The year has perhaps been one of diverse feelings across the board in Liverpool, one in which reflection, triumphant returns, masterpieces and some sadness has been experienced. The Playhouse Theatre has undergone work for a while and yet held inside its doors one of the most magnificent scenes caught on camera as Annette Bening and Jamie Bell recreated one of the last days of the film star Gloria Graham for the cinematic love letter, Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool. The much loved Unity Theatre closed its doors for a time and reopened with a flourish as it too underwent a change in its decor and look and yet still retains the welcome that makes it one of the places to visit in the city.
Visitors to the city would have found their way to Liverpool slightly more fraught as the iconic Liverpool Lime Street was closed for several weeks as it also endured the ravages of time catching up on the grand old station building, time it seems can be cruel but can also give us something in return, more trains in and out the station, the prospect of a straight through journey to Scotland will certainly be a welcome to those young artists and seasoned professionals who every summer decamp to Edinburgh for the Fringe.
What time cannot bring back is the structures and buildings that are gone forever as the city continues its almost relentless drive to making the city the Cambridge of the North, with many buildings demolished to make way for student flats, the much loved front of the Futurist being a huge casualty of this particular course of action. It is understood why some change is needed but there still feels as if more could have been done to save even the outer casing of a building that represented art in the city.
One building that was saved from the idea of being eradicated off the face of the Merseyside map is the Church of St. Luke, a symbol of memory that must never be taken for granted, of a time when Britain stood alone in Europe, a continent under the tyranny of Fascism. Perhaps more than ever it should be seen as a representation of the good that can come when people come together, an emblem of protest to the way that somehow we as a people have been caught under the folly of being seen as being able to stand on our two feet and the way we see Europe as the big bad bear in the room. Whatever your thoughts on the way we face uncertain times, the way that Ambrose Reynolds handled the safety of the church and the continuing nature of holding arts events there should be congratulated; a moment in which to really cheer.
The coming year is one to hopefully relish, ten years on from being what seems to be the last English city to host European Capital of Culture, is one that should be celebrated and pushed onwards as one for the arts to regain ground that has been lost. Too many venues have been lost, it is time surely to redress that, it is alright to have a coffee shop on every corner but there is so much talent in the city, so many ordinary citizens with a voice that is not being heard, ideas going to waste, potential squandered; what is perhaps needed is a more dynamic voice in which to gather behind, that the likes of genuinely much loved musicians and actors, spokespersons such as Ian Prowse, Alun Parry, Eleanor Nelly, Ethine Brown, Michael Starke, Derek King and a whole host of others bring the hope and asking for change to the forefront of the city’s identity; that arguably we stop being dictated to by the Westminster Village and truly become what the city is affectionately understood to be, the true Capital of Culture of the country, the place where everyone can come to and be entertained, enthralled and educated.
Whatever 2018 brings it will have competition in what the theatre’s and music venues have offered this year. The first Rep company at the Everyman for decades brought the house down with plays such as Fiddler on the Roof and Romeo and Julius, directed by the great Nick Bagnall and staring a cast that was captivating and sincere. In the marvellous shows of Cartoonopolis, Brick Up 2: The Wrath of Ann Twacky and Church Blitz, local home grown talent dominated and in music Queen, Phil Collins and Iron Maiden’s return to Liverpool was as epic as Rock fans could ask for.
Music though is not all about the big night out, yes it brings money into the city, yes it makes for the thought of a passion that was once endured by a visit to Manchester or Birmingham to see such acts in full sway, but it doesn’t connect as much as for example Ian McNabb performing at the 02, of brilliant new comers Dark Polaris capturing the day at the Party in the Park in nearby Bootle, of the likes of John Chatterton, Hegarty, Nicola Hardman, the much admired The Mono LPs, John Jenkins, Joe Symes & The Loving Kind, Daniel Astles or the aforementioned Eleanor Nelly framing the mood on a night out in which so much love is recognised and being seen for what they are; illustrious shining lights which make Liverpool great.
