ISSUE 107 / FEBRUARY 2020
NEW MUSIC + CREATIVE CULTURE
PIZZAGIRL BEIJA FLO / DAN / LO DISGRACE FIVE
SAVE KITCHEN ASOK / STREET SIMON HUGHES / AIMÉE STEVEN
Wed 29th Jan
+ The Skints
+ Buster Shuffle
Fri 31st Jan • 6.30pm
Fri 31st Jan • 11pm
Mon 3rd Feb
Tue 4th Feb
Fri 7th Feb
+ God Complex
+ Phoxjaw + False Hope
Wed 12th Feb
Sat 15th Feb • 7.30pm
Sat 22nd Feb
The Killers Official Tribute
Tue 25th Feb
The Murder Capital
Thur 27th Feb
Fri 28th Feb
The Big Moon
Sat 29th Feb
Thur 5th Mar
Fri 6th Mar
Liverpool Guild of Students
Wed 11th Mar
& The Drills
Thur 12th Mar
Liverpool Guild of Students
Podcast - Live
Thur 12th Mar
All Metal Tribute
to the Bee Gees &
+ Attic Theory
Sat 14th Mar
+ Burning Witches
Fri 20th Mar
Praise The Almighty
Fri 27th Mar • 6.30pm
Semi Final 1
Fri 27th Mar
Sat 28th Mar
& Dizzy Lizzy
Sat 28th Mar
Sun 29th Mar
Fri 3rd Apr • 6.30pm
Semi Final 2
Sat 4th Apr
Liverpool Guild of Students
+ Red Rum Club
Sat 4th Apr
808 State Live
Sat 11th Apr
Sat 18th Apr • 6pm
Tue 21st Apr
Tue 21st Apr
Fri 24th Apr
Fri 24th Apr
Sat 25th Apr • 6.30pm
Sun 26th Apr
Sat 2nd May
Tribute To The
Beautiful South &
Sat 9th May
+ Hugh Cornwell Electric
Sat 9th May
Fell Out Boy
& The Black
+ We Aren’t Paramore
Sat 16th May
Sat 23rd May
The Bon Jovi
Fri 2nd Oct
Sat 17th Oct
Respect To The Man
Thur 22nd Oct
Black Stone Cherry
Fri 11th Dec
SAT 1ST FEB 6.30PM
THUR 6TH FEB 7PM SOLD OUT
FRI 7TH FEB 7.30PM SOLD OUT
SAT 8TH FEB 7PM
THUR 13TH FEB 7PM
SUN 16TH FEB 7PM
THE CITY AND US
FRI 21ST FEB 7PM SOLD OUT
SAT 22ND FEB 7PM
SAT 22ND FEB 7PM
SUN 23RD FEB 7PM SOLD OUT
FRI 28TH FEB 7PM
THUR 5TH MAR 7PM
FRI 6TH MAR 7PM
SAT 7TH MAR 7PM
THU 12TH MAR 7PM
+ 8 BALL AITKEN
SAT 14TH MAR 7.30PM
+ ANDREW CUSHIN
SAT 14TH MAR 7PM
MON 16TH MAR 7PM
THUR 19TH MAR 7PM
SAT 21ST MAR 7PM
ALL WE ARE
WED 25TH MAR 7PM
WED 25TH MAR 7PM
SAT 28TH MAR 6.30PM
+ CONLETH MCGEARY
SAT 28TH MAR 7PM
THE PEACH FUZZ
SAT 28TH MAR 11PM
– 00’S EMO ANTHEMS
SUN 29TH MAR 7PM
(OF ALICE IN CHAINS)
SAT 4TH APR 9PM
- THE LAUNCH
SAT 11TH APR 7PM
THE CHEAP THRILLS
TUE 14TH APR 7PM
SAT 18TH APR 6PM
FRI 24TH APR 7PM
AN EVENING WITH
+ JOHN JAMIESON
SAT 25TH APR 7PM
SAT 3RD OCT 7PM
A BAND CALLED
MALICE – THE JAM
THUR 29TH OCT 7PM
TICKETS FOR ALL SHOWS ARE AVAILABLE FROM
SEEL STREET, LIVERPOOL, L1 4BH
11-13 Hotham Street,
Liverpool L3 5UF
Doors 7pm unless stated
Venue box office opening hours:
Mon - Sat 10.30am - 5.30pm
ticketmaster.co.uk • seetickets.com
gigantic.com • ticketweb.co.uk
13 DEC 2019 – 3 MAY 2020
FREE FOR TATE MEMBERS
Theaster Gates still from the film Dance of Malaga 2019
© Theaster Gates and courtesy of the artist.
Photo © Chris Strong
With additional support from the Theaster Gates
Exhibition Supporters Group and Tate Members
LIVERPOOL INTERNATIONAL JAZZ FESTIVAL
THE CAPSTONE THEATRE
27 FEB - 14 MAR
ANGEL FIELD FESTIVAL
6 - 14 FEBRUARY
M&S BANK ARENA LIVERPOOL
CREAM DAYTIME SPECIAL
CAMP & FURNACE
SHAUN MARTINS THREE-O
INVISIBLE WIND FACTORY
SOUND CITY 2020
BALTIC TRIANGLE 2 - 3 MAY 2020
27 - 30 AUG
M&S BANK ARENA
February – March
Tuesday 18 February 8pm
Thursday 20 February 8pm
Foil, Arms and Hog: Swines
Friday 21 February 8pm
Rob Harbron & Emma Reid
with National Youth Folk
Monday 9 March 7.30pm
Brief Encounter (cert PG)
Friday 13 March 8pm
Sunday 15 March 7.30pm
0151 709 3789
New Music + Creative Culture
Issue 107 / February 2020
40-42 Slater Street
Liverpool L1 4BX
Craig G Pennington - email@example.com
Christopher Torpey - firstname.lastname@example.org
Elliot Ryder - email@example.com
Digital Media Manager
Brit Williams – firstname.lastname@example.org
Mark McKellier - email@example.com
Thom Isom - firstname.lastname@example.org
Elliot Ryder, Rhys Buchannan, Richard Lewis, Anouska
Liat, Megan Walder, Georgine Paige Hull, Christopher
Torpey, David Weir, Craig G Pennington, Ian Salmon,
Deborah Bassett, Ian R. Abraham, Adam Coffey, Nina
Franklin, Brit Williams, J.P. Walsh.
Photography, Illustration and Layout
Mark McKellier, Kate Davies, John Latham, Keith
Ainsworth, Robin Clewley, Aida Muluneh, Hanna-
Katrina Jedrosz, Tomas Adam, Paul McCoy, Michael
Kirkham, Bart Heemskerk, Hannah Blackman-Kurz.
Our magazine is distributed as far as possible through
pedal power, courtesy of our Bido Bikes. If you would
like to find out more, please email email@example.com.
December’s election result made me question the
innate ability to change circumstance. As 10pm came
that night, I watched on silently, looking at my phone
and television in utter disbelief. Instantly, the pundits
clicked into gear. This was the inevitable, apparently. In some
ways it was, but such a take fundamentally short changes those
who believed in the ability to change
circumstance through action; those who
knocked on doors hour after hour in the
darkest hours of mid-winter. Their belief
is no less weak in currency due to the
While Liverpool courageously
remains the anomaly in nationwide
democratic exercise, the feeling of being
able to bring about real change shouldn’t
be seen as a once in every five years
opportunity. Nor should it be reserved
to the political playing field, either.
Anywhere and everywhere change can
happen. Find the cracks in their reality
and continuous escape can happen.
These were the exact thoughts
that came to me as I was sat underneath an underpass of the
M53 a few days after the election. Rather than placing myself
in the cold and wet of the motorway that bisects Wirral, this
metaphorical totem of Birkenhead’s Mark Leckey had been
installed in Tate Britain for the Turner Prize-winning artist’s
latest exhibition, O’ Magic Power Of Bleakness. Under Under
In, one of three films shown in the exhibition, depicts a group of
boys sat under this very motorway bridge which Leckey would
frequent in his childhood. All throughout the film, the notion of
“Find the cracks
in their reality and
bleakness – the cold concrete reality the boys are surrounded
by – is interspersed with reaches from a supernatural of their
own design. The pining for escape crosses over with the thrill
of existence, as class, place and innate power is energetically
displayed in the boys’ ownership of circumstance. All of the
eventualities – magic, safety, escape – are possible under
Leckey’s conception of the underpass.
The safe space is one of the many cracks
in this reality where we can find the
energy for innate change, the eventual
strength to return to overhaul.
Similar to Leckey’s fascination with
the underpass, this issue’s cover artist,
Pizzagirl, explains how ownership
of personal landscape has provided
transport to new a level of acceptance.
Growing up in North Liverpool, Pizzagirl
resided under the safe confines of the
internet before breaking through its
contours with his antidote to bleakness.
Music itself is the underpass for Dan
Disgrace, who highlights the art form
as an uninterrupted world away from
strained office life. Equally for many in this city, 24 Kitchen
Street, which remains under threat, is the underpass that so
many have congregated under, sharing an energy and escape
that’s brought about change beyond its four walls.
This magical bleakness of ours, it can be anything and
everything we want it to be. !
Elliot Ryder / @elliot_ryder
Pizzagirl (Kate Davies)
If you are interested in adverting in Bido Lito!, or finding
out about how we can work together, please email
Bido Lito! is a living wage employer. All our staff are
paid at least the living wage.
All contributions to Bido Lito! come from our city’s
amazing creative community. If you would like to join
the fold visit bidolito.co.uk/contribute.
We are contributing one per cent of our advertising
revenue to WeForest.org to fund afforestation
projects around the world. This more than offsets our
carbon footprint and ensures there is less CO2 in the
atmosphere as a result of our existence.
The views expressed in Bido Lito! are those of the
respective contributors and do not necessarily
reflect the opinions of the magazine, its staff or the
publishers. All rights reserved.
10 / PIZZAGIRL
Liam Brown’s effervescent musical vehicle has found that
acceptance is the best form of sincere expression. In the world of
Pizzagirl, nobody needs to hide.
14 / DAN DISGRACE
Loose tie karaoke stardom supressed by dulling office lights, Dan
Disgrace’s dreamy cloud is now ready to take flight.
18 / AIMÉE STEVEN
The Walton singer-songwriter pores over the influences that
shimmer through her captivating blend of art nouveau chic and
charming Scouse pop.
8 / NEWS
20 / SPOTLIGHT
26 / PREVIEWS
16 / WHO WILL SAVE KITCHEN
Ioan Roberts, one of the owners and operators of the Baltic
Triangle club, speaks up about the frustrations of working
creatively under the shadow of gentrification.
23 / FATOUMATA DIAWARA
“I’m trying to convince the new generation to be survivors and
fight for their own stories”
25 / DRY CLEANING
“I’m trying to encapsulate what the world appears like to me – for
28 / REVIEWS
36 / ARTISTIC LICENCE
Safe And Sound City
The Baltic’s biggest party has announced its line-up for
this year’s May event, with festival faves FRIENDLY FIRES
bringing a Technicolor riot to the top of the bill. The trio’s
joyous funk synth sound is a perfect counter to fellow
festival headliners PALE WAVES. 16 stages will be crammed
into the streets and venues of the Baltic Triangle between
1st and 3rd May, with Sound City’s trademark essence
of discovery thoroughly baked into the line-up. Multiinstrumentalist
MARIKA HACKMAN is one to definitely
catch, a daring and honest performer operating at the cutting
edge of confessional indie rock. WORKING MEN’S CLUB,
BC CAMPLIGHT and MARSICANS are just a handful of the
additions to the bill, which features a strong showing from
local acts at the top end of the line-up (STEALING SHEEP,
SPQR, THE MYSTERINES, SPINN). Day and weekend tickets
are on sale from 31st January at ticketquarter.co.uk.
Music For The Mind And Soul
Expanding on their traditional festival format, MILAP are bringing back
the popular Music For The Mind And Soul events for an exciting new
programme for their 35th year. The UK’s leading Indian Arts and Culture
company, based at Hope University, are gearing up for their annual Indika
festival with a number of events throughout 2020, with the tried and
tested ‘festival-in-a-day’ format giving people a chance to sample the
breadth of Indian music and culture. Taking place at the Capstone Theatre
on 25th April, the first Music For The Mind And Soul festival day will
begin with an early morning yoga session accompanied by beautiful live
sitar accompaniment, followed by an Indian classical morning raga. Two
headline shows will follow in the afternoon and evening, with workshops
and talks throughout the day. Milap are also teaming up with the Liverpool
International Jazz Festival to bring Indo-jazz innovator Sarathy Korwar to
Liverpool on 29th February (see page 27). milapfest.com
Repping For Storyhouse
Chester’s multi-faceted theatre and arts centre prides itself on its theatre originals, and has another strong
line-up for its rep season starting this February. The Suicide, opening on 8th February, is a classic and
farcical Russian comedy from 1928 by playwright Nikolai Erdman. It was banned by Stalin’s regime for
its anti-Communist spoofing, and this production stays faithful to its uproarious theme. Miss Julie, which
opens on 20th February, is an adaptation of August Strindberg’s psychological thriller. British-Hong Kong
playwright Amy Ng updates the setting to 1940s Hong Kong, dialling up the politically-charged tensions
as the action unfolds over Chinese New Year. Blue Stockings follows four defiant young women’s battle
to win the right to graduate from university in 1896 and opens on 14th February. All productions run until
March, and further details can be found at storyhouse.com.
Viola Beach Continue To Inspire
The British Music Experience will include an enduring tribute
to Viola Beach as part of their collection by placing the band’s
drum kit alongside exhibits from some of the best-known
personalities in British music. The Gretsch Broadkaster kit was
bought by the band’s drummer Jack Dakin, but it was sadly
not delivered until after the tragic accident that took the lives
of Jack, his fellow bandmates Tomas Lowe, Kris Leonard and
River Reeves, and manager Craig Tarry, in February 2016. The
presence of the drum kit will serve as a symbol for young people
to follow their dreams, and a mark of Viola Beach’s amazing
potential and sheer love of their craft.
Pedal enthusiasts rejoice – the BIDO LITO! CYCLE CLUB returns this
spring! Beginning on 26th February, our cycle club will now meet on
the last Wednesday of every month at Ryde café, at Cains Brewery,
for an hour-long cycle around various locations in Liverpool. The
dates are: 26th February, 25th March and 29th April. As always,
the rides will be free, but we urge you to secure a place by signing
up at bidolito.co.uk/bidocc. Two rides will run simultaneously on
each date, with one being more laid-back and shorter, and the
other being a longer, faster-paced ride. Most importantly, both are
all about the group and the social side of enjoying time on the bike
together, complete with a celebratory beer and chinwag afterwards.
Welsh Language Music Day
2019’s Welsh Music Prize winners ADWAITH are the centrepiece of
Merseyside’s Dydd Miwsig Cymru celebrations, a day dedicated to Welsh
language music. The post-punk trio – originally from Camarthen, but now
based in Liverpool while studying at university – scooped the award for
their 2018 album Melyn, a beautiful and personal record dealing with the
frustrations of being a female in the modern world. The three-piece got
the nod over a strong shortlist for the award, including Cate Le Bon, and
join an illustrious group of previous winners (Gruff Rhys, Gwenno, Boy
Azooga). Adwaith will perform a free lunchtime show outside the Cunard
Building on 7th February, as part of a range of free events taking place
across England and Wales to highlight the great cultural importance of the
Welsh language in art.
Electrik’s Adam Coffey picks out a
selection of songs that represent
the soul of the longstanding club,
both in its current guise and as The
Keep Oyé Free
The organisers of AFRICA OYÉ have called upon its many
supporters and patrons to help keep the festival free. Oyé
returns to Sefton Park on 20th and 21st June, and is the
highlight of the summer in Liverpool, bringing an infectious
vibe to the city. The event has been free entry since the
first edition in 1992, and has been facing increasing
infrastructure costs – and decreasing real terms funding
– as its popularity has soared. As well as the two-day
festival, which houses a number of traders and retailers
as well as countless artists, Oyé runs workshops for youth
and school groups throughout the year, promoting the
African cultural diaspora. Anyone can help the cause by
buying festival merch at africaoye.com or even donating a
couple of quid. Those who can spare a bit more may find
Friends Of Oyé packages a more suitable way of making
sure that Oyé stays free.
