Issue 107 / February 2020




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ISSUE <strong>107</strong> / FEBRUARY <strong>2020</strong><br />





Wed 29th Jan<br />

The Interrupters<br />

+ The Skints<br />

+ Buster Shuffle<br />

Fri 31st Jan • 6.30pm<br />

Liverpool Rocks<br />

Heat 3<br />

Fri 31st Jan • 11pm<br />

ABBA Winter<br />

Wonderland<br />

Mon 3rd Feb<br />

Kano<br />

Tue 4th Feb<br />

Mabel<br />

Fri 7th Feb<br />

Loathe<br />

+ God Complex<br />

+ Phoxjaw + False Hope<br />

Wed 12th Feb<br />

Inhaler<br />

Sat 15th Feb • 7.30pm<br />

Blossoms<br />

Album Launch<br />

Sat 22nd Feb<br />

The Fillers<br />

The Killers Official Tribute<br />

Band<br />

Tue 25th Feb<br />

The Murder Capital<br />

Thur 27th Feb<br />

Kiefer Sutherland<br />

Fri 28th Feb<br />

The Big Moon<br />

Sat 29th Feb<br />

Bulsara and<br />

His Queenies<br />

Thur 5th Mar<br />

Gabrielle Aplin<br />

Fri 6th Mar<br />

Mountford Hall,<br />

Liverpool Guild of Students<br />

Jake Bugg<br />

Wed 11th Mar<br />

Phil X<br />

& The Drills<br />

Thur 12th Mar<br />

Mountford Hall,<br />

Liverpool Guild of Students<br />

The Blindboy<br />

Podcast - Live<br />

Thur 12th Mar<br />

Tragedy<br />

All Metal Tribute<br />

to the Bee Gees &<br />

Beyond<br />

+ Attic Theory<br />

Sat 14th Mar<br />

Korpiklaani<br />

+ Burning Witches<br />

Fri 20th Mar<br />

Tope Alabi:<br />

Praise The Almighty<br />

Concert<br />

Fri 27th Mar • 6.30pm<br />

Liverpool Rocks<br />

Semi Final 1<br />

Fri 27th Mar<br />

The Slow<br />

Readers Club<br />

Sat 28th Mar<br />

AC/DC UK<br />

& Dizzy Lizzy<br />

Sat 28th Mar<br />

Becky Hill<br />

Sun 29th Mar<br />

Cigarettes<br />

After Sex<br />

Fri 3rd Apr • 6.30pm<br />

Liverpool Rocks<br />

Semi Final 2<br />

Sat 4th Apr<br />

Mountford Hall,<br />

Liverpool Guild of Students<br />

Circa Waves<br />

+ Red Rum Club<br />

Sat 4th Apr<br />

808 State Live<br />

Sat 11th Apr<br />

ShowHawk Duo<br />

Sat 18th Apr • 6pm<br />

Jason Allan<br />

facebook.com/o2academyliverpool<br />

twitter.com/o2academylpool<br />

instagram.com/o2academyliverpool<br />

youtube.com/o2academytv<br />

Tue 21st Apr<br />

Darwin Deez<br />

Tue 21st Apr<br />

The Fratellis<br />

Fri 24th Apr<br />

Larkins<br />

Fri 24th Apr<br />

Feeder<br />

Sat 25th Apr • 6.30pm<br />

Liverpool Rocks<br />

Final<br />

Sun 26th Apr<br />

In Flames<br />

Sat 2nd May<br />

The Southmartins<br />

Tribute To The<br />

Beautiful South &<br />

The Housemartins<br />

Sat 9th May<br />

The Undertones<br />

+ Hugh Cornwell Electric<br />

Sat 9th May<br />

Fell Out Boy<br />

& The Black<br />

Charade<br />

+ We Aren’t Paramore<br />

Sat 16th May<br />

Nirvana UK<br />

(Tribute)<br />

Sat 23rd May<br />

The Bon Jovi<br />

Experience<br />

Fri 2nd Oct<br />

ARENA<br />

The 25th<br />

Anniversary Tour<br />

Sat 17th Oct<br />

CASH: Paying<br />

Respect To The Man<br />

in Black<br />

Thur 22nd Oct<br />

Black Stone Cherry<br />

Fri 11th Dec<br />

Heaven 17<br />

SAT 1ST FEB 6.30PM<br />


HEAT 4<br />





SAT 8TH FEB 7PM<br />


THUR 13TH FEB 7PM<br />

HMLTD<br />

SUN 16TH FEB 7PM<br />




SAT 22ND FEB 7PM<br />


SAT 22ND FEB 7PM<br />




FRI 28TH FEB 7PM<br />

ZUZU<br />

THUR 5TH MAR 7PM<br />


FRI 6TH MAR 7PM<br />

THE SWAY<br />

SAT 7TH MAR 7PM<br />

PINS<br />

THU 12TH MAR 7PM<br />


+ 8 BALL AITKEN<br />

SAT 14TH MAR 7.30PM<br />

THE K’S<br />


SAT 14TH MAR 7PM<br />

ASLAN<br />

MON 16TH MAR 7PM<br />


TAYLOR<br />

THUR 19TH MAR 7PM<br />


SAT 21ST MAR 7PM<br />

ALL WE ARE<br />

WED 25TH MAR 7PM<br />

PALACE<br />

WED 25TH MAR 7PM<br />


SAT 28TH MAR 6.30PM<br />


(THE ENEMY)<br />


SAT 28TH MAR 7PM<br />


SAT 28TH MAR 11PM<br />


– 00’S EMO ANTHEMS<br />

SUN 29TH MAR 7PM<br />



SAT 4TH APR 9PM<br />


- THE LAUNCH<br />

SAT 11TH APR 7PM<br />


TUE 14TH APR 7PM<br />


SAT 18TH APR 6PM<br />


FRI 24TH APR 7PM<br />




SAT 25TH APR 7PM<br />

JOESEF<br />

SAT 3RD OCT 7PM<br />




THUR 29TH OCT 7PM<br />




90<br />


ticketmaster.co.uk<br />

11-13 Hotham Street,<br />

Liverpool L3 5UF<br />

Doors 7pm unless stated<br />

Venue box office opening hours:<br />

Mon - Sat 10.30am - 5.30pm<br />

ticketmaster.co.uk • seetickets.com<br />

gigantic.com • ticketweb.co.uk<br />



13 DEC 2019 – 3 MAY <strong>2020</strong><br />




Supported by<br />

Media Partner<br />

Theaster Gates still from the film Dance of Malaga 2019<br />

© Theaster Gates and courtesy of the artist.<br />

Photo © Chris Strong<br />

With additional support from the Theaster Gates<br />

Exhibition Supporters Group and Tate Members



27 FEB - 14 MAR<br />



6 - 14 FEBRUARY<br />

THE 1975<br />


26 FEB<br />



29 FEB<br />

ISQ<br />



3 MAR<br />


22 MAR<br />

SOUND CITY <strong>2020</strong><br />

BALTIC TRIANGLE 2 - 3 MAY <strong>2020</strong><br />

CREAMFIELDS <strong>2020</strong><br />


27 - 30 AUG<br />

REMINISCE <strong>2020</strong><br />



12 SEP<br />


13 SEP<br />


A-HA<br />


6 NOV<br />


11 NOV

What’s On<br />

<strong>February</strong> – March<br />

Tuesday 18 <strong>February</strong> 8pm<br />

Music Room<br />

Gill Landry<br />

Thursday 20 <strong>February</strong> 8pm<br />

Foil, Arms and Hog: Swines<br />

Friday 21 <strong>February</strong> 8pm<br />

Music Room<br />

Emily Portman,<br />

Rob Harbron & Emma Reid<br />

with National Youth Folk<br />

Ensemble<br />

Monday 9 March 7.30pm<br />

Film Screening<br />

Brief Encounter (cert PG)<br />

Friday 13 March 8pm<br />

Music Room<br />

Jon Boden<br />

Sunday 15 March 7.30pm<br />

Kodo<br />

Box Office<br />

0151 709 3789<br />

liverpoolphil.com<br />

LiverpoolPhilharmonic<br />

liverpoolphil<br />

liverpool_philharmonic<br />

Image Kodo

New Music + Creative Culture<br />

Liverpool<br />

<strong>Issue</strong> <strong>107</strong> / <strong>February</strong> <strong>2020</strong><br />

bidolito.co.uk<br />

Second Floor<br />

The Merchant<br />

40-42 Slater Street<br />

Liverpool L1 4BX<br />

Founding Editor<br />

Craig G Pennington - info@bidolito.co.uk<br />

Publisher<br />

Christopher Torpey - chris@bidolito.co.uk<br />

Editor<br />

Elliot Ryder - elliot@bidolito.co.uk<br />

Digital Media Manager<br />

Brit Williams – brit@bidolito.co.uk<br />

Design<br />

Mark McKellier - mark@andmark.co.uk<br />

Branding<br />

Thom Isom - hello@thomisom.com<br />

Proofreader<br />

Nathaniel Cramp<br />

Cover Photography<br />

Kate Davies<br />

Words<br />

Elliot Ryder, Rhys Buchannan, Richard Lewis, Anouska<br />

Liat, Megan Walder, Georgine Paige Hull, Christopher<br />

Torpey, David Weir, Craig G Pennington, Ian Salmon,<br />

Deborah Bassett, Ian R. Abraham, Adam Coffey, Nina<br />

Franklin, Brit Williams, J.P. Walsh.<br />

Photography, Illustration and Layout<br />

Mark McKellier, Kate Davies, John Latham, Keith<br />

Ainsworth, Robin Clewley, Aida Muluneh, Hanna-<br />

Katrina Jedrosz, Tomas Adam, Paul McCoy, Michael<br />

Kirkham, Bart Heemskerk, Hannah Blackman-Kurz.<br />

Distribution<br />

Our magazine is distributed as far as possible through<br />

pedal power, courtesy of our Bido Bikes. If you would<br />

like to find out more, please email chris@bidolito.co.uk.<br />


December’s election result made me question the<br />

innate ability to change circumstance. As 10pm came<br />

that night, I watched on silently, looking at my phone<br />

and television in utter disbelief. Instantly, the pundits<br />

clicked into gear. This was the inevitable, apparently. In some<br />

ways it was, but such a take fundamentally short changes those<br />

who believed in the ability to change<br />

circumstance through action; those who<br />

knocked on doors hour after hour in the<br />

darkest hours of mid-winter. Their belief<br />

is no less weak in currency due to the<br />

overall outcome.<br />

While Liverpool courageously<br />

remains the anomaly in nationwide<br />

democratic exercise, the feeling of being<br />

able to bring about real change shouldn’t<br />

be seen as a once in every five years<br />

opportunity. Nor should it be reserved<br />

to the political playing field, either.<br />

Anywhere and everywhere change can<br />

happen. Find the cracks in their reality<br />

and continuous escape can happen.<br />

These were the exact thoughts<br />

that came to me as I was sat underneath an underpass of the<br />

M53 a few days after the election. Rather than placing myself<br />

in the cold and wet of the motorway that bisects Wirral, this<br />

metaphorical totem of Birkenhead’s Mark Leckey had been<br />

installed in Tate Britain for the Turner Prize-winning artist’s<br />

latest exhibition, O’ Magic Power Of Bleakness. Under Under<br />

In, one of three films shown in the exhibition, depicts a group of<br />

boys sat under this very motorway bridge which Leckey would<br />

frequent in his childhood. All throughout the film, the notion of<br />


“Find the cracks<br />

in their reality and<br />

continuous escape<br />

can happen”<br />

bleakness – the cold concrete reality the boys are surrounded<br />

by – is interspersed with reaches from a supernatural of their<br />

own design. The pining for escape crosses over with the thrill<br />

of existence, as class, place and innate power is energetically<br />

displayed in the boys’ ownership of circumstance. All of the<br />

eventualities – magic, safety, escape – are possible under<br />

Leckey’s conception of the underpass.<br />

The safe space is one of the many cracks<br />

in this reality where we can find the<br />

energy for innate change, the eventual<br />

strength to return to overhaul.<br />

Similar to Leckey’s fascination with<br />

the underpass, this issue’s cover artist,<br />

Pizzagirl, explains how ownership<br />

of personal landscape has provided<br />

transport to new a level of acceptance.<br />

Growing up in North Liverpool, Pizzagirl<br />

resided under the safe confines of the<br />

internet before breaking through its<br />

contours with his antidote to bleakness.<br />

Music itself is the underpass for Dan<br />

Disgrace, who highlights the art form<br />

as an uninterrupted world away from<br />

strained office life. Equally for many in this city, 24 Kitchen<br />

Street, which remains under threat, is the underpass that so<br />

many have congregated under, sharing an energy and escape<br />

that’s brought about change beyond its four walls.<br />

This magical bleakness of ours, it can be anything and<br />

everything we want it to be. !<br />

Elliot Ryder / @elliot_ryder<br />

Editor<br />

Pizzagirl (Kate Davies)<br />

Advertise<br />

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sales@bidolito.co.uk.<br />

Bido Lito! is a living wage employer. All our staff are<br />

paid at least the living wage.<br />

All contributions to Bido Lito! come from our city’s<br />

amazing creative community. If you would like to join<br />

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The views expressed in Bido Lito! are those of the<br />

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reflect the opinions of the magazine, its staff or the<br />

publishers. All rights reserved.<br />

10 / PIZZAGIRL<br />

Liam Brown’s effervescent musical vehicle has found that<br />

acceptance is the best form of sincere expression. In the world of<br />

Pizzagirl, nobody needs to hide.<br />

14 / DAN DISGRACE<br />

Loose tie karaoke stardom supressed by dulling office lights, Dan<br />

Disgrace’s dreamy cloud is now ready to take flight.<br />

18 / AIMÉE STEVEN<br />

The Walton singer-songwriter pores over the influences that<br />

shimmer through her captivating blend of art nouveau chic and<br />

charming Scouse pop.<br />


8 / NEWS<br />

20 / SPOTLIGHT<br />

26 / PREVIEWS<br />


STREET?<br />

Ioan Roberts, one of the owners and operators of the Baltic<br />

Triangle club, speaks up about the frustrations of working<br />

creatively under the shadow of gentrification.<br />


“I’m trying to convince the new generation to be survivors and<br />

fight for their own stories”<br />

25 / DRY CLEANING<br />

“I’m trying to encapsulate what the world appears like to me – for<br />

comfort, essentially”<br />

28 / REVIEWS<br />


NEWS<br />

Safe And Sound City<br />

The Baltic’s biggest party has announced its line-up for<br />

this year’s May event, with festival faves FRIENDLY FIRES<br />

bringing a Technicolor riot to the top of the bill. The trio’s<br />

joyous funk synth sound is a perfect counter to fellow<br />

festival headliners PALE WAVES. 16 stages will be crammed<br />

into the streets and venues of the Baltic Triangle between<br />

1st and 3rd May, with Sound City’s trademark essence<br />

of discovery thoroughly baked into the line-up. Multiinstrumentalist<br />

MARIKA HACKMAN is one to definitely<br />

catch, a daring and honest performer operating at the cutting<br />

edge of confessional indie rock. WORKING MEN’S CLUB,<br />

BC CAMPLIGHT and MARSICANS are just a handful of the<br />

additions to the bill, which features a strong showing from<br />

local acts at the top end of the line-up (STEALING SHEEP,<br />

SPQR, THE MYSTERINES, SPINN). Day and weekend tickets<br />

are on sale from 31st January at ticketquarter.co.uk.<br />

Marika Hackman<br />

Music For The Mind And Soul<br />

Expanding on their traditional festival format, MILAP are bringing back<br />

the popular Music For The Mind And Soul events for an exciting new<br />

programme for their 35th year. The UK’s leading Indian Arts and Culture<br />

company, based at Hope University, are gearing up for their annual Indika<br />

festival with a number of events throughout <strong>2020</strong>, with the tried and<br />

tested ‘festival-in-a-day’ format giving people a chance to sample the<br />

breadth of Indian music and culture. Taking place at the Capstone Theatre<br />

on 25th April, the first Music For The Mind And Soul festival day will<br />

begin with an early morning yoga session accompanied by beautiful live<br />

sitar accompaniment, followed by an Indian classical morning raga. Two<br />

headline shows will follow in the afternoon and evening, with workshops<br />

and talks throughout the day. Milap are also teaming up with the Liverpool<br />

International Jazz Festival to bring Indo-jazz innovator Sarathy Korwar to<br />

Liverpool on 29th <strong>February</strong> (see page 27). milapfest.com<br />

Milapfest<br />

Repping For Storyhouse<br />

Storyhouse<br />

Chester’s multi-faceted theatre and arts centre prides itself on its theatre originals, and has another strong<br />

line-up for its rep season starting this <strong>February</strong>. The Suicide, opening on 8th <strong>February</strong>, is a classic and<br />

farcical Russian comedy from 1928 by playwright Nikolai Erdman. It was banned by Stalin’s regime for<br />

its anti-Communist spoofing, and this production stays faithful to its uproarious theme. Miss Julie, which<br />

opens on 20th <strong>February</strong>, is an adaptation of August Strindberg’s psychological thriller. British-Hong Kong<br />

playwright Amy Ng updates the setting to 1940s Hong Kong, dialling up the politically-charged tensions<br />

as the action unfolds over Chinese New Year. Blue Stockings follows four defiant young women’s battle<br />

to win the right to graduate from university in 1896 and opens on 14th <strong>February</strong>. All productions run until<br />

