Issue 108 / March 2020

bidolito

March 2020 issue of Bido Lito! magazine. Featuring: THE ORIELLES, LOATHE, LUNA, THE PISTACHIO KID, COURTING, THRESHOLD FESTIVAL, JULIA MINTZER, DENIO, PSYCHO COMEDY, HMLTD, SINEAD O'BRIEN, ALEX G and much more.

ISSUE 108 / MARCH 2020

NEW MUSIC + CREATIVE CULTURE

LIVERPOOL

THE ORIELLES/ BEIJA FLO LOATHE / FIVE/ LUNA

THRESHOLD ASOK / FESTIVAL SIMON HUGHES / COURTING


facebook.com/o2academyliverpool

twitter.com/o2academylpool

instagram.com/o2academyliverpool

Fri 28th Feb

The Big Moon

Sat 29th Feb

Bulsara and

His Queenies

Thur 5th Mar

Gabrielle Aplin

Fri 6th Mar

Mountford Hall, Liverpool

Guild of Students

Jake Bugg

Wed 11th Mar

Phil X & The Drills

Thur 12th Mar

Mountford Hall, Liverpool

Guild of Students

The Blindboy

Podcast - Live

Thur 12th Mar

Tragedy

All Metal Tribute to the

Bee Gees & Beyond

+ Attic Theory

Sat 14th Mar

Korpiklaani

+ Burning Witches

Fri 20th Mar

Tope Alabi:

Praise The

Almighty Concert

Fri 27th Mar • 6.30pm

Liverpool Rocks

Semi Final 1

Fri 27th Mar

The Slow

Readers Club

Sat 28th Mar

AC/DC UK

& Dizzy Lizzy

Sat 28th Mar

Becky Hill

Sun 29th Mar

Cigarettes

After Sex

Fri 3rd Apr • 6.30pm

Liverpool Rocks

Semi Final 2

Sat 4th Apr

Mountford Hall, Liverpool

Guild of Students

Circa Waves

+ Red Rum Club

Sat 4th Apr

808 State Live

Sat 11th Apr

ShowHawk Duo

Sat 18th Apr • 6pm

Jason Allan

Tue 21st Apr

Darwin Deez

Tue 21st Apr

The Fratellis

Fri 24th Apr

Larkins

Fri 24th Apr

Feeder

Sat 25th Apr • 6.30pm

Liverpool Rocks

Final

Sun 26th Apr

In Flames

Sat 2nd May

The Southmartins

Tribute To The Beautiful

South & The Housemartins

Sat 9th May

The Undertones

+ Hugh Cornwell Electric

Sat 9th May

Fell Out Boy

& The Black

Charade

+ We Aren’t Paramore

youtube.com/o2academytv

Sat 16th May

Nirvana UK

(Tribute)

Sat 23rd May

The Bon Jovi

Experience

Sat 26th Sep

Jamie Webster

Fri 2nd Oct

ARENA

Sat 3rd Oct

The Smyths

perform

Meat Is Murder

Thur 8th Oct

CAST

perform

All Change

& Greatest Hits

Sat 17th Oct

CASH:

Paying Respect To

The Man in Black.

Thur 22nd Oct

Black

Stone Cherry

Sat 28th Nov

Mountford Hall, Liverpool

Guild of Students

Oh Wonder

Sat 5th Dec

UK Foo Fighters

Wed 9th Dec

Electric Six

Fri 11th Dec

Heaven 17

Sat 12th Dec

Ian Prowse

& Amsterdam

FRI 28TH FEB 7PM

ZUZU

THUR 5TH MAR 7PM

ORLANDO WEEKS

FRI 6TH MAR 7PM

THE SWAY

SAT 7TH MAR 7PM

PINS

THU 12TH MAR 7PM

HAYSEED DIXIE

+ 8 BALL AITKEN

FRI 13TH MAR 7PM

CUT GLASS KINGS

SAT 147TH MAR 7PM

ASLAN

SAT 14TH MAR 7.30PM

THE K’S

MON 16TH MAR 7PM

JOANNE

SHAW TAYLOR

THUR 19TH MAR 7PM

SLØTFACE

SAT 21ST MAR 7PM

ALL WE ARE

WED 25TH MAR 7PM

PALACE

WED 25TH MAR 7PM

DARCY OAKE

FRI 27TH MAR 6.30PM

LIVERPOOL ROCKS

SEMI FINAL 1

SAT 28TH MAR 6.30PM

TOM CLARKE

(THE ENEMY)

+ CONLETH MCGEARY

SAT 28TH MAR 7PM

THE PEACH FUZZ

SAT 28TH MAR 11PM

BLACK PARADE

– 00’S EMO ANTHEMS

SUN 29TH MAR 7PM

WILLIAM DUVALL

(OF ALICE IN CHAINS)

SAT 4TH APR 9PM

EVOLUTION

- THE LAUNCH

SAT 11TH APR 7PM

THE CHEAP THRILLS

TUE 147TH APR 7PM

THE TWILIGHT SAD

TUE 14TH APR 7PM

FOLLAKZOID

SAT 18TH APR 6PM

THE ACADEMIC

FRI 24TH APR 7PM

THE CITY AND US

FRI 24TH APR 7PM

AN EVENING WITH

BIFF BYFORD

+ JOHN JAMIESON

SAT 25TH APR 6.30PM

BEARDYMAN

- SHEER VOLUME TOUR

SAT 25TH APR 7PM

JOESEF

SAT 23RD MAY 7PM

GAYE BYKERS ON ACID

SAT 3RD OCT 7PM

A BAND CALLED

MALICE – THE JAM

TRIBUTE

THUR 29TH OCT 7.30PM

WHYTE HORSES

TICKETS FOR ALL SHOWS ARE AVAILABLE FROM

TICKETMASTER.CO.UK

90

SEEL STREET, LIVERPOOL, L1 4BH

ticketmaster.co.uk

11-13 Hotham Street, Liverpool L3 5UF

Doors 7pm unless stated

Venue box office opening hours:

Mon - Sat 10.30am - 5.30pm

o2academyliverpool.co.uk


20 Mar - 14 June 2020

AND SAY

THE ANIMAL

RESPONDED?

FACT / 88 WOOD STREET

FREE ENTRY

Image: Demelza Kooij, Wolves from Above (2018). Image courtesy of the artist.


What’s On

March – May

Monday 9 March 7.30pm

Film Screening

Brief Encounter (cert PG)

Tuesday 10 March 8pm

Music Room

Parrjazz Presents

Sam Leak Trio

Sunday 15 March 8pm

Music Room

An Evening with Romeo

of the Magic Numbers

Saturday 28 March 7.30pm

Tomorrow’s Warriors Presents

Jazz Jamaica All Stars –

The Trojan Story

Saturday 18 April 2.30pm & 7.30pm

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra

Wizard of Oz: Film with

Live Orchestra (cert U)

Friday 1 May 7.30pm

Julian Clary –

Born To Mince

Box Office

0151 709 3789

liverpoolphil.com

LiverpoolPhilharmonic

liverpoolphil

liverpool_philharmonic

Image Romeo Stodart


Sarathy Korwar

Sam Leak Trio

SARATHY KORWAR

SAM LEAK TRIO

CAPSTONE THEATRE

29 FEB

PHILHARMONIC MUSIC ROOM

10 MAR

Sound City Plus

SOUND CITY+ 2020

BRITISH MUSIC EXPERIENCE 1 - 3 MAY 2020

SOUND CITY 2020

BALTIC TRIANGLE 1 - 3 MAY 2020

Sean Martin

Atari

SHAUN MARTINS THREE-O

ATARI TEENAGE RIOT

INVISIBLE WIND FACTORY

22 MAR

INVISIBLE WIND FACTORY

03 APR

Simple Minds

Creamfields

SIMPLE MINDS

M&S BANK ARENA

22 AUG

CREAMFIELDS 2020

WARRINGTON

27 - 30 AUG


S.J.M. CONCERTS PRESENTS

30 04 20

SATURDAY 23 MAY

MAIN STAGE

SUNDAY 24 MAY

BIG

Manchester,

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REVEREND & THE MAKERS

GANG OF YOUTHS • THE MURDER CAPITAL

THE BIG MOON • THE SNUTS

LOVE FAME TRAGEDY • THE LATHUMS • ZUZU

THE ORIELLES

THE MYSTERINES • THE REYTONS

AIRWAYS • THE GOA EXPRESS

BONIFACE • NOISY • THE HARA

SECOND STAGE

VIOLA BEACH STAGE

CASSIA

WORKING MENS CLUB • PHOEBE GREEN

DYLAN JOHN THOMAS • ALFIE TEMPLEMAN • LONA

LAURAN HIBBERD • TALK SHOW • GEORGE COSBY

PLUS

MILES KANE

TOM WALKER • LIGHTNING SEEDS

THE PIGEON DETECTIVES

FICKLE FRIENDS • BLOXX

PAUL HEATON & JACQUI ABBOTT

SUNDARA KARMA • SEA GIRLS

ROLLING BLACKOUTS COASTAL FEVER

INHALER • SPORTS TEAM • CAST

RED RUM CLUB • NASTY CHERRY

ON-SITE PUB • CORNERSHOP RAVE • GIN & TONIC BAR • VIP AREA

GOURMET FOOD & DRINK STALLS • FUNFAIR & MUCH MORE

NBHDWEEKENDER.COM

#NBHDWKND20

AN SJM CONCERTS PRESENTATION BY ARRANGEMENT WITH PARADIGM

THOM YORKE

TOMORROW’S MODERN BOXES

presents

05/03 ARTS CLUB THE LOFT

PLUS SPECIAL GUEST

JAMES HOLDEN

plus special guests

friday 10th july

castlefield bowl

gigsandtours.com • ticketmaster.co.uk

an sjm concerts presentation

SAT 20 JUNE

O2 VICTORIA WAREHOUSE

SOLD OUT

E X T R A D A T E A D D E D

SUN 21 JUNE

O2 VICTORIA WAREHOUSE

Sat 18 AprIL

Arts Club (Main room)

JAKE BUGG

PLUS SUPPORT

ONR.

FRI 06 MAR

MOUNTFORD HALL

GIGSANDTOURS.COM • TICKETMASTER.CO.UK

AN SJM CONCERTS PRESENTATION BY ARRANGEMENT WITH PARADIGM


FREE contemporary music and technology events - Spring 2020

6-7.15pm Saturday 14 March

The Riot Ensemble

Leggate Theatre, Victoria Gallery & Museum,

University of Liverpool

Virtuosic and spectral works by

Ferneyhough, Grisey, Hackbarth, Ianotta &

Pe’ery

5-6pm Saturday 21 March

Audio-Vision

The Hub, Gordon Stephenson Building,

University of Liverpool

Technology, visuals and sound collide in

a programme of international new music

experiments and collaborations

7.30-9pm Wednesday 18 March

Areas of Influence, with

Ensemble 10/10

The Music Room, Philharmonic Hall

Maxwell Davies, Reich, Collie, Harrison &

Thorne respond to influences ranging from

Purcell to Schoenberg

1-2pm Wednesday 22 April

Jonathan Aasgaard (cello)

Leggate Theatre, Victoria Gallery & Museum,

University of Liverpool

Renowned cellist performs a programme of

classic 20th century American cello works

plus a new work by Head of Composition

Ben Hackbarth

For full details please visit:

www.liverpool.ac.uk/music/events/opencircuit/


© Paul McCartney


Coming Soon...

ANTI SOCIAL JAZZ CLUB

BERNIE CONNOR

CARL COMBOVER

DON LETTS

ELLIOT FERGUSON

FRIENDLY FIRES

IDLES

JADE LI

JAMES ORGAN

JOSEPH KAYE

JUSTIN ROBERTSON

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TIM BURGESS

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MARK THOMAS:

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CLIVE ANDERSON:

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New Music + Creative Culture

Liverpool

Issue 108 / March 2020

bidolito.co.uk

Second Floor

The Merchant

40-42 Slater Street

Liverpool L1 4BX

Founding Editor

Craig G Pennington - info@bidolito.co.uk

Publisher

Christopher Torpey - chris@bidolito.co.uk

Editor

Elliot Ryder - elliot@bidolito.co.uk

Digital Media Manager

Brit Williams – brit@bidolito.co.uk

Design

Mark McKellier - mark@andmark.co.uk

Branding

Thom Isom - hello@thomisom.com

Proofreader

Jordan Ryder

Cover Photography

Rebekah Knox

Words

Christopher Torpey, Elliot Ryder, Gary Lambert, Megan

Walder, Cath Holland, Charlie McKeon, Julia Johnson,

Daniel Ponzini, Vid Simoniti, Brit Williams, Gina

Schwarz, Clare Dodd, Glyn Akroyd, Matt Hogarth, Luke

Charnley, Rhys Buchannan, Conal Cunningham, Gus

Polinski, Lily Blakeney-Edwards, nil00, Joel Hansen.

Photography, Illustration and Layout

Mark McKellier, Rebekah Knox, Gary Lambert, Robin

Clewley, Mike Brits, Glyn Akroyd, Stuart Moulding,

Gareth Jones, Daffyd Owen, Shiwan Gwyn, Hannah

Blackman-Kurz, Paul Owen, Maise Delaney, Kate

Davies, Brian Sayle, John Latham, Kevin Barrett, Lee

Willo, Fin Reed, John Johnson, Tomas Adam, nil00.

EDITORIAL

Fail we may, sail we must.

As mantras go, you can’t get much more poetically

concise than this from Andrew Weatherall, the great

musical innovator who suddenly passed away in

February. A towering presence over the past three decades of

British music, Weatherall leaves more than life-affirming mixes

and production fingerprints on an era of

music where the boundaries between

bands/gigs and DJs/clubs began to blur.

He also leaves plenty of wit and wisdom

for us to pore over.

“If you’re not on the margins you’re

taking up too much room,” is another

quote attributed to Weatherall in many

of the warm, heartfelt tributes paid since

his death was announced – and in the

shadow of his passing the words feel

strangely apt. Apt for the musicians

of the alternative underground, who

Weatherall championed. Apt for us, the

rebel outsiders whose very character

thrives on being in the margins, trying

things that others won’t dare to do.