CONVENIENCE GALLERY, the art project that has recently exhibited in Birkenhead
Market, are joining the family at Birkenhead’s neighbouring BLOOM BUILDING.
Convenience will be moving in alongside The Open Door Centre’s resident mental health
support service, and will join a collaborative partnership that opens up a conversation
around mental health to themes of art and culture. To celebrate the partnership,
Convenience are launching their new programme in Bloom on 31st January, which
also marks the building’s one-year anniversary. The Future Is… is the theme and title of
Convenience’s new project, which sees work from local artists, ruminating on the ideas of
our hopes and fears about the future through painting, video and audio installations.
There’s a sense of renewal in the air at the start of the year, and our region’s
musicians have caught it fully as they have flooded us with some great
new music to kickstart 2020. COUGHIN VICARS’ debut offering was the
first to catch our attention, with the kind of breathless punk that leaves you
wanting more. Made up of former members of Salem Rages, the group’s
EP Post Omission Overtures is out now on Casket Records, with a cassette
version to follow soon. RVHEEM continues his impressive ascent with the
glossy RnB of his new single Part Of The Plan, and THE PISTACHIO KID’s
deft acoustic balladry gets an ELP release on Violette Records (Sweet
Remedies). It’s also great to welcome back DELTA MAID after travels and
songwriting success at the heart of American country music in Nashville.
Her comeback single Better Love is a return to her best work, and a full
album is due in the spring.
Unity Theatre @ 40
From its base at Hope Place, the UNITY THEATRE has
been an instrumental part of Liverpool’s creative framework
for the past 40 years. This year, the theatre and venue is
celebrating all the things that makes it unique in a special
programme under the banner #40yearsofnew. The Unity
prides itself on its accessibility, for interested minds looking
to find new experiences, and for innovative artists looking
to get their first break in theatre or comedy. This year they
will be celebrating all this with some groundbreaking new
shows, and by extending their community membership
scheme to local creatives. Expect a full-on extravaganza
later in the year for their 40th birthday party, and shows
Wake Up Maggie and The Strange Tale Of Charlie Chaplin
And Stan Laurel to get the spring programme moving in
The contemporary painting symposium REFRACTIVE POOL –
led by Liverpool-based artists Josie Jenkins and Brendan Lyons
– is offering the chance for artists to discuss the practise and
themes of painting. Currently in a research phase, this event on
7th February at Hope University’s Shaw Street Creative Campus
is the first in a series of workshops, exhibitions and critical
writing. Aspects of Liverpool’s contemporary painting scene will
be the focus, based around presentations from Liverpool-based
artists. There will also be a panel discussion focusing on the
experience of painters working in the city. It is free to enter, but
bookings are encouraged online at refractivepool.wordpress.
Between being a customer,
manager of The Krazyhouse
and then Electrik, I’ve been
around the venue for quite
a few years in one way or
another. It’s great to look back and remember this song
being played to a packed-out dancefloor filled with
18-year-olds singing along 15 years ago (and, of course,
many years before that), and now there’s a whole new
bunch of students enjoying it at Shit Indie Disco. The song
also influenced the old indie night in the venue a couple of
decades ago, which in turn influenced its name now.
I’ve given up trying to think
of cool songs for this so I’m
not going to bother! Cool has
its place, but a great song is
a great song, no matter how
much it may be over-played. A couple of customers will
request an album track of some sort that won’t get much
of a reaction, and then this comes on and you’d be hard
pushed to find a louder reaction to anything else on a
Since Medication moved to
the venue, the thing I’ve been
most pleased with is that it’s
turned back into a night that can cater for everyone rather
than just being a house music night. A couple of weeks
ago this song ended the night on the party floor, and it was
a really nice moment when I was able to take a little step
back and see how it had all come together so far.
Whenever this track comes
on I’m always getting the door
staff asking why all these kids
are singing along to a ballad at
1am. I never know what to tell them. But it’s a great cover
and there aren’t many places you could get away with
playing a song like this at that time of night.
Wandering on from neon-lit synths and pop culture
shapeshifting, Liam Brown’s effervescent musical vehicle
has found that acceptance is the best form of sincere
expression. In the world of Pizzagirl, nobody needs to hide.
“I want everyone to
be able to look at
Pizzagirl and say,
‘That could be me’”
Liam Brown unpacks two outfits from his bag as the
finishing touches are applied to today’s makeshift
studio. The wall covering is evenly spaced and the
first roll of film is tightly wound into the camera. All is
in place, but PIZZAGIRL is still yet to arrive. Setting aside his
coffee, Brown removes a heavy leather trench coat, freeing
the shoulders and torso. Here the first iridescent flickers of his
alter ego begin to shine through. He smoothly swivels with an
outfit in each hand: “Shall we start with the Yeezy workwear
number – big PlayStation One vibes – or the aggressive V neck
The metallic grey work suit is chosen and emerald green
makeup is smudged into each eyelid. He bounces towards
the navy blue backdrop and turns to face the camera. As the
midday sun spills in through the Victorian windows it catches
the right of Brown’s face, tilting his head on an angle like a
barber’s gentle nudge, although you suspect this face doesn’t
rely on the natural elements to initiate a pose. It’s as though he’s
directing the camera himself. His eyes cut into the lens staring
back while his cheekbones roll between waves of natural light.
The film starts to snap and the veil on this Pizzagirl performance
is gracefully pulled back.
Just like the blue backdrop he’s cavorting in front of, the
setting was equally as makeshift for Brown when announcing
his debut album to the world. First Timer, a seemingly innocent
collection of songs crafted within his bedroom studio, features
artwork just as telling as the album name itself. On the cover,
Brown is lying atop a scrunched bedsheet in a white tank top
and hooped earrings, his eyeliner matching the colour of small
dumbbell placed beside. “That was just there to keep it weighed
down,” he attests. A happy accident if anything, but one that’s a
central part of the subconscious makeup of the record. The pose
is completed by both hands reaching for his head. It’s unsure if
he’s signalling anguish or ecstasy. Possibly both. “First Timer has
a billion meanings which you can probably latch onto,” he starts,
when asked if the title signals a consistent undercurrent to the
record. But the one that shines through most pertinently is his
questioning of masculinity – a feeling that subconsciously wired
itself into the aesthetic of the album.
Cosmetically, at first, the First Timer joyously floats like a
sun drenched Lilo bumping the contours of the poolside. Album
opener Ball’s Gonna Keep On Rollin’ is a slick shopping mall
ballad. You can envisage Pizzagirl proclaiming the lyrics from atop
St John’s food court water feature in its 80s heyday. Following
from the Ariel Pink inspired Daytrip comes the operatic absurdity
of Body Biology, complete with pompous vocal hooks and rolling
falsettos. The jovial Dennis is essential Pizzagirl, with its charming
luminosity and tongue in cheek rhyme scheme. But from there the
Lilo deflates. Shades of early 2000s pop punk creep in and the
eternal vibrancy of 1980s pop culture fades from the music. Ugly,
Cut And Paste and Thispartysux display an aching introspection
that seeps through the colours of Pizzagirl. The latter’s lyrics,
“Now I’m crying all my makeup off tonight / because you didn’t
even notice me”, signals a closer presence of Brown hidden
behind the pin-up of Pizzagirl. A small scratch of the surface and
you see the album is fundamentally his. Less so a continuum of
the retro pop culture reflection that has defined his output to date.
“I had a problem with being known as an artist that makes
one sound. Or becomes known for a certain thing, or shtick, due
to the character,” he says, when asked if he saw the album as his
most personal account of songwriting. “It really scared me when
I could see that creeping in over the course of the first releases.
Even now when people get in touch, they’re always like ‘I love the
80s sound’, which sometimes could feel a little bit limiting.”
Dropping his former Lumen moniker, a name that, he says,
lent itself to music that was a bit too serious, paved the way to
Pizzagirl – an artistic persona that melded George Michael star
power with the neon dusk of 1980s Los Angeles. “The first EP
“I love the freedom
of realising school
was juvenile. I still
feel juvenile, but
I’ve got nobody to
answer to now”
[An Extended Play] was just me making my own version of the
music I was listening to at the time,” he admits. “When I started
Pizzagirl, I made this conscious decision to try and be this retro,
vapourwave style of character, with sort of tacky imagery.” The
new assortment of light-hearted synths and gated ambience
drew in a strong following. Seabirds, taken from the EP, has now
reached close to three million plays on Spotify. But the pop culture
collage of the 1980s was only ever the entry point, he asserts.
Not the defining artistic statement that much of his online fanbase
and journalistic assessment came to expect. “It got boring and
started to wear off. It became too sickly. Sickly sweet. It left a bit
of a bitter taste for me, so I didn’t feel like I had to serve a fan of
the EP. With First Timer, I was making a conscious, exciting effort
to do something different.”
It starts to unravel that First Timer was the product of new
headspace for Brown. In his view, the EPs that preceeded the
album were “much more water tight”, whereas he was happy for
the First Timer to be a little bit more “rough around the edges”. He
points towards a separation between the online, on stage persona
of Pizzagirl and the 21-year-old writing the songs in the freedom
of his bedroom. It’s through this the record is granted its more
relaxed approach. Not the hyper-real character that’s taken centre
stage until now. “I don’t feel like when I’m making music I’m in
Pizzagirl mode. I’m very much Liam when I’m doing it. When I’m
on social media or onstage, I’m very much this fluid persona. It’s
definitely the version of me that I’d like to be all of the time.
“Although, I’m not turning a switch in my head and that I’m
a sad person most of the time,” he quickly asserts, so as not to
suggest Pizzagirl is his emotive compass and solace. “But I think
the pressure of people looking at you and taking an interest
definitely makes you want to be fun. When I did the first EP I
was really conscious of it being straight and narrow. Playing
under the guise of Pizzagirl gave me the chance to be a little bit
of a contortionist and try different things. If I was Liam Brown
people would probably expect me to be a folk singer.”
Pizzagirl is in full flow as Brown changes into a yellow
Lacoste sweater complete with “aggressive V neck.” With check
jacket added and umbrella in hand, Pizzagirl has morphed into
a 1970s late-night talk show host, which he precedes to imitate
in an American accent as he reclines in a Swedish armchair. He’s
every ounce a performer and forthcoming personality, although
this approachability and exuberance hasn’t always been so
apparent. It’s something that’s stewed in a world of suppression,
now springing forth in the freedom of his open musical life.
Liam Brown grew up in north Liverpool, along the boundary
of Aintree and Old Roan. He still lives there today with his mum,
happy in the comfort of his bedroom recording studio where
the Pizzagirl elixir is brewed on a daily basis. Although it hasn’t
always been such a free territory, he tells me. It’s telling in the
extent this landscape shaped his character-based artistry.
“School in north Liverpool, or school in general,” he begins,
“they can be quite oppressive places. I wasn’t too shy, but I
existed to a certain threshold. After school, I was also a little bit
hidden. iPad demos, GarageBand; it was a world that I never
showed to anyone.” I tell him it’s a feeling I resonate with, a sort
internal questioning, like taking a piercing out before crossing
into the territory of judgemental eyes. “Creativity is muted. You
spend so much of your time not wanting to get bullied, so much
that I could never have been Pizzagirl in school.”
Brown’s assessment is condemnatory, but one that will
undoubtedly ring true for many males tentatively following
interests beyond football and the dominant teenage lad culture.
“Once I left, I felt quite free to do whatever I want,” he adds,
alluding to the moment Pizzagirl emerged from a secretive
passion to public-facing expression of self, rich with all its camp
traits, loud outfits and dashes of makeup. “I didn’t need to worry
about facing people in school the next day. Most of the time
I’m making a fool out of myself online and on Instagram, but I
don’t have to face up to those who would call it out anymore.”
Here he points towards the hard-edged male personas so
prevalent within his educational upbringing. “I love the freedom
of realising school was juvenile. I still feel juvenile, but I’ve got
nobody to answer to now.”
As Brown suggests, the restrained personalities of the
contemporary era have often found solace on the internet. Here,
Brown’s new social geography was explored and built. In the
life of teenage boy, it’s a world removed from the feudal-esque
system topped by those who can kick a football dead hard and
those, at the bottom, who get hit dead hard with said football
– or other choice projectiles. It is here where Pizzagirl was able
to take its form. Maybe it was the only place it could have taken
form; the only space where Brown could freely shift into the
shape of his own depiction of masculinity.
While Brown argues that Pizzagirl is an outlet to challenge
the mundane, the foundations of its character remain an integral
signifier of its artistic statement. We return to the album cover,
one of the more obvious statements on the record and one
less masked by the bubble-gum Pizzagirl bouquet. “For me,
it’s masculine to claim yourself in a way that is not necessarily
generic. If you’re comfortable with yourself, then that’s the most
masculine way you can be. I wasn’t afraid to put that album
cover out and take the backlash of people saying it’s camp. The
entire project lives and dies by being camp. Pizzagirl is like camp
men in the Titanic boiler room, feeding camp into the fire. It’s not
something I want to avoid.”
For Brown, the album cover is at odds with the societal
expectation for males growing up in Liverpool. Yet, even through
this free expression, binary limitations still arise. Brown’s depiction
of Pizzagirl on Instagram has led to regular questionings of his
sexuality, with occasional fans’ messages curious to reveal if he,
too, is homosexual. “I’ve always replied and said that I’m a big
ally. I love the LGBTQ+ community,” he starts. “But I find it really
sad that you have to have this sexuality attached to your artistic
character. I feel like Pizzagirl is this fluid person who is doing what
they want, simply because they want to do it.”
Brown’s frustration is born out of the limitless world in
which he envisages Pizzagirl. Societal impressions of gay or
straight do not necessitate a full eclipse of one or the other, but
the non-binary fluidity is ultimately shaded by the two dominant
conceptions of sexuality.
Listening back through the record, the autobiographical
prints of Brown are found in the freedom the music wishes
to convey. Brown’s music sidesteps overt sentimentality and
parades through a liberated world of his own design. One
where he initially was hidden in safety. One from where he has
emerged brandishing his own riposte to masculine suppression.
Acceptance has proved his most powerful form of communication.
“I want everyone to be able to look at Pizzagirl and say, ‘That
could be me’,” he assures, as we edge towards the end of our
conversation. “Whether online or playing to a live audience, I want
to show the reserved personalities that if I’m able to do this, they
can be who they want too.” !
Words: Elliot Ryder / @elliot_ryder
Photography: Kate Davies / @K.dvi
First Timer is available now via Heist Or Hit.
“If you’re comfortable
with yourself, then
that’s the most
you can be”
Loose tie karaoke stardom supressed by dulling office lights,
Dan Disgrace’s dreamy cloud is now ready to take flight.
Sometimes the most enlightening moments in an interview come after the Dictaphone
has been switched off. Having met up with Daniel West in a busy Bold Street café on an
overcast Saturday morning, we’re just about to part ways – coffees drained, and a full
English consumed before our farewell dialogue reveals a little neat anecdote about his
first gig as DAN DISGRACE. “Basically, I was a bit of a mess. I’d just been dumped, I’d come straight
from work and turned up with my shirt and tie on, so I borrowed a pair of sunglasses from my
friend, played the gig in my office clothes and that was it.” This was the birth of Dan Disgrace – an
immediate leap from the tedium of the office through to an outlet of expression and release.
It’s one of the most-written-about clichés in the musical book – escaping from the daily grind.
But whether it’s working in bars or offices, music has always been a way of ‘sticking it to the man’.
It’s strange, though, just how immediate that transition was with Dan Disgrace; within a matter of
hours he had developed his ramshackle persona and run with it. While
there isn’t a palpable sense of aggression present in his character, the
music itself is a direct artillery attack on shitty jobs and bosses.