March, and further details can be found at storyhouse.com.<br />

Viola Beach Continue To Inspire<br />

The British Music Experience will include an enduring tribute<br />

to Viola Beach as part of their collection by placing the band’s<br />

drum kit alongside exhibits from some of the best-known<br />

personalities in British music. The Gretsch Broadkaster kit was<br />

bought by the band’s drummer Jack Dakin, but it was sadly<br />

not delivered until after the tragic accident that took the lives<br />

of Jack, his fellow bandmates Tomas Lowe, Kris Leonard and<br />

River Reeves, and manager Craig Tarry, in <strong>February</strong> 2016. The<br />

presence of the drum kit will serve as a symbol for young people<br />

to follow their dreams, and a mark of Viola Beach’s amazing<br />

potential and sheer love of their craft.<br />

Bido CC<br />

Pedal enthusiasts rejoice – the BIDO LITO! CYCLE CLUB returns this<br />

spring! Beginning on 26th <strong>February</strong>, our cycle club will now meet on<br />

the last Wednesday of every month at Ryde café, at Cains Brewery,<br />

for an hour-long cycle around various locations in Liverpool. The<br />

dates are: 26th <strong>February</strong>, 25th March and 29th April. As always,<br />

the rides will be free, but we urge you to secure a place by signing<br />

up at bidolito.co.uk/bidocc. Two rides will run simultaneously on<br />

each date, with one being more laid-back and shorter, and the<br />

other being a longer, faster-paced ride. Most importantly, both are<br />

all about the group and the social side of enjoying time on the bike<br />

together, complete with a celebratory beer and chinwag afterwards.<br />

Welsh Language Music Day<br />

Adwaith<br />

2019’s Welsh Music Prize winners ADWAITH are the centrepiece of<br />

Merseyside’s Dydd Miwsig Cymru celebrations, a day dedicated to Welsh<br />

language music. The post-punk trio – originally from Camarthen, but now<br />

based in Liverpool while studying at university – scooped the award for<br />

their 2018 album Melyn, a beautiful and personal record dealing with the<br />

frustrations of being a female in the modern world. The three-piece got<br />

the nod over a strong shortlist for the award, including Cate Le Bon, and<br />

join an illustrious group of previous winners (Gruff Rhys, Gwenno, Boy<br />

Azooga). Adwaith will perform a free lunchtime show outside the Cunard<br />

Building on 7th <strong>February</strong>, as part of a range of free events taking place<br />

across England and Wales to highlight the great cultural importance of the<br />

Welsh language in art.<br />



Electrik’s Adam Coffey picks out a<br />

selection of songs that represent<br />

the soul of the longstanding club,<br />

both in its current guise and as The<br />

Krazyhouse.<br />

Keep Oyé Free<br />

The organisers of AFRICA OYÉ have called upon its many<br />

supporters and patrons to help keep the festival free. Oyé<br />

returns to Sefton Park on 20th and 21st June, and is the<br />

highlight of the summer in Liverpool, bringing an infectious<br />

vibe to the city. The event has been free entry since the<br />

first edition in 1992, and has been facing increasing<br />

infrastructure costs – and decreasing real terms funding<br />

– as its popularity has soared. As well as the two-day<br />

festival, which houses a number of traders and retailers<br />

as well as countless artists, Oyé runs workshops for youth<br />

and school groups throughout the year, promoting the<br />

African cultural diaspora. Anyone can help the cause by<br />

buying festival merch at africaoye.com or even donating a<br />

couple of quid. Those who can spare a bit more may find<br />

Friends Of Oyé packages a more suitable way of making<br />

sure that Oyé stays free.<br />

Blooming Convenience<br />

CONVENIENCE GALLERY, the art project that has recently exhibited in Birkenhead<br />

Market, are joining the family at Birkenhead’s neighbouring BLOOM BUILDING.<br />

Convenience will be moving in alongside The Open Door Centre’s resident mental health<br />

support service, and will join a collaborative partnership that opens up a conversation<br />

around mental health to themes of art and culture. To celebrate the partnership,<br />

Convenience are launching their new programme in Bloom on 31st January, which<br />

also marks the building’s one-year anniversary. The Future Is… is the theme and title of<br />

Convenience’s new project, which sees work from local artists, ruminating on the ideas of<br />

our hopes and fears about the future through painting, video and audio installations.<br />

Sweet Releases<br />

There’s a sense of renewal in the air at the start of the year, and our region’s<br />

musicians have caught it fully as they have flooded us with some great<br />

new music to kickstart <strong>2020</strong>. COUGHIN VICARS’ debut offering was the<br />

first to catch our attention, with the kind of breathless punk that leaves you<br />

wanting more. Made up of former members of Salem Rages, the group’s<br />

EP Post Omission Overtures is out now on Casket Records, with a cassette<br />

version to follow soon. RVHEEM continues his impressive ascent with the<br />

glossy RnB of his new single Part Of The Plan, and THE PISTACHIO KID’s<br />

deft acoustic balladry gets an ELP release on Violette Records (Sweet<br />

Remedies). It’s also great to welcome back DELTA MAID after travels and<br />

songwriting success at the heart of American country music in Nashville.<br />

Her comeback single Better Love is a return to her best work, and a full<br />

album is due in the spring.<br />

Africa Oyé<br />

Unity Theatre @ 40<br />

From its base at Hope Place, the UNITY THEATRE has<br />

been an instrumental part of Liverpool’s creative framework<br />

for the past 40 years. This year, the theatre and venue is<br />

celebrating all the things that makes it unique in a special<br />

programme under the banner #40yearsofnew. The Unity<br />

prides itself on its accessibility, for interested minds looking<br />

to find new experiences, and for innovative artists looking<br />

to get their first break in theatre or comedy. This year they<br />

will be celebrating all this with some groundbreaking new<br />

shows, and by extending their community membership<br />

scheme to local creatives. Expect a full-on extravaganza<br />

later in the year for their 40th birthday party, and shows<br />

Wake Up Maggie and The Strange Tale Of Charlie Chaplin<br />

And Stan Laurel to get the spring programme moving in<br />

<strong>February</strong>. unitytheatreliverpool.co.uk<br />

Refractive Pool<br />

The contemporary painting symposium REFRACTIVE POOL –<br />

led by Liverpool-based artists Josie Jenkins and Brendan Lyons<br />

– is offering the chance for artists to discuss the practise and<br />

themes of painting. Currently in a research phase, this event on<br />

7th <strong>February</strong> at Hope University’s Shaw Street Creative Campus<br />

is the first in a series of workshops, exhibitions and critical<br />

writing. Aspects of Liverpool’s contemporary painting scene will<br />

be the focus, based around presentations from Liverpool-based<br />

artists. There will also be a panel discussion focusing on the<br />

experience of painters working in the city. It is free to enter, but<br />

bookings are encouraged online at refractivepool.wordpress.<br />

com.<br />

Delta Maid<br />

She’s Electric<br />

Oasis<br />

Creation<br />

Between being a customer,<br />

manager of The Krazyhouse<br />

and then Electrik, I’ve been<br />

around the venue for quite<br />

a few years in one way or<br />

another. It’s great to look back and remember this song<br />

being played to a packed-out dancefloor filled with<br />

18-year-olds singing along 15 years ago (and, of course,<br />

many years before that), and now there’s a whole new<br />

bunch of students enjoying it at Shit Indie Disco. The song<br />

also influenced the old indie night in the venue a couple of<br />

decades ago, which in turn influenced its name now.<br />

Mr Brightside<br />

The Killers<br />

Lizard King<br />

I’ve given up trying to think<br />

of cool songs for this so I’m<br />

not going to bother! Cool has<br />

its place, but a great song is<br />

a great song, no matter how<br />

much it may be over-played. A couple of customers will<br />

request an album track of some sort that won’t get much<br />

of a reaction, and then this comes on and you’d be hard<br />

pushed to find a louder reaction to anything else on a<br />

Saturday night.<br />

Don’t Stop<br />

Believin’<br />

Journey<br />

CBS<br />

Since Medication moved to<br />

the venue, the thing I’ve been<br />

most pleased with is that it’s<br />

turned back into a night that can cater for everyone rather<br />

than just being a house music night. A couple of weeks<br />

ago this song ended the night on the party floor, and it was<br />

a really nice moment when I was able to take a little step<br />

back and see how it had all come together so far.<br />

Believe<br />

DMA’s<br />

Infectious<br />

Whenever this track comes<br />

on I’m always getting the door<br />

staff asking why all these kids<br />

are singing along to a ballad at<br />

1am. I never know what to tell them. But it’s a great cover<br />

and there aren’t many places you could get away with<br />

playing a song like this at that time of night.<br />

electrikliverpool.co.uk<br />



Wandering on from neon-lit synths and pop culture<br />

shapeshifting, Liam Brown’s effervescent musical vehicle<br />

has found that acceptance is the best form of sincere<br />

expression. In the world of Pizzagirl, nobody needs to hide.<br />

“I want everyone to<br />

be able to look at<br />

Pizzagirl and say,<br />

‘That could be me’”<br />

Liam Brown unpacks two outfits from his bag as the<br />

finishing touches are applied to today’s makeshift<br />

studio. The wall covering is evenly spaced and the<br />

first roll of film is tightly wound into the camera. All is<br />

in place, but PIZZAGIRL is still yet to arrive. Setting aside his<br />

coffee, Brown removes a heavy leather trench coat, freeing<br />

the shoulders and torso. Here the first iridescent flickers of his<br />

alter ego begin to shine through. He smoothly swivels with an<br />

outfit in each hand: “Shall we start with the Yeezy workwear<br />

number – big PlayStation One vibes – or the aggressive V neck<br />

and blazer?”<br />

The metallic grey work suit is chosen and emerald green<br />

makeup is smudged into each eyelid. He bounces towards<br />

the navy blue backdrop and turns to face the camera. As the<br />

midday sun spills in through the Victorian windows it catches<br />

the right of Brown’s face, tilting his head on an angle like a<br />

barber’s gentle nudge, although you suspect this face doesn’t<br />

rely on the natural elements to initiate a pose. It’s as though he’s<br />

directing the camera himself. His eyes cut into the lens staring<br />

back while his cheekbones roll between waves of natural light.<br />

The film starts to snap and the veil on this Pizzagirl performance<br />

is gracefully pulled back.<br />

Just like the blue backdrop he’s cavorting in front of, the<br />

setting was equally as makeshift for Brown when announcing<br />

his debut album to the world. First Timer, a seemingly innocent<br />

collection of songs crafted within his bedroom studio, features<br />

artwork just as telling as the album name itself. On the cover,<br />

Brown is lying atop a scrunched bedsheet in a white tank top<br />

and hooped earrings, his eyeliner matching the colour of small<br />

dumbbell placed beside. “That was just there to keep it weighed<br />

down,” he attests. A happy accident if anything, but one that’s a<br />

central part of the subconscious makeup of the record. The pose<br />

is completed by both hands reaching for his head. It’s unsure if<br />

he’s signalling anguish or ecstasy. Possibly both. “First Timer has<br />


a billion meanings which you can probably latch onto,” he starts,<br />

when asked if the title signals a consistent undercurrent to the<br />

record. But the one that shines through most pertinently is his<br />

questioning of masculinity – a feeling that subconsciously wired<br />

itself into the aesthetic of the album.<br />

Cosmetically, at first, the First Timer joyously floats like a<br />

sun drenched Lilo bumping the contours of the poolside. Album<br />

opener Ball’s Gonna Keep On Rollin’ is a slick shopping mall<br />

ballad. You can envisage Pizzagirl proclaiming the lyrics from atop<br />

St John’s food court water feature in its 80s heyday. Following<br />

from the Ariel Pink inspired Daytrip comes the operatic absurdity<br />

of Body Biology, complete with pompous vocal hooks and rolling<br />

falsettos. The jovial Dennis is essential Pizzagirl, with its charming<br />

luminosity and tongue in cheek rhyme scheme. But from there the<br />

Lilo deflates. Shades of early 2000s pop punk creep in and the<br />

eternal vibrancy of 1980s pop culture fades from the music. Ugly,<br />

Cut And Paste and Thispartysux display an aching introspection<br />

that seeps through the colours of Pizzagirl. The latter’s lyrics,<br />

“Now I’m crying all my makeup off tonight / because you didn’t<br />

even notice me”, signals a closer presence of Brown hidden<br />

behind the pin-up of Pizzagirl. A small scratch of the surface and<br />

you see the album is fundamentally his. Less so a continuum of<br />

the retro pop culture reflection that has defined his output to date.<br />

“I had a problem with being known as an artist that makes<br />

one sound. Or becomes known for a certain thing, or shtick, due<br />

to the character,” he says, when asked if he saw the album as his<br />

most personal account of songwriting. “It really scared me when<br />

I could see that creeping in over the course of the first releases.<br />

Even now when people get in touch, they’re always like ‘I love the<br />

80s sound’, which sometimes could feel a little bit limiting.”<br />

Dropping his former Lumen moniker, a name that, he says,<br />

lent itself to music that was a bit too serious, paved the way to<br />

Pizzagirl – an artistic persona that melded George Michael star<br />

power with the neon dusk of 1980s Los Angeles. “The first EP<br />

“I love the freedom<br />

of realising school<br />

was juvenile. I still<br />

feel juvenile, but<br />

I’ve got nobody to<br />

answer to now”<br />



[An Extended Play] was just me making my own version of the<br />

music I was listening to at the time,” he admits. “When I started<br />

Pizzagirl, I made this conscious decision to try and be this retro,<br />

vapourwave style of character, with sort of tacky imagery.” The<br />

new assortment of light-hearted synths and gated ambience<br />

drew in a strong following. Seabirds, taken from the EP, has now<br />

reached close to three million plays on Spotify. But the pop culture<br />

collage of the 1980s was only ever the entry point, he asserts.<br />

Not the defining artistic statement that much of his online fanbase<br />

and journalistic assessment came to expect. “It got boring and<br />

started to wear off. It became too sickly. Sickly sweet. It left a bit<br />

of a bitter taste for me, so I didn’t feel like I had to serve a fan of<br />

the EP. With First Timer, I was making a conscious, exciting effort<br />

to do something different.”<br />

It starts to unravel that First Timer was the product of new<br />

headspace for Brown. In his view, the EPs that preceeded the<br />

album were “much more water tight”, whereas he was happy for<br />

the First Timer to be a little bit more “rough around the edges”. He<br />

points towards a separation between the online, on stage persona<br />

of Pizzagirl and the 21-year-old writing the songs in the freedom<br />

of his bedroom. It’s through this the record is granted its more<br />

relaxed approach. Not the hyper-real character that’s taken centre<br />

stage until now. “I don’t feel like when I’m making music I’m in<br />

Pizzagirl mode. I’m very much Liam when I’m doing it. When I’m<br />

on social media or onstage, I’m very much this fluid persona. It’s<br />

definitely the version of me that I’d like to be all of the time.<br />

“Although, I’m not turning a switch in my head and that I’m<br />

a sad person most of the time,” he quickly asserts, so as not to<br />

suggest Pizzagirl is his emotive compass and solace. “But I think<br />

the pressure of people looking at you and taking an interest<br />

definitely makes you want to be fun. When I did the first EP I<br />

was really conscious of it being straight and narrow. Playing<br />

under the guise of Pizzagirl gave me the chance to be a little bit<br />

of a contortionist and try different things. If I was Liam Brown<br />

people would probably expect me to be a folk singer.”<br />

Pizzagirl is in full flow as Brown changes into a yellow<br />

Lacoste sweater complete with “aggressive V neck.” With check<br />

jacket added and umbrella in hand, Pizzagirl has morphed into<br />

a 1970s late-night talk show host, which he precedes to imitate<br />

in an American accent as he reclines in a Swedish armchair. He’s<br />

every ounce a performer and forthcoming personality, although<br />

this approachability and exuberance hasn’t always been so<br />

apparent. It’s something that’s stewed in a world of suppression,<br />

now springing forth in the freedom of his open musical life.<br />

Liam Brown grew up in north Liverpool, along the boundary<br />

of Aintree and Old Roan. He still lives there today with his mum,<br />

happy in the comfort of his bedroom recording studio where<br />

the Pizzagirl elixir is brewed on a daily basis. Although it hasn’t<br />

always been such a free territory, he tells me. It’s telling in the<br />

extent this landscape shaped his character-based artistry.<br />

“School in north Liverpool, or school in general,” he begins,<br />

“they can be quite oppressive places. I wasn’t too shy, but I<br />

existed to a certain threshold. After school, I was also a little bit<br />

hidden. iPad demos, GarageBand; it was a world that I never<br />

showed to anyone.” I tell him it’s a feeling I resonate with, a sort<br />

internal questioning, like taking a piercing out before crossing<br />

into the territory of judgemental eyes. “Creativity is muted. You<br />

spend so much of your time not wanting to get bullied, so much<br />

that I could never have been Pizzagirl in school.”<br />

Brown’s assessment is condemnatory, but one that will<br />

undoubtedly ring true for many males tentatively following<br />

interests beyond football and the dominant teenage lad culture.<br />

“Once I left, I felt quite free to do whatever I want,” he adds,<br />

alluding to the moment Pizzagirl emerged from a secretive<br />

passion to public-facing expression of self, rich with all its camp<br />

traits, loud outfits and dashes of makeup. “I didn’t need to worry<br />

about facing people in school the next day. Most of the time<br />

I’m making a fool out of myself online and on Instagram, but I<br />

don’t have to face up to those who would call it out anymore.”<br />

Here he points towards the hard-edged male personas so<br />

prevalent within his educational upbringing. “I love the freedom<br />

of realising school was juvenile. I still feel juvenile, but I’ve got<br />

nobody to answer to now.”<br />

As Brown suggests, the restrained personalities of the<br />

contemporary era have often found solace on the internet. Here,<br />

Brown’s new social geography was explored and built. In the<br />

life of teenage boy, it’s a world removed from the feudal-esque<br />

system topped by those who can kick a football dead hard and<br />


those, at the bottom, who get hit dead hard with said football<br />

– or other choice projectiles. It is here where Pizzagirl was able<br />

to take its form. Maybe it was the only place it could have taken<br />

form; the only space where Brown could freely shift into the<br />

shape of his own depiction of masculinity.<br />

While Brown argues that Pizzagirl is an outlet to challenge<br />

the mundane, the foundations of its character remain an integral<br />

signifier of its artistic statement. We return to the album cover,<br />

one of the more obvious statements on the record and one<br />

less masked by the bubble-gum Pizzagirl bouquet. “For me,<br />

it’s masculine to claim yourself in a way that is not necessarily<br />

generic. If you’re comfortable with yourself, then that’s the most<br />

masculine way you can be. I wasn’t afraid to put that album<br />

cover out and take the backlash of people saying it’s camp. The<br />

entire project lives and dies by being camp. Pizzagirl is like camp<br />

men in the Titanic boiler room, feeding camp into the fire. It’s not<br />

something I want to avoid.”<br />

For Brown, the album cover is at odds with the societal<br />

expectation for males growing up in Liverpool. Yet, even through<br />

this free expression, binary limitations still arise. Brown’s depiction<br />

of Pizzagirl on Instagram has led to regular questionings of his<br />

sexuality, with occasional fans’ messages curious to reveal if he,<br />

too, is homosexual. “I’ve always replied and said that I’m a big<br />

ally. I love the LGBTQ+ community,” he starts. “But I find it really<br />

sad that you have to have this sexuality attached to your artistic<br />

character. I feel like Pizzagirl is this fluid person who is doing what<br />

they want, simply because they want to do it.”<br />

Brown’s frustration is born out of the limitless world in<br />

which he envisages Pizzagirl. Societal impressions of gay or<br />

straight do not necessitate a full eclipse of one or the other, but<br />

the non-binary fluidity is ultimately shaded by the two dominant<br />

conceptions of sexuality.<br />

Listening back through the record, the autobiographical<br />

prints of Brown are found in the freedom the music wishes<br />

to convey. Brown’s music sidesteps overt sentimentality and<br />

parades through a liberated world of his own design. One<br />

where he initially was hidden in safety. One from where he has<br />

emerged brandishing his own riposte to masculine suppression.<br />

Acceptance has proved his most powerful form of communication.<br />

“I want everyone to be able to look at Pizzagirl and say, ‘That<br />

could be me’,” he assures, as we edge towards the end of our<br />

conversation. “Whether online or playing to a live audience, I want<br />

to show the reserved personalities that if I’m able to do this, they<br />

can be who they want too.” !<br />

Words: Elliot Ryder / @elliot_ryder<br />

Photography: Kate Davies / @K.dvi<br />

@mypizzagirl<br />

First Timer is available now via Heist Or Hit.<br />

“If you’re comfortable<br />

with yourself, then<br />

that’s the most<br />

masculine way<br />

you can be”<br />





Loose tie karaoke stardom supressed by dulling office lights,<br />

Dan Disgrace’s dreamy cloud is now ready to take flight.<br />

Sometimes the most enlightening moments in an interview come after the Dictaphone<br />

has been switched off. Having met up with Daniel West in a busy Bold Street café on an<br />

overcast Saturday morning, we’re just about to part ways – coffees drained, and a full<br />