Liverpool’s fierce independent streak is one of its defining

characteristics, and is one of the things that makes it such

an exciting place to live and work. Politically, artistically and

culturally it is a step to one side, its identity aligned with a desire

to be different, to not want to fall in line. But the danger with

dancing to your own tune is that you need regular outside input

to know if that tune is any good. There’s something gloriously

freeing about not caring what anyone else thinks of us, and it

allows a great sense of togetherness to grow between those

inside the bubble. It’s a form of tribalism, which is fine when

you’re part of the tribe.

But, while admirable, that attitude is also a little problematic;

FEATURES

“The danger with

dancing to your

own tune is that you

need regular outside

input to know if that

tune is any good”

as a city that strives to be a leading cultural voice, we do

seriously need to consider what face we are presenting to

the world. I feel as thought we’re at a crossroads, and before

plunging down what may seem an obvious route, we shouldn’t

be afraid to ask ourselves what kind of city we want to be: for

artists, for outsiders, for ourselves. Caution and care need to be

deployed to ensure that we don’t get

so focused on our own image that we

fail to spot an incremental slide towards

complacency.

What we decide to do, musically and

creatively, often doesn’t stack up against

raw numbers. Art is so, so much more

than that; music, as the most tradeable

artistic commodity (not for much longer,

Brexit fans!. What we do with Bido Lito!

has always meant so much more to us

than what spreadsheets tell us, because

feelings – and a love for good music –

matter more than bottom lines. Andrew

Weatherall himself described what he

did musically as “a series of beautiful,

totally futile gestures”. There’s often only

a thin veil separating beauty and futility in art, even at the best of

times, but I’d take aiming for beauty over settling for mediocrity

any day of the week.

We were deeply saddened to hear further tragic news in

February, that music writer Mark Barton had passed away. Mark

blogged about and supported independent musicians for years,

and entertained so many people through his writing. He will be

sorely missed, and we hope that his family and friends can take

solace from the fact that he was so well liked and respected. !

Christopher Torpey

Publisher

Distribution

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 chris@bidolito.co.uk.

Advertise

If you are interested in adverting in Bido Lito!, or finding

out about how we can work together, please email

sales@bidolito.co.uk.

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.

16 / THE ORIELLES

The trio have broken through the liminal spaces of everyday travel

and escaped atop their own Disco Volador.

20 / LOATHE

“Every style of music creates a different feeling inside you, and

that comes out then in the music you create. You naturally pay

homage to the music that you hear.”

22 / LUNA

Graciously falling through the atmosphere with a dream-like aura,

LUNA returns home with tales from her most searching celestial

journey to date.

24 / THRESHOLD

Chris and Kaya talk all things dugnad, the spirit of collectivism that

has powered their grassroots festival for the past decade.

REGULARS

14 / NEWS

32 / SPOTLIGHT

36 / PREVIEWS

26 / MUSICAL TRANSLATION

“The great thing about music is that you don’t necessarily need

to know the ins and outs of lyrics to enjoy it.”

28 / PISTACHIO KID

“The songs were never created as a means of drawing attention.

The complete opposite. They were entirely my own.”

30 / THE REFRACTIVE POOL

“No matter how cheap the city is, if artists can’t make money

from their work then practice becomes unsustainable.”

35 / JULIA MINTZER

Mezzo-soprano and director Julia Mintzer speaks about the

potential of portraying historical roles with contemporary

feminist influences.

38 / REVIEWS

52 / ARTISTIC LICENCE

54 / THE FINAL SAY


NEWS

PZYK 2020

Snapped Ankles

Making its return on 16th May, PZYK 2020 is

the new, 16-hour long incarnation of Liverpool

International Festival of Psychedelia. Picking up from

the event’s trademark boundary-pushing agenda,

PZYK 2020 aims to take the idea of an immersive

experience that bit further, in its new home of

Invisible Wind Factory (and other connected spaces)

in the North Docks. Grammy-nominated Anatolian

fuzz rockers ALTIN GÜN and punktronic oddballs

SNAPPED ANKLES lead the way on the bill for

this year, in what promises to be a continuous

hedonistic journey through the sounds of future

psychedelia. SUNBURNED HAND OF THE MAN,

THE LOVELY EGGS, KEL ASSOUF, W. H. LUNG and

LOS BITCHOS are a flavour of the global community

that will unite under the PZYK banner this year.

liverpoolpsychfest.com

The Station Is Alive With

The Sound Of Music

Calling all Merseyside musicians, bands, artists, bedroom producers and

wannabe Glastonbury headliners – the MERSEYRAIL SOUND STATION

artist development programme is back, and it wants to hear from you!

Over the past two years, the acclaimed programme has worked with some

of the region’s best talent (Yank Scally, Lydiah, Eyesore & The Jinx) over

a series of workshops and sessions, designed to help them improve their

understanding of how they can thrive in the modern music industry. This

year’s programme will run over a longer period, allowing the artists involved

to benefit from more studio, performance and mentoring sessions, led by

experts with years’ worth of experience in the industry. As well as helping

to equip Merseyside’s emerging musicians with the skills to succeed in their

careers, the programme also offers exclusive performance opportunities

throughout the year. To apply, head to merseyrailsoundstation.com now.

Merseyrail Sound Station

McCartney On Film

Linda McCartney

Featuring some images that have never been on public display before, a LINDA

MCCARTNEY RETROSPECTIVE exhibition opens at the Walker Art Gallery on

25th April. This major exhibition of McCartney’s photography includes more

than 200 iconic images, from the music scene of the 1960s, to family life with

Paul McCartney. Born Linda Eastman, she was an award-winning photographer

who captured a generation of rock stars before she married Paul, and her work

has long deserved a full retrospective. Running until 31st August, the exhibition

will reveal what a prolific photographer Linda was, and how her love for the

natural world, and an exceptional eye for capturing the spontaneous, gave her

work an inimitable style.

Our Lady Of Blundellsands

Deer Shed

Premiering this March is a new comic drama entitled OUR LADY

OF BLUNDELLSANDS, which has been written especially for

the Everyman by JONATHAN HARVEY, award-winning creator

of Gimme Gimme Gimme and Beautiful Thing. The production takes

place in our beloved Liverpool and follows the honesty and lies

surrounding this one very peculiar family. The story’s protagonist,

Sylvie, is frozen in time in her Blundellsands house, while inhabiting

a fantasy world that never was. Garnet, her older sister, may seem

wiser but has always fanned the flames of Sylvie’s fantasies. Who

knows where they would be without each other. It’s a birthday party

with a hidden agenda – and we hear it’s not going to be pretty.

The 11th instalment of North Yorkshire’s DEER SHED FESTIVAL hits Topcliffe’s

Baldersby Park this July and, quite frankly, this final line-up announcement has

knocked it out of the park. JAMES join STEREOLAB to headline the main stage,

along with performances by BAXTER DURY, CATE LE BON and the fantastic

spoken word lyricist KATE TEMPEST. SHOPPING join the bill, which also boasts

appearances by Mercury-nominated soul raconteur GHOSTPOET and disco nerds

INTERNATIONAL TEACHERS OF POP. Deer Shed prides itself on being a familyfriendly

festival, with plenty of activities and events taking place aside from the

music to keep the kids and adults happy. Anyone up for a game of swing ball?

They’ve got it! Last year’s festival sold out with record numbers in attendance, so

you better be quick to secure your ticket to this summer’s highlight.

The Future Is Birkenhead

Self Esteem

A new pop-up music venue is coming to Birkenhead in the summer, from the

team behind Future Yard festival. A run of shows, titled Near Future, will form

the initial programme of a new live music space on Argyle Street in Birkenhead,

eventually growing into a full music hub with studio and office space, plus support

for musicians. Special guests ORCHESTRAL MANOUEVRES IN THE DARK will

play a one-off, two-man show in the venue on 9th May (sold-out), the first time

they will have played in Wirral since August 1979. The Near Future run opens on

25th April with EVIAN CHRIST headlining an opening event that also features DJ

and tastemaker TOM RAVENSCROFT and a DJ set from FOREST SWORDS. A

closing party finishes the run on 20th June, helmed by WARMDUSCHER and SELF

ESTEEM, while SHE DREW THE GUN host their own Memories Of The Near Future

all-day event on 24th May, featuring SINK YA TEETH, DREAM NAILS and plenty

more. Full line-up details can be found at futureyard.org.

14


DANSETTE

Liverpool Band Vans’ Doug Wood

picks out a selection of songs that

have been a source of inspiration to

him on long journeys on the road.

Watch Us Wrexham The Mic

The latest wave of acts have been announced for this

year’s FOCUS WALES festival, and it looks like being a

bumper year for the showcase festival’s 10th anniversary

special. With over 300 live performances, the festival

showcases the very best new talent emerging from the

across the country, alongside established names and a

selection of exciting international acts. BATTLES and THE

TWILIGHT SAD join GRUFF RHYS, RICHARD HAWLEY,

FLAMINGODS, STEALING SHEEP and ADWAITH on the

2020 line-up, which will welcome over 15,000 people to

Wrexham. In addition to filling out a wide variety of spaces

and music venues, and hosting a full schedule of interactive

industry sessions, arts events, and film screenings, Focus

Wales continues to be the leading festival for emerging

talent. focuswales.co.uk

Continuing Education

Richard Hawley

Elrow’s Triangulo De Las

Rowmudas

An Elrow show is not your standard club show, that much

is for sure. The Ibiza staple is famed for its wildness, with

outlandish stage sets, DJ booths in spaceships, dancers on

stilts… you name it, they’ve tried it, all in a bid to be known

as the most colourful party around. The Elrow show make a

return to Liverpool on 12th April in partnership with Circus.

The setting of Bramley-Moore Dock will give them enough

room to make the show as epic and immersive as they want,

and with a great line-up booked – GREEN VELVET, RICHY

AHMED, wAFF, YOUSEF, TINI GESSLER, TONI VARGA

and a special guest TBA – this one looks set to reach the

dizzying heights of previous Elrow shows in Liverpool.

Further details and tickets at circusclub.co.uk.

Traveling Wilburys

Dirty World

Wilbury Records

I could have chosen any track

from the Traveling Wiburys’

country-bumpkin collection

of essential Dad Rockers,

but I’ve gone for this Bob Dylan-written love song to a

car. It has an unmistakable George Harrison vibe across

the production and really sounds like it could have come

straight from George’s Cloud 9 album. The ending is my

favourite; it features all five artists in a really lovingly

crafted call-and-response outro.

Kurt Vile

Loading Zones

Matador

Jumping from loading zone

to loading zone to avoid the

watchful eyes of the parking

attendants is a game our drivers and crew know all too

well. Sometimes you have to come up with some clever

tricks to ensure a smooth load in! Kurt Vile boasts about

his ‘free’ parking prowess on the streets of Philadelphia in

this blisteringly cocky stomp around the neighbourhood in

search of the right spot. We hear ya, Kurt.

Short courses covering a diverse range of subjects are available from this March, as part of the

University of Liverpool’s CONTINUING EDUCATION programme. Set up in order to provide short

courses, lectures and workshops that provide accessible learning for everyone, regardless of their

age, qualifications or experience, the scheme caters for a wide range of subjects through a flexible

timetable of daytime and evening courses. This includes creative writing, music, local history and

language classes. The popular CE Saturday courses also make a return, with March offering events

on Art During The Cold War, Jane Austen: A Life In Letters, The Reformation In Ireland and a whole

host of literary and local interest courses. Head to liverpool.ac.uk/continuing-education for a full

rundown of events.

Father John Misty

Total

Entertainment

Forever

Bella Union

Spring at Bluecoat

The Bluecoat arts centre is leaping into spring with a joint show launching

in March, presented by two fascinating artists. FRAN DISLEY brings her

exhibition Pattern Buffer to the city centre gallery, using multi-sensory

installations to repurpose the gallery space as a restorative environment.

The Liverpool-based artist, formerly a director at The Royal Standard, has

developed an events programme to run alongside work that comprises

an alternative mindfulness guide and the grid of the Holodeck (a device

from Star Trek The Next Generation). Running concurrently, between 13th

March and 21st June, JONATHAN BALDOCK’s FaceCrime exhibition uses

ceramics to investigate historical methods of communication that may tell

us something about the way we communicate today.

When we’re racing to get out of the smog and noise

of London or Paris in the early hours of the post-show

morning, this track from one of Josh Tillman’s darker

and more divisive albums often gets thrown on. His

trademark cynicism and booming orchestral crescendos are

perfectly fitting for a twilight escape from the neon bedlam

of the city.

Talking Heads

This Must Be The

Place

Rhino

Sweet Release(s)

Music, music, music – we’re served up a constant diet of it

here at Bido HQ, courtesy of an army of talented musicians

who are responsible for some great noise coming out of the

city. ESME BRIDIE’s latest, Say The Words, due out on 20th

March, is a deft torch song that has flecks of Karen Elson and

Fionn Regan about it. Bridie supports Chloe Foy at Studio2

on 10th March. ENNIO THE LITTLE BROTHER is priming for

an album (due in April courtesy on Mai 68 Records) with the

release of single Dungarees, which is the kind of downbeat

dream hop that you can listen to for hours. To round off, and

slightly out of our usual remit, is Galway artist EOIN DOLAN,

whose tune Superior Fiction was a surprise find, and a great

introduction to his world of BC Camplight-style songwriting.

Keep ‘em coming!

Esme Bridie

A general theme of all our

songs is the yearning for

home. The perks and lifestyle of the music industry don’t

often stretch to the crew or drivers on a production, so

the dream of home is often the most constant topic of

conversation. Released one year before I was born, this

song is a personal favourite and takes me home in so many

ways; to particular moments in time with people and in

places I love. David Byrne can make you laugh and cry in

the same measure. A true modern genius.

liverpoolbandvans.co.uk

Keep your eye out for more stories from the road as we

document more of the busy touring lives of Liverpool Band

Vans’ drivers and the artists they’re touring with.

NEWS 15


16


THE

ORIELLES

Spinning across a Northern Orion’s Belt

of Liverpool, Manchester and Halifax,

The Orielles have broken through the

liminal spaces of everyday travel and

escaped atop their own Disco Volador.