Dan, who is sat in the corner of the café tucking into his breakfast,
explains how this concept has leaked into his forthcoming EP
Nightmare Music. “There’s a song on the release called Commission
and all I’m doing is totally ripping into my old boss. I remember at one
point I actually felt really ill going to work every day – I was coming
home from work and picking up a bottle of wine or two a night
because of the stress. In the end, my ex-girlfriend was like, ‘Fucking
hell’.” With longish black hair dangling into his face, Dan continues to
recall his former circumstances. “I wasn’t eating properly and getting
up every day putting a shirt and tie on and just thinking how awful
it all was. Then I reached a point where I was just like, ‘That’s it, I’m
done; I don’t have to do this any more’.”
With a modest handful of dreampop singles to his name already,
Dan’s quick to agree that the creative process came as a release,
nullifying the aforementioned frustrations. “That’s a big reason for why I make music – it’s a byproduct
of just wanting to get away from normality. It’s like my own little place where I can just
go and create.” Having a relatively DIY setup affords Dan the luxury of freedom when it comes
to writing and recording. He explains: “I’m grateful that I can make pretty much whatever type of
music I want; I’m not the best musician in the world but I can get there or thereabouts. I feel like
it’s fun that I can explore all of these different themes, I don’t have to rely on a band or anyone to
mix my music for me – a song can lose a certain theme or atmosphere quite easily if you do that
wrongly, it can be quite easily skewed. I think songwriting and recording are two very separate
things, but they’re both as equally as important.”
Despite coming from quite a lo-fi setup, the singles have already made it onto national radio.
This doesn’t seem to faze Dan at all though. “Huw Stephens randomly played one of my tracks on
Radio 1 last year and I got a 6 Music play from Tom Robinson, which is amazing. It’s been weird to
be honest. I’m not too arsed either way. I get my kicks from just doing it.” It’s refreshing to see such
a genuine low threshold of expectation.
“It sounds ridiculous but I already feel successful because I’ve got it to a point where I’m in
control of what I want to do,” Dan continues. “It might come across as unambitious, but I’m getting
“I wanted to be in
a position where
I’m making my own
music and in control
of it. Anything after
that is a bonus”
my kicks. This is always what I wanted to do: I wanted to be in a position where I’m making my own
music and in control of it. Anything after that is a bonus, really – I’m not fame-hungry or anything.”
It’s easy to see why the songs have garnered such attention, though. There’s a hint of dreamy
outsider pop that brings to mind names like Ariel Pink and John Maus in the music, although Dan
says his influences are a little closer to home. “I think, for me, it’s more of my my peers that I get a
kick out of. I’m friends with Bill Nickson and Alex Stephens [Strawberry Guy]. These people who’re
doing it all themselves are a real inspiration. I’ve also just moved out of a flat that was a really
healthy environment, people were always around and we were always creating music. So it’s more
friends than contemporary artists I’d say.” The bottom line is that the music has to be made to a
high standard. He picks up: “I just like music that’s convincing in one way or another. I do like the
weirdos – to me, that’s more of a pure expression of music. I’m down for anything that has a bit of
The forthcoming EP will be released through the celebrated and
forward-thinking Liverpool label Eggy Records – something of a
support network for artists like Dan. It’s been invaluable, he says, to
be part of that wider community. “There’s a real range of all different
types of music reflected through the label, but, despite that, it very
much feels like a family.” He mulls on this before continuing: “Everyone
that’s on the label would all feel like outsiders if it wasn’t for those
guys. I love it because we invite other people to play the shows and
it’s a support net rather than a label. It generates lots of ideas and it’s
been a good platform for all of us.”
The regular shows that Eggy Records hold have also been
something of a launch-pad for Dan Disgrace – and there’s a big
headline show lined up at The Zanzibar to celebrate the debut EP this
February. Dan is obviously excited for this one to roll around. “The
best sound I’ve ever had has been there, so it’s going to be great. My
set-up is so minimal at the moment, I think the sound techs are always
quite relieved.” Despite this, it’s something of a 2020 goal to start challenging the sound technicians
again by pulling a band together. He says: “I did have [a band] for a bit, but then a few things
happened and it took a long time to get it nice and tight – so that’s something to be working on.”
If one thing is for certain, it’s that these are hectic times for the 27-year-old, and getting a solid
body of work out there is a massive personal milestone. Dan rounds up: “This is a really big thing for
me. Up until this moment I’ve just been releasing singles, so it’s all built up to this point. I’ve made
something I can be proud of and I want it to be the first big thing that I release. I’ve had my sights
set on a larger body of work for a while. Now it feels like I’ve finally reached this time where I’ve got
something that I can take forward with me.” !
Words: Rhys Buchanan / @Rhys_Buchanan
Photography: John Latham / @mrjohnlatham
Nightmare Music is available via Eggy Recordings from March. Dan Disgrace plays The Zanzibar on
In December, the Baltic Triangle-based club space went public on its ongoing battle with residential
developers moving into the area. With Liverpool City Council proposing the club reduces its operation to
accommodate the development, the successful venue’s future has been forcibly drawn into the spotlight.
One of the venue owners, Ioan Roberts, speaks up about the frustrations of working creatively under the
shadow of gentrification.
It seems like any other day in the offices of 24 KITCHEN
STREET. Placed one floor above the music venue and
club-orientated space, out of sight of the substantial mirror
ball that oversees the cobbled dancefloor, the usual hive of
activity is underway.
While January is often a slowly awakening month for event
goers, there’s no New Year hibernation for promoters and club
owners. The headspace is already well into spring and summer
and, at times, as far as autumn and winter. New shows are
being negotiated, booked, announced and their social media
and print promotion coordinated. It’s the kind of environment
you’d expect from a popular music venue now into its seventh
year in existence. But even with thoughts looking ahead to
warmer months, there’s no escaping the early stages of the year;
breath mists in the air inside the former warehouse space as
Ioan Roberts, the venue’s co-owner and manager, sits down to
discuss the ongoing campaign to keep the venue open.
Today’s visibly fluid operation only tells one half of the
story. In December, the venue went public regarding its
three-year battle with developers building residential flats on
a neighbouring car park on Blundell Street. If you’ve visited
the venue or Baltic Triangle recently, you’ll have been able to
document the development’s rapid growth. It’s not hard to
notice. The nakedly clad block of flats invasively looks down on
the neighbouring Kitchen Street.
The new development will fundamentally change how 24
Kitchen Street operates. Consequently, the venue’s continued
existence is now threatened the point of near closure if adequate
support isn’t granted by Liverpool City Council. This is the view
of Roberts who’s been at the heart of its operation since opening
The news about Kitchen Street’s battle went public for the
second time on 3rd December.
Initially the venue had been
vocal about the proposed
planning permission for the
neighbouring development back
in 2016. Yet, even with continuing
acceptable noise levels during
events, planning was still granted
and building work began. Away
from public view, three further
years of acoustic surveys have
been undertaken both by the venue
and the developer. “The developer
conducted a noise report at the
end of 2018, October/November.
They called us for a meeting and
Environmental Health from the
council attended it,” Roberts informs us when asked about the
ongoing arguments around noise pollution. “They basically
outlined that they’d done extensive measurements over a range
of events with us. And demonstrated through their recording,
measurements and work that we were seven decibels too loud
for the level of sound proofing they’d proposed.” The venue has
contested these findings through their own assessments.
“Seven decibels doesn’t sound like much, but it is in terms of
a reduction,” Roberts underlines, adding that this assessment put
forward by the developers is now close to being accepted by the
City Council. Roberts continues: “They were saying that they’d
specced their development out adequately, but they anticipated
we do the rest. They didn’t give us any financial incentive to do
the rest, they just said we had to reduce [our levels].” However,
even before an agreement had been reached to reduce their
noise output by seven decibels, windows had already been
installed around much of the building while talks were still taking
place. “During the time we’ve been arguing about levels with the
developers and the council, the developers have just continued
to build, assuming we’d reduce. They’ve treated the planning
process with disregard, and that’s what we’re trying to argue.”
Writing in Bido Lito! shortly before the venue went public
in December, Liverpool City Region Music Board Member Matt
Flynn observed: “Effectively, the Kitchen Street debate concerns
the very technical evaluation of acceptable existing noise
levels. Each party’s respective acoustic experts have proposed
using noise readings from different days, times and locations
to establish the baseline decibel level that is audible in existing
domestic properties that surround the venue. This means the
Environmental Health department have had to mediate between
Kitchen Street and developers Brickland and contractors ISG to
establish the specification of the glazing and soundproofing the
developers need to install in each of their 200 new flats.
“Discharging the condition means the council is satisfied
the developers have designed and constructed their property
to agreed specifications, including required levels of sound
According to Roberts, the debate had been muddied
somewhat by inconsistent readings taken on behalf of the
finding new spaces,
bollocks. You need
stability to be able to
plan into the future”
developer and council. During the venue’s participation in
the Baltic Weekender festival this summer, an outdoor stage,
covered by Temporary Event Notice, caused noise complaints
from nearby residential houses. When following up the
complaint on an operational night for the club, no irregular noise
levels were detected within the houses due to events returning
back inside the club – underscoring the street party complaints
as an irregular occurrence and not in line with the venue’s
consistent programming. To further follow up the complaint,
the council took a short, one-off, 15-minute reading in the club,
which, Roberts says, didn’t flag up any illegally excess decibel
level. “The council then said that they’d been through the
cumulative information of both sides and said their survey stated
that five out of the six events we held were over the threshold,”
Roberts says. “Following that we were told we had to reduce
noise levels as we’d be too loud for the windows the council had
given permission to install.” This decision by the council then
initiated the public response from Kitchen Street.
“As has happened with venues up and down the country,
noise complaints get venues shut down,” states the public
appeal released by Kitchen Street back in December. The
assessment put forward by Kitchen Street underscores the
inhospitable climate venues are up against, but more tellingly,
UK-wide councils’ openness to build for profit developments
that bring the barrage of planning disagreements. The noise
complaints inevitably follow. “The attitude is, if you’re a creative
business you can just get moved away, [the council] don’t value
us,” Roberts adds, a sentiment echoed in statistics that reveal
the UK has lost 35 per cent of its music venues throughout the
last decade (although business rates have just been reduced
by 50% for grassroots venues). “The developers on Blundell
Street believe installing more robust soundproofing threatens
their bottom line and therefore is
not profitable.” Roberts adds that
the council’s recommendation
was to therefore cover the
louder, bass-driven events with
Temporary Events Notices (TENs)
– a maximum of 12 can be applied
for throughout the year. “That’s 80
per cent of our events,” Roberts
outlines. “Why should we start
reducing what we do, which is
legal, to save the developers
money when they should be the
ones spending the money?”
Roberts’ argument of
obligation comes into greater
light since the council signed up
to the Agent of Change principle
in September 2019. The AoC principle, part of the National
Planning Policy Framework, states that: “Planning policies and
decisions should ensure that new development can be integrated
effectively with existing businesses and community facilities.
Existing businesses and facilities should not have unreasonable
restrictions placed on them as a result of development permitted
after they were established.”
A face value reading of the principle’s definition would
underscore the Blundell Street development as the Agent of
Change, 24 Kitchen Street as the existing business that “should
not have unreasonable restrictions placed on them as a result
of development permitted after they were established”. But the
decision to grant the development permission to install windows
that would require a reduction in 24 Kitchen Street’s operation
suggests the council’s commitment to AoC is hollow. “This whole
time they’ve been aware what blocks of flats can do to creative
businesses,” Roberts says. “It’s in the area of planning policy
where care must be taken to ensure there isn’t a predominance
of one and two bedroom flats in what’s seen as a creative
Another workaround for the venue would be agreeing
to a deed of easement, essentially an agreement where new
tenants in the development acknowledge the presence of the
venue and its regular operation upon moving in. However, in
moving the goal posts away from AoC – thus justifying the
development and the uncomfortable proximity it’s been built
to a music venue regularly operating four nights per week –
does not set the encompassing precedent the council appear
to be endorsing with their vocal backing of AoC. A deed of
easement is a potential solution, but it is only effective via a
case-by-case basis. Adhering to AoC properly would build a
framework that sees all new developments held to the same
level of scrutiny. The apparent weakness in AoC, however, is that
it is not statutory law, and viewed more as planning guidance.
Speaking in November, Paul Farrell, head of Environmental
Health at Liverpool City Council, regarded AoC as “not perfect,
but a step in the direction”. However, the apparent progression
is contended by Roberts. “This isn’t new,” he says. “They can’t
pretend they didn’t know [the effect the development would
have on us] when building started in 2016. The council just
don’t value creative businesses. They think we can just move to
another area. We have the Music Board, who’ve supported us,
but what’s the point in having it if the Council don’t listen to it?”
The Liverpool City Region Music Board, formed in January
2019, outlines that one of its priorities is “safeguarding and
protecting music venues”. During the debates between
developers and Kitchen Street, the Music Board has supported
the venue’s stance, however, it remains to be seen whether
its conservatively coordinated vocal pressure holds any sway
of the council. Roberts believes the council’s adoption of the
Music Board’s is merely posturing and serves only to present
the illusion that they, firstly, celebrate music-based culture in the
city beyond Mathew Street and, secondly, is seen to be actively
engaging in the protection of music venues – notably after
high-profile closures in the last decade such as The Kazimier.
While the Music Board may not hold the power over the council’s
decision making, its existence and worth hinges on its ability
to ensure the Kitchen Street situation remains on the council
agenda and is lobbied and campaigned for in the public domain.
Apathy surrounding the public facing campaign to save the
venue will ultimately lead to its demise.
Some lateral arguments would suggest creative businesses
remain progressive by contorting and adapting to new
landscapes and environments – always looking to remain one
step ahead of encroaching developments that outline an area
as ‘desirable’ (read: cool, creative, probably some paid for
graffiti). Roberts colourfully calls this out. “Thinking differently,
finding new spaces, that’s complete bollocks. You can do five
warehouse parties and you’re shut down. I push against that.
Like an enterprise, you need stability. You need to be able to plan
into the future.” Roberts is passionate about the need to build
from the ground up and enhance a public reputation. “To build a
strong cultural programme, you need to have a base, the booking
agents of artists need to know who you are. The industry needs
to know who you are. You can’t book in a revered artist for a
warehouse show that you don’t have a licence for. You’ve got to
have a proper venue that people know about.”
The cultural programme Roberts mentions is one of
Liverpool City Council’s most consistent marketing tools for
tourism. Yet, the venue deems its stance on new developments
in creative areas as incongruous with its much-touted UNESCO
City Of Music badge. The venue says it’s “ironic that the council
is failing to protect grassroots and independent music in the
In allowing the development to continue installing windows
under an assumption the seven decibel reduction will be met,
24 Kitchen Street will be unable to operate in the capacity that
has seen it forge a reputation as one the leading electronic music
focused venues in the city. One capable of competing with the
programming of fellow leading venues in the North, such as
Soup Kitchen in Manchester and Wire in Leeds.
The debate is now in the hands of the council. It remains
in the power of the Music Board to ensure Kitchen Street
doesn’t fall of the agenda or is quietly swept aside. Without a
reassessment of the development’s sound proofing procedures,
which currently stands to all but end the venue’s late night
programming, the venue will be stripped of its draw and cease
to exist as a destination for the world’s best DJs, producers and
bands. “I don’t want to operate with constant battles over noise
complaints,” Roberts replies, knowing the proximity of the flats
and level of soundproofing installed is likely to draw complaints,
adding “the work to fix the building would cost around
£200,000, but they’re arguing it’s not profitable to do this.
“If [Environmental Health and the council] don’t intervene
before September, I know from examples around the country
that we’ll eventually lose, and it will cost us a fortune.” So far the
venue has spent upwards of £14,000 in acoustic consultants.