English consumed before our farewell dialogue reveals a little neat anecdote about his<br />

first gig as DAN DISGRACE. “Basically, I was a bit of a mess. I’d just been dumped, I’d come straight<br />

from work and turned up with my shirt and tie on, so I borrowed a pair of sunglasses from my<br />

friend, played the gig in my office clothes and that was it.” This was the birth of Dan Disgrace – an<br />

immediate leap from the tedium of the office through to an outlet of expression and release.<br />

It’s one of the most-written-about clichés in the musical book – escaping from the daily grind.<br />

But whether it’s working in bars or offices, music has always been a way of ‘sticking it to the man’.<br />

It’s strange, though, just how immediate that transition was with Dan Disgrace; within a matter of<br />

hours he had developed his ramshackle persona and run with it. While<br />

there isn’t a palpable sense of aggression present in his character, the<br />

music itself is a direct artillery attack on shitty jobs and bosses.<br />

Dan, who is sat in the corner of the café tucking into his breakfast,<br />

explains how this concept has leaked into his forthcoming EP<br />

Nightmare Music. “There’s a song on the release called Commission<br />

and all I’m doing is totally ripping into my old boss. I remember at one<br />

point I actually felt really ill going to work every day – I was coming<br />

home from work and picking up a bottle of wine or two a night<br />

because of the stress. In the end, my ex-girlfriend was like, ‘Fucking<br />

hell’.” With longish black hair dangling into his face, Dan continues to<br />

recall his former circumstances. “I wasn’t eating properly and getting<br />

up every day putting a shirt and tie on and just thinking how awful<br />

it all was. Then I reached a point where I was just like, ‘That’s it, I’m<br />

done; I don’t have to do this any more’.”<br />

With a modest handful of dreampop singles to his name already,<br />

Dan’s quick to agree that the creative process came as a release,<br />

nullifying the aforementioned frustrations. “That’s a big reason for why I make music – it’s a byproduct<br />

of just wanting to get away from normality. It’s like my own little place where I can just<br />

go and create.” Having a relatively DIY setup affords Dan the luxury of freedom when it comes<br />

to writing and recording. He explains: “I’m grateful that I can make pretty much whatever type of<br />

music I want; I’m not the best musician in the world but I can get there or thereabouts. I feel like<br />

it’s fun that I can explore all of these different themes, I don’t have to rely on a band or anyone to<br />

mix my music for me – a song can lose a certain theme or atmosphere quite easily if you do that<br />

wrongly, it can be quite easily skewed. I think songwriting and recording are two very separate<br />

things, but they’re both as equally as important.”<br />

Despite coming from quite a lo-fi setup, the singles have already made it onto national radio.<br />

This doesn’t seem to faze Dan at all though. “Huw Stephens randomly played one of my tracks on<br />

Radio 1 last year and I got a 6 Music play from Tom Robinson, which is amazing. It’s been weird to<br />

be honest. I’m not too arsed either way. I get my kicks from just doing it.” It’s refreshing to see such<br />

a genuine low threshold of expectation.<br />

“It sounds ridiculous but I already feel successful because I’ve got it to a point where I’m in<br />

control of what I want to do,” Dan continues. “It might come across as unambitious, but I’m getting<br />

“I wanted to be in<br />

a position where<br />

I’m making my own<br />

music and in control<br />

of it. Anything after<br />

that is a bonus”<br />

my kicks. This is always what I wanted to do: I wanted to be in a position where I’m making my own<br />

music and in control of it. Anything after that is a bonus, really – I’m not fame-hungry or anything.”<br />

It’s easy to see why the songs have garnered such attention, though. There’s a hint of dreamy<br />

outsider pop that brings to mind names like Ariel Pink and John Maus in the music, although Dan<br />

says his influences are a little closer to home. “I think, for me, it’s more of my my peers that I get a<br />

kick out of. I’m friends with Bill Nickson and Alex Stephens [Strawberry Guy]. These people who’re<br />

doing it all themselves are a real inspiration. I’ve also just moved out of a flat that was a really<br />

healthy environment, people were always around and we were always creating music. So it’s more<br />

friends than contemporary artists I’d say.” The bottom line is that the music has to be made to a<br />

high standard. He picks up: “I just like music that’s convincing in one way or another. I do like the<br />

weirdos – to me, that’s more of a pure expression of music. I’m down for anything that has a bit of<br />

conviction.”<br />

The forthcoming EP will be released through the celebrated and<br />

forward-thinking Liverpool label Eggy Records – something of a<br />

support network for artists like Dan. It’s been invaluable, he says, to<br />

be part of that wider community. “There’s a real range of all different<br />

types of music reflected through the label, but, despite that, it very<br />

much feels like a family.” He mulls on this before continuing: “Everyone<br />

that’s on the label would all feel like outsiders if it wasn’t for those<br />

guys. I love it because we invite other people to play the shows and<br />

it’s a support net rather than a label. It generates lots of ideas and it’s<br />

been a good platform for all of us.”<br />

The regular shows that Eggy Records hold have also been<br />

something of a launch-pad for Dan Disgrace – and there’s a big<br />

headline show lined up at The Zanzibar to celebrate the debut EP this<br />

<strong>February</strong>. Dan is obviously excited for this one to roll around. “The<br />

best sound I’ve ever had has been there, so it’s going to be great. My<br />

set-up is so minimal at the moment, I think the sound techs are always<br />

quite relieved.” Despite this, it’s something of a <strong>2020</strong> goal to start challenging the sound technicians<br />

again by pulling a band together. He says: “I did have [a band] for a bit, but then a few things<br />

happened and it took a long time to get it nice and tight – so that’s something to be working on.”<br />

If one thing is for certain, it’s that these are hectic times for the 27-year-old, and getting a solid<br />

body of work out there is a massive personal milestone. Dan rounds up: “This is a really big thing for<br />

me. Up until this moment I’ve just been releasing singles, so it’s all built up to this point. I’ve made<br />

something I can be proud of and I want it to be the first big thing that I release. I’ve had my sights<br />

set on a larger body of work for a while. Now it feels like I’ve finally reached this time where I’ve got<br />

something that I can take forward with me.” !<br />

Words: Rhys Buchanan / @Rhys_Buchanan<br />

Photography: John Latham / @mrjohnlatham<br />

facebook.com/dandisgrace<br />

Nightmare Music is available via Eggy Recordings from March. Dan Disgrace plays The Zanzibar on<br />

20th <strong>February</strong><br />



WHO<br />



STREET?<br />


In December, the Baltic Triangle-based club space went public on its ongoing battle with residential<br />

developers moving into the area. With Liverpool City Council proposing the club reduces its operation to<br />

accommodate the development, the successful venue’s future has been forcibly drawn into the spotlight.<br />

One of the venue owners, Ioan Roberts, speaks up about the frustrations of working creatively under the<br />

