One of the great albums of 2016 so far has come from the Lincolnshire based band The B-Leaguers. The ear-catching and phenomenal Death Of A Western Heart is not only a truly fine and well produced album but it reminds people that music is not just confined to the hearts of places such as Liverpool, Birmingham and London but is actually something so intrinsic to society that it is to be celebrated anywhere and at any time.
Spending time with a musician is almost like spending time with a favourite member of your family, when the time comes that they have to leave, it can be a wrench to the soul; especially if they are one that captivates with such distinction on stage, if they have a persona that just radiates cool.
Canterbury’s Alison Green, or her musical alter ego Whisky Ginger Johnson, is one such musician. Firmly entrenched in the idea of the Progressive, even if she doesn’t quite realise it, Alison Green is a firm favourite of the I.P.O. A woman whose music straddles the Canterbury set with ease and to whom as soon as you listen to the stories that hide, camouflage themselves, only to appear as chronicles of a life so well lived, so endearing, that you cannot help but fall in love with them.
The International Pop Overthrow is one event that shouldn’t be missed, regardless of where in the world founder and organiser David Bash takes it, it is a chance to come across the unexpected, the divine and the surprisingly brilliant.
The Cavern and the Cavern Pub have long had the honour of hosting Liverpool’s week of crowning new idols and loved musicians, of making new bands to admire and urge on. Amongst them is the fascinating duo of Helen of Mark Luker, or as they are better known as Fun of the Pier. It is a duo that gives an awful lot of pleasure on stage and one that really should have a bigger following.
The sound of a legend talking down the phone might be enough to send the brain cells scurrying into submission, to wave the white flag of surrender and allow the moment to get out of hand but in Geoff Downes’ case it is a moment in which serenity and spirit is authorised to be conscious of just how important groups such as Progressive Rock Kings Yes are to the fabric of Britain and that each member of that group has played their part with enormous pride.
An idea will come sometimes out of nothing, the spark of imagination somehow bursting into life with the will of a star experiencing the desire to go supernova; it only takes the right spark to set in motion a chain of events that eventually and gloriously end up from page to stage with wondrous inevitability.
Moggies The Musical is the rightful next stage in the life of the Mersey Moggies, the brain child of Cathy Roberts, storyteller, book lover, a beating heart within the Liverpool arts scene and above all someone who truly understands compassion, it is the searing quality that makes her creation of the Mersey Moggies so entrancing and a gentle reminder of what it means to be human; to care for something other than one’s self, and in Moggies The Musical there truly is so much to care about.
The artistic youth of Liverpool have huge boots to fill, that much has been true since it Brian Epstein realised just how important the four young lads occupying the Cavern stage one weekday dinner time were to defining the city and an era. Not only in music to which many great bands and musicians have made several generations happy as they while away in contentment to the sound of the day but also in the world of acting; the world of theatre and film is awash with the familiar faces of many famous Liverpool actors; following in the footsteps as large as David Morrissey, Kim Cattrall, Drew Schofield and Jennifer Ellison is hard work but for Lewis Pryor that calling is loud and clear and he appears to be enjoying the cause to which he and many of generation are heeding the call.
The relationship between musician and producer can be one of fraught power struggles or one of harmonious honesty and collaborative heaven, either way some of the finest music to ever come out of the studio hangs on the ability to get the best out of both sets of people. Whether it is from the side of the demanding and musical square bashing, the lyrical drip feed of art based torture or the gentle persuasion and coaxing available, the sweet smile of getting the maximum job done with the full throttle approach, it only matters in the end if it goes badly, when it goes well, when the music sounds like the finest well oiled machine, that’s when it’s so smooth it practically sings with the range of an angel handing out chocolate.
Being an artist is hard work, there will always be those who ridicule the creative, offering such assured words that it’s not the done thing, that it is not a real job, that there is something of the wastrel in those that offer parts of their soul to the world through the efforts of expression. The hard work, the pressure of such enlightened perspective, pays off when something you mentally give birth too becomes fact, when it becomes as true as a memory held dear.
Matt Breen is telephoning from Australia, for some that might not be the biggest thing in the world, in the days of mass communication, of easier ways to keep in touch, making a call from one side of the world to other is not considered to be a huge event. Yet strip away the thought of ease in the modern age, take away the simple act of dialling a number and what you are left with is deep symbolism, a connection between two people that isn’t hindered by the sterility of a text message or the flatness of an E-mail, it is the sheer effort that goes into co-ordinating an encounter that meets with both time and expectation.
The weather can surprise you in Liverpool, it can be freezing in some parts of the country, it can be downright torrential and heartbreaking in others and yet as a city that straddles arguably one of the two famous and iconic rivers in the country, the sheer mildness at times of the climate is enough to make you believe that perhaps that someone does truly watch over the city. Looking up above the line that inhabits the view from one of the coffee shops in the city centre, the image of a overgrown red and white costumed seasonal house breaker is caught scaling the outside of the Radio City Tower, one foot perilously close to being put through the roof of the Playhouse Theatre, the other grasping to get a firm grip and perhaps survey with greater clarity all those who have been good and naughty during the year.