“Operating in the way they’ve suggested, with TENs and
reduced noise output, when we have a band or DJ, we’ll have to
tell them about the limitations. It will restrict the scope of what
they can do. That will put artists off. They will just say, ‘That’s
not good enough’. When it gets to that point, I’d have to question
whether I’d want to be doing this.”
When looking ahead at the warmer months that ultimately
hold the fate of the venue, perhaps Roberts’ closing sentiment
will bluntly show the council the strained health so many of
its prized cultural attractions are enduring. “If the council don’t
change their approach, I’m not sure I’d bother trying to do this
again here in Liverpool. You’d spend three or four years doing
the building work, getting it set up, to then have two years of
running a business properly, developing it, only for the same
thing to happen. What would be the point?” !
Words: Elliot Ryder / @elliot_ryder
Photography: Robin Clewley / robinclewley.co.uk
The Walton singer-songwriter pores over the influences that shimmer through her captivating blend of
Nouvelle Vague chic and charming Scouse pop.
my boyfriend’s, I nicked it,” the singer grins when
asked about the copy of Yuval Noah Harari’s bestseller
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind lying on the
table. The cosy back room at Tabac, decked out with
its pieces of obsolete audio equipment, is welcome shelter from
a windblown January afternoon in the city centre. We’re here
on Bold Street for a sit-down chat with one of 2020’s brightest
prospects, AIMÉE STEVEN. With a quartet of outstanding
singles out in the world and a deal with burgeoning Liverpool
label Jacaranda Records, the coming year, to employ drastic
understatement, looks somewhat promising for the Walton-born
While her material sounds like the work of an old hand at this
songwriting malarkey, amazingly, Steven came to music relatively
late on. “I never really wanted to be a singer or anything like
that,” she explains, sipping her hot chocolate. “My family played
a lot of opera, I loved that as a kid. I don’t really listen to it now.
And then it was Frank Sinatra; I love the Rat Pack, The Bee Gees.
I don’t think I was ever gonna grow up liking modern music,
because I never heard it really,” she shrugs. “Before I wanted to
sing I wanted to write about music, before I realised I wanted to
actually write it.” After several months
reviewing gigs for venerable citybased
promoters Mellowtone, Aimée
began to create her own songs.
The Last Waltz, the valedictory
performance by Americana pioneers
and former Bob Dylan sidemen The
Band released in 1978, proved to
be a major spark of inspiration. Shot
by Martin Scorsese, his first film in
a parallel career as an outstanding
music documentarian, the show –
featuring a rollcall of Van Morrison,
Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and Dylan –
cemented its reputation as one of the
greatest concert films ever captured
on celluloid. “When I watched that I
couldn’t believe who was in it, then I was obsessed. I dig that out
and watch it with a bottle of wine.” West Coast contemporaries
of The Band, Crosby, Stills and Nash, are also highlighted as
influence. “Their harmonies are fantastic. If I could get to anything
like that in my career it would be life goals. You don’t get that
level of them anymore I don’t think and it’s sad,” Steven says of
the absence of harmonies in present day guitar groups. “It takes
hard work, it’s super hard to get voices that mesh together in the
first place, and then to master it is difficult. But it has died off a
bit; I’d love to see it come back properly. It’s such a sweet sound
and I don’t think I’ve heard it recreated.”
Fittingly, among the antique listening equipment in Tabac,
an album by another favourite, Led Zeppelin, rests on the
gramophone (the copy of II has the band’s credit for Whole Lotta
Love scribbled out and amended to bluesman Willie Dixon).
Venturing further back, stone blues originators Robert Johnson
and Muddy Waters are selected. “When I go in my local, Ye
Cracke, I always put Howlin’ Wolf and Psychotic Reaction by the
Count Five on the jukebox,” she notes. In addition to these, Nick
Drake and Fairport Convention are cited, plus guitar genius Stevie
Ray Vaughan and the Small Faces (“They had Itchycoo Park,
maybe I’ll write one about Walton Hall Park!”). “I think all of those
influences come through somewhere, even if they’re not obvious,”
she replies. “Nothing’s 100 per cent original, it’s about honouring
what’s gone before.”
Alongside these inspirations is something that taps directly
“I hope people
want more, cos
they’re gonna get
it either way!”
into the city’s musical lifeblood. “My grandad was a docker and
I think it’s come through to me: going for a pint and listening to
music are my foundations. I think it’s a Liverpool thing as well. I
love going to all the old pubs in town, where all the old people
go and there’s karaoke. I absolutely love it, it’s like stepping into a
different world,” she enthuses. “I’m 24 but I love going to an old
boozer and drinking a pint, that’s me!”
“I was in one pub, and some woman came in selling a leg
of lamb and someone bought it,” Steven states incredulously,
warming to her theme. “I was like, ‘I love this place!’ I’m a pub girl;
I don’t go out to clubs. I watch every Reds game in a pub,” she
notes, demarcating her football allegiance in the city.
With her first batch of songs written, a fantastic bit of
serendipity occurred courtesy of social media. “I got contacted
by Jon Withnall,” Aimée recalls, he of six Grammy Awards, and
engineering credits with Elbow, Rihanna, Gil Scott-Heron and
The Coral, among others. “He’s brilliant, without him I wouldn’t
be where I am. He got in touch with me ’cos he saw a short clip
of me playing on Facebook. He messaged me asking for demos.
At the time I’d only been writing for a few months. I had a few
rough songs I’d written and sent them over and he was like,
‘Cool, do you wanna come and meet
me in my studio and have a chat?’
I got the train to Ormskirk, where
he was based at the time. He liked
the songs, so we made a plan to get
together and record some stuff, and
it just went from there. It’s strange
really ’cos I was apprehensive at the
beginning and now I’m like, ‘Oh my
God, imagine if I’d never done that
and just said no!’”
With Jon on the other side of the
studio glass, My Name, a wonderfully
unhurried slice of guitar pop led by
Steven’s ear balm vocals, provided
a superb introduction last April.
With her foundation guitar chords
recalling Lou Reed’s rhythmic style, the sighing resignation of
All The Way (“What’s the point in giving my all/When you turn
away?”) possessing the languid melodicism reminiscent of The
Velvet Underground’s poppier moments followed soon after. Her
next single, the excellent, enigmatically monikered B.I.E.K, arrived
a few months later. “That track was written about one of my
grandparents. It means a lot to me that song. I hope people will
take that and apply it to people in their lives, ’cos everyone feels
that way about someone.”
Better Off Dead, released in December, was the first fruits of
a deal inked with Jacaranda Records, making Steven labelmates
with alt.rock mavens SPILT and dreampop specialists Shards. A
change in rehearsal rooms saw Aimée and her group move into
the basement performance space of the legendary watering hole
to piece arrangements together. An energised cover of rock’n’roll
standard Shakin’ All Over, recorded for BBC Radio Merseyside
just before Christmas, drew a line under 2019.
Heading into the new decade, Steven and her team already
have the next batch of singles to serve up. Hell Is A Teenage Girl
is due for release on the Friday before International Women’s Day
(8th March); a harmony-laden gem, the cut takes its title from a
piece of dialogue in cult 2009 horror flick Jennifer’s Body. “That
was such a good line, it is hell being a teenage girl. Some of it
was like hell!” she laughs. “Hopefully the video will reflect that. I
love that line, though, I always thought it would make a great title
for a song.”
On the subject of visuals, the French New Wave era is
major source of ideas, both sartorially and on screen. “I was
big into that style: Jane Birkin, Marianne Faithfull in Girl On
A Motorcycle. I’ve always really been into it fashion-wise, as
well as culture-wise; I still am, really. Serge Gainsbourg is an
inspiration for me, that whole aesthetic he created is amazing.
When you listen to his music you realise, ‘Wow, that’s where
that came from’,” Aimée says of the chanteur’s heavily sampled
catalogue. The Nouvelle Vague era is especially evident in the
video for My Name, which features Steven looking as though
she’s stepped out of one of the era’s films, backed with footage
of rapidly motoring around Paris like a sped-up version of
Jean-Luc Godard’s masterpiece, Breathless.
Cranking up the energy level, the tremolo-assisted garage
rock stomper Darling is due to appear on May Day. “Darling
is about liking someone and not knowing if they like you back
and also being just a massive flirt, which I think people can
relate to.” Aimée explains. “It’s not heavy, but it has more of a
kick than some of the other tunes I have. We wanted to make
it feel like vintage garage rock. It seems to get the crowd going
With the next set of singles prepped and ready to be
released into the wild, gigs are set to increase in frequency
as 2020 progresses. Miraculously, given her assured stage
presence and confidence in front of the camera, Steven’s first
ever show was a mere eight months ago at Sound City. “Loads
of my mates showed up, I think they were hoping there’d be
some good blackmail material if it went wrong!” she laughs,
recalling the well-attended afternoon slot.
Treading the boards and opposite the recording console
alongside Aimée are guitarist James, drummer Martin and
recently arrived bassist Robyn. “We’ve just started rehearsing
together and it’s sounding incredible. We’re not a conventional
band, but despite being fronted by myself, in my head we’re
still a band. They play my music which I’m forever grateful for,
’cos they don’t have to do it. They’re all individually amazing. I
wanted to give them that freedom and not be overbearing.”
With Steven supplying the blueprints, the group have
gelled quickly to build on her work. “I want them to chip in
their own parts and enjoy what they’re playing, ’cos it was
what they had written, not me saying ‘Play this, play that’. It’s
getting more like that which is how I wanted it to be. I didn’t
want it to be a dictatorship of me going, ‘No, no, no, I don’t
like that, this is what you’re doing’. I wanted it to be like we
were all involved in what we were doing individually. It seems
to flow much better ’cos people have come up with the parts
themselves. They’re great musicians, so it always fits together,
which is cool.”
With all the pieces in place, all that’s required now is to set
the plan in action. “We’re hoping to play out of town quite a
bit this year,” Aimée says as the interview wraps up. “Last year
was about trying to establish ourselves in the city, we didn’t
oversaturate ourselves. We wanna leave people wanting more.
And I hope people want more, ’cos they’re gonna get it either
way!” Judging by the activity logged so far, potential audiences
will be more than receptive for what comes next. !
Words: Richard Lewis
Photography: Keith Ainsworth / arkimages.co.uk
Hell Is A Teenage Girl is available via Jacaranda Records in
March. Darling is available via Jacaranda Records in May.
“The fact that we
then get to play
our music every
night in these
to an audience of
people is just the
icing on the cake”
Electric waves of feel good indiepop
are the hallmarks of the
groovy enigma that is MiG 15.
With only four of their songs on Spotify, MIG 15 are a bit of a
mystery online; it may be a smart move on their part.
This newly formed four-piece have already supported
Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark on their 2019 Souvenir tour.
Frontman Adam Bray describes it as being “thrown in at the deep
end”, having only played one warm up gig prior to the tour. With
their Christmas show at Jimmy’s finishing off last year, MiG 15
are set to bring their twisted 80s indie/pop vibe into 2020 and to
the ears of their new following.
Bray has been performing for over a decade, however the
current formation of MiG 15 is only six months old, with guitarist
James Morris (who also plays with Bido Lito! favourite Aimée
Steven) being the newest recruit. Bray describes the experience
of the tour as cementing the knowledge that “practice makes
perfect”. The foursome brought their punk attitude to the stage
at their recent show at Baltic Social, but their set in support of
OMD in Sheffield City Hall was electric – perhaps unsurprisingly
given that the audience numbers increased from 50 to just under
3000. “Playing to a sold-out crowd of that size in that venue still
brings a smile to our faces every time we think about it,” Bray
What MiG 15 have taken from the Wirral greats is that no
individual is anything without their band members; each openly
have their limitations, but as a unit they aren’t shy about how
they’ve had to work at their craft. Having come together after
leading lives so deeply intertwined with music – from famous
family members to childhood obsessions with Johnny Cash – the
four have undeniably bonded as a group. This bond isn’t just
evident upon meeting them, but shines through in the tightness
of their performances and the humour they exude; this came
in handy in Sheffield, when a potential guitar string disaster
was breezed over by fronting it out with an otherwise oblivious
The band’s fanbase has grown through impressive
performances and word of mouth. Their standout song, Rolling
Thunder, is a fan favourite. Bray explains the beauty of the
track perfectly: “It’s a fast paced, unapologetic, three chord
confession on my views on religion.” The track steps away from
the 1950s-style harmonies that weave through songs like Dials
and Cellophane Girl, as the band incorporate the beauty of the
past with their vision for their future. They walk the tightrope
of old and new, balancing on a line that few have the ability to
master. Not set in their ways as so many can be critiqued to
be, but instead explore the unity between genres, times and
spaces. Their songs explore what so many avoid, from the
aforementioned religion to being obsessively stuck on reliving
memories, nothing feels taboo or off limits, but their sound offers
safety with its nod to what has been.
OMD weren’t the only ones to be captivated by MiG 15,
with the band also securing a six-day tour slot with Love Fame
Tragedy later this year. After wooing an older audience, these
likely lads are set to capture the interest of a younger crowd;
one that they are arguably better suited to. Music is clearly so
powerful in each of their lives and as they explain: “The fact
that we then get to play our music every night in these beautiful
places to an audience of people is just the icing on the cake.”
The quartet are currently recording in Parr Street Studios,
and the hope is that their upcoming releases will only quicken to
their gathering momentum. If all goes well, maybe they’ll follow in
the footsteps of Zuzu and The Mysterines and secure a space on
the next NME 100 list. !
Words: Megan Walder / @m_l_wald
Photography: Innes Marlow / facebook.com/innesmarlowimages
MiG15 will be supporting Love Fame Tragedy on their UK tour
starting on 25th February. New single Bite The Bullet is out now.
Sarah Sands and Jack O’Hanlon
of the nu jazz fusionists open
up about the myriad influences
that make the quintet such an
appealing draw on the Liverpool
“Music is our
outlet; it’s quite a
we aren’t together
for the money”
If you had to describe your style in a sentence, what would you
We used to refer to it as “jazz for 20-year olds”, but, ultimately,
we think of it as a variant of jazz-fusion.
How did you get into music?
In terms of writing music, we kind of got into it by accident. We
would do gigs, but we only played covers that we liked and
eventually started integrating songs we wrote. We really learnt
how to play with one another and develop as a band as opposed
to trying to write straight off the bat.
Do you have a favourite song or piece of music to perform?
What does it say about you?
Funk Detective is one of my favourites to play. It’s super tight,
slightly syncopated, punchy horns along with the driving rhythm
section. I love the energy we get from it! It’ll be on our upcoming
EP, hopefully out in the coming few months so watch this space.
Why is music important to you?
Sarah: I think it’s only since coming to Liverpool, being able to get
gigs and meeting such great people, that I’ve felt music take a
central role in my life. There’s nothing else that could replace that
energy you feel after playing a gig or recording a new tune!
Jack: Music is our collective creative outlet; it’s quite a vocational
thing, we aren’t together for the money. We wouldn’t be doing
this if we didn’t love it.
What do you think is the overriding influence on your
songwriting: other art, emotions, current affairs – or a mixture
of all of these?
The strongest influence is other musicians and gigs that get us
thinking! We are really into bands like the Brecker Brothers, John
Scofield, Chick Corea, so we just focus on trying to come up with
good tunes. If somebody comes up with a cool riff or a melody
then we take that and run with it. We also try to not take it too
seriously and keep it fun.
If you could support any artist in the future, who would it be?
Jack: Steely Dan, I’ve become completely obsessed! If anyone
has been to one of our Frederiks gigs there’s always a Steely Dan
tune thrown in. It’d be amazing to be able to support a band of
that calibre; if you know anyone who can get us in touch, send us
Do you have a favourite venue you’ve performed in? If so, what
makes it special?
We’ve had so many good ones! We like intimate, high energy
gigs as opposed to big stages. We played Band On The Wall and
loved how the crowd can be right up in your face. Frederiks is a
close second; everyone just sets up in the corner and plays cool
covers and their own tunes.
Can you recommend an artist, band or album that Bido Lito!
readers might not have heard?