shadow of gentrification.<br />

It seems like any other day in the offices of 24 KITCHEN<br />

STREET. Placed one floor above the music venue and<br />

club-orientated space, out of sight of the substantial mirror<br />

ball that oversees the cobbled dancefloor, the usual hive of<br />

activity is underway.<br />

While January is often a slowly awakening month for event<br />

goers, there’s no New Year hibernation for promoters and club<br />

owners. The headspace is already well into spring and summer<br />

and, at times, as far as autumn and winter. New shows are<br />

being negotiated, booked, announced and their social media<br />

and print promotion coordinated. It’s the kind of environment<br />

you’d expect from a popular music venue now into its seventh<br />

year in existence. But even with thoughts looking ahead to<br />

warmer months, there’s no escaping the early stages of the year;<br />

breath mists in the air inside the former warehouse space as<br />

Ioan Roberts, the venue’s co-owner and manager, sits down to<br />

discuss the ongoing campaign to keep the venue open.<br />

Today’s visibly fluid operation only tells one half of the<br />

story. In December, the venue went public regarding its<br />

three-year battle with developers building residential flats on<br />

a neighbouring car park on Blundell Street. If you’ve visited<br />

the venue or Baltic Triangle recently, you’ll have been able to<br />

document the development’s rapid growth. It’s not hard to<br />

notice. The nakedly clad block of flats invasively looks down on<br />

the neighbouring Kitchen Street.<br />

The new development will fundamentally change how 24<br />

Kitchen Street operates. Consequently, the venue’s continued<br />

existence is now threatened the point of near closure if adequate<br />

support isn’t granted by Liverpool City Council. This is the view<br />

of Roberts who’s been at the heart of its operation since opening<br />

in 2013.<br />

The news about Kitchen Street’s battle went public for the<br />

second time on 3rd December.<br />

Initially the venue had been<br />

vocal about the proposed<br />

planning permission for the<br />

neighbouring development back<br />

in 2016. Yet, even with continuing<br />

disagreements regarding<br />

acceptable noise levels during<br />

events, planning was still granted<br />

and building work began. Away<br />

from public view, three further<br />

years of acoustic surveys have<br />

been undertaken both by the venue<br />

and the developer. “The developer<br />

conducted a noise report at the<br />

end of 2018, October/November.<br />

They called us for a meeting and<br />

Environmental Health from the<br />

council attended it,” Roberts informs us when asked about the<br />

ongoing arguments around noise pollution. “They basically<br />

outlined that they’d done extensive measurements over a range<br />

of events with us. And demonstrated through their recording,<br />

measurements and work that we were seven decibels too loud<br />

for the level of sound proofing they’d proposed.” The venue has<br />

contested these findings through their own assessments.<br />

“Seven decibels doesn’t sound like much, but it is in terms of<br />

a reduction,” Roberts underlines, adding that this assessment put<br />

forward by the developers is now close to being accepted by the<br />

City Council. Roberts continues: “They were saying that they’d<br />

specced their development out adequately, but they anticipated<br />

we do the rest. They didn’t give us any financial incentive to do<br />

the rest, they just said we had to reduce [our levels].” However,<br />

even before an agreement had been reached to reduce their<br />

noise output by seven decibels, windows had already been<br />

installed around much of the building while talks were still taking<br />

place. “During the time we’ve been arguing about levels with the<br />

developers and the council, the developers have just continued<br />

to build, assuming we’d reduce. They’ve treated the planning<br />

process with disregard, and that’s what we’re trying to argue.”<br />

Writing in Bido Lito! shortly before the venue went public<br />

in December, Liverpool City Region Music Board Member Matt<br />

Flynn observed: “Effectively, the Kitchen Street debate concerns<br />

the very technical evaluation of acceptable existing noise<br />

levels. Each party’s respective acoustic experts have proposed<br />

using noise readings from different days, times and locations<br />

to establish the baseline decibel level that is audible in existing<br />

domestic properties that surround the venue. This means the<br />

Environmental Health department have had to mediate between<br />

Kitchen Street and developers Brickland and contractors ISG to<br />

establish the specification of the glazing and soundproofing the<br />

developers need to install in each of their 200 new flats.<br />

“Discharging the condition means the council is satisfied<br />

the developers have designed and constructed their property<br />

to agreed specifications, including required levels of sound<br />

insulation.”<br />

According to Roberts, the debate had been muddied<br />

somewhat by inconsistent readings taken on behalf of the<br />

“Thinking differently,<br />

finding new spaces,<br />

that’s complete<br />

bollocks. You need<br />

stability to be able to<br />

plan into the future”<br />

developer and council. During the venue’s participation in<br />

the Baltic Weekender festival this summer, an outdoor stage,<br />

covered by Temporary Event Notice, caused noise complaints<br />

from nearby residential houses. When following up the<br />

complaint on an operational night for the club, no irregular noise<br />

levels were detected within the houses due to events returning<br />

back inside the club – underscoring the street party complaints<br />

as an irregular occurrence and not in line with the venue’s<br />

consistent programming. To further follow up the complaint,<br />

the council took a short, one-off, 15-minute reading in the club,<br />

which, Roberts says, didn’t flag up any illegally excess decibel<br />

level. “The council then said that they’d been through the<br />

cumulative information of both sides and said their survey stated<br />

that five out of the six events we held were over the threshold,”<br />

Roberts says. “Following that we were told we had to reduce<br />

noise levels as we’d be too loud for the windows the council had<br />

given permission to install.” This decision by the council then<br />

initiated the public response from Kitchen Street.<br />

“As has happened with venues up and down the country,<br />

noise complaints get venues shut down,” states the public<br />

appeal released by Kitchen Street back in December. The<br />

assessment put forward by Kitchen Street underscores the<br />

inhospitable climate venues are up against, but more tellingly,<br />

UK-wide councils’ openness to build for profit developments<br />

that bring the barrage of planning disagreements. The noise<br />

complaints inevitably follow. “The attitude is, if you’re a creative<br />

business you can just get moved away, [the council] don’t value<br />

us,” Roberts adds, a sentiment echoed in statistics that reveal<br />

the UK has lost 35 per cent of its music venues throughout the<br />

last decade (although business rates have just been reduced<br />

by 50% for grassroots venues). “The developers on Blundell<br />

Street believe installing more robust soundproofing threatens<br />

their bottom line and therefore is<br />

not profitable.” Roberts adds that<br />

the council’s recommendation<br />

was to therefore cover the<br />

louder, bass-driven events with<br />

Temporary Events Notices (TENs)<br />

– a maximum of 12 can be applied<br />

for throughout the year. “That’s 80<br />

per cent of our events,” Roberts<br />

outlines. “Why should we start<br />

reducing what we do, which is<br />

legal, to save the developers<br />

money when they should be the<br />

ones spending the money?”<br />

Roberts’ argument of<br />

obligation comes into greater<br />

light since the council signed up<br />

to the Agent of Change principle<br />

in September 2019. The AoC principle, part of the National<br />

Planning Policy Framework, states that: “Planning policies and<br />

decisions should ensure that new development can be integrated<br />

effectively with existing businesses and community facilities.<br />

Existing businesses and facilities should not have unreasonable<br />

restrictions placed on them as a result of development permitted<br />

after they were established.”<br />

A face value reading of the principle’s definition would<br />

underscore the Blundell Street development as the Agent of<br />

Change, 24 Kitchen Street as the existing business that “should<br />

not have unreasonable restrictions placed on them as a result<br />

of development permitted after they were established”. But the<br />

decision to grant the development permission to install windows<br />

that would require a reduction in 24 Kitchen Street’s operation<br />

suggests the council’s commitment to AoC is hollow. “This whole<br />

time they’ve been aware what blocks of flats can do to creative<br />

businesses,” Roberts says. “It’s in the area of planning policy<br />

where care must be taken to ensure there isn’t a predominance<br />

of one and two bedroom flats in what’s seen as a creative<br />

district.”<br />

Another workaround for the venue would be agreeing<br />

to a deed of easement, essentially an agreement where new<br />

tenants in the development acknowledge the presence of the<br />

venue and its regular operation upon moving in. However, in<br />

moving the goal posts away from AoC – thus justifying the<br />

development and the uncomfortable proximity it’s been built<br />

to a music venue regularly operating four nights per week –<br />

does not set the encompassing precedent the council appear<br />

to be endorsing with their vocal backing of AoC. A deed of<br />

easement is a potential solution, but it is only effective via a<br />

case-by-case basis. Adhering to AoC properly would build a<br />

framework that sees all new developments held to the same<br />

level of scrutiny. The apparent weakness in AoC, however, is that<br />

it is not statutory law, and viewed more as planning guidance.<br />

Speaking in November, Paul Farrell, head of Environmental<br />

Health at Liverpool City Council, regarded AoC as “not perfect,<br />

but a step in the direction”. However, the apparent progression<br />

is contended by Roberts. “This isn’t new,” he says. “They can’t<br />

pretend they didn’t know [the effect the development would<br />

have on us] when building started in 2016. The council just<br />

don’t value creative businesses. They think we can just move to<br />

another area. We have the Music Board, who’ve supported us,<br />

but what’s the point in having it if the Council don’t listen to it?”<br />

The Liverpool City Region Music Board, formed in January<br />

2019, outlines that one of its priorities is “safeguarding and<br />

protecting music venues”. During the debates between<br />

developers and Kitchen Street, the Music Board has supported<br />

the venue’s stance, however, it remains to be seen whether<br />

its conservatively coordinated vocal pressure holds any sway<br />

of the council. Roberts believes the council’s adoption of the<br />

Music Board’s is merely posturing and serves only to present<br />

the illusion that they, firstly, celebrate music-based culture in the<br />

city beyond Mathew Street and, secondly, is seen to be actively<br />

engaging in the protection of music venues – notably after<br />

high-profile closures in the last decade such as The Kazimier.<br />

While the Music Board may not hold the power over the council’s<br />

decision making, its existence and worth hinges on its ability<br />

to ensure the Kitchen Street situation remains on the council<br />

agenda and is lobbied and campaigned for in the public domain.<br />

Apathy surrounding the public facing campaign to save the<br />

venue will ultimately lead to its demise.<br />

Some lateral arguments would suggest creative businesses<br />

remain progressive by contorting and adapting to new<br />

landscapes and environments – always looking to remain one<br />

step ahead of encroaching developments that outline an area<br />

as ‘desirable’ (read: cool, creative, probably some paid for<br />

graffiti). Roberts colourfully calls this out. “Thinking differently,<br />

finding new spaces, that’s complete bollocks. You can do five<br />

warehouse parties and you’re shut down. I push against that.<br />

Like an enterprise, you need stability. You need to be able to plan<br />

into the future.” Roberts is passionate about the need to build<br />

from the ground up and enhance a public reputation. “To build a<br />

strong cultural programme, you need to have a base, the booking<br />

agents of artists need to know who you are. The industry needs<br />

to know who you are. You can’t book in a revered artist for a<br />

warehouse show that you don’t have a licence for. You’ve got to<br />

have a proper venue that people know about.”<br />

The cultural programme Roberts mentions is one of<br />

Liverpool City Council’s most consistent marketing tools for<br />

tourism. Yet, the venue deems its stance on new developments<br />

in creative areas as incongruous with its much-touted UNESCO<br />

City Of Music badge. The venue says it’s “ironic that the council<br />

is failing to protect grassroots and independent music in the<br />

city”.<br />

In allowing the development to continue installing windows<br />

under an assumption the seven decibel reduction will be met,<br />

24 Kitchen Street will be unable to operate in the capacity that<br />

has seen it forge a reputation as one the leading electronic music<br />

focused venues in the city. One capable of competing with the<br />

programming of fellow leading venues in the North, such as<br />

Soup Kitchen in Manchester and Wire in Leeds.<br />

The debate is now in the hands of the council. It remains<br />

in the power of the Music Board to ensure Kitchen Street<br />

doesn’t fall of the agenda or is quietly swept aside. Without a<br />

reassessment of the development’s sound proofing procedures,<br />

which currently stands to all but end the venue’s late night<br />

programming, the venue will be stripped of its draw and cease<br />

to exist as a destination for the world’s best DJs, producers and<br />

bands. “I don’t want to operate with constant battles over noise<br />

complaints,” Roberts replies, knowing the proximity of the flats<br />

and level of soundproofing installed is likely to draw complaints,<br />

adding “the work to fix the building would cost around<br />

£200,000, but they’re arguing it’s not profitable to do this.<br />

“If [Environmental Health and the council] don’t intervene<br />

before September, I know from examples around the country<br />

that we’ll eventually lose, and it will cost us a fortune.” So far the<br />

venue has spent upwards of £14,000 in acoustic consultants.<br />

“Operating in the way they’ve suggested, with TENs and<br />

reduced noise output, when we have a band or DJ, we’ll have to<br />

tell them about the limitations. It will restrict the scope of what<br />

they can do. That will put artists off. They will just say, ‘That’s<br />

not good enough’. When it gets to that point, I’d have to question<br />

whether I’d want to be doing this.”<br />

When looking ahead at the warmer months that ultimately<br />

hold the fate of the venue, perhaps Roberts’ closing sentiment<br />

will bluntly show the council the strained health so many of<br />

its prized cultural attractions are enduring. “If the council don’t<br />

change their approach, I’m not sure I’d bother trying to do this<br />

again here in Liverpool. You’d spend three or four years doing<br />

the building work, getting it set up, to then have two years of<br />

running a business properly, developing it, only for the same<br />

thing to happen. What would be the point?” !<br />

Words: Elliot Ryder / @elliot_ryder<br />

Photography: Robin Clewley / robinclewley.co.uk<br />

@24KitchenStreet<br />




AIMÉE<br />

STEVEN<br />

The Walton singer-songwriter pores over the influences that shimmer through her captivating blend of<br />

Nouvelle Vague chic and charming Scouse pop.<br />

my boyfriend’s, I nicked it,” the singer grins when<br />

asked about the copy of Yuval Noah Harari’s bestseller<br />

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind lying on the<br />

“It’s<br />

table. The cosy back room at Tabac, decked out with<br />

its pieces of obsolete audio equipment, is welcome shelter from<br />

a windblown January afternoon in the city centre. We’re here<br />

on Bold Street for a sit-down chat with one of <strong>2020</strong>’s brightest<br />

prospects, AIMÉE STEVEN. With a quartet of outstanding<br />

singles out in the world and a deal with burgeoning Liverpool<br />

label Jacaranda Records, the coming year, to employ drastic<br />

understatement, looks somewhat promising for the Walton-born<br />

songwriter.<br />

While her material sounds like the work of an old hand at this<br />

songwriting malarkey, amazingly, Steven came to music relatively<br />

late on. “I never really wanted to be a singer or anything like<br />

that,” she explains, sipping her hot chocolate. “My family played<br />

a lot of opera, I loved that as a kid. I don’t really listen to it now.<br />

And then it was Frank Sinatra; I love the Rat Pack, The Bee Gees.<br />

I don’t think I was ever gonna grow up liking modern music,<br />

because I never heard it really,” she shrugs. “Before I wanted to<br />

sing I wanted to write about music, before I realised I wanted to<br />

actually write it.” After several months<br />

reviewing gigs for venerable citybased<br />

promoters Mellowtone, Aimée<br />

began to create her own songs.<br />

The Last Waltz, the valedictory<br />

performance by Americana pioneers<br />

and former Bob Dylan sidemen The<br />

Band released in 1978, proved to<br />

be a major spark of inspiration. Shot<br />

by Martin Scorsese, his first film in<br />

a parallel career as an outstanding<br />

music documentarian, the show –<br />

featuring a rollcall of Van Morrison,<br />

Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and Dylan –<br />

cemented its reputation as one of the<br />

greatest concert films ever captured<br />

on celluloid. “When I watched that I<br />

couldn’t believe who was in it, then I was obsessed. I dig that out<br />

and watch it with a bottle of wine.” West Coast contemporaries<br />

of The Band, Crosby, Stills and Nash, are also highlighted as<br />

influence. “Their harmonies are fantastic. If I could get to anything<br />

like that in my career it would be life goals. You don’t get that<br />

level of them anymore I don’t think and it’s sad,” Steven says of<br />

the absence of harmonies in present day guitar groups. “It takes<br />

hard work, it’s super hard to get voices that mesh together in the<br />

first place, and then to master it is difficult. But it has died off a<br />

bit; I’d love to see it come back properly. It’s such a sweet sound<br />

and I don’t think I’ve heard it recreated.”<br />

Fittingly, among the antique listening equipment in Tabac,<br />

an album by another favourite, Led Zeppelin, rests on the<br />

gramophone (the copy of II has the band’s credit for Whole Lotta<br />

Love scribbled out and amended to bluesman Willie Dixon).<br />

Venturing further back, stone blues originators Robert Johnson<br />

and Muddy Waters are selected. “When I go in my local, Ye<br />

Cracke, I always put Howlin’ Wolf and Psychotic Reaction by the<br />

Count Five on the jukebox,” she notes. In addition to these, Nick<br />

Drake and Fairport Convention are cited, plus guitar genius Stevie<br />

Ray Vaughan and the Small Faces (“They had Itchycoo Park,<br />

maybe I’ll write one about Walton Hall Park!”). “I think all of those<br />

influences come through somewhere, even if they’re not obvious,”<br />

she replies. “Nothing’s 100 per cent original, it’s about honouring<br />

what’s gone before.”<br />

Alongside these inspirations is something that taps directly<br />

“I hope people<br />

want more, cos<br />

they’re gonna get<br />

it either way!”<br />

into the city’s musical lifeblood. “My grandad was a docker and<br />

I think it’s come through to me: going for a pint and listening to<br />

music are my foundations. I think it’s a Liverpool thing as well. I<br />

love going to all the old pubs in town, where all the old people<br />

go and there’s karaoke. I absolutely love it, it’s like stepping into a<br />

different world,” she enthuses. “I’m 24 but I love going to an old<br />

boozer and drinking a pint, that’s me!”<br />

“I was in one pub, and some woman came in selling a leg<br />

of lamb and someone bought it,” Steven states incredulously,<br />

warming to her theme. “I was like, ‘I love this place!’ I’m a pub girl;<br />

I don’t go out to clubs. I watch every Reds game in a pub,” she<br />

notes, demarcating her football allegiance in the city.<br />

With her first batch of songs written, a fantastic bit of<br />

serendipity occurred courtesy of social media. “I got contacted<br />

by Jon Withnall,” Aimée recalls, he of six Grammy Awards, and<br />

engineering credits with Elbow, Rihanna, Gil Scott-Heron and<br />

The Coral, among others. “He’s brilliant, without him I wouldn’t<br />

be where I am. He got in touch with me ’cos he saw a short clip<br />

of me playing on Facebook. He messaged me asking for demos.<br />

At the time I’d only been writing for a few months. I had a few<br />

rough songs I’d written and sent them over and he was like,<br />

‘Cool, do you wanna come and meet<br />

me in my studio and have a chat?’<br />

I got the train to Ormskirk, where<br />

he was based at the time. He liked<br />

the songs, so we made a plan to get<br />

together and record some stuff, and<br />

it just went from there. It’s strange<br />

really ’cos I was apprehensive at the<br />

beginning and now I’m like, ‘Oh my<br />

God, imagine if I’d never done that<br />

and just said no!’”<br />

With Jon on the other side of the<br />

studio glass, My Name, a wonderfully<br />

unhurried slice of guitar pop led by<br />

Steven’s ear balm vocals, provided<br />

a superb introduction last April.<br />

With her foundation guitar chords<br />

recalling Lou Reed’s rhythmic style, the sighing resignation of<br />

All The Way (“What’s the point in giving my all/When you turn<br />

away?”) possessing the languid melodicism reminiscent of The<br />

Velvet Underground’s poppier moments followed soon after. Her<br />

next single, the excellent, enigmatically monikered B.I.E.K, arrived<br />

a few months later. “That track was written about one of my<br />

grandparents. It means a lot to me that song. I hope people will<br />

take that and apply it to people in their lives, ’cos everyone feels<br />

that way about someone.”<br />

Better Off Dead, released in December, was the first fruits of<br />

a deal inked with Jacaranda Records, making Steven labelmates<br />

with alt.rock mavens SPILT and dreampop specialists Shards. A<br />

change in rehearsal rooms saw Aimée and her group move into<br />

the basement performance space of the legendary watering hole<br />

to piece arrangements together. An energised cover of rock’n’roll<br />

standard Shakin’ All Over, recorded for BBC Radio Merseyside<br />

just before Christmas, drew a line under 2019.<br />

Heading into the new decade, Steven and her team already<br />

have the next batch of singles to serve up. Hell Is A Teenage Girl<br />

is due for release on the Friday before International Women’s Day<br />

(8th March); a harmony-laden gem, the cut takes its title from a<br />

piece of dialogue in cult 2009 horror flick Jennifer’s Body. “That<br />

was such a good line, it is hell being a teenage girl. Some of it<br />

was like hell!” she laughs. “Hopefully the video will reflect that. I<br />

love that line, though, I always thought it would make a great title<br />

for a song.”<br />

On the subject of visuals, the French New Wave era is<br />

major source of ideas, both sartorially and on screen. “I was<br />

big into that style: Jane Birkin, Marianne Faithfull in Girl On<br />

A Motorcycle. I’ve always really been into it fashion-wise, as<br />

well as culture-wise; I still am, really. Serge Gainsbourg is an<br />

inspiration for me, that whole aesthetic he created is amazing.<br />

When you listen to his music you realise, ‘Wow, that’s where<br />

that came from’,” Aimée says of the chanteur’s heavily sampled<br />

catalogue. The Nouvelle Vague era is especially evident in the<br />

video for My Name, which features Steven looking as though<br />

she’s stepped out of one of the era’s films, backed with footage<br />

of rapidly motoring around Paris like a sped-up version of<br />

Jean-Luc Godard’s masterpiece, Breathless.<br />

Cranking up the energy level, the tremolo-assisted garage<br />

rock stomper Darling is due to appear on May Day. “Darling<br />

is about liking someone and not knowing if they like you back<br />

and also being just a massive flirt, which I think people can<br />

relate to.” Aimée explains. “It’s not heavy, but it has more of a<br />

kick than some of the other tunes I have. We wanted to make<br />

it feel like vintage garage rock. It seems to get the crowd going<br />

live.”<br />

With the next set of singles prepped and ready to be<br />

released into the wild, gigs are set to increase in frequency<br />

as <strong>2020</strong> progresses. Miraculously, given her assured stage<br />

presence and confidence in front of the camera, Steven’s first<br />

ever show was a mere eight months ago at Sound City. “Loads<br />

of my mates showed up, I think they were hoping there’d be<br />

some good blackmail material if it went wrong!” she laughs,<br />

recalling the well-attended afternoon slot.<br />

Treading the boards and opposite the recording console<br />

alongside Aimée are guitarist James, drummer Martin and<br />

recently arrived bassist Robyn. “We’ve just started rehearsing<br />

together and it’s sounding incredible. We’re not a conventional<br />

band, but despite being fronted by myself, in my head we’re<br />

still a band. They play my music which I’m forever grateful for,<br />

’cos they don’t have to do it. They’re all individually amazing. I<br />

wanted to give them that freedom and not be overbearing.”<br />

With Steven supplying the blueprints, the group have<br />

gelled quickly to build on her work. “I want them to chip in<br />

their own parts and enjoy what they’re playing, ’cos it was<br />

what they had written, not me saying ‘Play this, play that’. It’s<br />

getting more like that which is how I wanted it to be. I didn’t<br />

want it to be a dictatorship of me going, ‘No, no, no, I don’t<br />

like that, this is what you’re doing’. I wanted it to be like we<br />

were all involved in what we were doing individually. It seems<br />

to flow much better ’cos people have come up with the parts<br />

themselves. They’re great musicians, so it always fits together,<br />

which is cool.”<br />

With all the pieces in place, all that’s required now is to set<br />

the plan in action. “We’re hoping to play out of town quite a<br />

bit this year,” Aimée says as the interview wraps up. “Last year<br />

was about trying to establish ourselves in the city, we didn’t<br />

oversaturate ourselves. We wanna leave people wanting more.<br />

And I hope people want more, ’cos they’re gonna get it either<br />

way!” Judging by the activity logged so far, potential audiences<br />

will be more than receptive for what comes next. !<br />

Words: Richard Lewis<br />

Photography: Keith Ainsworth / arkimages.co.uk<br />

facebook.com/aimeestevenmusic<br />

Hell Is A Teenage Girl is available via Jacaranda Records in<br />

March. Darling is available via Jacaranda Records in May.<br />




MIG 15<br />

“The fact that we<br />

then get to play<br />

our music every<br />

night in these<br />

beautiful places<br />

to an audience of<br />

people is just the<br />

icing on the cake”<br />

Electric waves of feel good indiepop<br />

are the hallmarks of the<br />

groovy enigma that is MiG 15.<br />

With only four of their songs on Spotify, MIG 15 are a bit of a<br />

mystery online; it may be a smart move on their part.<br />

This newly formed four-piece have already supported<br />

Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark on their 2019 Souvenir tour.<br />

Frontman Adam Bray describes it as being “thrown in at the deep<br />

end”, having only played one warm up gig prior to the tour. With<br />

their Christmas show at Jimmy’s finishing off last year, MiG 15<br />

are set to bring their twisted 80s indie/pop vibe into <strong>2020</strong> and to<br />

the ears of their new following.<br />

Bray has been performing for over a decade, however the<br />

current formation of MiG 15 is only six months old, with guitarist<br />

James Morris (who also plays with Bido Lito! favourite Aimée<br />

Steven) being the newest recruit. Bray describes the experience<br />

of the tour as cementing the knowledge that “practice makes<br />

perfect”. The foursome brought their punk attitude to the stage<br />

at their recent show at Baltic Social, but their set in support of<br />

OMD in Sheffield City Hall was electric – perhaps unsurprisingly<br />

given that the audience numbers increased from 50 to just under<br />

3000. “Playing to a sold-out crowd of that size in that venue still<br />

brings a smile to our faces every time we think about it,” Bray<br />

says, smiling.<br />

What MiG 15 have taken from the Wirral greats is that no<br />

individual is anything without their band members; each openly<br />

have their limitations, but as a unit they aren’t shy about how<br />

they’ve had to work at their craft. Having come together after<br />

leading lives so deeply intertwined with music – from famous<br />

family members to childhood obsessions with Johnny Cash – the<br />

four have undeniably bonded as a group. This bond isn’t just<br />

evident upon meeting them, but shines through in the tightness<br />

of their performances and the humour they exude; this came<br />

in handy in Sheffield, when a potential guitar string disaster<br />

was breezed over by fronting it out with an otherwise oblivious<br />

audience.<br />

The band’s fanbase has grown through impressive<br />

performances and word of mouth. Their standout song, Rolling<br />

Thunder, is a fan favourite. Bray explains the beauty of the<br />

track perfectly: “It’s a fast paced, unapologetic, three chord<br />

confession on my views on religion.” The track steps away from<br />

the 1950s-style harmonies that weave through songs like Dials<br />

and Cellophane Girl, as the band incorporate the beauty of the<br />

past with their vision for their future. They walk the tightrope<br />

of old and new, balancing on a line that few have the ability to<br />

master. Not set in their ways as so many can be critiqued to<br />

be, but instead explore the unity between genres, times and<br />

spaces. Their songs explore what so many avoid, from the<br />

aforementioned religion to being obsessively stuck on reliving<br />

memories, nothing feels taboo or off limits, but their sound offers<br />

safety with its nod to what has been.<br />

OMD weren’t the only ones to be captivated by MiG 15,<br />

with the band also securing a six-day tour slot with Love Fame<br />

Tragedy later this year. After wooing an older audience, these<br />

likely lads are set to capture the interest of a younger crowd;<br />

one that they are arguably better suited to. Music is clearly so<br />

powerful in each of their lives and as they explain: “The fact<br />

that we then get to play our music every night in these beautiful<br />

places to an audience of people is just the icing on the cake.”<br />

The quartet are currently recording in Parr Street Studios,<br />

and the hope is that their upcoming releases will only quicken to<br />

their gathering momentum. If all goes well, maybe they’ll follow in<br />

the footsteps of Zuzu and The Mysterines and secure a space on<br />

the next NME 100 list. !<br />

Words: Megan Walder / @m_l_wald<br />

Photography: Innes Marlow / facebook.com/innesmarlowimages<br />

@MiG15Band<br />

MiG15 will be supporting Love Fame Tragedy on their UK tour<br />

starting on 25th <strong>February</strong>. New single Bite The Bullet is out now.<br />


