillion Danforth Music Hall, Toronto
- Revolver at 50, Various Leaf, Liverpool
- Cal Ruddy Studio 2, Liverpool
- Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbot Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool
- Exodus Academy, Liverpool
- Michael Schenker’s Temple of Rock Academy, Liverpool
- Michelle Shocked New Town Theatre, Edinburgh
- Lloyd Cole Epstein Theatre, Liverpool
- Alice Cooper 02 Greenwich
- Joe Bonamassa Naval Training School, Greenwich
- Yes Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool
- Eleanor Nelly Baltic Social, Liverpool
Top 10 albums of 2016
- Glenn Hughes Resonate
- Birdseatbaby Tanta Furia
- Marillion F.E.A.R.
- Mark Pountney Mark III
- John Wesley A Way You’ll Never Be
- Cal Ruddy Communication
- Daniel Treece-Birch No More Time
- Nth Accession In Fine InItium
- The Shires My Universe
- Simon Thacker and Justyna Jablonsak Karmana
Top E.P. of the year
Thom Morecroft After The Rain
Top ten films of 2016-12-24
- Nocturnal Animals
- Love and Friendship
- The Nice Guys
- Dead Pool
- The Revenant
- The Room
- The Hateful 8
Best Male Actor: Mark Ruffalo (Spotlight)
Best Female Actor: Brie Larson (The Room)
Top ten Television
- The Musketeers
- Jack Taylor
- Ripper Street
- Sherlock The Abominable Bride
- The X Files
- Midsomer Murders
- Nina: A Story About Me and Nina Simone Unity Theatre
- Spine Playhouse Theatre Studio
- Tony’s Last Tape Everyman Theatre
- Daniel Zoo Edinburgh Festival
- Raz Unity Theatre
- The Royal Royal Court Theatre
- The Massive Tragedy of Madame Bovary Everyman Theatre
- How The Other Half Loves Haymarket Theatre, London
- Little Red and Big Bad Wolf Unity Theatre
- Twopence To Cross The Mersey Royal Court Theatre
Best Actor: Philip Bretherton (Tony’s Last Tape)
Best Female Actor: Josette Bushall-Mingo (Nina: A Story About Me and Nina Simone).
A very Happy New Year from Liverpool Sound and Vision.
Ian D. Hall