If you haven’t been to see The Grapes latin-jazz band on a
Sunday, or been to Frederiks, The Caledonia, you’re missing out
on the coolest spots in Liverpool for jazz.
Photography: Jacob Barrow
Jazz-infused dream-pop melodies
with hypnotising rhythms,
frontman and vocalist George
Pomford weighs in on MONKS’
“I think songwriting is
a great feeling; when
you write a song
and people sing it
back at your shows,
it’s just the best”
Have you always wanted to create music?
Not really. When I was a kid I was just into playing football and
going out with my friends. It’s only been the last two or three
years where I’ve started to write songs and start a band.
Can you pinpoint a live gig or a piece of music that initially
The Pond show at the Invisible Wind Factory in 2017 was a big
moment. I met Nathan, our guitarist, and the idea of Monks came
about. Seeing them live with the loud guitars and synths blew my
mind and opened my songwriting to different elements which I
wasn’t putting into practice before.
If you had to describe your style in a sentence, what would you
I think when people see us they definitely think we’re 70s
inspired, but we all have our own style. In terms of the music,
it crosses many boundaries: psych music, funk and modern
alternative is what most of our songs are based around.
What do you think is the overriding influence on your
songwriting: other art, emotions, current affairs – or a mixture
of all of these?
Listening and seeing live shows is the biggest inspiration; taking
bits from the music around me and making it into our own
sound. I tend to write the music first, then put lyrics over the top
depending on the tone or mood of the song. I tend not to write
anything politically driven, I don’t really know enough about it
and it can come off proper cringey.
Do you have a favourite song or piece of music to perform?
We would say our single Why Does Everybody Look The Same?.
When played live, it proper goes off and I think lyrically holds a
good message; one that everyone in the band relates to. As a
song, musically, it shows us off well.
If you could support any artist in the future, who would it be?
Probably Nile Rodgers with Chic, he seems like such a sound fella
and he’s a living legend. I’d also love to support someone like Tyler
The Creator; I heard he goes out on his bike and cycles around
before shows. That would be boss to go on float with Tyler!
Do you have a favourite venue you’ve performed in? If so, what
makes it special?
Sound Basement on Duke Street will always hold a special place
in our hearts. It’s where we did our first shows and learnt how to
properly play live. Boss little boozer to watch the footy in as well,
what a place!
Why is music important to you?
Without it I would be bored out of my mind, I wouldn’t have
anything to do! I think songwriting is a great feeling; when you
write a song and people sing it back at your shows, that is just
Photography: Dylan Mead / @Dylanmeadphotograph
MONKS support The Night Cafe at Liverpool Olympia on 24th
April. Corduroy is released 21st February.
BOOK NOW: 0161 832 1111
FRIDAY 6TH MARCH
THE SMITHS LTD
SATURDAY 18TH APRIL
BRIAN FALLON &
THE HOWLING WEATHER
SAT 16TH MAY / MCR ACADEMY
SATURDAY 8TH FEBRUARY
SATURDAY 7TH MARCH
FRIDAY 21ST FEBRUARY
SATURDAY 14TH MARCH
MONDAY 20TH APRIL
FRI 22ND MAY / ACADEMY 3
& BARRINGTON LEVY
FRI 21ST FEBRUARY / MCR ACADEMY
SATURDAY 14TH MARCH
THE AMY WINEHOUSE
EXPERIENCE AKA LIONESS
SAT 25TH APRIL / CLUB ACADEMY
SATURDAY 23RD MAY
CAT & NAT:
SAT 22ND FEBRUARY / ACADEMY 2
MORGAN HERITAGE, COCOA TEA,
FREDDIE MCGREGOR & ROMAIN VIRGO
SAT 23RD MAY / MCR ACADEMY
WEDNESDAY 26TH FEBRUARY
FRIDAY 20TH MARCH
SATURDAY 25TH APRIL
TUESDAY 2ND JUNE
THE MUSIC OF KATE BUSH
SAT 21ST MARCH / ACADEMY 3
SUNDAY 3RD MAY
THURSDAY 11TH JUNE
FRIDAY 28TH FEBRUARY
THURSDAY 26TH MARCH
REVEREND HORTON HEAT
+ THE DELTA BOMBERS
WED 6TH MAY / ACADEMY 2
GENTLEMAN'S DUB CLUB
SATURDAY 29TH FEBRUARY
THURSDAY 7TH MAY
JIMMY EAT WORLD
TUESDAY 7TH JULY
SATURDAY 29TH FEBRUARY
SATURDAY 11TH APRIL
FRIDAY 8TH MAY
FRIDAY 25TH SEPTEMBER
LOVE FAME TRAGEDY
SATURDAY 29TH FEBRUARY
SUNDAY 4TH OCTOBER
WEDNESDAY 4TH MARCH
TUESDAY 14TH APRIL
FRIDAY 15TH MAY
SATURDAY 19TH DECEMBER
facebook.com/manchesteracademy @mancacademy FOR UP TO DATE LISTINGS VISIT MANChesteracademy.net
With her assemblage of talents, former actress
turned multiple Grammy Award-nominated singsongwriter
FATOUMATA DIAWARA exhibits
her immense passion for all things unifying and
harmonious, not only through her epochal smile, but her glorious
array of ardently composed songs.
After the release of her 2011 debut album Fatou, the Malian
artist was to be the most talked about new African artist on the
planet, sparking the flame for the wildfire of collaborations that
were to follow. Through Diawara’s concern for the progression
of minorities, this led to the involvement of such projects as
the formation of a West African supergroup that recorded a
song pressing for peace in her distressed homeland, as well
as joining the line-up for the UK-based non-profit organisation
Africa Express, resulting in her sharing the stage with Sir Paul
Compiling the complexities of raw human emotion,
Diawara’s most recent album, Fenfo, is sure to be showered with
praise during her imminent UK tour. Ahead of a date in Liverpool
on 6th February, Anouska Liat picked up the phone to the Malian
figurehead for a chat with what felt like an old, trusted friend.
You moved to France when you were 19, saying that you
wanted to explore your freedom and pursue acting. Was it
youthful curiosity, a strong sense of confidence in yourself, or
a combination of both that encouraged you?
It was a personal decision and a necessity for me to leave at that
time. Now, through my own experiences, I’m trying to convince
the new generation to be survivors and fight for their own
stories. Sometimes your parents want to decide for you, society
does too sometimes. It’s good for humans to do what they want;
life is very strange and fast.
You’ve previously stated in an interview that making your
music is easy as it’s in your blood; it’s your ancestry, tradition
and culture. Do you therefore believe that taking inspiration
from your heritage is imperative to your success?
For sure. In Mali, we have a lot of music but we are all based in
the blues. I always combine traditional and modern music – I
don’t just make music for the Malian people, it’s also for my
international audiences. You will always hear some rock ’n’ roll,
on stage especially. The blues naturally comes from the desert,
and I also incorporate folk music.
With music being in your blood, does this mean that you feel
you have that constant creative flow, or is it something you
have to forcibly summon?
I focus my mind on traditional music, the roots. Behind
everything I’m doing, my truth is what’s most important. I want
my audience to hear my sincerity and honesty. The audience
should feel comfortable no matter where they come from or
what language they speak; you have to let them feel like you are
one. When I am myself, this is shown in my traditional music, the
one I have in my blood and ancestry.
You’re back in the UK soon with your tour, the first gig being in
London. How do you find performing to non-native speakers?
Do you think it provides more room for connection with the
It’s like bringing my spirit to them, and I focus on the love that we
will be sharing that night; I’m just excited to be in front of them.
I always hope my shows are sold-out because we cannot dance
or jump or scream, we cannot have fun unless we’re all together,
and that is what life is about. Music is a universal language,
and playing in front of a Malian or English audience makes no
difference because it’s all about love, melodies, groove, funk,
blues, rock. We’re gonna just rock it.
Your songs are obviously of great importance, aiding the
notion of encouragement for many movements and beliefs,
with one of your songs denouncing trafficking and modern
slavery. Other songs also have the recurring theme of a need
for equality, is this something you find very easy to talk about?
Yes, I normally have a message behind my songs. I have been
fighting a lot in my life as a child
of this planet, and I would like to
keep fighting for people. That’s
why I broach subjects like female
genital mutilation or arranged
marriage, because I would like to
save the next generation, which
means all our children. That’s why
my subjects are always something
heavy, however I try to find simple
melodies to keep my audience from
getting frustrated when they listen
– I want them to be happy. But I
will always send a little message
just to say ‘OK, there is something
happening there, what could we do
to change this?’.
When talking about the new album artwork, you were said to
look like you were “representing a nation”. How does it feel
to be in such a position of visibility and do you ever sense any
Not really, I appreciate it a lot. I’m like a child inside; many big
artists have always told me ‘don’t lose your child soul’. I like to
“I’m trying to convince
the new generation to
be survivors and fight
for their own stories”
Leaf – 06/02
The Malian musician discusses her family-like connection to music
and her enduring energy to harness the artform for progressive
change and wellbeing.
dance, sing and have fun with people – I’m like a baby! I can’t
see any colours or preconceptions of how to live life. For me, we
are all one and the same and we should enjoy life today. My job
is to make people happy and it’s a kind of healing I enjoy giving
my audience. After my show I want people to feel good and
think, ‘Wow, I feel happy now’.
The fourth track on your latest
album, Kanou Dan Yen, is about
a couple who love each other
but cannot be together due to
their family’s beliefs on ethnicity.
What would you tell those who
may be unfortunate enough
to still find themselves in that
We have this problem in our
country still, but now I realise,
through travelling, it’s a global
issue. When you’re poor you
cannot be married to a rich guy,
and when you’re from a particular
religion you cannot marry a different religion. I took a story
from my friend in Mali who was suffering with something like
this, so through this experience I can reach other people in the
world who are dealing with discrimination. Love must be free,
love is love, and doesn’t have a colour or nationality – nor does
music. Love is unity, and should be normal and accessible to
You call music your family and say that it gives you hope. Do
you therefore think music has a higher purpose than just its
Music is still like my father, my mother and best friend. I spend
more time around the world than I do with my family, so it’s my
spirit and it keeps me surviving. Music is much more than just
something to listen to, it represents who I am, and people can
see more of my soul when I’m singing. I’m kind of a depressed
person; I go down with my brain when I’m not on stage. Music is
my hospital, my medicine.
Fenfo translates as ‘something to say’ in English. Is there
something you’d like to say to the readers of Bido Lito! that
might encourage them moving forward with the new year?
Yes. I’d like to encourage people to talk, to encourage women to
speak out and to express and defend themselves. I don’t have
time to go to the doctors to talk about my own experiences, but
through music I speak to my audience and they listen. It feels like
I’m healing myself. All the subjects on Fenfo I should probably go
to the psychologist and talk about. Instead, I just go to my studio
and make an album to share my feelings and opinions, as I’ve
done for my whole life. !
Words: Anouska Liat
Photography: Aida Muluneh
Fatoumata Diawara plays Leaf on Thursday 6th February. Fenfo
is out now.
ALL THE SINGLE LADIES / BERNIE CONNOR / CARL COMBOVER
EVERYBODY LOVES LIZZO / JADE LI / JOSEPH KAYE & ELLIOT FERGUSON
JUSTIN ROBERTSON / LOST ART SOUNDSYSTEM / NIGHTCRAWLER PIZZA
NO FAKIN DJS / PHAT PHIL COOPER / PURPLE RAVE
SPEAKERBOXXX / SUPERSTITION / TIM BURGESS
40 SLATER STREET, LIVERPOOL. L1 4BX THEMERCHANTLIVERPOOL.CO.UK
Some things are just meant to happen. For South
London’s DRY CLEANING, forming a band was a
matter of fate. Its draw eventually proved inescapable,
even when recruiting a lead vocalist who didn’t sing, or
has ever expressed an interest in fronting a band. And yet, in less
than a year, the four-piece – consisting of Florence Shaw, Lewis
Maynard, Tom Dowse and Nick Buxton – have authoritatively
planted their flag in the ground of a crowded London scene,
setting about turning heads nationwide with a searching blend
of spoken word and reassuring backbone of home-built riffs.
Gearing up for a busy 2020, the band make their way to
Liverpool on their first UK tour. Ahead of the stop here on 21st
February, Elliot Ryder interrupted vocalist Florence Shaw’s
day of personal admin to chat about her quantum leap into the
spotlight, internet introspection and owning on-stage tension.
It’s been quite a mercurial transition for yourself, going from
never playing a show, joining the band, recording two EPs and
now about to start a full UK tour – all in the space of a year.
Are there times where you have to ask yourself how all this
Mentally I’m still catching up to it. It’s such a big change that
I’m dealing with it one day at a time. There’s a lot more turmoil
involved than you’d imagine. I’m quite an anxious person, really.
Things like my routine, my plans and how I organise things –
seeing that changing freaks me out. I’m one of those people
where any small difference and I shut down a little bit. It’s
definitely been a big challenge to reorient myself as performer.
So is it a little strange to go from being an artist and lecturer
to having to take phone interviews at 1pm on a Tuesday
When I was drawing, I was always talking about my work. The
main difference is that it’s now much more personal. There’s
something about speaking or singing or fronting a band that is
more personality led. Visual art less so. It’s not so much about
you. You make a drawing or image to detract attention from
yourself, putting it onto a piece of paper or onto a wall. This is
different because it is me. The voice is coming out of my body.
It’s interesting to see the difference in the reaction that people
have. To a certain extent there’s a lot of food for thought in terms
of your actual personality and yourself and how you look as more
of a product. That’s just the nature of performing in any field; it’s
much more about your body. It’s frightening but also inspiring.
Is there personal curation in your lyricism? You’ve previously
harvested comments from YouTube, written an ode to Meghan
Markle and questioned the cleanliness of budget hotel carpets.
Or is it more a conduit for reflecting and interpreting random
fragments of society?
Some songs are very carefully curated where I’ll have a whole
heap of collected words that I’ll comb through really carefully,
and almost colour code things so they align to different themes,
finding phrases that speak to that theme. Sometimes it’s just
how words sound. It’s much less a specific story idea. More
so something that sounds funny or unexpected. It’s a bit of
everything and changes over time.
Do you find similarities in your other artistic practices when
Like any kind of drawing, the way I feel about making images
and putting the words together, is kind of the same. Anyone
making something is trying to solidify how they see the world in
an object that they’ve made. Everyone has their own point view,
their own personal TV show of how they see the world. Making
a reflection of it on paper or in words is so reassuring. When
I write the words, I’m trying to encapsulate what the world
appears like to me – for comfort, essentially. To feel less alone. To
feel reassured, if that makes any sense at all.
So is dictating these feelings a form of coping mechanism for
the constant barrage of messages and signals that surround us?
Some people are quite soft and have
one layer less of skin. Some people
find it easier to let things bounce
off them. I’m definitely not one of
those people. I’m quite a raw nerve,
and in any environment I would feel
fairly inundated by thoughts, just
because I’m an over-thinker and
I attach meanings to things that I
probably shouldn’t. The lyricism is
sort of like talking to myself, talking
myself down off a ledge. I’m making
sense of things, obviously not in a
straightforward way. It’s also like
reaching out, testing the waters,
asking if anyone knows what the hell
I’m on about. That’s actually been one of the nice things about
the band – people do relate to the words. It surprises me at first,
because I see it as a random collection of phrases. But when I
put it all together, I start to see something in it. It’s quite intuitive.
I think the social media age provides us with pockets of
absurdity that communities coalesce around, an example
being YouTube comments, something which you’ve fed into
your lyricism. It’s almost like these spaces are a deep pool of
introspection beyond tangible judgement.
When I find things that I want to include in songs, it’s almost
“I’m trying to
encapsulate what the
world appears like
to me - for comfort
Shipping Forecast – 21/02
The South London four-piece leave the door ajar to their homely space
where the walls are coloured by a collage of introspective absurdity.
always because I’m moved by them. Even if that’s just the act
of someone putting something personal on the internet under a
video, it says something about somebody who might not have
a lot of outlets, or maybe there isn’t anyone to talk to at that
moment, so they throw it out into the abyss. I find something
moving about that. I think people can relate to that too, as though
they’ve just told a stranger at a party something very personal.