GREEN<br />


Sarah Sands and Jack O’Hanlon<br />

of the nu jazz fusionists open<br />

up about the myriad influences<br />

that make the quintet such an<br />

appealing draw on the Liverpool<br />

jazz circuit.<br />

“Music is our<br />

collective creative<br />

outlet; it’s quite a<br />

vocational thing,<br />

we aren’t together<br />

for the money”<br />

If you had to describe your style in a sentence, what would you<br />

say?<br />

We used to refer to it as “jazz for 20-year olds”, but, ultimately,<br />

we think of it as a variant of jazz-fusion.<br />

How did you get into music?<br />

In terms of writing music, we kind of got into it by accident. We<br />

would do gigs, but we only played covers that we liked and<br />

eventually started integrating songs we wrote. We really learnt<br />

how to play with one another and develop as a band as opposed<br />

to trying to write straight off the bat.<br />

Do you have a favourite song or piece of music to perform?<br />

What does it say about you?<br />

Funk Detective is one of my favourites to play. It’s super tight,<br />

slightly syncopated, punchy horns along with the driving rhythm<br />

section. I love the energy we get from it! It’ll be on our upcoming<br />

EP, hopefully out in the coming few months so watch this space.<br />

Why is music important to you?<br />

Sarah: I think it’s only since coming to Liverpool, being able to get<br />

gigs and meeting such great people, that I’ve felt music take a<br />

central role in my life. There’s nothing else that could replace that<br />

energy you feel after playing a gig or recording a new tune!<br />

Jack: Music is our collective creative outlet; it’s quite a vocational<br />

thing, we aren’t together for the money. We wouldn’t be doing<br />

this if we didn’t love it.<br />

What do you think is the overriding influence on your<br />

songwriting: other art, emotions, current affairs – or a mixture<br />

of all of these?<br />

The strongest influence is other musicians and gigs that get us<br />

thinking! We are really into bands like the Brecker Brothers, John<br />

Scofield, Chick Corea, so we just focus on trying to come up with<br />

good tunes. If somebody comes up with a cool riff or a melody<br />

then we take that and run with it. We also try to not take it too<br />

seriously and keep it fun.<br />

If you could support any artist in the future, who would it be?<br />

Jack: Steely Dan, I’ve become completely obsessed! If anyone<br />

has been to one of our Frederiks gigs there’s always a Steely Dan<br />

tune thrown in. It’d be amazing to be able to support a band of<br />

that calibre; if you know anyone who can get us in touch, send us<br />

a DM!<br />

Do you have a favourite venue you’ve performed in? If so, what<br />

makes it special?<br />

We’ve had so many good ones! We like intimate, high energy<br />

gigs as opposed to big stages. We played Band On The Wall and<br />

loved how the crowd can be right up in your face. Frederiks is a<br />

close second; everyone just sets up in the corner and plays cool<br />

covers and their own tunes.<br />

Can you recommend an artist, band or album that Bido Lito!<br />

readers might not have heard?<br />

If you haven’t been to see The Grapes latin-jazz band on a<br />

Sunday, or been to Frederiks, The Caledonia, you’re missing out<br />

on the coolest spots in Liverpool for jazz.<br />

Photography: Jacob Barrow<br />

@GreeenTangerines<br />

MONKS<br />

Jazz-infused dream-pop melodies<br />

with hypnotising rhythms,<br />

frontman and vocalist George<br />

Pomford weighs in on MONKS’<br />

rise.<br />

“I think songwriting is<br />

a great feeling; when<br />

you write a song<br />

and people sing it<br />

back at your shows,<br />

it’s just the best”<br />

Have you always wanted to create music?<br />

Not really. When I was a kid I was just into playing football and<br />

going out with my friends. It’s only been the last two or three<br />

years where I’ve started to write songs and start a band.<br />

Can you pinpoint a live gig or a piece of music that initially<br />

inspired you?<br />

The Pond show at the Invisible Wind Factory in 2017 was a big<br />

moment. I met Nathan, our guitarist, and the idea of Monks came<br />

about. Seeing them live with the loud guitars and synths blew my<br />

mind and opened my songwriting to different elements which I<br />

wasn’t putting into practice before.<br />

If you had to describe your style in a sentence, what would you<br />

say?<br />

I think when people see us they definitely think we’re 70s<br />

inspired, but we all have our own style. In terms of the music,<br />

it crosses many boundaries: psych music, funk and modern<br />

alternative is what most of our songs are based around.<br />

What do you think is the overriding influence on your<br />

songwriting: other art, emotions, current affairs – or a mixture<br />

of all of these?<br />

Listening and seeing live shows is the biggest inspiration; taking<br />

bits from the music around me and making it into our own<br />

sound. I tend to write the music first, then put lyrics over the top<br />

depending on the tone or mood of the song. I tend not to write<br />

anything politically driven, I don’t really know enough about it<br />

and it can come off proper cringey.<br />

Do you have a favourite song or piece of music to perform?<br />

We would say our single Why Does Everybody Look The Same?.<br />

When played live, it proper goes off and I think lyrically holds a<br />

good message; one that everyone in the band relates to. As a<br />

song, musically, it shows us off well.<br />

If you could support any artist in the future, who would it be?<br />

Probably Nile Rodgers with Chic, he seems like such a sound fella<br />

and he’s a living legend. I’d also love to support someone like Tyler<br />

The Creator; I heard he goes out on his bike and cycles around<br />

before shows. That would be boss to go on float with Tyler!<br />

Do you have a favourite venue you’ve performed in? If so, what<br />

makes it special?<br />

Sound Basement on Duke Street will always hold a special place<br />

in our hearts. It’s where we did our first shows and learnt how to<br />

properly play live. Boss little boozer to watch the footy in as well,<br />

what a place!<br />

Why is music important to you?<br />

Without it I would be bored out of my mind, I wouldn’t have<br />

anything to do! I think songwriting is a great feeling; when you<br />

write a song and people sing it back at your shows, that is just<br />

the best.<br />

Photography: Dylan Mead / @Dylanmeadphotograph<br />

@monksband<br />

MONKS support The Night Cafe at Liverpool Olympia on 24th<br />

April. Corduroy is released 21st <strong>February</strong>.<br />



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With her assemblage of talents, former actress<br />

turned multiple Grammy Award-nominated singsongwriter<br />

FATOUMATA DIAWARA exhibits<br />

her immense passion for all things unifying and<br />

harmonious, not only through her epochal smile, but her glorious<br />

array of ardently composed songs.<br />

After the release of her 2011 debut album Fatou, the Malian<br />

artist was to be the most talked about new African artist on the<br />

planet, sparking the flame for the wildfire of collaborations that<br />

were to follow. Through Diawara’s concern for the progression<br />

of minorities, this led to the involvement of such projects as<br />

the formation of a West African supergroup that recorded a<br />

song pressing for peace in her distressed homeland, as well<br />

as joining the line-up for the UK-based non-profit organisation<br />

Africa Express, resulting in her sharing the stage with Sir Paul<br />

McCartney.<br />

Compiling the complexities of raw human emotion,<br />

Diawara’s most recent album, Fenfo, is sure to be showered with<br />

praise during her imminent UK tour. Ahead of a date in Liverpool<br />

on 6th <strong>February</strong>, Anouska Liat picked up the phone to the Malian<br />

figurehead for a chat with what felt like an old, trusted friend.<br />


You moved to France when you were 19, saying that you<br />

wanted to explore your freedom and pursue acting. Was it<br />

youthful curiosity, a strong sense of confidence in yourself, or<br />

a combination of both that encouraged you?<br />

It was a personal decision and a necessity for me to leave at that<br />

time. Now, through my own experiences, I’m trying to convince<br />

the new generation to be survivors and fight for their own<br />

stories. Sometimes your parents want to decide for you, society<br />

does too sometimes. It’s good for humans to do what they want;<br />

life is very strange and fast.<br />

You’ve previously stated in an interview that making your<br />

music is easy as it’s in your blood; it’s your ancestry, tradition<br />

and culture. Do you therefore believe that taking inspiration<br />

from your heritage is imperative to your success?<br />

For sure. In Mali, we have a lot of music but we are all based in<br />

the blues. I always combine traditional and modern music – I<br />

don’t just make music for the Malian people, it’s also for my<br />

international audiences. You will always hear some rock ’n’ roll,<br />

on stage especially. The blues naturally comes from the desert,<br />

and I also incorporate folk music.<br />

With music being in your blood, does this mean that you feel<br />

you have that constant creative flow, or is it something you<br />

have to forcibly summon?<br />

I focus my mind on traditional music, the roots. Behind<br />

everything I’m doing, my truth is what’s most important. I want<br />

my audience to hear my sincerity and honesty. The audience<br />

should feel comfortable no matter where they come from or<br />

what language they speak; you have to let them feel like you are<br />

one. When I am myself, this is shown in my traditional music, the<br />

one I have in my blood and ancestry.<br />

You’re back in the UK soon with your tour, the first gig being in<br />

London. How do you find performing to non-native speakers?<br />

Do you think it provides more room for connection with the<br />

music itself?<br />

It’s like bringing my spirit to them, and I focus on the love that we<br />

will be sharing that night; I’m just excited to be in front of them.<br />

I always hope my shows are sold-out because we cannot dance<br />

or jump or scream, we cannot have fun unless we’re all together,<br />

and that is what life is about. Music is a universal language,<br />

and playing in front of a Malian or English audience makes no<br />

difference because it’s all about love, melodies, groove, funk,<br />

blues, rock. We’re gonna just rock it.<br />

Your songs are obviously of great importance, aiding the<br />

notion of encouragement for many movements and beliefs,<br />

with one of your songs denouncing trafficking and modern<br />

slavery. Other songs also have the recurring theme of a need<br />

for equality, is this something you find very easy to talk about?<br />

Yes, I normally have a message behind my songs. I have been<br />

fighting a lot in my life as a child<br />

of this planet, and I would like to<br />

keep fighting for people. That’s<br />

why I broach subjects like female<br />

genital mutilation or arranged<br />

marriage, because I would like to<br />

save the next generation, which<br />

means all our children. That’s why<br />

my subjects are always something<br />

heavy, however I try to find simple<br />

melodies to keep my audience from<br />

getting frustrated when they listen<br />

– I want them to be happy. But I<br />

will always send a little message<br />

just to say ‘OK, there is something<br />

happening there, what could we do<br />

to change this?’.<br />

When talking about the new album artwork, you were said to<br />

look like you were “representing a nation”. How does it feel<br />

to be in such a position of visibility and do you ever sense any<br />

pressure?<br />

Not really, I appreciate it a lot. I’m like a child inside; many big<br />

artists have always told me ‘don’t lose your child soul’. I like to<br />

GIG<br />

“I’m trying to convince<br />

the new generation to<br />

be survivors and fight<br />

for their own stories”<br />


Leaf – 06/02<br />

The Malian musician discusses her family-like connection to music<br />

and her enduring energy to harness the artform for progressive<br />

change and wellbeing.<br />

dance, sing and have fun with people – I’m like a baby! I can’t<br />

see any colours or preconceptions of how to live life. For me, we<br />

are all one and the same and we should enjoy life today. My job<br />

is to make people happy and it’s a kind of healing I enjoy giving<br />

my audience. After my show I want people to feel good and<br />

think, ‘Wow, I feel happy now’.<br />

The fourth track on your latest<br />

album, Kanou Dan Yen, is about<br />

a couple who love each other<br />

but cannot be together due to<br />

their family’s beliefs on ethnicity.<br />

What would you tell those who<br />

may be unfortunate enough<br />

to still find themselves in that<br />

position?<br />

We have this problem in our<br />

country still, but now I realise,<br />

through travelling, it’s a global<br />

issue. When you’re poor you<br />

cannot be married to a rich guy,<br />

and when you’re from a particular<br />

religion you cannot marry a different religion. I took a story<br />

from my friend in Mali who was suffering with something like<br />

this, so through this experience I can reach other people in the<br />

world who are dealing with discrimination. Love must be free,<br />

love is love, and doesn’t have a colour or nationality – nor does<br />

music. Love is unity, and should be normal and accessible to<br />

everybody.<br />

You call music your family and say that it gives you hope. Do<br />

you therefore think music has a higher purpose than just its<br />

sonic form?<br />

Music is still like my father, my mother and best friend. I spend<br />

more time around the world than I do with my family, so it’s my<br />

spirit and it keeps me surviving. Music is much more than just<br />

something to listen to, it represents who I am, and people can<br />

see more of my soul when I’m singing. I’m kind of a depressed<br />

person; I go down with my brain when I’m not on stage. Music is<br />

my hospital, my medicine.<br />

Fenfo translates as ‘something to say’ in English. Is there<br />

something you’d like to say to the readers of Bido Lito! that<br />

might encourage them moving forward with the new year?<br />

Yes. I’d like to encourage people to talk, to encourage women to<br />

speak out and to express and defend themselves. I don’t have<br />

time to go to the doctors to talk about my own experiences, but<br />

through music I speak to my audience and they listen. It feels like<br />

I’m healing myself. All the subjects on Fenfo I should probably go<br />

to the psychologist and talk about. Instead, I just go to my studio<br />

and make an album to share my feelings and opinions, as I’ve<br />

done for my whole life. !<br />

Words: Anouska Liat<br />

Photography: Aida Muluneh<br />

fatoumatadiawara.com<br />

Fatoumata Diawara plays Leaf on Thursday 6th <strong>February</strong>. Fenfo<br />

is out now.<br />










Some things are just meant to happen. For South<br />

London’s DRY CLEANING, forming a band was a<br />

matter of fate. Its draw eventually proved inescapable,<br />

even when recruiting a lead vocalist who didn’t sing, or<br />

has ever expressed an interest in fronting a band. And yet, in less<br />

than a year, the four-piece – consisting of Florence Shaw, Lewis<br />

Maynard, Tom Dowse and Nick Buxton – have authoritatively<br />

planted their flag in the ground of a crowded London scene,<br />

setting about turning heads nationwide with a searching blend<br />

of spoken word and reassuring backbone of home-built riffs.<br />

Gearing up for a busy <strong>2020</strong>, the band make their way to<br />

Liverpool on their first UK tour. Ahead of the stop here on 21st<br />

<strong>February</strong>, Elliot Ryder interrupted vocalist Florence Shaw’s<br />