Trace the etymology of the word disco, following its

origins through discotheque – a library of records – you

come to disqué, a derivative of the Latin word discus

– further derived from the flat, spherical fish that lends

its name to the disk-shaped object that propels through the

air when thrown for sport. Alternatively, simply translate disco

from Spanish to English and you arrive at disk a lot quicker than

pulling up ancient Latin roots. But the journey isn’t a pointless

one. The enduring shape of CDs and vinyl is more than mere

coincidence.

Follow the literal timeline of the word disco back to its

Latin, Olympian roots and you arrive at a word defined by

soaring movement and joyous levitation, all held in a seemingly

effortless trajectory generated by human propulsion. Despite

millennium separating their inception, discus still perfectly

encapsulates the essence of disco music.

This ancient combination of energy and movement has

travelled through the ferevous 1970s and been plucked from the

sky by THE ORIELLES. The band have harnessed the dynamism

of the genre for their own brand of warped disco, manifesting

in the creation of their second studio album, Disco Volador.

Translated in to English as flying disk, the record is a luscious

blend of avant-garde groove and psych concocted in the north

of England.

“Disco Volador could be a frisbee, a UFO, an alien nightclub

or how you feel when you fly,” says vocalist and bassist Esme

Dee Hand Halford in the record’s notes, adding “it is an album of

escape; if I went to space, I might not come back.”

The desired resistance to gravity isn’t entirely conceptual

and abstract. The Orielles’ music and further members – Henry

Carlyle Wade (guitar), Sidonie Dee Hand Halford (drums/vocals)

and formerly Alex Stephens (keys) – have been in a state of flux

for much of their years as a band since forming around eight

years ago. Their journey together was launched from Halifax in

West Yorkshire, and has since drifted over to Leeds and then

down through Manchester before crash-landing in Liverpool’s

music scene, where it has resided for the last four years.

In recent months The Orielles’ airborne vehicle has

wiggled loose of Liverpool and settled in Manchester.

However, the band’s first album, Silver Dollar Moment,

and their most recent effort, were crafted while still

tied to their adopted home on Merseyside. The city

bore witness to their transition from garage rock trio

to technicolour purveyors of indie-psychedelia, more

recently spiced with samba sensibilities. Their continual

state of pinballing between West Yorkshire and Liverpool

only adding to the magnetic urgency of their music.

With a musical existence defined by travel, it’s only

fitting that a trip to Manchester is necessary on the

day we meet to talk about the journey towards Disco

Volador. Adequately fed and watered with kale pizza and

beer, both Henry and Sid begin to reel in the album from

its celestial reaches.

“It all felt really fresh,” Henry starts, when asked if

there’d been any overlap from their debut when looking

towards the second. “The first set of demos for Disco Volador

were in late 2018, so it was pretty quick after the release of

Silver Dollar Moment.”

The Orielles’ first album was released in early 2018 to much

adoration. In their eyes, however, the album wasn’t the defining,

coming-of-age expression many listeners marked it out to be.

“We realised

guitar music can

be just as

danceable as

electronic music”

FEATURE

17


“This record seemed

to explode from

constantly travelling

and waiting around”

“After it came out, we knew what we wanted to do and where

we wanted to take things musically,” Henry continues. “That

was the most exciting point. The turn-around was pretty quick

in focussing on the second album”, a record which he describes

as “bursting” out of their writing sessions – “we didn’t want to

lose the momentum.”

The sense of Disco Volador being a greater exploration

of the band’s talents is echoed by Sid. “A lot of the songs on

Silver Dollar Moment were written from the moment we started

taking the band seriously”, she agrees. “That’s why, in my view,

the record isn’t quite as fully formed. It’s more of a collection of

what we’d been playing live for a long time,” she says. “The new

record is the only time so far that we’ve written for a purpose,”

Henry reinforces.

Clicking into gear as a four-piece, adding Alex Stephens

to the established formation of sisters Esme and Sid with

childhood friend Henry, the band were presented with a fresh

canvas to colour with the support of Heavenly Records. The

resulting effort is a 10-track cinematic experience that’s more

homebound-daydream than full blown space odyssey. While

retaining the interlocked dynamism of drums and bass, the

songs do feel more considered, as the pairing suggest, with

Henry’s once angular riffs more layered, nestling in the warm

layer of keys draped across much of the record. Much like the

first album, however, the lyricism retains its DaDa-inflected

observations swirling through Esme’s stream of consciousness.

Leaning back towards the band’s beginnings, Disco Volador

does represent something of a quantum leap. A statement that

carries even more weight given they’re barely into their 20s and

already onto album number two.

Just over three years ago, The Orielles were more closely

aligned to garage rock, but played with the careful hands of

sincere indie. Casting back to this era and the band’s live shows

were watermarked by Henry’s wild head movements when

running through fuzzier numbers such as Jobin. Now there’s

suaveness to The Orielles’ demeanour that’s more sure-headed

than chin-strokey. Although I do ask if Henry is ever coerced

into redeploying his whirlwind on-stage behaviour. “No man,”

he responds, eyes widening as if to recall things he should never

have seen. “Our old tour manager said, ‘you’re not going to do

that forever, are you?’ I think I had to make an effort to stop at

that moment on, really.”

Coincidentally, the chat remains on head movements. As

it turns out, the departure from self-induced whiplash was a

watershed moment in their progression from rough-edged

garage trio to acid-dipped disco starlets. “The visual metaphor

of how we’ve changed as band is in how our necks move when

we’re practicing,” Henry begins, with Sid nodding assent with a

wry smile. “When we were practicing, back in the day, our heads

used to go like this…” Henry proceeds to replicate dialled down

Smells Like Teen Spirit headbang. “Now when we’re practicing

and writing new songs, our heads move like this…” – the guitarist

coolly elongating his neck back and forth as far as possible

with the elegance of a peacock’s strut. In this we see the band’s

internal metronome for rhythm, held together by the sister

pairing on drums and bass. “A lot of the rhythmic, danceable

style comes from Es and Sid”, Henry agrees, “just from how

locked in together they are. We make music that makes us want

to move. Music that keeps us locked in with one another. Have

you seen how built my neck muscles are now because of it?” he

adds, jovially.

Following the steps towards Disco Volador’s dynamic sonic

textures, it’s difficult to ignore the importance of The Orielles’

2017 single Sugar Tastes Like Salt. Where Disco Volador places

its palm on the first reaches of the cosmos, Sugar… was the

launch pad for everything that’s followed – an eight minute

kerosene drenched exploration in E-minor, with a scrap book of

interchangeable endings the band has added to over the years.

“If we had an idea for a song in E-minor, the phrase became

‘just stick it on the end of Sugar…’” the pair recall. Just as the

etymology of disco takes us back to the flying discus, Disco

Volador’s infectious grooves lean all the way back to their first

single release on Heavenly Records. A track that widens the

eyes and mind with its wild energy – no doubt a sensation felt

more keenly by listeners accustomed to their proceeding back

catalogue, It is arguably the band’s first pill moment.

“Sugar… really represents the change in our musical taste.

It was a point in time where we’d started to branch out and

listen to a lot more,” Sid explains, when asked what initiated

the moment of cerebral lift off. “ESG were a big inspiration for

me personally,” she continues. “When we were writing Sugar…,

it was the time when we realised guitar music can be just as

danceable as electronic music. I think that’s what pushed us to

go on to write music [that] people could hopefully dance to, on

record or in a live setting.” Equally, for Henry, hearing the 1982

disco dancefloor-filler Moving Up (by Toba) was transformational

for him as a musician. “The rhythmic guitar that I heared on that

track really inspired me to change up the way I was playing,” he

informs. “There was definitely more of an urge to play something

that made people dance.” On Disco Volador, Rapid I, Memoirs

Of Miso and the New York grooves of A Material Mistake are all

reflective of this ingrained focus on kinetic orchestration.

“It was never an effort to make our music danceable,” Henry

rounds off. The transition from post punk edge to baggy acid

grooves might seem a hard route to sketch out alone, but it’s

one that was aided by the late Andrew Weatherall, who even

weighed in on The Orielles’ world with a signature wonky remix

of Sugar Tastes Like Salt. Pull back the external instrumentation

of both post-punk and acid house and you find they both lean on

raw expression rather than narrative drama. For The Orielles, the

raw expression is located in a pattern of suppression and release

from the band’s travels in their formative years.

“When we were practicing for the first album tour with

Alex, I used to do Halifax to Liverpool on a Sunday, with rail

replacements in parts,” Henry starts, when asked if the band’s

separation across the north fed into the band’s indulgence in

a sort of in-the-moment hedonism. “For so much of our early

phase we were always travelling to one another across three

locations. I guess that pent up energy is captured in the record.”

Experiencing the long periods of separation, when granted

time to practice, the three/four piece had little time for balladry

and slow burners. Freed from their liminal spaces of travel

across the Northern Orion’s Belt of Liverpool, Manchester and

Halifax, The Orielles’ music burned like oxidised fire as soon as

the amps were switched on. But it was all too quickly snuffed,

often in full flow, when required to part ways. But it’s these

very constraints on time that forces their work through liminal

space and into a realm free from gravity, where it would remain,

spinning like a discus, until they were able to break back through

once again. This, the very escape Esme points towards.

“All of this record just seemed to explode from constantly

travelling and waiting around, whether that’s waiting in the

van on tour or waiting for practices and meeting up. I always

saw music as an escape from shitty life in a small town. I felt

like that’s what really spurred us on to keep travelling”, Henry

concludes. “We had to take the jump,” Sid confers. Veering high

up overhead with little desire to come down, Disco Volador

might be their furthest leap yet. !

Words: Elliot Ryder / @elliot_ryder

Photography: Rebekah Knox / @photosbyknox

theorielles.co.uk

Disco Volador is available from 28th February on Heavenly

Records.

18


FEATURE

19


LOATHE

Gary Lambert speaks to the five-piece metalcore band who’ve caught the attention of Deftones

with their genre-defiant second album. Things are about to get a whole lot bigger for Loathe.

It’s the dream scenario for many bands. You start the year with people tipping you as a must

watch. You follow that up with a critically-acclaimed album, touted as the defining record

within the contemporary stable of your genre. Throw in a raucous hometown album launch

show in front of hundreds of people as well as a similarly wellreceived

nationwide tour, and you’d think it’s time to sit back and

let it all sink in, right? Not for LOATHE.

The Liverpool metalcore band have, instead, decided that

the best thing to do is to thank all of their original fans who have

backed them from day one, playing an intimate gig in Liverpool

at Kazimier Stockroom, one week later, for free. All this, and

convincing MTXS and God Complex – bands who have headlined

far bigger rooms in Liverpool – to be their support acts, as well as

getting one of Liverpool’s up-and-coming metal scene starlets,

False Hope, to open the event.

Sitting down with the band before the show, the forthcoming

gig and the reasons behind it are an obvious place to start. “Before

we were Loathe, we were a band called Our Imbalance. We

recorded an EP, played a few shows with it, but the last show of

that project and the first show of Loathe was in Maguire’s Pizza

Bar. We thought it would be nice to come back to Liverpool and

do a show that was like those old days,” guitarist and vocalist Erik

Bickerstaff explains.

Their biggest hometown show the week before, at O2 Academy, hadn’t been without a hitch.

The fire doors of the venue couldn’t be unlocked leaving hundreds of people waiting in the street until

“Every style of music

creates a different feeling

inside you, and that

comes out then in the

music you create. You

naturally pay homage to

the music that you hear”

an electrician turned up to correct it. “We wanted to do something to say thank you to the people who

waited for us,” says lead vocalist Kadeem France, “those who had to run for the last train home. We

thought that doing this little, free gig at the last minute would just be something cool for them.”

As I wait around the venue, there are fans arriving as early as

4pm just to have a look in the window of the venue door, laughing

in disbelief that they are going to see Loathe somewhere so

intimate. There’s a real back-to-basics feel to the show; a complete

contrast in approach for a band said to be in the slipstream of

behemoths Deftones. “To be honest, this is mad. I know it’s free

entry, but the tickets sold-out in less than 20 minutes without any

announcement that they were going to be on sale,” replies Erik.

“It’s crazy to think that happens to your band. We’ve wanted to be

able to do something like this for so long, and now we’ve got the

chance to do it.”

This show was the culmination of just over a week’s worth of

non-stop gigging to support their second album, I Let It In And It

Took Everything, a wide-ranging exploration of metal, distortion

and doom-laden shoegaze. “We’ve had the most amazing week

this band has ever had. We released the album on 7th February

and since then we’ve been playing all over the UK. They’ve

probably been the best shows we have ever played. Last night, a

sold-out show in London, was the best show we have ever played. Genuinely,” says Kadeem. “We

had people getting up on stage for the last song, and literally the entire room was singing along.

Erik didn’t even sing the chorus: he started to, stepped away from the mic, and just let them get on

20


with it. Sold-out 400 people in London, yeh, it’s definitely a highlight… It’s really cool to see at every

gig, knowing that you’re not the support band any more, that these people are here to see you,” he

adds.

Over the last few weeks, watching Loathe from the outside, as they built up to the launch of the

album, I got a feeling that things were about to get a lot bigger for the band. Kerrang!, for example,

listed Loathe as one of their Hottest Bands of 2020 alongside the likes of Polly and Yungblud,

covered their recent tour of Japan, and gave a massively positive review of the album. However, in

the days of social media there was one piece of unplanned publicity which truly hit home for the

band. “It’s surprising the reaction we’ve got from the critics over the album,” Kadeem starts. “When

we released Two Way Mirror in the build up to the album release, Chino [Moreno, lead vocalist of

Deftones] shared it, which was surreal and started to send things a bit crazy. It doesn’t actually feel

real to this day. Him sharing it was massive.

“Having the reaction we have had feels like a blessing. Especially considering how long it has

been since we released some music. To still have that dedicated fanbase just gets you buzzing. It’s

been nearly three years since our last album, so it’s nice to know that people are still interested in

you, and still willing to listen to your work. It feels like we’ve been in a deep sleep, and we woke up

from that deep sleep in Liverpool, headlining our biggest, sold-out show with our album released

that day.”