I feel like YouTube comments are a
little bit like that. It is anonymous, in
that you’re telling people who don’t
know you at all. There’s something
very valuable in that. But at the same
time, they can be so crude and so,
so nasty and vitriolic. And you know,
I’m sometimes moved by those too,
because who are these people and
why do they need to be doing it?
When I see the really nasty comments,
it fills me with empathy, because I just
think, ‘What a tortured soul’.
You recall being slightly hesitant
when being asked to be lead vocalist
of the band. Do you think it’s this shy reluctancy that places
you in the position to be a compelling observer when collating
I think it has. When I joined, I thought, ‘OK, crap, I’m going to
have to try and be a front-person in a band – at some point I’m
going to have to work out how to move, how to be a performer’.
But I said to myself, ‘I’ll do that side of things in a bit, but for
now I’ll just get through it and do it the best I can, and if I look
nervous then I’ll just look nervous. I’ll just embrace whatever I
can manage’. I thought that would develop into an all-singing,
all-dancing persona, which I now realise is completely unrealistic,
and not me at all. Now I’ve just leaned into that first version a
bit more. I’m still learning how to be on a stage. The best way
I’ve found is to make yourself feel as at home as possible and
to get out of your head. Just be myself. Just be an observer and
remain quite physically shy.
You’re owning the tension in a way.
Yeh, that’s a good way of putting it.
It’s interesting the way you mention the home environment
on stage. I think there’s a strong sense of home in the
atmosphere of Dry Cleaning, something which you can
draw from the tight repetition of the instrumentals and the
titling of the second EP, which emerged from practices in
your bassist’s mum’s house. How much does comfort and
familiarity sculpt the world of Dry Cleaning?
The whole thing started in Lewis’ family home, and maybe it’s
because we’re all bit older than most bands breaking through,
but we’ve come to a place where we really value home, and
not doing things because of expectation. We’ve outgrown the
social pressure to do certain things, or act a certain way. That
has a lot to do with feeling comfortable in your own skin. It’s
definitely the theme that runs through our band. We look quite
different as a group. We never said we need to adhere to a
particular style, or we all need to dress a certain way. We just
did our own thing and it worked out quite well. It owes a lot to
just being at ease in our own skin and the homeliness of it all. !
Words: Elliot Ryder / @elliot_ryder
Photography: Hanna-Katrina Jedrosz
Dry Cleaning play The Shipping Forecast on Friday 21st
February with support from Pozi. Sweet Princess and Boundary
Road Snacks And Drinks are out now via It’s OK.
Now into its eighth year, LIVERPOOL INTERNATIONAL JAZZ FESTIVAL has been well
placed to observe the boom in contemporary jazz in the UK, and has delighted in
pairing various exciting modern day innovators with some of jazz’s leading legends in
its programming. It is testament to the festival’s brave booking that this year’s line-up
offers something mouth-watering for jazz fans of all stripes.
Among the new breed is energetic jazz collective CYKADA, the latest ensemble to emerge from
London’s Total Refreshment Centre melting pot. Engaging with distant poles and analogue worlds,
Cykada’s style fizzes with a host of eastern and western influences, not to mention interweaving
narratives of intriguing beauty and devastation. Featuring members of Ezra Collective and Myriad
Forest (among others), Cykada and their boundary-pushing approach kick off the festival, supported
by Jazz North Introduces act YAATRI, a five-piece crossover quintet from in Leeds.
LIJF’s Saturday finds itself in the presence of SARATHY KORWAR, leader of the UPAJ Collective and
one of the most original voices within the UK jazz scene. Korwar began playing tabla from age of 10,
while growing up in Ahmedabad and Chennai, India. However, due being born in the US, Korwar
NIGHT OF THE LIVING
DEAD – REMIX
Playhouse Theatre – 18/02-22/02
Capstone Theatre – 27/02-03/03
also found himself drawn to American music, including the likes of Ahmad Jamal and John Coltrane.
Korwar’s set will draw from across his three studio albums, including 2019’s More Arriving, a highly
percussive and honest reflection of Korwar’s experience of being an Indian in an increasingly divided
Dutch innovators TIN MEN AND THE TELEPHONE (27th February) and Belgians BLOW 3.0 (29th
February) add a touch of futurism to proceedings, and further fresh takes on jazz in all of its forms.
The festival is closed out in slightly more traditional fashion on Sunday 3rd March by TONY KOFI
QUARTET, with support from locals BLIND MONK THEORY?. The Quartet’s performance will
mainly focus on saxophonist Kofi’s work with the legendary Ornette Coleman. After working with
Coleman four years prior, Londoner Tony Kofi became inspired to create a collective consisting of
world class musicians who were all touched and inspired by Coleman’s work.
Individual event tickets and full festival passes can be found at ticketquarter.co.uk.
In 1968, Night Of The Living Dead started out as a low-budget independent horror movie telling the
story of seven strangers taking refuge from flesh eating ‘ghouls’ in an isolated farmhouse. 50 years
on from the release of George A. Romero’s zombie cult classic, seven actors now recreate the eerily
foreboding air that cloaks the room with that ominous sense of dread.
NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD – REMIX is the product of Imitating The Dog, masters of digital theatre and
one of the UK’s most innovative theatre companies. Working through 1,076 edits in 95 minutes, the sevenstrong
crew not only perform a shot-for-shot recreation of the film, they also film and stage it themselves
in real time. Armed with cameras, costumes and defaced Barbie dolls, the cast attempt to stick close to the
paranoia-driven theme of the much-loved film, yet allow space for spontaneity and ingenuity to dictate the
balance of humour and apprehensive fear.
Romero’s original was an apocalyptic vision of paranoia, ruminating on the breakdown of community and the
end of the American dream. Pre-dating the zombie horror craze in cinema, Romero’s film favoured unsettling
social commentary over shock and gore. Archive footage and imagery will be mixed in to the Remix, mirroring
the original’s quasi-documentary style; additional newsreel projections will also focus on riots and the
struggle of the civil rights movement that raged in the US at the time, adding layers of historical context that
can be inferred from the film’s foreboding tone.
This modern adaptation is a love song to the film, a remaking and remixing which attempts to understand
the past in order not to have to repeat it. It is in turns humorous, terrifying, thrilling, thought provoking and
joyous; but, above all, in the retelling it becomes a searing parable for our own complex times.
EVENT DISCOVERY PARTNER
Invisible Wind Factory – 29/02
Flourishing in the concrete landscape of East London, ALFA MIST
uncovered a love for amalgamating elements of jazz and hip hop, a
talent that marked him out as a singular talent on his moody 2015
debut, Nocturne. A compound artist who enjoys genre hopping as
much as he does sampling and splicing, Mist retains a love for the kind
of urban soundscapes that remind him of his upbringing – mellow and
reflective. Last year’s Structuralism, Mist’s third LP, finds the classically
trained pianist in melancholic form, allowing improvisation – and
the voice of his sister, speaking to him about society’s difficulty in
communicating effectively – to lead the way. It’s only really in the live
arena where the depths of Mist’s talents can be truly felt, charged as
they are with intensely personal emotions.
Meraki – 21/02
Scottish DJ and visual artist Clair Stirling, ECLAIR FIFI, has become one of
the UK’s most colourful DJs, the kind of selector you want at the helm when
a party bursts into life. Having helmed residencies at Paris Social Club and
Hoya:Hoya, she was instrumental in the growth of the LuckyMe parties
in Glasgow and Edinburgh. Through her DJing and visual work, Eclair Fifi
helped LuckyMe present a new vision of club music to techno-devoted
Scottish ravers and forge relationships with like-minded crews globally.
Evolving from Detroit techno to Italo disco to electro, she is a much indemand
curator, hosting stages at The Warehouse Project and Amsterdam
Dance Event in recent years. The intimate confines of Meraki, then, will be
like an old school party, and one that is sure to sell out.
Phase One – 15/02
PSYCHO COMEDY certainly believe that rock ’n’ roll needs saving, and their debut LP
Performance Space Number One is the first part of their mantra that will convince you
that they’re right. If you’re a fan of rock that chugs like The Stooges and shimmers like
the Velvets, then you may well think this Scouse collective have done just that. Powered
by frontman Shaun Powell’s Lou-meets-Mavers swagger, and Matthew Thomas Smith’s
Fall-esque poetic outbursts, there’s a lot to love within the six-piece’s energy and squall.
The collective release their debut effort on independent label Silver Machine Recordings
on Valentine’s Day, and you can win a date with guitarist Jack Thompson by picking up the
record at the Phase One launch show.
Philharmonic Hall – 18/02
Once a busker on the streets of New Orleans, now a two-time Grammy
award-winning singer-songwriter; it just goes to show that determination
and an undying confidence in your abilities pays off. Multi-instrumentalist
GILL LANDRY has lent his notoriously full-toned vocals to work with Laura
Marling, Karen Elson and The Felice Brothers, and his brand new Skeleton
At The Banquet album comes out like a series of reflections and thoughts on
the collective hallucination that is America. Whether you resonate with his
sweet Southern blues or not, Landry’s capability to capture and analyse the
complexities of human reflection is enough to observe his live craft in action.
Extra Soul Perception
Africa Oyé @ 24 Kitchen Street – 24/02
Extra Soul Perception
A collaboration of funk beats and jazz bops, EXTRA SOUL PERCEPTION is a project exploring new
tangents in soul. Merging eight talents from the UK and East Africa, ESP is led by an open-minded
approach to harmonising different sounds, techniques and traditions. Returning from a writing camp
in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, the artists – comprised of vital figures in the new wave London jazz and
soul scenes and renowned visionary musicians from Kenya and Uganda – are stepping forth to
challenge the preconceptions of a long-established genre. The ESP album will land in April, but for
now the group are armed and ready for their exclusive three-day tour, that has its finale underneath
Kitchen Street’s disco ball.
The Big Moon
O2 Academy – 28/02
“I’m so bored of being capable, I need somewhere to be vulnerable,” sings Juliette
Jackson on It’s Easy Then, the opening track from the London quartet’s second album
Walking Like We Do. This opening is a pretty obvious sign that the group are at a
thematic crossroads, favouring an honest strain of lyricism over the more love songorientated
tone of their debut LP. This is coupled with more of a rounded, lush sound
on the new album that sees the band leaning more towards the pop than the punk,
which isn’t overly surprising for a group so obsessed with the glam of 90s boy bands
and Britpop. And, given the success that Haim and Hinds have had in this area in
recent years, you can fully expect to see and hear a lot more from THE BIG MOON as
the year progresses.
The Big Moon
Aldous Harding (Keith Ainsworth / arkimages.co.uk)
“When a solo line
cuts in, the stillness is
as if you’re stepping
out of a fine mist
into a concentrated
Harvest Sun @ Arts Club – 04/12/19
As the cinematic house music fades, a lone figure slips
through the stage curtains. Without making a sound, ALDOUS
HARDING approaches the mic and reaches for her classical
acoustic guitar. The main feature is now in session.
Over the past few years the New Zealand singer-songwriter
has developed a significant cult buzz for her fiercely unique
live shows, with 2017’s Party and 2019’s Designer (released
on 4AD) opening her up to a far wider audience. Cryptic and
capricious, her songwriting shifts between neo-folk torch songs
and queasy alt.pop, prone to flashbacks of Gorky’s Zygotic
Mynci-inspired Welsh psychedelia (so, it’s no wonder she’s found
a kindred spirit in bandmate and partner, H. Hawkline). This,
paired with her deeply intense stage presence, makes Harding
impossible to ignore.
The first thing you notice is Harding’s look. Her most recent
music videos have paid homage to surrealist filmmaker Alejandro
Jodorowsky, though tonight she emerges looking like the ghost
of a Victorian sailor. Her mother was a Canadian folk singer and
puppeteer, perhaps explaining the curious manner that she stalks
the stage, heavily reminiscent of Hunky Dory-era Bowie, with
some The Man Who Fell To Earth humanoid awkwardness mixed
in. Between songs she’s painfully slow, deliberate and mindful
of every action. During the first two acoustic tracks, I’m So
Sorry and Living The Classics, her eyes roll back and her cheeks
crumple into a grimace, as her voice curls in on itself. At times she
looks perplexed or hesitant, as if performing at gun-point.
Yet, somehow, Harding’s theatrics never feel contrived.
Her angular, Theresa May Dancing Queen limbs and surgical
precision simply appear a natural, uncoloured extension of the
music. I’ve never witnessed anyone work silence like her, either.
Everything is laid bare to the point that watching her can often
feel highly uncomfortable. Holding your breath, she wordlessly
commands your attention. There’s nowhere to hide. Small talk,
standard conventions, it all slips away.
With Harding the underlying pain and absurdity at the centre
of everything is worn on the outside. What’s on the surface might
look peculiar at first, is soon recognisable as something much
more familiar. In her weird, wounded and confounding way you
see something of yourself. Uniquely exposed, she sings directly to
our collective oddness.
On the rare occasion she does speak, she attempts an
explanation. After the stagnant beauty of What If Birds Aren’t
Singing They’re Screaming, she admits, “I know I’m not known for
my smiley, easy going presence. Everybody’s different,” adding in,
“two things can be real”. A few songs before she says, “I’m quiet
because I am focused. I’m not closed. I am open,” finishing with a
grin. During the song Designer, Harding reels off lines like a fedup
fashionista, adding extra emphasis to “Give up your beauty”,
as if she’s dropping a heavy clue.
Each arrangement is treated with just the same delicacy as
well. Sparse and subtle, notes linger, suspended like dust motes.
Guitarists lean back, sitting out of entire songs. In Zoo Eyes
when a solo line does cut in, the stillness is quickly weaponised,
as if you’re stepping out of a fine mist into a concentrated jet
stream. Hitting the chorus, the song’s thick pad of harmonies
feels like a huge pay-off. Treasure exercises the same restraint.
Harding’s eyes flicker before the hook, bringing her back to us,
as if its serene tide was about to pull her out for good. Band and
audience both quietly attentive, all equally invested; it seems to
drive the music deeper.
During the jumbled shuffle of The Barrel, three friends dance,
peaches bobbing in their hands above the crowd (referring to
lyrics: “Look at all the peaches, how do you celebrate”). Harding’s
previously described the song as “serious, but seriously happy”,
which adds up, being as joyful as it is abstract and open-ended.
New tune Old Peel follows suit. Harding plays a mug with a
drumstick while yelping at the crowd as they ape back. It’s quite
the contrast to the sincere, heartsick march of penultimate track
Imagining My Man. Yet, here’s Harding at her most pure and
paradoxical; still singing, sashaying and clattering at her coffee
cup as the Titanic goes down. !
David Weir / @BetweenSeeds
Aldous Harding (Keith Ainsworth / arkimages.co.uk)
Various venues, Groningen – 15/01-17/01
New year’s resolutions are there to be broken. As noble as
the intentions may be behind detoxing and treadmills, if we’re
being honest, they aren’t much fun. So maybe we’re just getting
it all wrong? Maybe our 2020 resolution should instead constitute
a steadfast commitment to discovering as much new music as
possible. That’s surely something we can get on board with,
As a point of dedicated initiation to this year of audio
adventuring, Groningen’s EUROSONIC NOORDERSLAG festival
– sat plumb on the nose of January – is there to set us off on the
right track. And, as Europe’s leading festival of new music, it
sounds like shit loads more fun than kale smoothies and burpees.
A programme of industry talks and panels, with the added
exercise of cycling between the offering of over 400 live acts, is a
cocktail much more enticing in the dry month of January.
So, boosted by the idea of a resolution we may actually be
able to keep, we set the controls for the heart of the new music
universe and jump on a plane and head for the Netherlands.
