Fear and loving in Liverpool

By philbrady on 09 November 2009

What can I say? Liverpool Music Week is plainly one of the finest winter festivals around. It's not just the diversity of acts on offer and it isn't just the fantastic venues that host the talent. Festivals like these can easily be ruined by attitude, especially in a major city. Liverpool is home to some of the most friendly, warm-hearted and welcoming people in the world and I can't wait to get back there this coming Friday.

Last night we headed up to The Olympia, a Victorian style music hall, to see Seasick Steve play a brutally raw, unadorned thumping set of pure delta blues of his own variety. He entered the stage with a bottle of red wine in one hand and his little three-stringed trance wonder guitar in the other. Wasting no time at all, he broke into his first number with his Mississippi drum machine at his foot, pounding the beats to his beautiful blues licks and deep south holler, painting pictures of life in another time to a mixed audience. He was then joined by his drummer Dan Magnusson who played perfectly to Seasick's rhythms as he swapped his guitar for a cigar box with pick ups and a bullet case on the end. This man can get a sound out of a stone. He played for an hour then had an interval. At this point we had to dash as we had a busy night ahead.

Next stop, The Nation Courtyard to see Sheffield indie rockers Reverend and the Makers. To be honest I wanted to stay for the rest of Seasick's set. I am not a big fan of the Reverend but the band played a pretty good set with all that radio pop thrown in and between songs John McClure got the crowd roaring with slogans like 'Fuck The BNP' and rogue anti-war and anti establishment poetry which impressed me lots. He is not just a pretty face. After the gig we went outside as he busked on an acoustic guitar and we all had a little sing song in the cobbled street.

It was getting cold so we made a move to Bumper to see MAPS play an electro pop set on two keyboards and a plethora of boy’s toys. The sound was first class, resembling Air and Spiritualized with an electronica/acid house feel. They have just released their second album ’Turing of the Mind’. James Chapman entertained the crowd with his dry wit and sparkly eyes between songs announcing one of the songs with, “this one’s about murder, especially murdering ex-girlfriends.” There was a whooping from the crowd. James retorted, “We have a murderer in the crowd!” He went on to talk about murdering and raping his mum before starting the song. Dry, harmless wit from a very strange individual indeed.

After the set we hightailed down to Kazimier to finish the night off with a bit of dubstep and catch half of the Gentleman's Dub Club live set, which was my highlight of the whole weekend. Firstly the club has been beautifully renovated in a burlesque circus style. The dance floor is in the middle, in front of the stage surrounded by balconies with sofas and chandeliers and street art adorning the walls and ceilings. The sound system took on a whole new frequency in bass and the band played a jaw dropping dubstep, ska and dub set with live instruments and a heart stopping sub bass that raised the Kazimier to a frenzy as the crowd were in uproar dancing all over the place. A very cool and happy crowd. This club is pretty underground now and it would be a shame to see it lose its sub-cultural atmosphere. The last thing we need is for the nights to become commercial so this is a best kept secret and a gem in a warm, exuberant and embracing city where I left a little piece of my heart in those rain drenched red bricks, and my car key in some venue or other.

Yes, I was care free enough to lose my car key along with all inhibitions... my only car key. So I spent most of Sunday with the fear of never returning home, which was 200 miles away. I managed to track down a Liverpudlian locksmith. According to Mike Deane, the organiser of LMW, the best locksmiths in the world. He came, drilled holes in my car, gave me a new ignition and two keys. He got into that car and got it started faster than Icky from One Summer. Not the best end to such a fantastic weekend but I am back on Friday for another dose of Scouse magic, finishing the festival off with a Kasabian interview. See you then.

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