Erik continues: “When we recorded the album, it felt at times like we were in this neverending

loop of having to record, mix, and edit all these different bits of stuff; to finally get to the

end is great. It took the four of us 451 days to record the album, from the beginning to the point

of submitting the album to the label. That’s why we named a song 451 Days. We are so certain of

who we are now. I’m not saying that we weren’t ready for The Cold Sun, our first album, but I feel

like with this album it’s like a coming of age record.”

I Let It In And It Took Everything is an alluring listen, even if heavy music isn’t to your usual

taste. The album is made from many different textures and sounds. For me, Two Way Mirror is the

most Scouse psychedelia song I’ve heard in years. There is no doubt in my mind that, musically,

Loathe wouldn’t be out of place at an event like PZYK 2020, while also being on the bill at

Download. “Our music is made up of so many styles,” Kadeem agrees, adding, “that all comes from

listening to different music and taking it in. Every style of music creates a different feeling inside

you, and that comes out then in the music you create. You naturally pay homage to the music that

you hear. If it means that our heavy music is inspired by, say, some indie music from the 90s then

that’s what it is.”

Harry Rule, lead singer of God Complex, concurs. “Part of the reason why Loathe are getting

so recognised is their ability to expand genres, doing anything that sounds good and sticking

it together on the album.” This feeling is shared by Grant Watling, promoter of Halfway Home

Promotions and unashamed Loathe fanboy: “They just seem to have thought of everything in their

music. The moment they started playing tonight and last Friday, I stopped being the promoter of

the night and was just a crowd surfing kid.”

As the gig finishes, I step back into the Stockroom to capture some images of the band. The

residual heat in the room is like a bonfire. While the lads from Loathe are looking forward to getting

back to ordinary things, like their dogs and their own beds, I cannot escape the feeling that, for

Loathe, ordinary no longer exists. !

Words and Photography: Gary Lambert / @glamgigpics

loatheasone.co.uk

I Let It In And It Took Everything is available now via SharpTone Records.

FEATURE

21


22


Graciously falling through the atmosphere with a dream-like aura, LUNA

returns home with tales from her most searching celestial journey to date.

Everything about of LUNA is subtly mesmeric. From the

elemental depictions of her form in her photographs,

to her very own productions, the combination is

striking. So when Kate Hazeldine steps into the Baltic

Roastery to talk about her upcoming EP, Hello Earth, I’m half

expecting the glittery, spectral aura of LUNA to follow closely

behind and pull up a seat.

The dream-like production of her pop-tinged tracks paint

an image of someone in constant motion. While Kate’s feet hit

the floor, LUNA walks on air. They are individuals with the same

origin story; one Kate credits to her “being a bit of a lone wolf”

in her home of Cheshire. Surrounded by abundant nature and

an almost ever-present Kate Bush soundtrack “blaring out of the

speakers in [her] house”, LUNA was born.

Mining songs from person experience of relationships, LUNA

incorporates indie dream-pop with electronic sampling and an

impeccable voice. Combining heartache

and healing, Kate becomes LUNA. Kate

describes her musical counterpart as one

laced with “confidence and sass. Way more

so than I am in real life.” The girl who sits in

front of me, cradling her cup and talking so

eloquently about her upcoming vision and

goals, doesn’t seem like someone who’d

need to lean on an alter-ego. Yet, LUNA is

what has brought us to this room and has

allowed Kate to have the voice she does.

A nod of understanding is shared between

us. Kate explains: “LUNA helps me to see

things in a different way. A stronger way,”

she quickly corrects. “It’s cathartic to get

emotions out through writing,” she continues. “If people like the

eventual product of the way I’m feeling, then that’s even better.”

As we continue, it seems as though LUNA is a lifeline for Kate;

a healthy coping mechanism for the chaos of the world. Kate

laughs, “I’ve got this thing to turn to, essentially. I don’t just go

out and get smashed all the time.”

On 5am, a piano ballad released in 2018, Kate opens the

song with the assertion “I don’t recognise myself anymore”.

Hearing this, the earlier chat about LUNA offering a lifeline

swings towards a broad assumption. However, in person, Kate

reaffirms her control of her artistic counterpart. As we talk, it’s

revealed that Kate is far from lost. She clarifies the lyrics for

me, explaining that “5am was written in the middle of a very

destructive relationship, which I didn’t see at the time. The song

observes the feeling of losing yourself in a relationship, because

you’ve become so all consumed by a feeling – one you know isn’t

good, but you’re no longer in control of.” Despite the track having

been a part of LUNA’s catalogue for a while, it is one of her

“LUNA helps me

to see things in

a different way.

A stronger way”

favourites and deserves its place on her upcoming EP.

Alongside more established songs, the EP features new

tracks such as Wind. As Kate informs, it observes the same

turbulent relationship recalled in 5am. The elemental song

is a masterpiece of a metaphor. “The still verses reflect the

good parts of a relationship and the raucous chorus are where

everything whips up around you,” she explains. The carefully

curated wall of sound is testament also to LUNA’s ability as

a producer, something she attributes to participation in the

ReBalance production programme.

At the annual stage where festival line-ups are released

and ridiculed, and the PRS Foundation’s ambition for 50:50

representation of women feels uncomfortably unattainable, Kate’s

experience of being elevated by a women’s only production

programme is refreshing to hear. Co-run by PRS and Festival

Republic, ReBalance is a scheme that has allowed Kate to gain a

greater understanding of production and

offered the chance to record and mix with

a mixing engineer. But her production

journey didn’t start there, as she goes

on to explain. “Since I left university I’ve

taught myself production on Logic. For

the past three years I’ve been honing

in my production skills.” While her own

command of production is as strong as

it has ever been, Kate opens up about

her keen appetite to collaborate. “It’s just

been me in my bedroom for so long and

I feel ready now to actually socialise with

other people doing the same thing – not

be such a hermit.” It’s understandable for

someone as self-sufficient as Kate to protect their creation, but

collaboration may just be the next step for LUNA to project herself

in a way previously unimaginable.

While Kate has been limited in her collaborative efforts

with other producers, her creative vision has been executed

beautifully alongside photographer Robin Clewley. “I love

working with Robin,” she spurts out, once we begin to touch

on the visual strand of LUNA. He’s the man behind the camera

for her new video for Night Drive, which they only wrapped up

filming two days before we speak. It’s clear the creative energy

is still flowing, and the excitement of the upcoming releases is

palpable.

It’s not just the music videos that inspire this level of

excitement; the same energy is emitted from the press shots

intertwined with the upcoming EP release. “[Me and Robin],

we were just on the same page,” explains Kate. “We went to

a disused slate quarry in North Wales. There we composed a

different scene for each track on the EP.” These scenes are all

inspired by the songs they represent. “For Lay Like Stars, we

wanted to create an image laying down, exactly what it says on

the tin, really simple. But we put fairy lights in front of the lens to

make it look like little stars.” Robin’s work highlights the ethereal,

Stevie Nicks-esque aura of LUNA. My favourite image from the

collection sees Kate surrounded by an alien light and captures

the movement of the wind through fabric draped over her arms.

Landscape and artist complement one another beautifully.

Taking cues from an obsession with Kate Bush and Björk,

the otherworldly backdrop is a homely space for LUNA. Her EP

title, Hello Earth, is similarly wired into this aesthetic. Though,

Kate explains, she was “struggling on a title for so long”, but

the artistic compass of Kate Bush once again showed the path.

“I was listening to Kate Bush and she’s got a track called Hello

Earth which is one of my favourites. I was cautious it would be a

little bit cheesy, but it just makes sense.” And it does. The EP is

Kate’s first love letter to LUNA, introducing the character to the

real world surrounding.

Through the EP, we are being welcomed into LUNA’s

universe, but it is not solely the recordings that we can gain

access to this world. Her upcoming performance at St Bride’s

Church on 13th March is one that Kate cannot hide her

excitement for. “I’m planning the lights, the décor, the acts. I’ve

got some really exciting support acts that I’m not announcing

just yet. There’s a lot of thought and time that has gone into it

and I want it to feel like when you’re stepping into St Bride’s,

you’re stepping into LUNA’s world.” The location, a beautiful

neoclassical building in Liverpool’s Georgian Quarter, already

projects a complimentary atmosphere without LUNA having to

step over the threshold. It’s not your typical venue, nor is it going

to be your typical gig. The support artists on the night will all be

female, with Kate making her decision very clear. “I’ve not got

anything against men, but there’s still such an imbalance despite

it being 2020. I just want to try and collaborate with as many

women as I can.”

The EP and performances are followed by a coveted slot

at The Great Escape. From there, Kate is ready to “crack on and

keep making music”. We end our conversation in a place of

positivity, as Kate closes with the mantra “self-belief, self-love.

I feel ready now, I’ve overcome a lot of personal anxiety and

setbacks; I’m in a good place now to tackle this head on.” !

Words: Megan Walder / @M_l_Wald

Photography: Robin Clewley / robinclewley.co.uk

sheislunamusic.bandcamp.com

Hello Earth is available from 13th March. LUNA plays St

Bride’s Church on Saturday 14th March with full support to be

announced.

FEATURE

23


REACHING THE

THRESHOLD

Grassroots and the dugnad spirt: Chris and Kaya Herstad Carney talk about the can-do spirit at the heart of

the Threshold family, which culminated with their festival’s final outing in April.

There’s a quote inscribed on a cor-ten wall at the end of Old Hall Street, which you

probably glance at when you’re driving along the Dock Road and sweep up to Leeds

Street. The sculpture sits at the point where the city’s old dock wall would have run,

looking out to the sea and the New World beyond, as well as presiding over the starting

point of one of the busy ship canals that was key to Liverpool’s maritime trading status. The

quote, attributed to a writer for the Liverpool Daily Post, Michael O’Mahoney, reads “Liverpool –

threshold to the ends of the Earth”.

While its symbolism is fairly easy to decipher, the link with this quote and the naming of the

grassroots music and arts festival, THRESHOLD, is slightly less tangible. O’Mahoney’s quote is

one of a few things that Chris Herstad Carney, festival producer, mentions when I ask him about

the festival’s origins. He and artistic director Kaya Herstad Carney also mention the lowest hearing

threshold for human hearing as a possible source of inspiration for the name; but I prefer to settle

on the first answer they give, that their event represents a threshold for artists making their way in

the industry, the first rung on the ladder. It fits.

For the past 10 years, this husband and wife team have been at the heart of a wide group of

volunteers, promoters, artists and fellow music obsessives who have brought together Threshold

Festival Of Music And Arts. The Threshold Family have worked together tirelessly to put on events

that have embraced a spirit of togetherness that is best summed up by the Norwegian word,

dugnad. Mucking in, helping out, getting things done, it is a term that is rooted in a very civic act of

unpaid, voluntary, orchestrated community work.

“It’s the work, it’s not the pride,” explains Kaya, smiling as my eyes light up at a term that seems

a perfect fit for Threshold’s ethos, but one that now seems thoroughly baked in. “It’s like, you have

sports teams doing up their clubhouse and stuff like that. That’s dugnad. That’s how Norway was

built.”

“Threshold is a little bit dugnad,” agrees Chris. “It’s basically everyone working together to get

the job done. We have had so many friends, every year, just coming down and going, ‘I’ve got a

few hours free, what do you need doing?’ Then just coming and mucking in. You’re more likely to

see it at the festival as, like, the drummer walking in with his kick drum rather than standing there

watching the technicians setting it up. Because they care. They give a shit about what we do.”

The strength of the team is a huge part of what has kept Threshold going for the past decade,

and helped them all get over the hurdles that have presented themselves. As an entry-level,

grassroots event, Threshold has always relied on the local gig-going public on turning out and

taking a chance on some new talent, often artists who are performing for the first time. As such,

ticket sales don’t cover the full running costs, so they’re reliant on other forms of support.

“The Arts Council have been great with us,” says Chris. “We’ve not always been successful, but

we’ve always had a good relationship with them. They recognise what we do. But they are almost

unique in recognising that.” In 2017, Threshold didn’t secure any funding, so the festival looked

like it wouldn’t be able to go ahead. But thanks to the generosity of the local community, and the

sterling work of a key member of the Threshold Family, Kate Stewart, a successful crowdfunder

campaign was set up, which secured them the funds to make sure the festival could happen as

planned.

Laura J Martin (Mike Brits)

Paddy Steer (Glyn Akroyd)

“I was panicking, but it was Kate who said, ‘You guys have got the clout, the energy, the fun, the

love [to pull this off],’ and she put this plan together,” Chris says about the campaign. “We smashed

the target. It was an amazing show of love.”

“We really needed that,” continues Kaya, of what felt like a vindicating moment for them. “The

passion that has been given to us, for doing something great, the time and effort, and the ideas, is

just priceless,” continues Chris. “It’s unbelievable.”

“It’s a bit mushy, but I do feel it’s like, ‘Hate divides and love multiplies’,” Kaya adds.

“Volunteering and sharing projects has a ripple effect. It inspires you to go and do other things. By

inspiring someone to do what they wanted to do, but didn’t dare to do, they will definitely inspire

you. It becomes this kind of positive monster.”

There’s an element of dugnad to this reaction of Threshold’s audience, which even stretches to

the artists performing, many of whom will take the chance to do something a little bit more risky at

Threshold then they would for a normal show. It’s a chance to be creative, as they know the crowds

aren’t going to be vast – but they know they have the backing of Chris, Kaya and the team.

This came to the fore in 2019, when the BBC Radio 6 Music festival landed in Liverpool, slap

bang over the same period that Threshold was taking place. This was another hurdle to overcome,

the annual problem that threatened to derail plans. But you’d have been hard-pressed to notice if

you were at the festival last year, as the whole event played out as usual, and the fans, artists and

musicians went about their business as they always do: with open minds and generous hearts.

“We say we try and put on the festival we’d love to see,” Kaya says. “If you’re excited about it,

and truly want to tell people this is going on, other people will be excited about it too.”

Threshold X, the tenth edition, takes place in the festival’s playground of the Baltic Triangle on

3rd and 4th April. But this year will be the last time Threshold appears as a festival, and Chris, Kaya

and their volunteer army have vowed that this year will be their swansong.

“It’s not the end of Threshold,” Chris clarifies. “I think we’re going to keep it going, but for less

regular things, like guest stages. We want to maintain the community that’s there. But the annual

events we both think has served its time.”