After a break-neck sprint through Groningen, we arrive just
in time to catch YIN YIN, who are on a mission to reclaim the
twin-neck guitar from Derek Smalls. This Maastricht four-piece
could easily be Allah-Las’ Balearic-infused brothers, fusing
lackadaisical, dusty soundscapes with Korg-heavy dancefloor
grooves. Think Nippon Guitars receiving the Andrew Weatherall
treatment. They’re almost as cool as their crushed velvet kaftans.
Fans of Goat, take note.
Thanks to the Dutch cargo bike we’ve commandeered for the
trip (when in Rome and all that), we seemingly manage to be in
two places at once, catching both SIR WAS and Liverpool’s own
EYESORE & THE JINX within the space of an hour.
Sir Was’s In The Midst – in all its Porcelain Raft and Washed
Out looseness – is one of our current favourite cuts, rediscovered
of late (by this correspondent at least) after it passed us by on
its 2017 release. Live, it is a real treat, receiving a high-energy
make-over. In their typically understated, unassuming Swedish
way, Sir Was could quietly cause quite a fuss.
Almost 12 months to the day since gracing the front cover
of these pink pages, Eyesore & The Jinx are one of the hottest
shows tonight at Eurosonic. It feels like an important, crowning
moment in the Eyesore journey. The school canteen that has
been appropriated for their show is busting at the doors and they
perform with their characteristic, seemingly unflappable purpose
and poise. We are, however, hit with the grim realisation that On
An Island – in its lament of the narrow-minded and nauseating
pigheadedness of little England – has an all-together more
sinister undercurrent in 2020 than it did on its release. Performed
here, at a festival celebrating the joy of creative European
collaboration, as Britain simultaneously sails off into the Brexit
abyss, it is afforded a further lacquer of despair.
JUNIOR BROTHER is about as trad-Irish as Richard Dawson
is trad-folk. Here is an artist shaped by a storied songbook,
who simultaneously torches it. Set within an exquisite, ornately
baroque, underground lair, this is as punk, as soulful, as visceral
as it gets.
Punk, soulful, visceral could just as equally form the byline
for KAUKOLAMPI. Spawned from this parish’s favourite Finnish
house/metal combo K-X-P, this side-project is dark techno,
Blanck Mass-brutal, yet wouldn’t seem out of place leathering the
dancefloor in the Cream annex.
Heavily oiled, we are now a hazardous two-wheeled road
user. It seems these wide Dutch handlebars get wobblier by the
schooner. Still, no excuse for the near fatal cross-town seater
that is deployed to get to KO SHIN MOON. These are a French
duo who borrow from across the spectrum like a backpacker’s
sonic scrapbook, creating a synth-laden mix, perfect for fans of
Klaus Johann Grobe. It is worth the near-death experience.
We are by now convinced that Eurosonic is the best music
discovery festival we’ve been to. Groningen is tiny and – aided
by our trusty if heavily bruised bicycle – so easy to jump between
venues. Nowhere is more than a five-minute pedal away and,
with cycle lanes, no hills to traverse and a pedestrianised centre,
it is perfect for venue hopping. How they pack around 30 official
venues (the unofficial fringe is even bigger) into a town centre
the size of Chester is plainly ridiculous. This is music nut heaven.
CHARLOTTE ADIGÉRY has been honing her craft under the
tutelage of Soulwax – releasing on their DeeWee imprint – and
shares her Belgian compatriots’ immaculate sense of tough
dancefloor sensibility and unadulterated pop mega-hooks.
She’s a ready to go, box-fresh, bonafide pop star, who is clearly
equally at home delivering 4am bangin’ club sets as she is at
tastemaker festivals. Despite the fact Huize Maas is bursting at
the seams and bopping along to every bleep, yelp and bass drop,
she screams for more from her audience. “Are you with me? This
is a showcase, but you are allowed to dance! Give me more!”
Charlotte has high standards.
One aspect Eurosonic seem to nail
consistently is presenting artists in spaces
that perfectly suit their oeuvre. This is a
lovingly curated festival. Belfast’s KITT
PHILIPPA benefits from this approach
beautifully as we bear witness to 45
minutes of the most joyous, fragile,
soulful wonderfulness, set within
the intimate chapel that is Lutherse
Kerk. Blending a classical virtuosity,
gorgeously crafted songs and spacious
arrangements; think Anna Calvi sat
at the piano, making all your dreams
If Lutherse Kerk was a delicate
chapel of joy, in the hands of
KEELEY FORSYTH the vast
octagonal Nieuwe Kerk is a
cathedral of nightmares. But the
kind of nightmares you hope
to have every single night.
Heralded as “the new Scott
Walker” by The Guardian last
month, Forsyth presents a
series of musical stone tablets
that are possibly the most
visceral, angst-laden laments
we have experienced in
years. The minimal baritone
guitar, piano and violin
their dramatic skyline of
are just sensational. Alongside this, Keeley Forsyth’s performance
is a physical act; she contorts and shifts as if each passage is an
exorcism, a cleansing and cathartic experience. Something of an
unlikely highlight, but if we were to select a Eurosonic standout,
it would be this.
And, with that, our adventure here is done. We have
completely fallen in love with Eurosonic, with Groningen and with
new acts numerous times over each night. Surely these are the
New Year’s resolutions worth keeping, right? !
Craig G Pennington
“How they pack around
30 official venues into
a town centre the size
of Chester is plainly
ridiculous. This is
music nut heaven”
Yin Yin (Bart Heemskerk)
Eurosonic Noorderslag (Bart Heemskerk)
EVOL @ O2 Academy – 20/11/19
Fontaines D.C. (Tomas Adam)
There’s nobody that follows music, that has an awareness of current scenes, that doesn’t know about
FONTAINES D.C. by now. Certainly, it seems that Liverpool does.
As you haul your weary body up the stairs of Liverpool Academy, among the throng of Wednesday night giggers,
you pass the entrance to Academy Two – the room where they were originally booked to play. Tonight, that’s empty,
and as you ascend the steepest bloody staircase on Merseyside and enter the heaving, sweaty confines of Academy
One, the excitement is palpable. The bigger brother is packed to the rafters full of young and old, the converted and
the curious as well as the hip. It seems Hotham Street is the only place to be tonight.
It’s been a rush for this Dublin five-piece over the last 12 months. Their debut album Dogrel was nominated for
whateverthemercurymusicprizeiscallednow, while BBC Radio 6 Music named it their album of the year. Most of this
tour has been upgraded and those upgrades have sold-out, too. This is a moment that we are in here, especially
when Fontaines’ Dublin scenester mates are also doing impeccably well, too. If you are reading this and DON’T go
to see The Murder Capital in town on 25th February then shame on you, as they too reinvigorate the live guitar punk
aesthetic. And Girl Band’s new album is immense, etc, etc.
They part stumble, part stroll onto the stage, ignoring the sweat that’s pouring down the walls. The beauty
of our very own Academy is that it can still resemble a ‘tiny’ venue when the band dictates. This seems to be the
way tonight, and the band respond by throwing themselves into the set at full tilt. There’s no banter, or hellos, or
interaction, just a visceral dive into replicating the album live. Get in and get out with a minimum of fuss. Frontman
Grian Chatten is proving to be the frontman that this generation deserves. An amalgamation of Curtis, E. Smith and
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
to fill his time before it’s his turn to fill yours.
Hurricane Laughter is the bass-driven opener and, as virtually every song on the album has an anthemic feel
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
songs have been performed so many times they are relaxed, knowing mistakes are rare and performance is the key.
“There’s no connection available,” screams Grian, arms flailing and silver pendant flying about his torso. Sha Sha Sha
possesses a degree of funk about its build up with guitars and power chords. Television Screens is the midpoint and
the most dramatic song, as Grian’s chopped vocals hint at melody as he’s actually singing to the hundreds of hands
poking through the quiet white light that crawls from the stage. From this point on it’s bedlam.
“I love that violence that you get around here, that ready, steady violence…” Liberty Belle comes hurtling off
the stage and hits the mosh pit with such a bang you feel the shakes at the back of the room. The younger element
are going hyper now and it’s not the bev talking. So when Boys From The Better Land starts the entire room starts
moving. Everyone here is at one with the future sound of Dublin, limbs and vocal chords splayed for all to see. It’s
obvious they finish on album opener Big. The crescendo of confidence raising what’s left of the old abattoir’s roof.
This band are genuinely fantastic and deserve every plaudit chucked their way. We’ve had two amazing
performances in town by them over the last 12 months and there’s nothing to say they won’t be back again soon,
Ian R. Abraham / @scrash
St George’s Hall – 06/12/19
The drive in to St George’s Hall, from the north end at least, has suddenly
become a thing of genuine wonder.
The sudden absence of that monstrous flyover exposes the end face of the
museum, shows us the direct route to the tunnel, opens up the entire entrance
to town and presents a grandeur that we kind of knew was always there but
had taken for granted.
It could be easy to take JOHN HEAD for granted. It probably has been easy
for very many people to take John Head for granted for a very long time; easy
to view him as a junior partner in his elder brother’s adventure. The George to
Mick’s Lennon and McCartney in Shack’s storied tale. (And to totally misquote
Steve Coogan’s portrayal of Anthony H. Wilson: “If you don’t know who Shack
were then that’s fine but you should probably listen to more music.”)
Let’s assume that everybody here is more than familiar with Shack, with
The Pale Fountains, with all the stories, and not bother repeating them all for
the millionth time.
As I’m leaving the hall later I overhear conversations (I write, that’s what I
do, what we all do, we listen to you speak, all of you, all the time).
“Are you glad you came then?”
“Well, he was always kind of second fiddle…”
And that’s kind of true. A phenomenal guitarist, we all knew that. A
beautiful voice. A dazzling song here and there, slipped into Shack albums, a
Cornish Town, a Miles Apart, a Butterfly, a Carousel. All gorgeous, all shining in
their own right. All present tonight.
There’s a moment that gives the lie to the sentiment halfway though John’s
set, though. We’ll come to that. First we need to talk support.
And tonight’s support is ROY, the local legend who may possibly not be
operating under his real name to deliver his tales of dark whimsy. We know
what we’re getting with Roy now; streams of consciousness that take place in a
fantasy underworld version of Walton filled with larger than life plots that may
or may not (mostly may not) have their roots in truth.
That’s not what we get. Not until the end where there’s something that
may or may not be a ghost story about betting shops and chippies. What
we get tonight is THE CIRCUS MINDS. The man called Roy accompanied by
somebody on guitar who might not be operating under the name of NICK
ELLIS tonight, but doesn’t half play like him. We’re out of story mode and into
something that might (or might not) be poetry. They’re the meeting point
between Allen Ginsberg, Half Man Half Biscuit and John Fahey that you hadn’t
realised you needed until now.
John Head though. We’re here for John. Only a few months since his
sudden re-emergence at two very quickly sold-out Parr Street Studio2 dates,
the man is now selling out St George’s Hall’s Small Concert Room. A beautiful
setting for a beautiful sound.
There are things I think about the sound. Sinuous, that’s one. Dreamlike,
obviously. Pastoral. Bucolic. Acoustic. Very much acoustic. One guitar, one
bass, a keyboard, drums, two pieces of brass. There’s some jazz in there, too.
Some late-60s folk. There are beautifully fractured rhythms. There’s space.
There’s lots of space. And everything supports the songs, supports the vocals.
And the vocals are beautiful.
The band number six, then four, then three, then one. Whatever they
number, the emphasis is always on the vocals, filling the marbled hall with
I think of Fred Neil, Tims Hardin and Buckley; once I think of Nick Drake, but
only once and only briefly. Mark Hollis comes to mind because of all that air in
the music, John Martyn for the same reason and the version of Van Morrison
that made Astral Weeks.
None of theses names arise as influence. We’re not talking influence, we’re
talking lineage. There are songs from the fabled, mythical John Head solo
album that might or might not exist in the real world but is certainly present
enough for those assembled to sing along with 1967 and Crocodile. And there
are new songs.
Which is where the moment comes in.
“I’ve got a new idea that I’ve been working on,” he says as he takes a solo
moment mid-set. “It’s a bit rough and ready, but if you’re OK with that?”
The quote may not be exact because the next five minutes wipe the room
out. The next five minutes of just John and vocal might be the most impossible,
most staggeringly beautiful thing you’ve ever heard. And, given that the
mythical solo album has never really made its way to the real world, we have
no idea whether we’ll ever hear it again. A song so perfect that people forget
to raise their phones. There may be no record of this song, it may have existed
only for this moment. But this moment was perfect.
And that’s the kind of night this was: magic and beauty and silence and joy.
A night of genuine wonder.
Ian Salmon / @IanRSalmon
John Head (Paul McCoy / @photomccoy)
& Francesco Turrisi
Grand Central Hall – 28/11/19
“It’s a really weird time to be alive right now,” states
RHIANNON GIDDENS, soberly, as she wraps up her set at Grand
Central Hall. The laughter and applause that has flowed so freely
all evening, now levels out to a nervous silence. On the eve of
an election, up against the relentless noise of propaganda and
the blathering of insidious agents, plain speaking of this kind can
catch you off guard.
Giddens’ career has never shied away from the political. Her
work with revivalists Carolina Chocolate Drops paid tribute to
every imaginable facet of African American music. This year’s
outstanding Songs of Our Native Daughters project pushed this
sense of racial politics further in its aim “to tell forgotten stories of
the African diaspora in North America, with its women upfront”,
as Jude Rogers wrote last February. In light of recent scenes,
tonight’s performance feels particularly resonant.
Joined by jazz multi-instrumentalist and partner FRANCESCO
TURRISI and Jason Sypher on upright bass, the trio display a
remarkable scholarly approach and versatility as performers
throughout. It’s impossible to keep up with their instrument
hopping, as Turrisi, ever the showman, works every angle of his
collection of dafs (frame drums). Their repertoire also spans an
exceptionally wide canon of traditional music.
From minstrel balladry to arias, howling vaudeville to the
rattling delivery of a Gaelic tune; Celtic and North American
material (like the austere Wayfaring Stranger) falls in alongside
little-known Middle Eastern, African and Italian folk songs. Yet,
there’s still a distinct through line to the set. Giddens inhabits
these songs, drawing similarities and the humanity from them
with an unrivalled charismatic flair.
Rallying against division and preaching kindness, it feels like
both a multicultural masterclass and an explorative response to
history as it continues to unfold. After the lovelorn Appalachian
mountain ballad Pretty Saro, for their encore they throw their
weight into gospel classic Up Above My Head. Tambourine held
high like a baton passed down from the foremother of rock ’n’ roll,
Sister Rosetta Tharpe herself, in the hands of Rhiannon Giddens,
each strike sounds rebellion.
David Weir / @BetweenSeeds
Fat White Family
+ Working Men’s Club
Harvest Sun @ Invisible Wind Factory – 26/11/19
There’s a noticeable mix of ages in the audience tonight. This admittedly comes as something of a surprise before recalling FAT
WHITE FAMILY’s magnetism as a politically charged, notoriously controversial collective active since their post-squatter days in
To start we have SILENT-K. Dressed in bizarre safari-like uniform and featuring a synth player dressed as a beekeeper, the
Liverpool band raise the audience’s spirits with their bright, catchy rock n roll sound. Even The Zutons’ Dave McCabe joins the band
on stage to provide additional vocals, gaining a certain level of interest from the increasing onlookers. The upbeat and sprightly riffs
lead by energetic frontman Chris Taylor succeed in taking the night off to a lively start.
The final support act are the much talked-about WORKING MEN’S CLUB from Todmorden. Eager to make an impression on a
FWF fan-dominated audience, fresh-faced frontman Sydney Minsky-Sargeant does his best Ian Curtis impression as he marches up
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
Nuns) who expertly switches from drum machine to synth to guitar throughout the set.
For a band actively trying to avoid wearing their ‘Manchester band’ tags so overtly, the New Order influences and Fall influences
are still difficult to shake off. But the distinctive 80s synth melodies go down a storm with the crowd. The lasting result is impressive
and causes quite a stir with the audience.