day of personal admin to chat about her quantum leap into the<br />

spotlight, internet introspection and owning on-stage tension.<br />


It’s been quite a mercurial transition for yourself, going from<br />

never playing a show, joining the band, recording two EPs and<br />

now about to start a full UK tour – all in the space of a year.<br />

Are there times where you have to ask yourself how all this<br />

has happened?<br />

Mentally I’m still catching up to it. It’s such a big change that<br />

I’m dealing with it one day at a time. There’s a lot more turmoil<br />

involved than you’d imagine. I’m quite an anxious person, really.<br />

Things like my routine, my plans and how I organise things –<br />

seeing that changing freaks me out. I’m one of those people<br />

where any small difference and I shut down a little bit. It’s<br />

definitely been a big challenge to reorient myself as performer.<br />

So is it a little strange to go from being an artist and lecturer<br />

to having to take phone interviews at 1pm on a Tuesday<br />

afternoon?<br />

When I was drawing, I was always talking about my work. The<br />

main difference is that it’s now much more personal. There’s<br />

something about speaking or singing or fronting a band that is<br />

more personality led. Visual art less so. It’s not so much about<br />

you. You make a drawing or image to detract attention from<br />

yourself, putting it onto a piece of paper or onto a wall. This is<br />

different because it is me. The voice is coming out of my body.<br />

It’s interesting to see the difference in the reaction that people<br />

have. To a certain extent there’s a lot of food for thought in terms<br />

of your actual personality and yourself and how you look as more<br />

of a product. That’s just the nature of performing in any field; it’s<br />

much more about your body. It’s frightening but also inspiring.<br />

Is there personal curation in your lyricism? You’ve previously<br />

harvested comments from YouTube, written an ode to Meghan<br />

Markle and questioned the cleanliness of budget hotel carpets.<br />

Or is it more a conduit for reflecting and interpreting random<br />

fragments of society?<br />

Some songs are very carefully curated where I’ll have a whole<br />

heap of collected words that I’ll comb through really carefully,<br />

and almost colour code things so they align to different themes,<br />

finding phrases that speak to that theme. Sometimes it’s just<br />

how words sound. It’s much less a specific story idea. More<br />

so something that sounds funny or unexpected. It’s a bit of<br />

everything and changes over time.<br />

Do you find similarities in your other artistic practices when<br />

writing lyrics?<br />

Like any kind of drawing, the way I feel about making images<br />

and putting the words together, is kind of the same. Anyone<br />

making something is trying to solidify how they see the world in<br />

an object that they’ve made. Everyone has their own point view,<br />

their own personal TV show of how they see the world. Making<br />

a reflection of it on paper or in words is so reassuring. When<br />

I write the words, I’m trying to encapsulate what the world<br />

appears like to me – for comfort, essentially. To feel less alone. To<br />

feel reassured, if that makes any sense at all.<br />

So is dictating these feelings a form of coping mechanism for<br />

the constant barrage of messages and signals that surround us?<br />

Some people are quite soft and have<br />

one layer less of skin. Some people<br />

find it easier to let things bounce<br />

off them. I’m definitely not one of<br />

those people. I’m quite a raw nerve,<br />

and in any environment I would feel<br />

fairly inundated by thoughts, just<br />

because I’m an over-thinker and<br />

I attach meanings to things that I<br />

probably shouldn’t. The lyricism is<br />

sort of like talking to myself, talking<br />

myself down off a ledge. I’m making<br />

sense of things, obviously not in a<br />

straightforward way. It’s also like<br />

reaching out, testing the waters,<br />

asking if anyone knows what the hell<br />

I’m on about. That’s actually been one of the nice things about<br />

the band – people do relate to the words. It surprises me at first,<br />

because I see it as a random collection of phrases. But when I<br />

put it all together, I start to see something in it. It’s quite intuitive.<br />

I think the social media age provides us with pockets of<br />

absurdity that communities coalesce around, an example<br />

being YouTube comments, something which you’ve fed into<br />

your lyricism. It’s almost like these spaces are a deep pool of<br />

introspection beyond tangible judgement.<br />

When I find things that I want to include in songs, it’s almost<br />

GIG<br />

“I’m trying to<br />

encapsulate what the<br />

world appears like<br />

to me - for comfort<br />

essentially”<br />


Shipping Forecast – 21/02<br />

The South London four-piece leave the door ajar to their homely space<br />

where the walls are coloured by a collage of introspective absurdity.<br />

always because I’m moved by them. Even if that’s just the act<br />

of someone putting something personal on the internet under a<br />

video, it says something about somebody who might not have<br />

a lot of outlets, or maybe there isn’t anyone to talk to at that<br />

moment, so they throw it out into the abyss. I find something<br />

moving about that. I think people can relate to that too, as though<br />

they’ve just told a stranger at a party something very personal.<br />

I feel like YouTube comments are a<br />

little bit like that. It is anonymous, in<br />

that you’re telling people who don’t<br />

know you at all. There’s something<br />

very valuable in that. But at the same<br />

time, they can be so crude and so,<br />

so nasty and vitriolic. And you know,<br />

I’m sometimes moved by those too,<br />

because who are these people and<br />

why do they need to be doing it?<br />

When I see the really nasty comments,<br />

it fills me with empathy, because I just<br />

think, ‘What a tortured soul’.<br />

You recall being slightly hesitant<br />

when being asked to be lead vocalist<br />

of the band. Do you think it’s this shy reluctancy that places<br />

you in the position to be a compelling observer when collating<br />

lyrics?<br />

I think it has. When I joined, I thought, ‘OK, crap, I’m going to<br />

have to try and be a front-person in a band – at some point I’m<br />

going to have to work out how to move, how to be a performer’.<br />

But I said to myself, ‘I’ll do that side of things in a bit, but for<br />

now I’ll just get through it and do it the best I can, and if I look<br />

nervous then I’ll just look nervous. I’ll just embrace whatever I<br />

can manage’. I thought that would develop into an all-singing,<br />

all-dancing persona, which I now realise is completely unrealistic,<br />

and not me at all. Now I’ve just leaned into that first version a<br />

bit more. I’m still learning how to be on a stage. The best way<br />

I’ve found is to make yourself feel as at home as possible and<br />

to get out of your head. Just be myself. Just be an observer and<br />

remain quite physically shy.<br />

You’re owning the tension in a way.<br />

Yeh, that’s a good way of putting it.<br />

It’s interesting the way you mention the home environment<br />

on stage. I think there’s a strong sense of home in the<br />

atmosphere of Dry Cleaning, something which you can<br />

draw from the tight repetition of the instrumentals and the<br />

titling of the second EP, which emerged from practices in<br />

your bassist’s mum’s house. How much does comfort and<br />

familiarity sculpt the world of Dry Cleaning?<br />

The whole thing started in Lewis’ family home, and maybe it’s<br />

because we’re all bit older than most bands breaking through,<br />

but we’ve come to a place where we really value home, and<br />

not doing things because of expectation. We’ve outgrown the<br />

social pressure to do certain things, or act a certain way. That<br />

has a lot to do with feeling comfortable in your own skin. It’s<br />

definitely the theme that runs through our band. We look quite<br />

different as a group. We never said we need to adhere to a<br />

particular style, or we all need to dress a certain way. We just<br />

did our own thing and it worked out quite well. It owes a lot to<br />

just being at ease in our own skin and the homeliness of it all. !<br />

Words: Elliot Ryder / @elliot_ryder<br />

Photography: Hanna-Katrina Jedrosz<br />

Dry Cleaning play The Shipping Forecast on Friday 21st<br />

<strong>February</strong> with support from Pozi. Sweet Princess and Boundary<br />

Road Snacks And Drinks are out now via It’s OK.<br />




Now into its eighth year, LIVERPOOL INTERNATIONAL JAZZ FESTIVAL has been well<br />

placed to observe the boom in contemporary jazz in the UK, and has delighted in<br />

pairing various exciting modern day innovators with some of jazz’s leading legends in<br />

its programming. It is testament to the festival’s brave booking that this year’s line-up<br />

offers something mouth-watering for jazz fans of all stripes.<br />

Among the new breed is energetic jazz collective CYKADA, the latest ensemble to emerge from<br />

London’s Total Refreshment Centre melting pot. Engaging with distant poles and analogue worlds,<br />

Cykada’s style fizzes with a host of eastern and western influences, not to mention interweaving<br />

narratives of intriguing beauty and devastation. Featuring members of Ezra Collective and Myriad<br />

Forest (among others), Cykada and their boundary-pushing approach kick off the festival, supported<br />

by Jazz North Introduces act YAATRI, a five-piece crossover quintet from in Leeds.<br />

LIJF’s Saturday finds itself in the presence of SARATHY KORWAR, leader of the UPAJ Collective and<br />

one of the most original voices within the UK jazz scene. Korwar began playing tabla from age of 10,<br />

while growing up in Ahmedabad and Chennai, India. However, due being born in the US, Korwar<br />



DEAD – REMIX<br />

Playhouse Theatre – 18/02-22/02<br />

Cykada<br />





Capstone Theatre – 27/02-03/03<br />

also found himself drawn to American music, including the likes of Ahmad Jamal and John Coltrane.<br />

Korwar’s set will draw from across his three studio albums, including 2019’s More Arriving, a highly<br />

percussive and honest reflection of Korwar’s experience of being an Indian in an increasingly divided<br />

Britain.<br />

Dutch innovators TIN MEN AND THE TELEPHONE (27th <strong>February</strong>) and Belgians BLOW 3.0 (29th<br />

<strong>February</strong>) add a touch of futurism to proceedings, and further fresh takes on jazz in all of its forms.<br />

The festival is closed out in slightly more traditional fashion on Sunday 3rd March by TONY KOFI<br />

QUARTET, with support from locals BLIND MONK THEORY?. The Quartet’s performance will<br />

mainly focus on saxophonist Kofi’s work with the legendary Ornette Coleman. After working with<br />

Coleman four years prior, Londoner Tony Kofi became inspired to create a collective consisting of<br />

world class musicians who were all touched and inspired by Coleman’s work.<br />

Individual event tickets and full festival passes can be found at ticketquarter.co.uk.<br />

capstonetheatre.com/jazzfestival<br />

In 1968, Night Of The Living Dead started out as a low-budget independent horror movie telling the<br />

story of seven strangers taking refuge from flesh eating ‘ghouls’ in an isolated farmhouse. 50 years<br />

on from the release of George A. Romero’s zombie cult classic, seven actors now recreate the eerily<br />

foreboding air that cloaks the room with that ominous sense of dread.<br />

NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD – REMIX is the product of Imitating The Dog, masters of digital theatre and<br />

one of the UK’s most innovative theatre companies. Working through 1,076 edits in 95 minutes, the sevenstrong<br />

crew not only perform a shot-for-shot recreation of the film, they also film and stage it themselves<br />

in real time. Armed with cameras, costumes and defaced Barbie dolls, the cast attempt to stick close to the<br />

paranoia-driven theme of the much-loved film, yet allow space for spontaneity and ingenuity to dictate the<br />

balance of humour and apprehensive fear.<br />

Romero’s original was an apocalyptic vision of paranoia, ruminating on the breakdown of community and the<br />

end of the American dream. Pre-dating the zombie horror craze in cinema, Romero’s film favoured unsettling<br />

social commentary over shock and gore. Archive footage and imagery will be mixed in to the Remix, mirroring<br />

the original’s quasi-documentary style; additional newsreel projections will also focus on riots and the<br />

struggle of the civil rights movement that raged in the US at the time, adding layers of historical context that<br />

can be inferred from the film’s foreboding tone.<br />

This modern adaptation is a love song to the film, a remaking and remixing which attempts to understand<br />

the past in order not to have to repeat it. It is in turns humorous, terrifying, thrilling, thought provoking and<br />

joyous; but, above all, in the retelling it becomes a searing parable for our own complex times.<br />

everymanplayhouse.com<br />


ticketquarter.co.uk<br />


GIG<br />

Alfa Mist<br />

Invisible Wind Factory – 29/02<br />

Alfa Mist<br />

Flourishing in the concrete landscape of East London, ALFA MIST<br />

uncovered a love for amalgamating elements of jazz and hip hop, a<br />

talent that marked him out as a singular talent on his moody 2015<br />

debut, Nocturne. A compound artist who enjoys genre hopping as<br />

much as he does sampling and splicing, Mist retains a love for the kind<br />

of urban soundscapes that remind him of his upbringing – mellow and<br />

reflective. Last year’s Structuralism, Mist’s third LP, finds the classically<br />

trained pianist in melancholic form, allowing improvisation – and<br />

the voice of his sister, speaking to him about society’s difficulty in<br />

communicating effectively – to lead the way. It’s only really in the live<br />

arena where the depths of Mist’s talents can be truly felt, charged as<br />

they are with intensely personal emotions.<br />

CLUB<br />

Eclair Fifi<br />

Meraki – 21/02<br />

Scottish DJ and visual artist Clair Stirling, ECLAIR FIFI, has become one of<br />

the UK’s most colourful DJs, the kind of selector you want at the helm when<br />

a party bursts into life. Having helmed residencies at Paris Social Club and<br />

Hoya:Hoya, she was instrumental in the growth of the LuckyMe parties<br />

in Glasgow and Edinburgh. Through her DJing and visual work, Eclair Fifi<br />

helped LuckyMe present a new vision of club music to techno-devoted<br />

Scottish ravers and forge relationships with like-minded crews globally.<br />

Evolving from Detroit techno to Italo disco to electro, she is a much indemand<br />

curator, hosting stages at The Warehouse Project and Amsterdam<br />

Dance Event in recent years. The intimate confines of Meraki, then, will be<br />

like an old school party, and one that is sure to sell out.<br />

Eclair Fifi<br />

GIG<br />

Psycho Comedy<br />

Phase One – 15/02<br />

PSYCHO COMEDY certainly believe that rock ’n’ roll needs saving, and their debut LP<br />

Performance Space Number One is the first part of their mantra that will convince you<br />

that they’re right. If you’re a fan of rock that chugs like The Stooges and shimmers like<br />

the Velvets, then you may well think this Scouse collective have done just that. Powered<br />

by frontman Shaun Powell’s Lou-meets-Mavers swagger, and Matthew Thomas Smith’s<br />

Fall-esque poetic outbursts, there’s a lot to love within the six-piece’s energy and squall.<br />

The collective release their debut effort on independent label Silver Machine Recordings<br />

on Valentine’s Day, and you can win a date with guitarist Jack Thompson by picking up the<br />

record at the Phase One launch show.<br />

GIG<br />

Gill Landry<br />

Philharmonic Hall – 18/02<br />

Once a busker on the streets of New Orleans, now a two-time Grammy<br />

award-winning singer-songwriter; it just goes to show that determination<br />

and an undying confidence in your abilities pays off. Multi-instrumentalist<br />

GILL LANDRY has lent his notoriously full-toned vocals to work with Laura<br />

Marling, Karen Elson and The Felice Brothers, and his brand new Skeleton<br />

At The Banquet album comes out like a series of reflections and thoughts on<br />

the collective hallucination that is America. Whether you resonate with his<br />

sweet Southern blues or not, Landry’s capability to capture and analyse the<br />

complexities of human reflection is enough to observe his live craft in action.<br />

CLUB<br />

Extra Soul Perception<br />

Africa Oyé @ 24 Kitchen Street – 24/02<br />

Extra Soul Perception<br />

A collaboration of funk beats and jazz bops, EXTRA SOUL PERCEPTION is a project exploring new<br />

tangents in soul. Merging eight talents from the UK and East Africa, ESP is led by an open-minded<br />

approach to harmonising different sounds, techniques and traditions. Returning from a writing camp<br />

in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, the artists – comprised of vital figures in the new wave London jazz and<br />

soul scenes and renowned visionary musicians from Kenya and Uganda – are stepping forth to<br />

challenge the preconceptions of a long-established genre. The ESP album will land in April, but for<br />

now the group are armed and ready for their exclusive three-day tour, that has its finale underneath<br />

Kitchen Street’s disco ball.<br />

GIG<br />

The Big Moon<br />

O2 Academy – 28/02<br />

“I’m so bored of being capable, I need somewhere to be vulnerable,” sings Juliette<br />

Jackson on It’s Easy Then, the opening track from the London quartet’s second album<br />

Walking Like We Do. This opening is a pretty obvious sign that the group are at a<br />

thematic crossroads, favouring an honest strain of lyricism over the more love songorientated<br />

tone of their debut LP. This is coupled with more of a rounded, lush sound<br />

on the new album that sees the band leaning more towards the pop than the punk,<br />

which isn’t overly surprising for a group so obsessed with the glam of 90s boy bands<br />

and Britpop. And, given the success that Haim and Hinds have had in this area in<br />

recent years, you can fully expect to see and hear a lot more from THE BIG MOON as<br />

the year progresses.<br />

The Big Moon<br />




Aldous Harding (Keith Ainsworth / arkimages.co.uk)<br />

“When a solo line<br />

cuts in, the stillness is<br />

quickly weaponised,<br />

as if you’re stepping<br />

out of a fine mist<br />

into a concentrated<br />

jet stream”<br />

Aldous Harding<br />

Harvest Sun @ Arts Club – 04/12/19<br />

As the cinematic house music fades, a lone figure slips<br />

through the stage curtains. Without making a sound, ALDOUS<br />

HARDING approaches the mic and reaches for her classical<br />

acoustic guitar. The main feature is now in session.<br />

Over the past few years the New Zealand singer-songwriter<br />

has developed a significant cult buzz for her fiercely unique<br />

live shows, with 2017’s Party and 2019’s Designer (released<br />

on 4AD) opening her up to a far wider audience. Cryptic and<br />

capricious, her songwriting shifts between neo-folk torch songs<br />

and queasy alt.pop, prone to flashbacks of Gorky’s Zygotic<br />

Mynci-inspired Welsh psychedelia (so, it’s no wonder she’s found<br />

a kindred spirit in bandmate and partner, H. Hawkline). This,<br />

paired with her deeply intense stage presence, makes Harding<br />

impossible to ignore.<br />

The first thing you notice is Harding’s look. Her most recent<br />

music videos have paid homage to surrealist filmmaker Alejandro<br />

Jodorowsky, though tonight she emerges looking like the ghost<br />

of a Victorian sailor. Her mother was a Canadian folk singer and<br />

puppeteer, perhaps explaining the curious manner that she stalks<br />

the stage, heavily reminiscent of Hunky Dory-era Bowie, with<br />

some The Man Who Fell To Earth humanoid awkwardness mixed<br />

in. Between songs she’s painfully slow, deliberate and mindful<br />

of every action. During the first two acoustic tracks, I’m So<br />

Sorry and Living The Classics, her eyes roll back and her cheeks<br />

crumple into a grimace, as her voice curls in on itself. At times she<br />

looks perplexed or hesitant, as if performing at gun-point.<br />

Yet, somehow, Harding’s theatrics never feel contrived.<br />

Her angular, Theresa May Dancing Queen limbs and surgical<br />

precision simply appear a natural, uncoloured extension of the<br />

music. I’ve never witnessed anyone work silence like her, either.<br />

Everything is laid bare to the point that watching her can often<br />

feel highly uncomfortable. Holding your breath, she wordlessly<br />

commands your attention. There’s nowhere to hide. Small talk,<br />

standard conventions, it all slips away.<br />

With Harding the underlying pain and absurdity at the centre<br />

of everything is worn on the outside. What’s on the surface might<br />

look peculiar at first, is soon recognisable as something much<br />

more familiar. In her weird, wounded and confounding way you<br />

see something of yourself. Uniquely exposed, she sings directly to<br />

our collective oddness.<br />

On the rare occasion she does speak, she attempts an<br />

explanation. After the stagnant beauty of What If Birds Aren’t<br />

Singing They’re Screaming, she admits, “I know I’m not known for<br />

my smiley, easy going presence. Everybody’s different,” adding in,<br />

“two things can be real”. A few songs before she says, “I’m quiet<br />

because I am focused. I’m not closed. I am open,” finishing with a<br />

grin. During the song Designer, Harding reels off lines like a fedup<br />

fashionista, adding extra emphasis to “Give up your beauty”,<br />

as if she’s dropping a heavy clue.<br />

Each arrangement is treated with just the same delicacy as<br />

well. Sparse and subtle, notes linger, suspended like dust motes.<br />

Guitarists lean back, sitting out of entire songs. In Zoo Eyes<br />

when a solo line does cut in, the stillness is quickly weaponised,<br />

as if you’re stepping out of a fine mist into a concentrated jet<br />

stream. Hitting the chorus, the song’s thick pad of harmonies<br />

feels like a huge pay-off. Treasure exercises the same restraint.<br />

Harding’s eyes flicker before the hook, bringing her back to us,<br />

as if its serene tide was about to pull her out for good. Band and<br />

audience both quietly attentive, all equally invested; it seems to<br />

drive the music deeper.<br />

During the jumbled shuffle of The Barrel, three friends dance,<br />

peaches bobbing in their hands above the crowd (referring to<br />

lyrics: “Look at all the peaches, how do you celebrate”). Harding’s<br />

previously described the song as “serious, but seriously happy”,<br />

which adds up, being as joyful as it is abstract and open-ended.<br />

New tune Old Peel follows suit. Harding plays a mug with a<br />

drumstick while yelping at the crowd as they ape back. It’s quite<br />

the contrast to the sincere, heartsick march of penultimate track<br />

Imagining My Man. Yet, here’s Harding at her most pure and<br />

paradoxical; still singing, sashaying and clattering at her coffee<br />

cup as the Titanic goes down. !<br />

David Weir / @BetweenSeeds<br />

Aldous Harding (Keith Ainsworth / arkimages.co.uk)<br />


Eurosonic Noorderslag<br />

Various venues, Groningen – 15/01-17/01<br />

New year’s resolutions are there to be broken. As noble as<br />

the intentions may be behind detoxing and treadmills, if we’re<br />

being honest, they aren’t much fun. So maybe we’re just getting<br />

it all wrong? Maybe our <strong>2020</strong> resolution should instead constitute<br />