“Ten years is a good run,” continues Kaya. “It’s about creating something together, and yes, it’s

going to be an anti-climax on 5th April, going, ‘Oh that’s that’.”

Chris Herstad Carney: “I don’t feel any regret. I feel like it’s the right decision.”

Kaya Herstad Carney: “The Baltic isn’t what the Baltic was when we started. If we wanted to

continue, we would have to go to the North Docks, but then we would have to start over again and

it would be a different beast. So, yes, ten years feels like a really good round number.”

So, six weeks before your last festival, how are you feeling? Are you happy, excited, sad? Are

you relieved?

KHC: All of the above.

CHC: We all had to come together as a team, to all feel like that was the moment. We haven’t

always been 100 per cent on the same page about where we’re going. It was when we both

thought ‘Yes, this is it, we’re ready’. It’s been a successful festival, but we’ve had hurdles that

24


Photo by Stuart Moulding

have prevented it from being more. We don’t want to be the people that say there’s always

something, but every year there’s been a hurdle. So, there are mixed feelings in that way.

KHC: The area’s changed so much, and what we were passionate about was to create that

platform for the people who weren’t the buzz bands or the next big thing. The ones who are

the next big thing, if they were allowed to grow. That’s always been our passion. The people

who want to do collaboration and test performances. A bit more avant garde, a bit more

quirky.

CHC: There’s so often a band that blows up that we couldn’t get 50 people in front of!

KHC: Like Louisa [Roach] coming and giving me a massive hug the other day saying we’d

given her her first solo gig, when it wasn’t even She Drew The Gun then. We’ve always

championed the underdog. It’s definitely a passion, finding the ones who don’t have all the

support.

CHC: We see potential. We’ll put you on, and we take away that pressure of saying you need

to have this many people in front of you otherwise you’re not getting a gig again. The artists

we’re pushing might not have the best profile in the world, but we think they could actually go

somewhere. It could be an Eleanor Nelly, who could end up on Decca, you know.

KHC: There is literally no money in putting on somebody’s first gig, and we can only cover,

like, expenses and festival ticket and food for those artists. But that could literally get them

their next gig, that might be a payer, eventually. But if you don’t get that first chance, you don’t

get the second one.

You guys were one of the first people to the Baltic, and now there are lots of events:

Sound City, Baltic Weekender, Positive Vibration…

CHC: It’s a perfect fit for them, certainly for Pos Vibes. It was always a perfect fit for the

Baltic. We did our first Threshold in the CUC, we just filled the building with music and

art. Then Mike [Deane] put on the Liverpool Music Week closing party there. It was always

supposed to be that great fit for us. We knew that Ropewalks’ days were numbered. The

docks was never the best fit, even though Bramley-Moore was good. This is where it was

always going to be, so it’s almost like it’s fulfilling its destiny. A lot of organisers came to

Threshold and were like, ‘Oh, this works’.

Do you feel a bit pissed off that people have come in since and the area has changed so

much?

KHC: We weren’t the only ones here. Phil Hayes and Jayne Casey had The Picket already,

they’ve been here for much longer.

CHC: The big respect needs to come to both the creative and the board of the Baltic Triangle

CIC and the likes of Jayne Casey and A Foundation, and some people from the council as well.

The people who had that vision, to make it what it was. We were kind of like guinea pigs for it,

but we didn’t start to be that. If we hadn’t put on those first events, if Jayne and Phil weren’t

doing those first things, and A Foundation, then it’d still be a wasteland.

You have mentioned passing the baton on to the community. Would you care to elaborate

on that?

CHC: The intention is for Threshold to remain, as a CIC. We’re going to shift its focus, as a

resource. All the communities we’ve built, of artists, promoters, venues, we’re able to connect,

and continue to connect – but we won’t be producing the festival itself. If we can see the

potential in something, then if someone wants to run with it, it should go on.

We’ve known for at least five or six years that Threshold’s bigger than us. It’s an important

thing for a lot of people, and those people tend to be the creatives. It’s important for them

that it still goes on. Our road with this goes to here, but Threshold should and will carry on. It

almost feels like throwing down the gauntlet!

KHC: There are two ways for that to happen. One is that we are happy to mentor somebody

who wants to start up something, as we have done. If somebody actually wants to continue

with Threshold, we’ll have to create a board. It might just be a production company, or a bit

like an agency. If that pot of money comes in, we’ll put that towards a project that will be going

towards the community.

CHC: The team all have their own careers, they’re all moving in different directions. We

haven’t found those new people yet, or they haven’t found us, but the message is out there.

Hopefully somebody will pick up that gauntlet. !

THRESHOLD

FAMILY

We asked members of the Threshold Family,

who have produced, promoted and performed at

the festival down the years, for one memory that

sums up the essence of Threshold…

“The secret stage we did for Drop The Dime.”

Sally Nulty

“Well, of course, Mark Monkwaa Ross laying on the floor at the front of the stage holding a

mic in the air as we’d run out of mic stands on that first crazy year at the CUC!”

Ema Quinn

“The cheeky Creaky Bones crowdsurfing caper that resulted in one of our best ever photos.”

James Kirkham and Andrew AB

“Teamwork. No other event seems to bring the Liverpool arts community together quite like

it.”

Simon Hewitt (Silicon Dreams)

“When I couldn’t make it to the Black Mountain Lights set so they came and played for me

in the box office. Most special moment ever.”

Hannah McLachlan

“Threshbees (the knitted bees that were everywhere in 2013).”

Karen MacFarlane

“One of the things that really sums it up is being in the crowd with the guy who just played

on the other stage, with the guy who’s about to play on the other stage, watching the guy

who’s on the stage. That doesn’t really happen at a lot of events.”

Chris Herstad Carney

Words: Christopher Torpey / @CATorp

Photography: Mike Brits, Glyn Akroyd, Stu Moulding, Jack Thompson

thresholdfestival.co.uk

Threshold Festival takes place across multiple venues in the Baltic Triangle on 3rd and 4th

April.

Jazzhands (Jack Thompson)

FEATURE

25


Adwaith (Gareth Jones)

MUSCIAL

TRANSLATION

In February, Welsh Language

Music Day dropped by the BME

– the festival’s only official

UK event outside of Wales –

for an afternoon platforming

contemporary artists currently

making music in their native

dialect. Picking up from the gig,

Cath Holland traces the growing

popularity of Welsh language

music by speaking to those at the

heart of its latest resurgence.

It’s DYDD MIWSIG CYMRU (or maybe WELSH LANGUAGE

MUSIC DAY to you), but Adwaith (Reaction) are not

celebrating in Wales in front of a familiar home crowd.

They’re in Liverpool instead, inside the iconic Cunard

Building, a somewhat sterile room away from the warmth of the

populated city streets. It is raining

after all, so the original plans to stage

the event on the Pier Head have been

sidelined, moving indoors to the British

Music Experience. Yet, it’s apt for

them to be surrounded by artefacts

belonging to musical icons today

because the time we’re living in is a

truly golden age of all contemporary

Welsh music, with these three young

women at the forefront. Today’s

lunchtime gig by the trio, Hollie Singer

(vocals, guitar), Gwenllian Anthony

(bass, keys) and Heledd Owen

(drums), is not only their debut in

Liverpool but another sign that music

made in the Welsh language is being

embraced more and more outside their

home country.

Adwaith’s Welsh Music Prize-winning debut album Melyn

(Yellow), recorded almost entirely in Welsh, encompasses far

more than the post-punk tag attached to them. Released on the

ambitious Libertino Records, the vinyl edition sold out in under

a fortnight. Adwaith’s journey over the past two years has seen

them tour the UK with Gwenno and the Joy Formidable, deliver

“The great thing

about music is that

you don’t necessarily

need to know the

ins and outs of

lyrics to enjoy it”

Dylan Hughes

a tremendous BBC Radio 6 Music session and perform abroad,

taking in Canada and Italy. Yet, headlining the first leg of a threepart

UK tour last autumn – organised by Welsh distributors PYST,

aiming to introduce Welsh language music to new audiences

and promoters – marked a turning point. Manchester’s YES on

that damp September night, busy

with people from across the north

– Yorkshire and Liverpool as well as

the local Manchester contingent – left

Adwaith stunned.

“I literally could not believe it.

People singing along in Manchester,

in Welsh!” says Gwenllian.

And yet it wasn’t Welsh I myself

replicated that night, but instead an

approximation of lyrics. It’s excellent

to learn Adwaith appreciate creative

interpretation from us non-Welsh

speakers.

“Welsh language music,

in general, is very open to

interpretation,” starts Hollie. “You can

listen and come up with your own

story in your head about what you think the song’s about. I think

that element of wonder, of mysteriousness, to our music and all

Welsh language music is definitely an attraction.”

Welsh music recorded in both Welsh and English is enjoying

a surge of popularity across the world. One of the contemporary

cohort, Alffa, now own two of the top three most streamed

Welsh language songs on Spotify, with listeners as far as the US,

26


Brazil and mainland Europe. The internet, in reducing gatekeeper

roles, plays its part by feeding new music direct to fans. Free

spirited presenters and producers at BBC 6 Music offer precious

airplay when they can; latterly, the likes of the Guardian have

taken good note of grassroots music journalists and blogs around

the UK and world, and responded accordingly.

Schemes and initiatives and homegrown festivals including

FOCUS Wales – who enable emerging artists play festivals

around the globe – provide opportunities for fresh talent. Hana

Evans, who performs as HANA2K, benefits from BBC scheme

Horizons – she appeared at Manchester’s Off The Record due to

them – and the Forte Project.

“The opportunities we have now, compared to 10 years ago

when you perform in Welsh, are insane,” says the pop-urban

artist, who sang in a Cardiff shopping centre for Welsh Language

Music Day. Her English language song, Daydreaming, was

playlisted on BBC Radio 1 daytime in January, courtesy of the

support and promotion she received from BBC Introducing.

“It’s nice to get the exposure you get with English music,

[because] when you write in Welsh it brings more attention to

it because the English stuff is already out.” Independent Venue

Week 2020 saw Papur Wal – winners of the Best EP gong at

this month’s Y Selar Welsh language awards – return to a busy

room in the North West once more, confessing from the Liverpool

Jacaranda stage “we didn’t expect this many people”.

Independent Venue Week recruited BBC Radio 1’s Huw

Stephens as Welsh ambassador, but he refuses to blow his own

trumpet over Welsh Language Music Day, his co-founding of the

Welsh Music Prize, or championing of Welsh music on national

radio.

“It’s about the creativity of the artists, to be honest. Welsh

language artists are fearless now. They’ve got nothing to lose

and everything to gain. The world’s become a lot more diplomatic

in terms of music, I think, so you can sing in Welsh anywhere.”

Back at the BME, a Welsh Language Music Day playlist

plays the title track from Cotton Wolf’s latest album Ofni (Fear),

released by Cardiff’s Bubblewrap Collective, featuring Hollie

Singer’s vocals coursing through the loudspeakers.

“It’s amazing to hear this, playing in a room in Liverpool,”

Huw says with a big grin, before rushing off excitedly to

introduce Adwaith from atop the stage.

Such playlists smash the old cliché, that Welsh language

music is confined to folk and male voice choirs. Horizons Festival

alumnus and teenage blues-rock duo Alffa (Alpha) – now based

in Liverpool for university – received wider recognition when

songs Gwenwyn (Poison) and Pla (Plague) clocked up three

million Spotify streams. Yet the real story of Alffa’s success is

the people turning up to their shows. Drummer Siôn Land and

bandmate Dion Jones found themselves unexpectedly playing to

a full house at the End Of The Road festival. “Before that, we’d

gig where we were from [in Wales] so we pretty much knew

every person,” says Siôn. “I remember looking at the crowd

thinking, ‘God I’m in probably the furthest away I’ve ever been

gigging, and it was packed’. Insane. The venue was one in, one

out.”

Signed to local indie label Recordiau Côsh Records, Alffa

never expected to break out of the Welsh language music scene

back home. “The fact that we’ve crossed the border to people

who speak different languages to Welsh brings a sense of

confidence, and you’re confident in what you’re doing regardless

if it’s a Welsh or English song.”

Dylan Hughes, formerly of indie band Race Horses, reemerged

with his new dreamy, psych-glazed project Ynys (Island)

last spring. With two singles released on Libertino and a session

for Marc Riley under his belt, he played the second leg of the

PYST pilot tour along with Bitw and SYBS, taking in Glasgow,

Manchester and London. His first appearance as part of the INES

talent programme – which enables promising artists to drive

their international careers forward by performing at European

showcase festivals – is at Liverpool Sound City in May. He credits

1990s bands like Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci, Super Furry Animals

and Catatonia for helping build the confidence Huw Stephens

speaks of, and the difficulty making a living as any sort of

musician these days, he believes, delivers a sense of creative

freedom. “People maybe feel like, ‘I can do anything, I can get

stuff on Spotify, I’m not worried making it to the next step’. Or,

‘Once we get this support slot NME are quite keen’.”

In a step towards inclusivity, Dylan shared English

translations of Caneuon (Songs) and Mae’n Hawdd (It’s Easy)

upon release, a move influenced in part by Gorky’s, who

provided titles in English.

“If I’m listening to a song or album in another language

it’s quite nice to refer to the song title in a language you

understand. The great thing about music is that you don’t

necessarily, or at all, need to know the ins and outs of the

lyrics to enjoy it. For things like literature or poetry you need to

understand the language to be able to appreciate it or have an

amazing translation.”

In Wales itself, artists are well served by radio BBC Radio

Cymru and Radio Wales, and dedicated television programmes

Curadur and Lŵp on Welsh language channel S4C, supporting

both established artists and those at a more embryonic stage.

“So, if we ever get to play in England, the other side of

the border, we’ve got a bit of practice, we already know what

it is to play a radio session and we’re not kind of shitting

ourselves,” says Carwyn Ellis, who records in both Welsh and

English with his band Colorama, and delivered the wonderful

Bendith album in 2016, a collaboration with folk siblings Plu.

“It’s a big opportunity. The more you get under your belt, the

more you learn your craft.”