Shuffling from the darkness with a Dickensian demeanour, Fat White Family appear like Fagin’s boys all grown-up as they
stumble onto the stage armed with beers. It’s a strong start as the seven-piece launch into Auto Neutron from their debut
Champagne Holocaust. It feels like a matter of seconds before frontman Lias Saoudi is over the rail and submerged into the crowd,
instantly causing a frenzied atmosphere which is sustained throughout the entire set. Soft-spoken vocals and Brian Jonestown
Massacre-tinged guitar melodies slowly build and unfold into chaotic distortion, resulting in Lias screaming and reeling around on the
Distinctively sleazy guitar riffs lull us into another FWF classic, I Am Mark E Smith, sounding more confident and chaotic than
ever. Touch The Leather goes down a treat, and is transformed into an unlikely singalong anthem, as the onlookers relish in singing
Lias’ own tongue-in-cheek, seedy lines back to him as he wades his way through the crowd. Disco stomper Feet sounds like the
anthem it truly is. With Lias perched shirtless on the rail looking intently out into the crowd, motioning his hands along to the
Algerian-dance influenced sound like a demented composer, he’s looks on knowing his confidence in their performance is completely
The band members depart the stage halfway through the set to allow the cartoonish Saul Adamczewski lead on the vocals for
a strangely moving rendition of Goodbye Goebbels. The addition of Alex White’s saxophone adds a late-night bar feel to the track.
The rest of the band members return to the stage for the sinister When I Leave, which oozes the sophistication and prowess which
pervade their latest album, Serfs Up!.
Rounding off a triumphant set, FWF end on two sure-fire hits Whitest Boy On The Beach and Is It Raining in your Mouth? –
both of which sound explosive tonight. “Five sweaty fingers with a criminal impatience,” yells Lias with demonic fury, recalling the
savagery of Johnny Rotten as the band sweetly harmonise their backing vocals in juxtaposition.
With a surprising lack of tracks from their latest record, the band instead give us the ultimate FWF set, reminding us of their
formidable talent as musicians, and Lias’ ability as a songwriter. Decadent, danceable and at times downright dirty, their sound packs
a punch this evening and the crowd leaves IWF brimming with awe. For a band riddled with controversies and (un)intentionally
pissing people off, it feels like they gave it their everything to inspire a community spirit in Liverpool tonight.
Fat White Family (@mrjohnlatham)
Fat White Family (@mrjohnlatham)
INTERNATIONAL SHOWCASE FESTIVAL
A WORLD OF
FIRST WAVE OF ACTS ANNOUNCED… RICHARD HAWLEY | GRUFF RHYS | ALTIN GÜN |
STEALING SHEEP | FLAMINGODS | GEORGIA RUTH | JOHN | THE BREATH | GALLOPS |
CATRIN FINCH & SECKOU KEITA | GRAEME PARK | CASI | THE MEMBRANES | ADWAITH |
THE TRIALS OF CATO | ACCÜ | BRONNIE | CHINATOWN SLALOM | KARIMA FRANCIS |
ART SCHOOL GIRLFRIEND | YNYS | BUZZARD BUZZARD BUZZARD | PANIC SHACK |
KIDSMOKE | MEILIR | GOLDEN FABLE | SEAZOO | HMS MORRIS | WORLDCUB | CHROMA |
MELIN MELYN | CAMPFIRE SOCIAL | HYLL | EITHA DA | DIENW | NATALIE MCCOOL |
JACK FOUND | + artists from CANADA, GERMANY, IRELAND and more…
+ OVER 200 ACTS STILL TO BE ANNOUNCED!
FOCUS2020_BidoLito_advert_249x181mm.indd 1 24/01/2020 11:02
An imitating the dog and Leeds Playhouse co-production
TUE 18 - SAT 22 FEB
Box Office: 0151 709 4776 | everymanplayhouse.com
Age guidance 15+
Harvest Sun @ Mountford Hall – 28/11/19
MAC DEMARCO remains the king on campus. It’s a title he’s
held here for two years since he last bowled over Mountford
Hall with his enduring charm. The wide-eyed hysteria buzzing
around the university grounds only reaffirms this, well before
his inimitable tremolo twang has coursed through the student’s
Since his last appearance on this very stage, Mac’s musical
output has somewhat wandered a new path. Somewhere quieter
and less frantic. Conducting the crowd, hands first to the left,
then the right, bobbing between the droplets of synth on On
The Level, his entrance is at odds with the rocking chair calm of
Here Comes The Cowboy – his most recent release. Even when
here last, in support of This Old Dog, his records were branching
away from the woozy tape-deck haze that had allured his now
adoring fanbase. And yet, while the Canadian songwriter has
retreated to the comfort of his LA home studio in recent years – a
setting that’s undoubtedly enhanced the hushed, more personal
direction – he still wears the on stage clothes of efforts two and
three, II and Salad Days; the chain-smoking oddball with the
most addictive guitar licks in town. It’s evidently the Mac the
crowd wants to see. It’s the one they get, for the most part, albeit
slightly better behaved than his track record would suggest.
Cooking Up Something Good, Chamber Of Reflection and
Freaking Out The Neighbourhood are near inaudible, such is the
chorus of almost 2,000 people beating him to every word.
Tracing the footsteps of his contemporary character on
record, you wonder if the show is weighted how he’d like, now
+ Bill Nickson
+ Abby Meysenburg
St Brides – 14/12/19
Mac DeMarco (@MrKirks)
he’s five albums into his career. More so with a recent, but no
less endearing, swerve in songcraft. Slower jams Still Beating
and Nobody are dutifully played, but their unrushed beauty is
liberally taken as short intermission by most. The swelling energy
and attention is saved for the nicotine rush of Ode To Viceroy.
New funk jam Choo Choo, a groove-laden evolution of his Rock
And Roll Night Club era, just about keeps it all on track in a run of
Tossing the microphone around the stage, filling the spaces
in the setlist with schoolyard jokes, the Mac persona still fits
the 29-year-old performer front and centre. Not so much like a
suited, booted and slicked back Alex Turner being forced to pop
his collar and recall distant memories of South Yorkshire teen
discos. Instead, Mac, visibly, still slots in to his lineage, even if
his more contemporary efforts on stage tonight seem to drift
into the perspiration lining the ceiling. But maybe that’s the
point in these shows: Mac’s sought to move on musically, like all
maturing musicians would. Yet, the joyous community so taken
by his earlier records still remains. Maybe it’s even grown, such
are the numbers he holds in his palm as Still Together reaches
its harmonious climax. His music and personality endure in
their ability to bring masses of people together. To still offer
this out, when musical interests have likely sailed forward,
perhaps signals his need for this community, too. Judging by
the admiration shared on both sides of the stage, it would seem
short-sighted to give it up now. Perhaps the artist puts it best:
“Oh mama, actin’ like my life’s already over / Oh dear, act your
age and try another year”. See you at the Uni reunion in two
Elliot Ryder / @elliot_ryder
“Two days after the
the general election,
these artists came
together to display the
power of music”
ADD TO PLAYLIST is the monthly
column brought to you by MELODIC
DISTRACTION RADIO, delving into the
fold of the newest releases on the dance
music spectrum. If you’re into 808s,
sample pads, DJ tools and everything in
between, then you’re in good company.
Ahmed Ben Ali
Habibi Funk Records
Reggae straight out of Libya.
If the grey winter weather has
got you a little down in the
dumps, this slice of sunshine is
everything you need to put a spring in your step. Originally
released straight to YouTube, AHMED BEN ALI’s addictive
hooks got picked up by the pre-eminent Habibi Funk
Records. With the express mission of giving Arab funk
and jazz the attention it deserves, flicking through Habibi
Funk’s SoundCloud and back catalogue is an afternoon
very well spent.
Third Place Dance Discs
If you’ve caught any of
Liverpool’s live beats scene in
the last couple of years, from
Wide Open at the Bakery to
the jazz-madness of the Reeds (RIP), RANGA will already
be a familiar face. Often accompanied by homemade
instruments or a roster of local vocalists, Ranga’s
distinctive sound of afro-inspired house beats have a
rough-hewn jam-session feel. From the whip-smart march
of Kong, to the warped smoked-out Banga 2, the whole
EP is an assured statement from the local gem.
Central Processing Unit
Lisa O’Neill (Tomas Adam)
Synths, vocal processing
and sentimental computer
music collide in TRYPHÈME’s
second release for the
Sheffield-based CPU. A talent for nimble, clever production
and a voracious appetite for experimentation run through
the entirety of Aluminia. Even when drawing on a disparate
palette – sounds are pulled in from IDM, 90s electronica,
digi-dub, beatless trance and Eskibeat – the release
maintains its composure, never feeling overwrought or
overworked. Emotional devastation for the twilight hours.
Words: Nina Franklin
Astles (Keith Ainsworth / arkimages.co.uk)
Melodic Distraction Radio is an independent internet radio
station based in the Baltic Triangle, Liverpool, platforming
artists, DJs and producers from across the North West.
Head to melodicdistraction.com to listen in.
BE A BIDO LITO!
We are looking for writers,
drawers, designers and
other creatives to contribute
to Bido Lito!
If you are interested
send your portfolio to
IN BIDO LITO!
! promote your brand, venue or event to an
engaged culture-centric readership
! support an independent publication
! get full support from a dedicated team of
Go to bidolito.co.uk/advertise and get in touch today!
SPRING 2020 DATES
Wednesday 26 February
Wednesday 25 March
Wednesday 29 April
Sign up at bidolito.co.uk/bidocc
This month’s selection of poetry is taken from J.P Walsh’s The Taxi
Driver Sonnets – a collection of 15 poems offering a first-hand account
of life at the wheel of hackney cab in Liverpool.
My old English teacher in secondary school used
to read Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky at the
beginning of every lesson – whatever we were
meant to be studying that day would be cast
aside until his animated recital of the poem was finished. I
think that was the first time a poem really affected me: there
was something lawless and unusual about the words, which
I didn’t understand, but knew I liked, which was of course
helped by the enthusiastic reading.
When it comes to my own writing, I’ve written stuff since
my school days, mostly embarrassing old diary type of stuff that
I wouldn’t let anyone else see, but which is interesting in its own
way to look back on. When I was writing the sonnets, it was the
first time I had paid close attention to things like poetic form,
metre and rhyme, which was undoubtably due to me studying
English at university and being forced to write numerous essays
about these things.
These sonnets and their subject were never actively pursued.
Becoming a Hackney Cab driver was something I kind of fell
into – I was returning to education as a mature student and my
partner was also pregnant, so I needed something with flexible
working hours to fit around both university and new parent life.
I knew it would be its own kind of challenge, especially dealing
with the late-night revellers on a Friday and Saturday night, and I
wasn’t wrong. As anyone who has ever worked in the night-time
economy will know, patience is the greatest asset you can have
when dealing with people who are quite often out of their mind.
My initial idea was that each individual sonnet in the
sequence would act as a different cab journey. I think the length
of the traditional fourteen-lines suits the telling of anecdotes, and
the challenges of finding some freedom within the constraints of
the form forced me to be creative. If I was going to be a syllable
out on a particular line it had to be with good reason, which
wouldn’t necessarily be a problem in a lot of modern poetry that
has a radical free-verse aesthetic. But to me, in what I was trying
to achieve, it definitely would have been. In a way, the closed
nature of the form reflects the taxi vehicle itself – the confinement
of the frame does not necessarily restrict strange things from
happening within it.
Poetry is a great medium through which we can understand
and interpret our local landscape, and for me personally, it’s
something which I will always turn to for insights and alternative
perspectives on the world. There was a great series called
Keep It In The Ground a few years ago, in which a poem a day
was published in The Guardian that dealt with the theme of
climate change. The poems themselves didn’t catch any CO2,
but the series did raise issues pertinent to historical arguments
about poetry’s importance. For Percy Shelley, the poet is the
unacknowledged legislator of the world, while for W.H. Auden,
poetry is ultimately ineffectual, “surviving in the valley of its
making where executives would never want to tamper”. I’m an
optimistic person, so I’m more inclined to side with Shelley. !
Words: J.P Walsh / @WalshPoet
Illustration: Hannah Blackman-Kurz / @Hbkurz
Home, prior to shift. Fated to conjoin
Travel with salubrious citizens.
Muse streetwise for the well-healed resident.
Rank with the knowledge for affluent loin.
The hackney door shows little prejudice,
Passing with coin chauffeur’s primary ask.
Plastic refused swipe erosion of tax.
Posing civic environs credulous.
“I love you daddy” sweet prelude for now:
Tempers unease distracts foresight ahead.
Grafters oil engines we stutter and glow.
Coffee sparks headlight jump releases from debt.
Job warrants patience; cab bent on smooth road,
Driver needs sustenance regardless of load.
Debonair theatre goers peaceful.
Coles Corner sails liquid ooze from speaker.
Twilight cherishes cultural seeker,
Touch genial elegance disarmful.
Apparelled in smiles the languid scholar,
Points at buildings measured magnificent.
Exalted standing no equivalent,
Of artful life brushed human colour.
Fashion and laughter, high gastronomic,
Cosmopolitan waif, stride harmonic,
Animate poet, free economic,
Tempting irony confuse sweet comic.
“Good evening, sir, to the Radisson, please,”
She’s a famous director, glances with ease.
Guilty culprit fire ravenous diesel.
Benign care for extinction rebellion.
Forecast out of synch. Bold science replaced
Religion’s monopolised upheaval.
The imagined end seductive. Peering
Apocalypse heralds gut dire. Bonnet
Rumbles gothic, renders air sardonic.
Road fog disperses demented clearing.
Sun electricity galvanise hope.
“Sure is strange weather we’re having lately”,
Small-talk acquires sinister enlarged scope.
People comprehend fracture innately.
My footprint cemented, pain avowed,
Dost thou know the balancings of the clouds?
I was naïve in unlocking the doors,
Released, they fled – gazelles captured by night,
Light-heeled teens do runner, cackle, take flight.
Young sprites on toes, like dust not touch the floor.
“Eh, mate, drop me at High Green hospital,
Then she’s carrying on”. God, I’m stupid,
An obvious place that’s escape routed,
Maybe the high green smell from their satchel
Had me all diluted. Wistful wry smile:
Ran too, myself, when flushed impetuous.
What’s exactly being put on trial?
Obstinate little scoundrels lack fairness?
Youth lives poised in every unwatched moment,
Truth will never compromise on payment.
Home, shift enacted. Hackneyed. Morning
Pockets the drained night. Germinated notes
Fatten wallet, profitability gloats.
Honest Sunday sings wine to its roaming.
Pent mid cloisters wears dim upon my face.
“Don’t need to be a rocket scientist
To drive a cab”. Ain’t you the evangelist.
Emotion pours in the absence of grace.
Sweeps’ snaffling brush cleanses the streets.
Someday a real rain gonna come! Stragglers
Pass windows praying for sheets,
And everywhere scum rides on.
For now I sleep, aware of the racket,
Poetry pays, keyed alternate chromatic.
Stubble chopped men importuning a ride:
“Take us to a whore house please, pal.” Volumed.
I cash the beast: once flagged, don’t obtrude,
Urge the pursuit, breathe the sunken pride.
Double my money in half the time;
A mediator in an ancient trade.
Bring them to Tearsheet stewing and unmade.
Sober corked slime we convolute crime.
Anaesthetised, innocent seeking, yet
Steely hackster she is, “pay upfront or
Nobody goes upstairs”. Jostle, abet,
Transact with the whore orgasmic and pure.
My family feels the benefit, true,
I can study more, imagine I’ve grew.
Tin Men and The
Tony Kofi Quartet
Blind Monk Theory?
27 Feb - 1 Mar 2020
Performing a live accompaniment to the film
From Scotland with Love
Monday 16th March
Bridgewater Hall, Manchester
Festival tickets and tickets
to individual events available
For full details and box office please visit:
Monday 18th May
Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool
@Ceremonyconcert / facebook.com/ceremonyconcerts
firstname.lastname@example.org / seetickets.com
goes back to
12 TH APRIL