a steadfast commitment to discovering as much new music as<br />

possible. That’s surely something we can get on board with,<br />

right?<br />

As a point of dedicated initiation to this year of audio<br />

adventuring, Groningen’s EUROSONIC NOORDERSLAG festival<br />

– sat plumb on the nose of January – is there to set us off on the<br />

right track. And, as Europe’s leading festival of new music, it<br />

sounds like shit loads more fun than kale smoothies and burpees.<br />

A programme of industry talks and panels, with the added<br />

exercise of cycling between the offering of over 400 live acts, is a<br />

cocktail much more enticing in the dry month of January.<br />

So, boosted by the idea of a resolution we may actually be<br />

able to keep, we set the controls for the heart of the new music<br />

universe and jump on a plane and head for the Netherlands.<br />

After a break-neck sprint through Groningen, we arrive just<br />

in time to catch YIN YIN, who are on a mission to reclaim the<br />

twin-neck guitar from Derek Smalls. This Maastricht four-piece<br />

could easily be Allah-Las’ Balearic-infused brothers, fusing<br />

lackadaisical, dusty soundscapes with Korg-heavy dancefloor<br />

grooves. Think Nippon Guitars receiving the Andrew Weatherall<br />

treatment. They’re almost as cool as their crushed velvet kaftans.<br />

Fans of Goat, take note.<br />

Thanks to the Dutch cargo bike we’ve commandeered for the<br />

trip (when in Rome and all that), we seemingly manage to be in<br />

two places at once, catching both SIR WAS and Liverpool’s own<br />

EYESORE & THE JINX within the space of an hour.<br />

Sir Was’s In The Midst – in all its Porcelain Raft and Washed<br />

Out looseness – is one of our current favourite cuts, rediscovered<br />

of late (by this correspondent at least) after it passed us by on<br />

its 2017 release. Live, it is a real treat, receiving a high-energy<br />

make-over. In their typically understated, unassuming Swedish<br />

way, Sir Was could quietly cause quite a fuss.<br />

Almost 12 months to the day since gracing the front cover<br />

of these pink pages, Eyesore & The Jinx are one of the hottest<br />

shows tonight at Eurosonic. It feels like an important, crowning<br />

moment in the Eyesore journey. The school canteen that has<br />

been appropriated for their show is busting at the doors and they<br />

perform with their characteristic, seemingly unflappable purpose<br />

and poise. We are, however, hit with the grim realisation that On<br />

An Island – in its lament of the narrow-minded and nauseating<br />

pigheadedness of little England – has an all-together more<br />

sinister undercurrent in <strong>2020</strong> than it did on its release. Performed<br />

here, at a festival celebrating the joy of creative European<br />

collaboration, as Britain simultaneously sails off into the Brexit<br />

abyss, it is afforded a further lacquer of despair.<br />

JUNIOR BROTHER is about as trad-Irish as Richard Dawson<br />

is trad-folk. Here is an artist shaped by a storied songbook,<br />

who simultaneously torches it. Set within an exquisite, ornately<br />

baroque, underground lair, this is as punk, as soulful, as visceral<br />

as it gets.<br />

Punk, soulful, visceral could just as equally form the byline<br />

for KAUKOLAMPI. Spawned from this parish’s favourite Finnish<br />

house/metal combo K-X-P, this side-project is dark techno,<br />

Blanck Mass-brutal, yet wouldn’t seem out of place leathering the<br />

dancefloor in the Cream annex.<br />

Heavily oiled, we are now a hazardous two-wheeled road<br />

user. It seems these wide Dutch handlebars get wobblier by the<br />

schooner. Still, no excuse for the near fatal cross-town seater<br />

that is deployed to get to KO SHIN MOON. These are a French<br />

duo who borrow from across the spectrum like a backpacker’s<br />

sonic scrapbook, creating a synth-laden mix, perfect for fans of<br />

Klaus Johann Grobe. It is worth the near-death experience.<br />

We are by now convinced that Eurosonic is the best music<br />

discovery festival we’ve been to. Groningen is tiny and – aided<br />

by our trusty if heavily bruised bicycle – so easy to jump between<br />

venues. Nowhere is more than a five-minute pedal away and,<br />

with cycle lanes, no hills to traverse and a pedestrianised centre,<br />

it is perfect for venue hopping. How they pack around 30 official<br />

venues (the unofficial fringe is even bigger) into a town centre<br />

the size of Chester is plainly ridiculous. This is music nut heaven.<br />

CHARLOTTE ADIGÉRY has been honing her craft under the<br />

tutelage of Soulwax – releasing on their DeeWee imprint – and<br />

shares her Belgian compatriots’ immaculate sense of tough<br />

dancefloor sensibility and unadulterated pop mega-hooks.<br />

She’s a ready to go, box-fresh, bonafide pop star, who is clearly<br />

equally at home delivering 4am bangin’ club sets as she is at<br />

tastemaker festivals. Despite the fact Huize Maas is bursting at<br />

the seams and bopping along to every bleep, yelp and bass drop,<br />

she screams for more from her audience. “Are you with me? This<br />

is a showcase, but you are allowed to dance! Give me more!”<br />

Charlotte has high standards.<br />

One aspect Eurosonic seem to nail<br />

consistently is presenting artists in spaces<br />

that perfectly suit their oeuvre. This is a<br />

lovingly curated festival. Belfast’s KITT<br />

PHILIPPA benefits from this approach<br />

beautifully as we bear witness to 45<br />

minutes of the most joyous, fragile,<br />

soulful wonderfulness, set within<br />

the intimate chapel that is Lutherse<br />

Kerk. Blending a classical virtuosity,<br />

gorgeously crafted songs and spacious<br />

arrangements; think Anna Calvi sat<br />

at the piano, making all your dreams<br />

come true.<br />

If Lutherse Kerk was a delicate<br />

chapel of joy, in the hands of<br />

KEELEY FORSYTH the vast<br />

octagonal Nieuwe Kerk is a<br />

cathedral of nightmares. But the<br />

kind of nightmares you hope<br />

to have every single night.<br />

Heralded as “the new Scott<br />

Walker” by The Guardian last<br />

month, Forsyth presents a<br />

series of musical stone tablets<br />

that are possibly the most<br />

visceral, angst-laden laments<br />

we have experienced in<br />

years. The minimal baritone<br />

guitar, piano and violin<br />

arrangements, with<br />

their dramatic skyline of<br />

mountainous crescendos,<br />

are just sensational. Alongside this, Keeley Forsyth’s performance<br />

is a physical act; she contorts and shifts as if each passage is an<br />

exorcism, a cleansing and cathartic experience. Something of an<br />

unlikely highlight, but if we were to select a Eurosonic standout,<br />

it would be this.<br />

And, with that, our adventure here is done. We have<br />

completely fallen in love with Eurosonic, with Groningen and with<br />

new acts numerous times over each night. Surely these are the<br />

New Year’s resolutions worth keeping, right? !<br />

Craig G Pennington<br />

“How they pack around<br />

30 official venues into<br />

a town centre the size<br />

of Chester is plainly<br />

ridiculous. This is<br />

music nut heaven”<br />

Yin Yin (Bart Heemskerk)<br />

Eurosonic Noorderslag (Bart Heemskerk)<br />



Fontaines D.C.<br />

EVOL @ O2 Academy – 20/11/19<br />

Fontaines D.C. (Tomas Adam)<br />

There’s nobody that follows music, that has an awareness of current scenes, that doesn’t know about<br />

FONTAINES D.C. by now. Certainly, it seems that Liverpool does.<br />

As you haul your weary body up the stairs of Liverpool Academy, among the throng of Wednesday night giggers,<br />

you pass the entrance to Academy Two – the room where they were originally booked to play. Tonight, that’s empty,<br />

and as you ascend the steepest bloody staircase on Merseyside and enter the heaving, sweaty confines of Academy<br />

One, the excitement is palpable. The bigger brother is packed to the rafters full of young and old, the converted and<br />

the curious as well as the hip. It seems Hotham Street is the only place to be tonight.<br />

It’s been a rush for this Dublin five-piece over the last 12 months. Their debut album Dogrel was nominated for<br />

whateverthemercurymusicprizeiscallednow, while BBC Radio 6 Music named it their album of the year. Most of this<br />

tour has been upgraded and those upgrades have sold-out, too. This is a moment that we are in here, especially<br />

when Fontaines’ Dublin scenester mates are also doing impeccably well, too. If you are reading this and DON’T go<br />

to see The Murder Capital in town on 25th <strong>February</strong> then shame on you, as they too reinvigorate the live guitar punk<br />

aesthetic. And Girl Band’s new album is immense, etc, etc.<br />

They part stumble, part stroll onto the stage, ignoring the sweat that’s pouring down the walls. The beauty<br />

of our very own Academy is that it can still resemble a ‘tiny’ venue when the band dictates. This seems to be the<br />

way tonight, and the band respond by throwing themselves into the set at full tilt. There’s no banter, or hellos, or<br />

interaction, just a visceral dive into replicating the album live. Get in and get out with a minimum of fuss. Frontman<br />

Grian Chatten is proving to be the frontman that this generation deserves. An amalgamation of Curtis, E. Smith and<br />

Reznor he lurks at the front of the band, shaking his hands and twitching at all times. It isn’t nerves, he is just trying<br />

to fill his time before it’s his turn to fill yours.<br />

Hurricane Laughter is the bass-driven opener and, as virtually every song on the album has an anthemic feel<br />

to it, is an indication of how the set will play out. The beauty of seeing a band at this point in their career is how the<br />

songs have been performed so many times they are relaxed, knowing mistakes are rare and performance is the key.<br />

“There’s no connection available,” screams Grian, arms flailing and silver pendant flying about his torso. Sha Sha Sha<br />

possesses a degree of funk about its build up with guitars and power chords. Television Screens is the midpoint and<br />

the most dramatic song, as Grian’s chopped vocals hint at melody as he’s actually singing to the hundreds of hands<br />

poking through the quiet white light that crawls from the stage. From this point on it’s bedlam.<br />

“I love that violence that you get around here, that ready, steady violence…” Liberty Belle comes hurtling off<br />

the stage and hits the mosh pit with such a bang you feel the shakes at the back of the room. The younger element<br />

are going hyper now and it’s not the bev talking. So when Boys From The Better Land starts the entire room starts<br />

moving. Everyone here is at one with the future sound of Dublin, limbs and vocal chords splayed for all to see. It’s<br />

obvious they finish on album opener Big. The crescendo of confidence raising what’s left of the old abattoir’s roof.<br />

This band are genuinely fantastic and deserve every plaudit chucked their way. We’ve had two amazing<br />

performances in town by them over the last 12 months and there’s nothing to say they won’t be back again soon,<br />

please.<br />

Ian R. Abraham / @scrash<br />

John Head<br />

+ Roy<br />

St George’s Hall – 06/12/19<br />

The drive in to St George’s Hall, from the north end at least, has suddenly<br />

become a thing of genuine wonder.<br />

The sudden absence of that monstrous flyover exposes the end face of the<br />

museum, shows us the direct route to the tunnel, opens up the entire entrance<br />

to town and presents a grandeur that we kind of knew was always there but<br />

had taken for granted.<br />

It could be easy to take JOHN HEAD for granted. It probably has been easy<br />

for very many people to take John Head for granted for a very long time; easy<br />

to view him as a junior partner in his elder brother’s adventure. The George to<br />

Mick’s Lennon and McCartney in Shack’s storied tale. (And to totally misquote<br />

Steve Coogan’s portrayal of Anthony H. Wilson: “If you don’t know who Shack<br />

were then that’s fine but you should probably listen to more music.”)<br />

Let’s assume that everybody here is more than familiar with Shack, with<br />

The Pale Fountains, with all the stories, and not bother repeating them all for<br />

the millionth time.<br />

As I’m leaving the hall later I overhear conversations (I write, that’s what I<br />

do, what we all do, we listen to you speak, all of you, all the time).<br />

“Are you glad you came then?”<br />

“Oh yeah.”<br />

“Well, he was always kind of second fiddle…”<br />

And that’s kind of true. A phenomenal guitarist, we all knew that. A<br />

beautiful voice. A dazzling song here and there, slipped into Shack albums, a<br />

Cornish Town, a Miles Apart, a Butterfly, a Carousel. All gorgeous, all shining in<br />

their own right. All present tonight.<br />

There’s a moment that gives the lie to the sentiment halfway though John’s<br />

set, though. We’ll come to that. First we need to talk support.<br />

And tonight’s support is ROY, the local legend who may possibly not be<br />

operating under his real name to deliver his tales of dark whimsy. We know<br />

what we’re getting with Roy now; streams of consciousness that take place in a<br />

fantasy underworld version of Walton filled with larger than life plots that may<br />

or may not (mostly may not) have their roots in truth.<br />

That’s not what we get. Not until the end where there’s something that<br />

may or may not be a ghost story about betting shops and chippies. What<br />

we get tonight is THE CIRCUS MINDS. The man called Roy accompanied by<br />

somebody on guitar who might not be operating under the name of NICK<br />

ELLIS tonight, but doesn’t half play like him. We’re out of story mode and into<br />

something that might (or might not) be poetry. They’re the meeting point<br />

between Allen Ginsberg, Half Man Half Biscuit and John Fahey that you hadn’t<br />

realised you needed until now.<br />

John Head though. We’re here for John. Only a few months since his<br />

sudden re-emergence at two very quickly sold-out Parr Street Studio2 dates,<br />

the man is now selling out St George’s Hall’s Small Concert Room. A beautiful<br />

setting for a beautiful sound.<br />

There are things I think about the sound. Sinuous, that’s one. Dreamlike,<br />

obviously. Pastoral. Bucolic. Acoustic. Very much acoustic. One guitar, one<br />

bass, a keyboard, drums, two pieces of brass. There’s some jazz in there, too.<br />

Some late-60s folk. There are beautifully fractured rhythms. There’s space.<br />

There’s lots of space. And everything supports the songs, supports the vocals.<br />

And the vocals are beautiful.<br />

The band number six, then four, then three, then one. Whatever they<br />

number, the emphasis is always on the vocals, filling the marbled hall with<br />

ridiculous clarity.<br />

I think of Fred Neil, Tims Hardin and Buckley; once I think of Nick Drake, but<br />

only once and only briefly. Mark Hollis comes to mind because of all that air in<br />

the music, John Martyn for the same reason and the version of Van Morrison<br />

that made Astral Weeks.<br />

None of theses names arise as influence. We’re not talking influence, we’re<br />

talking lineage. There are songs from the fabled, mythical John Head solo<br />

album that might or might not exist in the real world but is certainly present<br />

enough for those assembled to sing along with 1967 and Crocodile. And there<br />

are new songs.<br />

Which is where the moment comes in.<br />

“I’ve got a new idea that I’ve been working on,” he says as he takes a solo<br />

moment mid-set. “It’s a bit rough and ready, but if you’re OK with that?”<br />

The quote may not be exact because the next five minutes wipe the room<br />

out. The next five minutes of just John and vocal might be the most impossible,<br />

most staggeringly beautiful thing you’ve ever heard. And, given that the<br />

mythical solo album has never really made its way to the real world, we have<br />

no idea whether we’ll ever hear it again. A song so perfect that people forget<br />

to raise their phones. There may be no record of this song, it may have existed<br />

only for this moment. But this moment was perfect.<br />

And that’s the kind of night this was: magic and beauty and silence and joy.<br />

A night of genuine wonder.<br />

Ian Salmon / @IanRSalmon<br />

John Head (Paul McCoy / @photomccoy)<br />


Rhiannon Giddens<br />

& Francesco Turrisi<br />

Grand Central Hall – 28/11/19<br />

“It’s a really weird time to be alive right now,” states<br />

RHIANNON GIDDENS, soberly, as she wraps up her set at Grand<br />

Central Hall. The laughter and applause that has flowed so freely<br />

all evening, now levels out to a nervous silence. On the eve of<br />

an election, up against the relentless noise of propaganda and<br />

the blathering of insidious agents, plain speaking of this kind can<br />

catch you off guard.<br />

Giddens’ career has never shied away from the political. Her<br />

work with revivalists Carolina Chocolate Drops paid tribute to<br />

every imaginable facet of African American music. This year’s<br />

outstanding Songs of Our Native Daughters project pushed this<br />

sense of racial politics further in its aim “to tell forgotten stories of<br />

the African diaspora in North America, with its women upfront”,<br />

as Jude Rogers wrote last <strong>February</strong>. In light of recent scenes,<br />

tonight’s performance feels particularly resonant.<br />

Joined by jazz multi-instrumentalist and partner FRANCESCO<br />

TURRISI and Jason Sypher on upright bass, the trio display a<br />

remarkable scholarly approach and versatility as performers<br />

throughout. It’s impossible to keep up with their instrument<br />

hopping, as Turrisi, ever the showman, works every angle of his<br />

collection of dafs (frame drums). Their repertoire also spans an<br />

exceptionally wide canon of traditional music.<br />

From minstrel balladry to arias, howling vaudeville to the<br />

rattling delivery of a Gaelic tune; Celtic and North American<br />

material (like the austere Wayfaring Stranger) falls in alongside<br />

little-known Middle Eastern, African and Italian folk songs. Yet,<br />

there’s still a distinct through line to the set. Giddens inhabits<br />

these songs, drawing similarities and the humanity from them<br />

with an unrivalled charismatic flair.<br />

Rallying against division and preaching kindness, it feels like<br />

both a multicultural masterclass and an explorative response to<br />

history as it continues to unfold. After the lovelorn Appalachian<br />

mountain ballad Pretty Saro, for their encore they throw their<br />

weight into gospel classic Up Above My Head. Tambourine held<br />

high like a baton passed down from the foremother of rock ’n’ roll,<br />

Sister Rosetta Tharpe herself, in the hands of Rhiannon Giddens,<br />

each strike sounds rebellion.<br />

David Weir / @BetweenSeeds<br />

Fat White Family<br />

+ Working Men’s Club<br />

+ Silent-K<br />

Harvest Sun @ Invisible Wind Factory – 26/11/19<br />

There’s a noticeable mix of ages in the audience tonight. This admittedly comes as something of a surprise before recalling FAT<br />

WHITE FAMILY’s magnetism as a politically charged, notoriously controversial collective active since their post-squatter days in<br />

London.<br />

To start we have SILENT-K. Dressed in bizarre safari-like uniform and featuring a synth player dressed as a beekeeper, the<br />

Liverpool band raise the audience’s spirits with their bright, catchy rock n roll sound. Even The Zutons’ Dave McCabe joins the band<br />

on stage to provide additional vocals, gaining a certain level of interest from the increasing onlookers. The upbeat and sprightly riffs<br />

lead by energetic frontman Chris Taylor succeed in taking the night off to a lively start.<br />