Ellis’ solo album Joia! (‘Enjoy’ in Welsh, ‘Groovy’ in Brazilian

Portuguese) was recorded in Rio de Janeiro with Brazilian

musicians, but is sung in Welsh. His most well received album

to date was made on the suggestion of Chrissie Hynde –

Carwyn also plays with The Pretenders, and Edwyn Collins – and

Joia! is international, musically and conceptually. Conceived,

recorded, and released during the aftermath of the Brexit vote,

it is outward-looking and far reaching in nature – an antidote of

sorts.

“[It’s] something different, some sort of medicine or balm for

the soul for my people,” he grins. “Enough people listen to it that

don’t speak Welsh for me to think there’s an abstract musical

essence there that seems to appeal to some people, which is very

nice.”

Carwyn sees the popularity of Welsh language music as

cyclical. Like flares, coming in and out of fashion. He points out

that the current surge is lower key than in the ‘Cool Cymru’

1990s.

“Anything to do with music or films or whatever, most of

these things come and go in circles. I’ve seen it before, seen dips

where it’s receded and it comes back again. The Welsh language,

again it comes and goes. One week it’s being bashed, a month

later there’s no sign of it anywhere. The month after that it’s

being praised to the roof. We live through this constant thing of

it being a bit of a football, our language and identity. It’s kind of

strange.”

Returning to the ever moving and expanding world of

Adwaith, it’s only been a few weeks since the Liverpool show

and, even as I type, announcements around the band come thick

and fast. There are trips to SXSW in Texas and Russia, and a

headline date at Rough Trade East all in the coming weeks. Right

now they’re writing a follow up to Melyn. The possibilities for

them and those in their wake, it seems, are endless, with Welsh

Language very much coming to the fore of their contemporary

music. !

Words: Cath Holland / @cathholland01

HANA2K (Daffyd Owen)

“We live through

this constant thing

of our language and

identity being a bit

of a football. It’s

kind of strange”

Carwyn Ellis

Alffa (Shiwan Gwyn)

FEATURE

27


THE

PISTACHIO

KID

28


Singer-songwriter Charlie McKeon guides us through the

nostalgic fields of his latest album, Sweet Remedies, released

under the pseudonym THE PISTACHIO KID. Comprised of

forgotten recordings unearthed years down the line, McKeon

likens their contemporary existence to releasing the nostalgic

haze wrapped in the frame of old family photographs.

I

never thought Sweet Remedies

would be a record. It definitely

is now, unless I have gone

completely mad.

The recordings come from a

period of isolation in West Yorkshire

in 2012, just shy of Barack Obama’s

re-election. I was living mainly off

raw Crunchy Nut. I had bought a

microphone and a cheap recording

interface. I would go to sleep at six in

the morning and wake up at four in

the afternoon. In between these hours

I would write songs about fruit and

bicycles and ignore texts and missed

calls, until they stopped coming. Back

then I lived a secret musical existence;

I wrote things for no one and played

them to no one.

Years down the line, in what

felt like a different life, Violette

Records came across them on one

of the hundreds of thousands of

SoundClouds that cloud the internet.

At that time, I had over 60 tracks

recorded. They picked out 10 that

they wanted to release – all across

quite a wide spectrum of genres and

styles, and with different qualities

to their recordings. Bicycle Thieves

was recorded on my iPhone, resting

on my lap as I waited for the kettle

to boil; Sweet Remedies came as

a spontaneous mantra against

depression, improvised in an early

morning haze; Soreberry Tree, the long

electronic trip on the second side of

the record, I have literally no memory

of making.

None of them were written with

a destination or goal, or on the same

day or even month. There was no plan. The only thing that links

them together is their innocence. They were all done with one

microphone and in one take, and they were never touched,

redone or edited again. I like the idea of standing by the first take;

even though it wasn’t a deliberate decision, it results now in a

certain honesty. They were never created as a means of drawing

attention. The complete opposite. They were entirely my own.

All contemporary music has the opportunity to be overproduced

or even over-thought. Sweet Remedies isn’t a concept

album, but each track remains in its conceptual form. Its rawness

is reduced by the undertaking of the listener. At that time, getting

a recording set-up was like getting crafts and paints as a kid.

They were toys. In a world were everybody’s trying to sell you

something, I was just sitting on the mat with my crayons.

Nowadays, for me, the songs are like looking back at an old

family photograph. You cannot remember the day, being there,

“The songs were

never created

as a means of

drawing attention.

The complete

opposite. They were

entirely my own”

or all of the faces around you, but

you can see it is you – in your hand

is the evidence. The memories are

caught in a haze of nostalgia.

In fact, I feel like these recordings

were made by a younger twin

brother. Phillipe Agrunto, I

sometimes call him, other times

Cardinal Krutworth, or the Pistachio

Kid. When I think about them, or

listen to them, they feel like his

rather than mine. I feel related to

them, they’re something there’s

evidence of me doing, but I’m

almost sure it was Phillipe, as he

has littler legs than I do.

When I was first asked to

release Sweet Remedies, I was

resistant to putting it out. I felt it

was too personal, the recordings

were like diary entries or private

phone calls. It felt like it was only

destined for me. But Violette looked

into the strange window they

came out of and saw something

they believed in. One day it arrived

at my house on a beautifully put

together vinyl. I unwrapped it and

put it on the player and watched

it spin round. I could hear four in

the morning, I could hear my old

kitchen, I could hear my old self.

Violette somehow saw the

story behind the album without

me ever telling it to them, and

they reflected it in the artwork.

The adventurer pictured on the

record sleeve attempts to locate

the exploration the music embarks

on, and the playful youthfulness

behind it as well. The Bob Dylan

cover at the end of the album was the last song I made during

that period, and they placed it as the final track without that

knowledge. It was recorded just before I left Yorkshire for

good on a Transpenine Express train, coach C seat 43; I had a

Boots meal deal and we had to stop at Stayleybridge because

someone had booted a telly on the track. The end of an era.

The title in truth was just a flippant suggestion I came up

with, a way of explaining the distance between myself now

and myself then. Though I guess it was Freudian in a way

calling it The Pistachio Kid, finally coming out of the shell. !

Words: Charlie McKeon, as told to Elliot Ryder

Illustration: Hannah Blackman-Kurz / @Hbkrz

facebook.com/charliemckeonmusic

Sweet Remedies is available now via Violette Records.

FEATURE

29


THE REFRA

Having attended The Refractive Pool painting symposium at Liverpool Hope University in February, Julia

Johnson reports back on the attitudes toward Liverpool as destination for practising artists, not just a

destination to exhibit established art.

It is in the interests of many parties for Liverpool’s

reputation to endure as a creative and cultural hub. It’s

in the interests of the city’s marketing boards to be able

to point to a legacy from a Decade of Culture, and to

educational institutions looking to attract students with the

lure of a vibrant experience. And, as Donal Moloney – artist

and senior lecturer at Liverpool Hope University – exemplifies

during his introduction to THE REFRACTIVE POOL symposium,

in governmental interest, too. At least, the apparently

associated economic growth is.

But it’s important to ask what this actually looks like for

individual artists. Between Tate Liverpool, the Bluecoat and

various venues of National Museums Liverpool, the visual arts

do have a highly visible presence in Liverpool. But what does

this actually mean for the city’s painters? Does this focus on a

cultural economy consider the sustainability of the environment

for the city’s grassroots and independent artists?

The Refractive Pool project has been masterminded by

artists Josie Jenkins and Brendan Lyons to give the many

talented painters in Liverpool the recognition they deserve.

“We want to shine a light on these artists and to give them a

platform to show their art – and, just as importantly, to allow

the people of Liverpool to discover and enjoy it,” explains Lyons.

“We want to document the artists and their activity as part

of the city’s cultural fabric and heritage which has not always

happened over recent decades, and for them to be given some

sort of recognition and acknowledgement.” Beyond this survey

of the current scene, the project also looks to the future with an

aspiration to “build links between artists, studio groups, local

institutions and the public in a way that will hopefully benefit all”.

The Refractive Pool has chosen to focus specifically on

painting. When scrutinised, it becomes apparent that painting

actually occupies a strange place in the cultural fabric. It’s one of

the first art forms associated with ‘culture’, yet the pathway to

being able to make a career as a painter is a muddy one. While

it’s wrong to say that the city’s major galleries don’t support local

painters, it’s also true that the majority of their programming is

based upon exhibitions of artists who have already ‘made it’.

Which begs the question of how and where, exactly, one does

‘make it’? The answer in part may hinge on being able to be

much more than just a painter, but also an exhibition curator

and publicist. Yet Josie Jenkins contends, to the audience full of

artists that painters whose work is based on “knuckling down

in their studio, shutting off from the world”, that finding this

balance is particularly difficult to achieve. That the assertion is

not contested by either participants or audience speaks volumes.

The symposium is described by more than one attendee

as an “indulgence”: a valued opportunity to spend a whole

day talking about art. A full survey of the scene would take

much longer, but the event certainly acts as a snapshot of

attitudes towards what it means to be living and working as a

painter in Liverpool. And to most of the speakers, that would

seem to be a positive experience. Local artist Gareth Kemp

describes the ecosystem of painting as “vibrant”, adding “there’s

lots of galleries and artist-run spaces”. Just as important is

that it’s affordable – a point agreed upon by other panellists

including chair Donal Moloney, who says Liverpool offered him

opportunities for creativity London never could. “It came to

a point of ‘I can stay in London and I can work five part-time

jobs to pay for a studio that I store paintings in, but never make

paintings’. It was a no-brainer: I moved up north, and I can make

paintings.”

This ability to actually make work pays off both for the

artists and us, the consumers, who are able to enjoy the fruits of

a broad range of attitudes and approaches. This is borne out in

presentations by three local artists – James Quin, Gareth Kemp

and Joana de Oliveira Guerreiro. These three were selected,

according to Josie Jenkins, to “present a variety of perspectives

and artists from different backgrounds, in terms of their journey

to becoming an artist and being at different points in their

careers”. They certainly do that. Their styles are highly divergent,

and their approaches to establishing artistic careers range from

the academic to the self-taught. If it’s sometimes not clear from

the city’s high street retailers that Liverpool painting extends far

beyond representations of the skyline, it is here.

This variation of approach also pays dividends for the

future of the city as a creative hub. Having recent Fine Art

graduate Zahra Parwez as a voice on the afternoon’s panel is

important – she provides a perspective on what makes Liverpool

so attractive that can be missed by those of us who are longer

established here. “This is a place I can be fully creative and have

that support system. I’ve built up a network of people to talk to

about art, I know what’s happening around the city.” Parwez

believes that her painting practice has developed as it has in part

because of the strength of its artistic community – a community

whose development is in no small part due the city’s specific

conditions of being small and affordable.

So, Liverpool is certainly not a city devoid of inspiration. But

what about that question of being able to “make it”, and finding

a way to really succeed? The afternoon’s panel discussion invites

30


CTIVE POOL

questions from the audience, and the points that they bring into

focus suggest that the city may present as many obstacles as

opportunities. One of the first questions addresses an essential

issue, though often awkward to confront: how to sell work.

Presenting a focus on creativity above commodity, the art world

can seem to airbrush such questions

out of its self-image. No matter how

cheap the city is, though, if artists

can’t make money from their work

then practice becomes unsustainable.

Though positive about their Liverpool

experiences, none of the panellists are

naive to these concerns. Indeed, there

seems to be a tacit admission in some

panellists’ responses that the difficulty

in finding buyers might make Liverpool

more of a stepping stone than an

end in itself. For this, Liverpool’s

small size may actually be a boon.

Joana de Oliveira Gurreiro is candid

that moving to Liverpool offered her

the opportunity to be more than the

“drop in the ocean” of a big city. With establishment comes

opportunities – then connections and opportunities further afield.

So, where could these collectors come from? Social media

can play a part: several panellists describe their relationships

with platforms like Instagram as necessary for reaching

audiences, if sometimes awkward and detached. To those of us

with one foot in the arts scene and following these accounts,

it seems to work – there’s always a great number of events

“No matter how

cheap the city

is, if artists can’t

make money from

their work then

practice becomes

unsustainable”

and exhibitions being promoted. But is it reaching beyond this

bubble? Apparently not: one member of the audience comments

towards the end of the day that from all the discussion about

practice, “I haven’t got a handle on where the public can actually

come and see your work”. Other audience members chip in with

similar observations that excellent

exhibitions don’t get marketed,

or that spaces are too difficult to

discover and access.

One event highlighted as

a success by panellists and

audience members alike is 2018’s

Independents Biennial, in particular

the A Long The Riverrun exhibition

which formed part of the programme

in George Henry Lee’s. The event

certainly seems to have addressed

many key concerns: its city centre

location made it widely accessible,

which in turn led to artists selling

significant amounts of work. That A

Long The Riverrun’s curators John

Elcock and Paul Mellor are in the audience to be able to give

further context is a helpful coincidence – but they readily admit

that “the stars collided” for the opportunity in a way which

unlikely to be repeated. The George Henry Lee’s building is now

under redevelopment, an opportunity too good for commercial

interests to pass up. It’s yet another demonstration that for all

the official political statements that “the region’s cultural offering

will be a major driver for new investment” (as Moloney quotes),

this means little on the ground. To produce an infrastructure,

to make it mean something, is currently left to the artists, and

panellist Anna Ketskemety explains that “It takes an awful lot of

energy to try and do something outside the studio, and... energy

is a big thing,” especially if you’re already making the body of

work. Despite the strong overall feeling that artists need more

support, there seems no obvious answer to where this will come

from.

In the best tradition of these events, The Refractive Pool

symposium raises as many questions as it answers. There are

clearly reasons to feel positive; Liverpool comes across as an

exciting place in which to paint, home to a community that is

cherished and valued. But success is predicated on more than

enthusiastic production – there must also be an audience, and

the access to space and support that creates visibility. The

Refractive Pool has made a thoughtful start to setting an agenda

for sustainability, and organisers Jenkins and Lyons are certainly

pleased with the passionate responses to the event. “We were

especially pleased at how the panel discussion was taken up

by the audience; so many people had so many great questions

and thoughtful points to make,” says Lyons, “which made for

a stimulating debate and gave us valuable material for our

research.” It will be fascinating to follow how they uncover more

about the city’s painting scene, and what ideas emerge to ensure

its future flourishing. !