Whether it is poetry, a night at the theatre, a special time at the Philharmonic Hall, Zanzibar, the Echo Arena or at the Liverpool Acoustic nights with acts such as Ricky Ross, The Musical Box, Justin Hayward, Merry Hell or Brian Wilson, combinations of music and poetry involving John Chatterton, or even spending time at home in the company of The Christians, Nick Ellis, Southbound Attic Band, Bolshy, Jimmy Rae and the Moonshine Girls and Elfin Bow; Liverpool has so much to offer, Liverpool and its surrounding areas is a home to which there is almost nothing like. The lights must burn brightly, for in this city there is so much greatness, positivity and in some cases still untapped artistic beauty; ten years on from the Capital of Culture there has never been a greater demand to be the best and the guide to which other follow.
Liverpool Sound and Vision’s Best of 2017.
- Inspector George Gently: Gently and the New Age
- Doctor Who: The Doctor Falls
- Doctor Who: World Enough and Time
- Endeavour: Game
- King Charles III
- Maigret’s Night at the Crossing
- The Moorside
Best Actor: Martin Shaw (Inspector George Gently)
Best Actress: Jessica Lange/Susan Sarandon (Feud)
Best Director: Kristoffer Nyholm/Anders Engstrom (Taboo)
- Fiddler On The Roof Everyman Theatre
- Romeo and Julius Everyman Theatre
- Cartoonopolis Unity Theatre
- Brick Up 2: The Wrath of Ann Twacky Royal Court Theatre
- Pygmalion Playhouse Theatre
- And Here I Am Unity Theatre
- The Scouse Nativity Royal Court Theatre
- Church Blitz Unity Theatre
- Cabaret From The Shadows Unity Theatre
- The Zoo Story The Casa
Best Actress: Natalie Gavin (Pygmalion)
Best Actor: George Caple (Romeo and Julius)
Best direction: Gemma Bodinetz (Fiddler on the Roof)
8.Manchester By The Sea
Best Actor : Denzil Washington (Fences)
Best Actress Isabelle Huppert (Elle)
Best Director: Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk)
- Me and Deboe The End
- Hegarty Even The Joker Cries Sometimes
- Hegarty I Only Dream In Black and White
- Little Sparrow Tender
- The Mono LP’s Cherry Red Lips
- Tiki Black ft Jo Bywater Free Like Smoke
- Nicola Hardman Just Human
- The Jackobins Outside
- Dan Patlansky Sonna Faith
- Yvonne Lyon Till We Meet Again
1Museum of Backward Hats Melancholy
2. Only Child Working Class
3. Fabia This House
4 Steve Thompson We Didn’t Start The Fire
5.Astles Full of Wonder
6.Cascadia Faultline Left Behind The Clock
7.Kalandra Beneath the Breaking Waves
8.Andrea Stray Into Blue
9 The Bordellos Underground Tapes Vol 6
10 Lusterlit List of Equipment
1Scaredycats Dumb Animals
2 Samantha Fish Belle of the West
3 Paul Dunbar & The Black Winter Band Made My Peace With You
4 Black Country Communion BCCIV
5 Fun of the Pier 14:42
6 Nikka & Strings Underneath and In Between
7 Jack Spann Beautiful Man From Mars
8 Roxanne de Bastion Heirlooms and Hearsay
9The Eskies And don’t spare the horses.
10 The Scott Poley Project Passport
Queen & Adam Lambert Echo Arena
Jimmy and the Revolvers Studio 2
Dark Polaris Party In The Park, Bootle
The Cherry Bluestorms The Cavern
Ian Prowse Music Rooms
Roxanne de Bastion Leaf
Caro Emerald Philharmonic Hall
Nicola Hardman 24 Kitchen Street
Joanne Shaw Taylor Birmingham Town Hall
The Selecter Liverpool Olympia
With huge thanks to all the musicians who sent me music and asked me to come to their gigs in 2017, to the actors I had the pleasure of watching and the theatres that asked me to come along. May 2018 be a year of more great art.
Ian D. Hall