The final support act are the much talked-about WORKING MEN’S CLUB from Todmorden. Eager to make an impression on a<br />

FWF fan-dominated audience, fresh-faced frontman Sydney Minsky-Sargeant does his best Ian Curtis impression as he marches up<br />

and down the front of the stage with a rollie in his mouth. Donning a silk shirt, mullet and sideburns is Rob Graham (formerly of Wet<br />

Nuns) who expertly switches from drum machine to synth to guitar throughout the set.<br />

For a band actively trying to avoid wearing their ‘Manchester band’ tags so overtly, the New Order influences and Fall influences<br />

are still difficult to shake off. But the distinctive 80s synth melodies go down a storm with the crowd. The lasting result is impressive<br />

and causes quite a stir with the audience.<br />

Shuffling from the darkness with a Dickensian demeanour, Fat White Family appear like Fagin’s boys all grown-up as they<br />

stumble onto the stage armed with beers. It’s a strong start as the seven-piece launch into Auto Neutron from their debut<br />

Champagne Holocaust. It feels like a matter of seconds before frontman Lias Saoudi is over the rail and submerged into the crowd,<br />

instantly causing a frenzied atmosphere which is sustained throughout the entire set. Soft-spoken vocals and Brian Jonestown<br />

Massacre-tinged guitar melodies slowly build and unfold into chaotic distortion, resulting in Lias screaming and reeling around on the<br />

floor.<br />

Distinctively sleazy guitar riffs lull us into another FWF classic, I Am Mark E Smith, sounding more confident and chaotic than<br />

ever. Touch The Leather goes down a treat, and is transformed into an unlikely singalong anthem, as the onlookers relish in singing<br />

Lias’ own tongue-in-cheek, seedy lines back to him as he wades his way through the crowd. Disco stomper Feet sounds like the<br />

anthem it truly is. With Lias perched shirtless on the rail looking intently out into the crowd, motioning his hands along to the<br />

Algerian-dance influenced sound like a demented composer, he’s looks on knowing his confidence in their performance is completely<br />

justified.<br />

The band members depart the stage halfway through the set to allow the cartoonish Saul Adamczewski lead on the vocals for<br />

a strangely moving rendition of Goodbye Goebbels. The addition of Alex White’s saxophone adds a late-night bar feel to the track.<br />

The rest of the band members return to the stage for the sinister When I Leave, which oozes the sophistication and prowess which<br />

pervade their latest album, Serfs Up!.<br />

Rounding off a triumphant set, FWF end on two sure-fire hits Whitest Boy On The Beach and Is It Raining in your Mouth? –<br />

both of which sound explosive tonight. “Five sweaty fingers with a criminal impatience,” yells Lias with demonic fury, recalling the<br />

savagery of Johnny Rotten as the band sweetly harmonise their backing vocals in juxtaposition.<br />

With a surprising lack of tracks from their latest record, the band instead give us the ultimate FWF set, reminding us of their<br />

formidable talent as musicians, and Lias’ ability as a songwriter. Decadent, danceable and at times downright dirty, their sound packs<br />

a punch this evening and the crowd leaves IWF brimming with awe. For a band riddled with controversies and (un)intentionally<br />

pissing people off, it feels like they gave it their everything to inspire a community spirit in Liverpool tonight.<br />

Deborah Bassett<br />

Fat White Family (@mrjohnlatham)<br />

Fat White Family (@mrjohnlatham)<br />


^<br />



7-8-9 MAY<br />


A WORLD OF<br />



focuswales.com<br />








JACK FOUND | + artists from CANADA, GERMANY, IRELAND and more…<br />


FOCUS<strong>2020</strong>_BidoLito_advert_249x181mm.indd 1 24/01/<strong>2020</strong> 11:02<br />

An imitating the dog and Leeds Playhouse co-production<br />

TUE 18 - SAT 22 FEB<br />

Box Office: 0151 709 4776 | everymanplayhouse.com<br />

Age guidance 15+

ADD TO<br />


Mac DeMarco<br />

Harvest Sun @ Mountford Hall – 28/11/19<br />

MAC DEMARCO remains the king on campus. It’s a title he’s<br />

held here for two years since he last bowled over Mountford<br />

Hall with his enduring charm. The wide-eyed hysteria buzzing<br />

around the university grounds only reaffirms this, well before<br />

his inimitable tremolo twang has coursed through the student’s<br />

union.<br />

Since his last appearance on this very stage, Mac’s musical<br />

output has somewhat wandered a new path. Somewhere quieter<br />

and less frantic. Conducting the crowd, hands first to the left,<br />

then the right, bobbing between the droplets of synth on On<br />

The Level, his entrance is at odds with the rocking chair calm of<br />

Here Comes The Cowboy – his most recent release. Even when<br />

here last, in support of This Old Dog, his records were branching<br />

away from the woozy tape-deck haze that had allured his now<br />

adoring fanbase. And yet, while the Canadian songwriter has<br />

retreated to the comfort of his LA home studio in recent years – a<br />

setting that’s undoubtedly enhanced the hushed, more personal<br />

direction – he still wears the on stage clothes of efforts two and<br />

three, II and Salad Days; the chain-smoking oddball with the<br />

most addictive guitar licks in town. It’s evidently the Mac the<br />

crowd wants to see. It’s the one they get, for the most part, albeit<br />

slightly better behaved than his track record would suggest.<br />

Cooking Up Something Good, Chamber Of Reflection and<br />

Freaking Out The Neighbourhood are near inaudible, such is the<br />

chorus of almost 2,000 people beating him to every word.<br />

Tracing the footsteps of his contemporary character on<br />

record, you wonder if the show is weighted how he’d like, now<br />

Astles<br />

+ Bill Nickson<br />

+ Abby Meysenburg<br />

St Brides – 14/12/19<br />

Mac DeMarco (@MrKirks)<br />

he’s five albums into his career. More so with a recent, but no<br />

less endearing, swerve in songcraft. Slower jams Still Beating<br />

and Nobody are dutifully played, but their unrushed beauty is<br />

liberally taken as short intermission by most. The swelling energy<br />

and attention is saved for the nicotine rush of Ode To Viceroy.<br />

New funk jam Choo Choo, a groove-laden evolution of his Rock<br />

And Roll Night Club era, just about keeps it all on track in a run of<br />

newer songs.<br />

Tossing the microphone around the stage, filling the spaces<br />

in the setlist with schoolyard jokes, the Mac persona still fits<br />

the 29-year-old performer front and centre. Not so much like a<br />

suited, booted and slicked back Alex Turner being forced to pop<br />

his collar and recall distant memories of South Yorkshire teen<br />

discos. Instead, Mac, visibly, still slots in to his lineage, even if<br />

his more contemporary efforts on stage tonight seem to drift<br />

into the perspiration lining the ceiling. But maybe that’s the<br />

point in these shows: Mac’s sought to move on musically, like all<br />

maturing musicians would. Yet, the joyous community so taken<br />

by his earlier records still remains. Maybe it’s even grown, such<br />

are the numbers he holds in his palm as Still Together reaches<br />

its harmonious climax. His music and personality endure in<br />

their ability to bring masses of people together. To still offer<br />

this out, when musical interests have likely sailed forward,<br />

perhaps signals his need for this community, too. Judging by<br />

the admiration shared on both sides of the stage, it would seem<br />

short-sighted to give it up now. Perhaps the artist puts it best:<br />

“Oh mama, actin’ like my life’s already over / Oh dear, act your<br />

age and try another year”. See you at the Uni reunion in two<br />

years, Mac.<br />

Elliot Ryder / @elliot_ryder<br />

“Two days after the<br />

the general election,<br />

these artists came<br />

together to display the<br />

restorative, cleansing<br />

power of music”<br />

Paul Fitzgerald<br />

ADD TO PLAYLIST is the monthly<br />

column brought to you by MELODIC<br />

DISTRACTION RADIO, delving into the<br />

fold of the newest releases on the dance<br />

music spectrum. If you’re into 808s,<br />

sample pads, DJ tools and everything in<br />

between, then you’re in good company.<br />

Ahmed Ben Ali<br />

Subhana<br />

Habibi Funk Records<br />

Reggae straight out of Libya.<br />

If the grey winter weather has<br />

got you a little down in the<br />

dumps, this slice of sunshine is<br />

everything you need to put a spring in your step. Originally<br />

released straight to YouTube, AHMED BEN ALI’s addictive<br />

hooks got picked up by the pre-eminent Habibi Funk<br />

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and jazz the attention it deserves, flicking through Habibi<br />

Funk’s SoundCloud and back catalogue is an afternoon<br />

very well spent.<br />

Ranga<br />

Kong<br />

Third Place Dance Discs<br />

If you’ve caught any of<br />

Liverpool’s live beats scene in<br />

the last couple of years, from<br />

Wide Open at the Bakery to<br />

the jazz-madness of the Reeds (RIP), RANGA will already<br />

be a familiar face. Often accompanied by homemade<br />

instruments or a roster of local vocalists, Ranga’s<br />

distinctive sound of afro-inspired house beats have a<br />

rough-hewn jam-session feel. From the whip-smart march<br />

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Tryphème<br />

Aluminia<br />

Central Processing Unit<br />

Lisa O’Neill (Tomas Adam)<br />

Synths, vocal processing<br />

and sentimental computer<br />

music collide in TRYPHÈME’s<br />

second release for the<br />

Sheffield-based CPU. A talent for nimble, clever production<br />

and a voracious appetite for experimentation run through<br />

the entirety of Aluminia. Even when drawing on a disparate<br />

palette – sounds are pulled in from IDM, 90s electronica,<br />

digi-dub, beatless trance and Eskibeat – the release<br />

maintains its composure, never feeling overwrought or<br />

overworked. Emotional devastation for the twilight hours.<br />

Words: Nina Franklin<br />

Astles (Keith Ainsworth / arkimages.co.uk)<br />

Melodic Distraction Radio is an independent internet radio<br />

station based in the Baltic Triangle, Liverpool, platforming<br />

artists, DJs and producers from across the North West.<br />

Head to melodicdistraction.com to listen in.<br />





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This month’s selection of poetry is taken from J.P Walsh’s The Taxi<br />

Driver Sonnets – a collection of 15 poems offering a first-hand account<br />

of life at the wheel of hackney cab in Liverpool.<br />

My old English teacher in secondary school used<br />

to read Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky at the<br />

beginning of every lesson – whatever we were<br />

meant to be studying that day would be cast<br />

aside until his animated recital of the poem was finished. I<br />

think that was the first time a poem really affected me: there<br />

was something lawless and unusual about the words, which<br />

I didn’t understand, but knew I liked, which was of course<br />

helped by the enthusiastic reading.<br />

When it comes to my own writing, I’ve written stuff since<br />

my school days, mostly embarrassing old diary type of stuff that<br />

I wouldn’t let anyone else see, but which is interesting in its own<br />

way to look back on. When I was writing the sonnets, it was the<br />

first time I had paid close attention to things like poetic form,<br />

metre and rhyme, which was undoubtably due to me studying<br />

English at university and being forced to write numerous essays<br />

about these things.<br />

These sonnets and their subject were never actively pursued.<br />

Becoming a Hackney Cab driver was something I kind of fell<br />

into – I was returning to education as a mature student and my<br />

partner was also pregnant, so I needed something with flexible<br />

working hours to fit around both university and new parent life.<br />

I knew it would be its own kind of challenge, especially dealing<br />

with the late-night revellers on a Friday and Saturday night, and I<br />

wasn’t wrong. As anyone who has ever worked in the night-time<br />

economy will know, patience is the greatest asset you can have<br />

when dealing with people who are quite often out of their mind.<br />

My initial idea was that each individual sonnet in the<br />

sequence would act as a different cab journey. I think the length<br />

of the traditional fourteen-lines suits the telling of anecdotes, and<br />

the challenges of finding some freedom within the constraints of<br />

the form forced me to be creative. If I was going to be a syllable<br />

out on a particular line it had to be with good reason, which<br />

wouldn’t necessarily be a problem in a lot of modern poetry that<br />

has a radical free-verse aesthetic. But to me, in what I was trying<br />

to achieve, it definitely would have been. In a way, the closed<br />

nature of the form reflects the taxi vehicle itself – the confinement<br />

of the frame does not necessarily restrict strange things from<br />

happening within it.<br />

Poetry is a great medium through which we can understand<br />

and interpret our local landscape, and for me personally, it’s<br />

something which I will always turn to for insights and alternative<br />

perspectives on the world. There was a great series called<br />

Keep It In The Ground a few years ago, in which a poem a day<br />

was published in The Guardian that dealt with the theme of<br />

climate change. The poems themselves didn’t catch any CO2,<br />

but the series did raise issues pertinent to historical arguments<br />

about poetry’s importance. For Percy Shelley, the poet is the<br />

unacknowledged legislator of the world, while for W.H. Auden,<br />

poetry is ultimately ineffectual, “surviving in the valley of its<br />

making where executives would never want to tamper”. I’m an<br />

optimistic person, so I’m more inclined to side with Shelley. !<br />

Words: J.P Walsh / @WalshPoet<br />

Illustration: Hannah Blackman-Kurz / @Hbkurz<br />

1.<br />

Home, prior to shift. Fated to conjoin<br />

Travel with salubrious citizens.<br />

Muse streetwise for the well-healed resident.<br />

Rank with the knowledge for affluent loin.<br />

The hackney door shows little prejudice,<br />

Passing with coin chauffeur’s primary ask.<br />

Plastic refused swipe erosion of tax.<br />

Posing civic environs credulous.<br />

“I love you daddy” sweet prelude for now:<br />

Tempers unease distracts foresight ahead.<br />

Grafters oil engines we stutter and glow.<br />

Coffee sparks headlight jump releases from debt.<br />

Job warrants patience; cab bent on smooth road,<br />

Driver needs sustenance regardless of load.<br />

4.<br />

Debonair theatre goers peaceful.<br />

Coles Corner sails liquid ooze from speaker.<br />

Twilight cherishes cultural seeker,<br />

Touch genial elegance disarmful.<br />

Apparelled in smiles the languid scholar,<br />

Points at buildings measured magnificent.<br />

Exalted standing no equivalent,<br />

Of artful life brushed human colour.<br />

Fashion and laughter, high gastronomic,<br />

Cosmopolitan waif, stride harmonic,<br />

Animate poet, free economic,<br />

Tempting irony confuse sweet comic.<br />

“Good evening, sir, to the Radisson, please,”<br />

She’s a famous director, glances with ease.<br />

3.<br />

Guilty culprit fire ravenous diesel.<br />

Benign care for extinction rebellion.<br />

Forecast out of synch. Bold science replaced<br />

Religion’s monopolised upheaval.<br />

The imagined end seductive. Peering<br />

Apocalypse heralds gut dire. Bonnet<br />

Rumbles gothic, renders air sardonic.<br />

Road fog disperses demented clearing.<br />

Sun electricity galvanise hope.<br />

“Sure is strange weather we’re having lately”,<br />

Small-talk acquires sinister enlarged scope.<br />

People comprehend fracture innately.<br />

My footprint cemented, pain avowed,<br />

Dost thou know the balancings of the clouds?<br />


7.<br />

I was naïve in unlocking the doors,<br />

Released, they fled – gazelles captured by night,<br />

Light-heeled teens do runner, cackle, take flight.<br />

Young sprites on toes, like dust not touch the floor.<br />

“Eh, mate, drop me at High Green hospital,<br />

Then she’s carrying on”. God, I’m stupid,<br />

An obvious place that’s escape routed,<br />

Maybe the high green smell from their satchel<br />

Had me all diluted. Wistful wry smile:<br />

Ran too, myself, when flushed impetuous.<br />

What’s exactly being put on trial?<br />

Obstinate little scoundrels lack fairness?<br />

Youth lives poised in every unwatched moment,<br />

Truth will never compromise on payment.<br />

15.<br />

Home, shift enacted. Hackneyed. Morning<br />

Pockets the drained night. Germinated notes<br />

Fatten wallet, profitability gloats.<br />

Honest Sunday sings wine to its roaming.<br />

Pent mid cloisters wears dim upon my face.<br />

“Don’t need to be a rocket scientist<br />

To drive a cab”. Ain’t you the evangelist.<br />

Emotion pours in the absence of grace.<br />

Sweeps’ snaffling brush cleanses the streets.<br />

Someday a real rain gonna come! Stragglers<br />

Pass windows praying for sheets,<br />

And everywhere scum rides on.<br />

For now I sleep, aware of the racket,<br />

Poetry pays, keyed alternate chromatic.<br />

13.<br />

Stubble chopped men importuning a ride:<br />

“Take us to a whore house please, pal.” Volumed.<br />

I cash the beast: once flagged, don’t obtrude,<br />

Urge the pursuit, breathe the sunken pride.<br />

Double my money in half the time;<br />

A mediator in an ancient trade.<br />

Bring them to Tearsheet stewing and unmade.<br />

Sober corked slime we convolute crime.<br />

Anaesthetised, innocent seeking, yet<br />

Steely hackster she is, “pay upfront or<br />

Nobody goes upstairs”. Jostle, abet,<br />

Transact with the whore orgasmic and pure.<br />

My family feels the benefit, true,<br />

I can study more, imagine I’ve grew.<br />



Blow 3.0<br />

Tin Men and The<br />

Telephone<br />

Tony Kofi Quartet<br />

Cykada<br />

Sarathy Korwar<br />

Martin Archer’s<br />

Anthropology Band<br />

Moonmot<br />

Hippo<br />

Beyond Albedo<br />

Blind Monk Theory?<br />

Yaatri<br />

Liverpool<br />

Saxophone<br />

Day <strong>2020</strong><br />

27 Feb - 1 Mar <strong>2020</strong><br />

King Creosote<br />

Performing a live accompaniment to the film<br />

From Scotland with Love<br />

Monday 16th March<br />

Bridgewater Hall, Manchester<br />

Peggy Seeger<br />

Festival tickets and tickets<br />

to individual events available<br />

For full details and box office please visit:<br />

www.thecapstonetheatre.com/jazzfestival/<br />

Monday 18th May<br />

Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool<br />

@Ceremonyconcert / facebook.com/ceremonyconcerts<br />

ceremonyconcerts@gmail.com / seetickets.com

goes back to<br />

12 TH APRIL<br />


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