Words: Julia Johnson / @MessyLines_

Illustration: Paul Edwards / @osmpaulart

FEATURE

31


SPOTLIGHT

“Please don’t

take us too

seriously”

COURTING

Meet the Liverpool post-punk

four-piece leading a charge

against socio-political norms,

with lashings of cowbell.

Between cavorting around stages across the North West,

gaining a first play on BBC Radio 1, planting a two footer into

footballing obsession and likening love to noisy Northern Rail

Pacer, COURTING have been remarkably busy in an effort to gain

your attention.

Made up of Sean Murphy-O’Neill (vocals, guitar), Sean

Thomas (drums, vocals), Sam Brennan (bass) and Michael

Downes (guitar), Courting’s sound is difficult to define. There

is no clear common structure between both of their singles Not

Yr Man and Football, besides smashing guitar riffs and echoing

reverb, which all adds to a cluster of noise which climaxes as

sonic brilliance. It is for this reason that they really are a one-towatch.

Offering some self-analysis, “Cowbell-core” is the first word

uttered by Sean Murphy-O’Neill when asked to give his soundbite

on Courting’s distinctive style. This isn’t a surprise – yes, really.

Anyone who has attended their live shows so far knows exactly

where he is coming from. Each time, around halfway through

their set, O’Neill can be seen parading a cowbell above his head

and chanting along to their newly released single Football – a

track that sprints ahead on its bassline, is then forcibly shoulder

charged by jagged guitar and piercing vocals, all the while

offering damning statements on societal issues. All this in less

than two minutes of injury time has generated a deserved buzz.

Ironically, Courting admit that the song is concentrating on

the basic principle of football being an “omnipresent feature in

British society”, while also drawing on complete rejection of a

traditional ‘pop-star’ trajectory of creating music in an attempt to

(in their own words) “solely make their family rich and famous”.

Their opinions on societal dilemmas are refreshing, but are

easily lost in the field of artists which suddenly assimilate to

the same liberal mush. The true colours of Courting’s ideology

lie somewhere between rejection of the banal everyday and a

cordial acceptance of impending doom.

And yet, breaking through the expansive, grey Brutalist

construct in which Courting reside, there are flickers of

Romanticism. You can observe this in their onstage commitment,

with present shades of the same ‘love and loss’ conundrum every

band seamlessly tends to flirt with. With the two single releases

behind them, Courting concede “It’s very difficult to write a song

about love or loss in a way that hasn’t already been done.” The

softer guitar riff towards the end of their debut single Not Yr Man

(ignore the rest of the song for a minute), these few seconds

could easily soundtrack a first dance or a final conversation. Here

is the first breadcrumb that leads to a mellower Courting, one

that can and should be followed. But don’t be fooled for too long;

the four-piece will come crashing back into reality with lyrics

such as “Let me be your Northern Rail I wanna let you down” –

ironically, a line that’s always on time when hurled forward by

O’Neill.

Courting outline Pavement as one of their most telling

inspirations – O’Neill states that “I love a lot of [Pavement’s]

stuff. I always feel as though they can hit an emotional nerve

without sounding dire or depressing.” Perhaps the epitome of

Courting’s songwriting lurks somewhere near to this comment,

simultaneously delivering both crashing riffs and tongue-incheek,

observational lyricism.

As a closing sentiment, O’Neill asks “Please don’t take us

too seriously,” adding: “Life would be a bit boring if we all just

discussed economics. Music tends to make me feel happier

than market conditions do.” While a witty response, there is a

contradiction in this. Label-less, they’ve consistently publicised

their own gigs, traversing the music scene alone. A support slot

alongside Coventry rabble Feet back in October may be their

biggest achievement to date. The trials and tribulations of surfing

the industry wave are just the first hurdles for Courting to clear.

And clear them they have. After creating their own merchandise,

posters, or pin badges, when all is said and done, O’Neill

acknowledges “Life without art would just be a bit shit.”

The messy, hazy image of Courting still refrains from loading

clearly. At this moment, what can be seen is a colour splashed

four-piece, determined to attack the poignancy of existence with

goofy lyrics and crashing guitar riffs. The perfect medicine to

any problem we should encounter – all while smashing a few

cowbells. Long may it continue. !

Words: Daniel Ponzini

Photography: Maisie Delaney

facebook.com/Courtingband

Courting headline Phase One on 28th March.

32


DENIO

Delectable, sun-kissed indie pop

quartet rolling steady with the

Mersey waves.

“Once we started

writing our own

music we just never

really stopped”

Why is music important to you?

Music can have a nostalgic and emotional connection but can also

just be something to dance to and it is at the centre of our social

group. We’re always sharing new tunes and artists with each

other; being able to create our own music makes it even more

important to us.

Have you always wanted to create music?

We started playing music together when we were around 15/16

years old and just started off learning covers and getting the

parts right. Once we started writing our own music we just never

really stopped.

Can you pinpoint a live gig or a piece of music that initially

inspired you?

We went to Glastonbury 2013 together. alt-J did a surprise set

at the William’s Green tent and it just blew our heads off. We’ve

been lucky enough to go to Glastonbury every year since and it

always influences and inspires us.

Do you have a favourite venue you’ve performed in?

Highest Point Festival was class. We played to a lively crowd who

had never heard of us and the music seemed to go down well.

Locally, we really enjoyed our gig at the Arts Club recently. The

sound was immense and we had a bit of a light show going on

which spiced things up.

Do you have a favourite song or piece of music to perform?

Your newest material is always the most exciting and fun to

play and most artists probably feel that way. We always think

we’ve written our best song, then something better comes along

the week after and it just goes on like that. We’re particularly

enjoying playing our new songs such as Dreaming, but we’re

excited to play There, I Said It as we’ve just released it.

What do you think is the overriding influence on your songwriting:

other art, emotions, current affairs – or a mixture of all

of these?

Current affairs and what is happening in our lives tends to be the

theme. We’re in that post-university point in our lives where we

are skint and trying to find the balance between jobs, working

on our music and paying rent each month – so that tends to filter

into the songs in some form. Mike writes the lyrics so that aspect

is all him and his life, but the majority of the band live together so

we go through very similar experiences in our day to day lives.

If you had to describe your style in a sentence, what would you

say?

People have compared us to 80s bands such as Talking Heads

and The Cure. Whether that has anything to do with our music

or because we wear our kecks up high remains to be seen. We

generally love artists with a big sound and try and put ourselves

in that same ball park.

Photography: Kate Davies

denio.bandcamp.com

There, I Said It is out now.

LAZ

BERELOW

Warped glam rock and serrated

psych emerges from the fingertips

of this idiosyncratic songwriter.

“Whether it’s a

funeral march, or a

song about signing

on, music can make

any aspect of life

seem important”

If you had to describe your music in a sentence, what would

you say?

Better than pirate metal.

How did you get into music?

I first wanted to create comic books. I later discovered comic

books didn’t fly through the air, enter some holes in your body

and change your life.

Can you pinpoint a live gig or a piece of music that initially

inspired you?

I saw the 1980 Flash Gordon film when I was 11 or 12 and was

awed by the soundtrack. I went silly with the zip-a-dee-doo-dah

of it all. It’s fun, though.

Do you have a favourite venue you’ve performed in? If so, what

makes it special?

Haven’t performed enough to say, but YouTube has some good

applause simulators.

What do you think is the overriding influence on your

songwriting: other art, emotions, current affairs – or a mixture

of all of these?

I think I’d like to manifest the unpredictability of the age and my

personal life through music, but that might too heavily depend on

life being a farce. All I know is this: be authentic, and hope you’re

interesting.

If you could support any artist in the future, who would it be?

Monty Python.

Why is music important to you?

I think it’s the best thing around. It’s the most life-affirming

thing and the thing which most closely resembles actual magic.

Whether it’s a funeral march, or a song about signing on, it can

make any aspect of life seem important. I think that’s the point.

Can you recommend an artist, band or album that Bido Lito!

readers might not have heard?

Thelonious Monk’s Misterioso – favourite album.

Photography: Laz Berelow

lazberelow.bandcamp

An Entertainment by Laz Berelow is out now.

SPOTLIGHT

33


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JULIA MINTZER appears on my Skype screen. Her

hair is still wet from the shower; the café in Cardiff’s

Millennium Centre is in the background. It’s 9am and

Julia has just come back from the gym. It reminds

me that opera singers are athletes as much as they are artists.

Julia is preparing for the titular role in Carmen with the Welsh

National Opera – first in Cardiff, then on a tour that includes

Liverpool. The role is a physically demanding one, including

several fights, plenty of dancing, and, of course, she has to

project her voice over the full 19th-century orchestral score.

“Hey, thank you so much for fitting me into your schedule,”

says Julia in her warm Pennsylvania tones, even though the busy

schedule is clearly hers. We’re here to talk about the upcoming

role, the ability of opera to tackle contemporary political concerns

and her unusual double life as an opera singer and director. First,

I want to know how it feels to be doing her ninth Carmen.

“Oh, this one is quite different,” she says, “in part because

the director, Jo Davies, deliberately stays away from the

conventions. The production is set in a favela in Brazil. The

stereotypical Carmen is wild, fiery, to the point that she’s out of

control – that’s some of the romance of her. In our production,

she lives in the moment, but she’s actively making the choice to

employ her sexual charisma as one of the tools she can use to

survive. Sometimes, what she needs to do to seize agency can

be quite dark, even sociopathic. And the fights are much more

brutal than I’m used to!”

We quickly get into a discussion of the tropes of femininity

that she comes up against as an opera singer and director.

Carmen, of course, is opera’s great ‘femme fatale’. Complete

with a flamenco dress and a rose in her hair, Carmen is – next to

Wagner’s horned-helmet Valkyrie – opera’s most iconic female

lead, but also one that is inescapably associated with being an

object of erotic desire. Would it not be tempting, I suggest to

Julia, to subvert that type and play Carmen as a feminist figure?

“When we remount a canonical work,” Julia reflects, “we

sometimes have an ethical obligation to situate it within the

political current to which it seems most obviously connected.”

But she does not think that the character of Carmen’s best use is

as a feminist icon. “Carmen does not have the luxury of thinking

outside of herself; she is not concerned with changing a culture.

She is trying to navigate the dangerous world she inhabits,

minute to minute. The production can – and does – make

interesting points about how she is forced to operate beneath

the gendered gaze that permeates her world, but she herself

isn’t a force for feminism.”

What Julia appreciates about the WNO production is the

complex psychological characterisation, and the corresponding

close attention to detail that the conductor, Harry Ogg, pays

to the way text is set in the score. “There are also many other

political issues at work in Carmen”, Julia suggests. “There is

Carmen’s racial and cultural otherness, and that she is part of

a group that operates on the edge of the economy. There is

the military setting, the exploitative relationship between the

occupier and the occupied.”

Creating compelling theatre out of 19th-century classics, it

seems, depends not so much on grafting on a political message,

but scouring the libretto and the music for such revealing details

within.

Unusually for her profession, Julia encounters such staging

dilemmas both as a singer and director. Opera singers have

historically been musicians first and foremost, concerned

primarily with their instrument, and so the cross-over into

directing is far rarer in opera than in theatre and film. For Julia,

however, directing was her first passion. “I spent much of my

high-school years in theatre, which included making some

horribly pretentious work out of my teenage angst,” she laughs.

While studying voice at the Juilliard School in New York, she also

studied Anthropology at Columbia University, and kept directing.

In fact, I got to know her work as a director first, initially through

her performance art piece Pizza Parlance at the 2015 Venice

Biennale, then through her surprisingly amusing production of

Heinrich Marschner’s Der Vampyr for Gothic Opera, showing in

London this past autumn.

“Part of the fun with Der Vampyr was that you cannot

actually take it seriously,” she

muses. “You have to embrace

the ridiculousness of this being

a German grand opera about a

nefarious vampire.” Some of Julia’s

production was downright farcical.

When the heroine dismembers her

father (an added directorial twist),

an extraordinary number of organs

spill out – a refreshing sight in

opera, for sure.

While Julia’s work as director

is certainly nonconformist (her

all-female version of La Bohéme

was set in the Occupy Wall Street

movement), she does not see the

operatic canon as something to

be simply toppled. Perhaps it is her experience as a singer that

leads her to understand operas, instead, as complex, openended

texts. “With the works that come to us from another era, a

lot of the interpretation comes from the question of who we trust

to be the reliable narrator. Do we go with what the composer is

telling us, or the librettist, or one of the characters, who may not

necessarily be the protagonist?”

OPERA

“Carmen does not have

the luxury of thinking

outside of herself; she

is not concerned with

changing a culture”

PREVIEWS

JULIA MINTZER

Liverpool Empire – 26/03-28/03

Ahead of starring in the title role in the Welsh National Opera’s latest

production of Carmen – a world-renowned 19th-century French tale

– mezzo-soprano and director Julia Mintzer speaks to Vid Simoniti

about the potential of portraying historical roles with contemporary

feminist influences.

With Der Vampyr, for example, this resulted in a surprising

but compelling interpretation. “With

the three ingenues, I thought –

they’ve got no agency to fight their

way out of their oppressive present,

so their best option is to wait it

out… which might take forever. So

immortality as a vampire becomes

a very appealing option.” 19thcentury

village girls may not have

been able to conceptualize that,

but Julia gets around the problem

precisely with the humorous staging:

the improbable seems more natural

when it is funny.

Indeed, some of those rare

moments of cathartic self-criticism –

which, we might think, all dramatic

arts aim to encourage in their audiences – may be more easily

reached through laughter than tragedy. The other directorial

construct of Der Vampyr was that the vampire anti-hero needed

to obtain consent before biting. “At some points,” remembers

Julia, “the audience giggled uncomfortably at the word ‘consent.’

The idea was to catch the viewer off guard with extremely dark

humour, then let them be shocked to realize what they’d laughed

at – to hold a mirror up to the process of desensitisation

that’s become the norm in so much popular media.”

Julia’s approach in both directing and singing roles

seems, to me, to capture one way out of the predicament

that I have always felt exists with restaging classics, be

they opera or theatre. Classics can be layered, compelling,

beautiful works: that is why they have survived the test

of time. But they are shot through with political distance

that makes them especially hard to watch ‘in public’. In the

auditorium, our elation, tears and laughter become a matter

of public knowledge. We feel duty-bound to challenge the

moral flaws of previous centuries, lest our fellow-watcher

should mistake our silence for complicity; but, on the other

hand, heavy-handed adaptations can soon feel clumsy and

sanctimonious. Letting the politics bubble to the surface

through humour, or through complex characterisation, seems

like a better way forward. !

Words: Vid Simoniti

juliamintzer.com

Carmen by the Welsh National Opera shows at the Liverpool

Empire, Thursday 26th to Saturday 28th March.

PREVIEWS

35


PREVIEWS

FESTIVAL

OPEN CIRCUIT

Various venues – 14/03-22/04

Open Circuit

OPEN CIRCUIT FESTIVAL has announced four events which will again be exploring

the bond between music and technology through artist discussions, panels and live

events. Curated by members of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Composition and

Technology (ICCaT) at the University of Liverpool, and based in their prestigious

Department Of Music, the centre specialises in research investigating the depth of sound. Their

ethos sees staff and PhD students working together to explore how music composition and

sonic artforms relate to new technology, performance, and perception.

The new season will kick off with international group THE RIOT ENSEMBLE on 14th March,

testing the boundaries of conventional chamber music with a programme that lives up to their

name. Centred around BRIAN FERNEYHOUGH’s virtuosic Liber Scintillarum (Book of Sparks)

and GERARD GRISEY’s spectral masterpiece Talea, this programme explores the extremes of

contemporary ensemble writing. Four days later (18th March), Open Circuit presents Areas Of

Influence with the return of ENSEMBLE 10/10, conducted by CLARK RUNDELL in partnership

with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic. The concert will feature works that are in some way linked

to Schoenberg’s seminal piece Pierrot Lunaire. American minimalist STEVE REICH reinvents

Schoenberg’s classic instrumentation in his Pulitzer Prize For Music winning Double Sextet. These

two classics frame a performance of work inspired by Giraud’s Pierrot Lunaire poetic cycle by

Liverpool-based composer EVE HARRISON, and new work by post-graduate composers BRITTANY

COLLIE and DANIEL THORNE.

On Saturday 21st March, the emphasis is turned to experimental audio-visual work. OLI

CARMAN and Manchester-based composer and audio/visual artist MARK PILKINGTON make

use of hand drawn sketches combined with electronic gestures and patterns derived from human

vocal sounds. Wrapping up the programme on Wednesday 22nd April, the university’s Lunchtime

Concert Series team up with Open Circuit to present internationally renowned cellist JONATHAN

AASGAARD in a programme of classic 20th century American cello works by GEORGE CRUMB,

GITA RAZAZ, STEVE REICH and BEN HACKBARTH.

Further event details can be found at opencircuitfestival.co.uk.

EXHIBITION

AND SAY

THE ANIMAL

RESPONDED?

FACT – 20/03-14/06

Species extinction and the human destruction of animal habitats has been a

growing concern for the last decade. Studies have shown that animals not only

feel emotion, but have their own personalities and ways of communicating

with each other. How has our intrusion on their habitats affected these

species, and to what degree has human activity destroyed them? In response to a

global crisis, FACT enter 2020 with the launch of their Year Of The Living Planet

programme.

It begins with a brand-new exhibition, AND SAY THE ANIMAL RESPONDED? which

brings together a group of artists working on the cutting edge of technology, art, and film

to collaborate on the pressing environmental and ecological issues in our world. Works by

ARIEL GUZIK (Mexico), AMALIA PICA (Argentina/UK), RAFAEL ORTEGA (Mexico), KUAI

SHEN (Ecuador), DEMELZA KOOIJ (Netherlands/UK) and ALEXANDRA DAISY GINSBERG

(UK) knit together a necessary story, giving a voice to those who cannot speak.

Visitors will be immersed in the sonic lives of animals, from the soft interactions

between wolves via a drone camera, to the hydrophone recordings of an ocean choir of

whales and dolphins. The collaboration between these artists asks an important question:

what would animals say to us if we listened to them? Elsewhere in the gallery, a living

colony of leafcutter ants can be heard ‘scratching’ music, as well as a live performance

where gestures used by gorillas, orangutans and chimpanzees will be performed.

The exhibition will run from Friday 20th March until Sunday 14th June.

More information can be found at fact.co.uk

And Say The Animal Responded?

EVENT DISCOVERY PARTNER

ticketquarter.co.uk

36


GIG

Caribou

Invisible Wind Factory – 01/04

Somehow it has been 10 years since CARIBOU’s legendary Kazimier

gig. The solo project of Canadian musician Dan Snaith takes to the

road after a five-year hiatus (although very busy with his dancefloor

focused Daphni project), bringing with him his full live band. Blending

electro-pop with nostalgic house, Snaith captures the essence of the

new electronic generation while acknowledging its past. Caribou will

arrive on the back of new album Suddenly which is due to be released

on 28th February. Single Never Come Back premiered as Annie Mac’s

Hottest Record on BBC Radio 1 and shows the steps the Canadian has

taken to develop a more dancefloor-conscious sound.

Caribou

FESTIVAL

Doc’N Roll Film Festival

FACT and British Music Experience – 26/03-29/03

Music and film, together in unison – surely there is no greater combination? One of our

favourite purveyors of independent cinema, DOC’N ROLL FILM FESTIVAL returns with

five documentaries that shine a light on musical figures and the pioneers who continue

to prove the art form is a universal language of hope and inclusion. The Liverpool leg

of the national festival showcases a range of films from several different genres. We

will witness the births of two major movements in the country’s musical heritage: UK

Drum & Bass in The Rest Is History and synthwave in The Rise Of The Synths. The

more overtly political side of music is captured with the energising film White Riot,

charting the vital London protest movement, Rock Against Racism. There is also a

chance for movie buffs to travel to Zambia for the resurrection of a forgotten rock icon

in W.I.T.C.H. docnrollfestival.com

W.I.T.C.H.

GIG

Shaun Martin’s Three-O

Invisible Wind Factory – 22/03

From his work with Snarky Puppy golden days to his solo releases to

his production work with Erykah Badu and Kirk Franklin, Grammynominated

artist SHAUN MARTIN has brought his signature style,

grace and versatility to all that he has touched. Live, Martin’s virtuosic

skills on the piano – from delicate riffs to dance party rhythms – are an

expression of the comfort and power that a master musician finds in

his art. Joined by Matt Ramsey on bass and Mason Guidry on drums,

Shaun Martin’s Three-O will be a riot of ecstatic jazz fusion. Get your

tickets now from ticketquarter.co.uk.

GIG

Cigarettes After Sex

O2 Academy – 29/03

Stopping off in Liverpool during a massive tour of the UK and Europe, Texas-based

CIGARETTES AFTER SEX will arrive after a whirlwind few months having just

released their second album, Cry, on Partisan Records. Some of you may remember

the band’s initial debut Nothing’s Gonna Hurt You Baby, which became somewhat

of a YouTube sensation in 2012, and has today gained over one hundred million

streams. A lush, cinematic meditation on the complex facts of love, their newest effort

Cry tells a complicated story through the eyes of frontman Greg Gonzalez. His lyrics

take their inspiration from films by Éric Rohmer and the songs of Selena and Shania

Twain, blending filmic artistry with pop amusement.

GIG

Yorkston/Thorne/Khan

Philharmonic Music Room – 14/03

Yorkston/Thorne/Khan

Indian classical music, jazz and the Scottish folk tradition combine in stunning fashion

in the improvisational hands of JAMES YORKSTON, JON THORNE and SUHAIL YUSUF

KHAN. Since meeting by chance bcakstage at a show in 2015, the trio have worked

together on some truly inspiring music that has seen them explore their own diverse

musical heritages. The night will consist of two sets: the first to explore their new LP

Navarasa: Nine Emotions, which takes in Robert Burns and Sufi poetry; and the second

set allows the trio to take a leisurely trip through varied back catalogue of spidery

compositions, ragas and genuine exploration.

GIG

Bido Lito! Social w/ Aimée Steven

26/03 – The Zanzibar

After a little break, a chance to re-charge the batteries, the Bido Lito! Social is back.

And we’re scoring a first for our regular Social by taking the roadshow to the newly

spruced up Zanzibar for the first time. For this show we’re going to be joined by

Scouse guitar star AIMÉE STEVEN, who’ll be bringing some Gallic-flavoured noir pop

to the top of the bill. We’ll also have plenty more groove on the night, courtesy of the

dreamy ELI SMART, whose gravelly new song Deep Inside Your Garden is a stonecold

winner. The same can be said of the wonky guitartronica of BORTH’s new single

Something’s Happening. As usual, Bido Lito! members go free – find out more about

our Membership at bidolito.co.uk. Accept no imitations.

Aimée Steven

PREVIEWS

37


REVIEWS

Dance Of Malaga (Theaster Gates)

“Dance Of Malaga

is deeply affecting,

oscillating from life

to death and love

to pain through its

blend of imagery”

Theaster Gates: Amalgam

Tate Liverpool – until 03/05

Mankind is capable of doing terrible things. At the turn of the

20th Century, a small, mixed-race community living on a 42-acre

island called Malaga, situated off the coast of Maine in the USA,

was forcibly evicted by the state with less than a fortnight’s

notice. The uprooting of this community was driven by abhorrent

proponents of the eugenics movement (deeming some islanders

to be “intellectually unstable” because of their interraciality), and

the lucrative prospect of a Coney Island-style tourist destination.

To this day, however, the island remains deserted.

A leading light of the art world, THEASTER GATES straddles

many a métier; artist, ceramicist, urban planner, university

lecturer, community organiser and band member to list a few.

At Tate Liverpool, for his first solo exhibition in the UK, the

Chicagoan polymath presents a breadth of sculpture, artefact

and a film inspired by the small island of Malaga: a harrowing

and widely unknown splinter of American history.

Taking up the entire top floor of Tate Liverpool, there’s a lot

to decipher in Amalgam. Gates’ response to the island’s tragic

truth explores the hybridisation of art forms, a metaphorical

depiction of the island as an amalgamation itself, with its

variety of non-native trees, unique microclimate and the mixedheritage

community who lived there. Neat piles of fused artistic

practices are arranged around the space: planed blocks of wood,

compressed earth and rocks are deftly stacked. Bronze masks

sink in tar, and huge cement blocks push out metal rods. Glass

cases of artefacts are presented in a museum like fashion, with

archival intent.

A black slate wedge staggers out of the ground like an

island itself, a reimagined home of Malaga. Next to it a pile of

broken roof tiles, with a spinning neon ‘Malaga’ atop, glows with

implied destruction. Behind, a visible chronology is scrawled on

a blackboard situating Malaga among the wider history of black

and interracial people in the US and UK. From civil rights laws

to the transatlantic slave trade its chalk notations provide an

inextricable connection to Liverpool’s slaving history.

Dance Of Malaga (2019) is an evocative narrative gleaned

from old photographs, footage and music. The 35-minute film

is deeply affecting, oscillating from life to death and love to

pain through its blend of imagery. The lithe and sensual shapes

of choreographer Kyle Abraham in the dark mossy forest of

Malaga is spliced with crassly sensationalised news reports

of mixed-race families living their normal lives. Conceptually it

explores ideological hybridity and poses questions about what

we know about interracial communities. As a chilling interlude of

Douglas Sirk’s 1959 film Imitation of Life gives way to a lulling

a cappella from a member of Gates’ own musical collective, The

Black Monks, it is apparent that racial identity is much more

complicated than the language used to ‘define’ it.

The centrepiece of the exhibition is a propulsive sound

piece which ebbs through each of the final three rooms. The

haunting score is a swelling lament of sounds; lapping waves,

chiming bells, futuristic gospel. A totemic forest of ash trees,

whittled down to squared off spikes, are stood in rows, some

displaying bronze casts of African masks. The raised floor in the

boxy space suffuses us in reverb – an unburdening, electrical

surfeit of emotion and a lasting, empowering testimony to the

community of Malaga and the emancipation of an untold history.

An accompanying quote seemed to resonate profoundly well

with the final room; “Somewhere in the death of a tree is the

truth of its strength.”

Gina Schwarz / @gschwarz

HMLTD

EVOL @ Arts Club – 13/02

A crack of light bursts across the stage revealing a flash

of blue lipstick, a shimmer of plastic crocodile-skin trench coat

and the radiating glow of a white suit paired with bleached hair

(moustache included). In case you were in any doubt, HMLTD are

here to put on a show.

The strutting thud of LOADED kicks in and with it HMLTD’s

debut album tour bursts into being with the twisted inferno style

that brought the band so much hype back in 2017. Back then,

the music press was salivating at their feet, proclaiming them

rock’s latest saviours and hailing their early singles as glam-punk

crowd-crazers.

But then all went quiet. LOADED tells us why: “I sold my soul

to the devil tonight/And I’m still pretty fucking poor/But my gun

is fucking loaded.” After signing to Sony, in a tale as old as time,

HMLTD realised they had lost control. Things went south and

it’s only now, two years later, they’ve managed to release their

HMLTD (Brian Sayle / briansaylephotography.co.uk)

debut, West Of Eden, under indie label, Lucky Number.

Formerly infamous for their theatrical, custom-themed live

sets, tonight there are no alien tentacles hanging from the ceiling,

or semi-naked wolf ladies whipping up the crowd. Away from

their London home, HMLTD are laid bare before a sadly sparse

Liverpool audience.

But as the 64-bit arcade sounds of Music! strike, it’s obvious

this genre-bending band will deliver, be the crowd 80 or 800.

The strong, close-knit band has a big, dramatic and swerving

sound. And frontman, Henry Spychalski, seeks constantly to build

and intensify his relationship with the audience. It’s climactic.

The band’s older, darker tracks drag us deeper. The soulstirring

Satan, Luella & I has us reaching out and begging along

with Henry, “Luella, won’t you marry me now”. And the darkest,

densest, most disturbed of all, Death Drive and Where’s Joanna?

has the raggedy mosh pit slamming at full tilt.

Peppered throughout, though, are songs like Blank Slate,

which is more dreamy 80s electro-pop. Think a little Depeche

Mode, a little Pet Shop Boys. Similarly, new track Mikey’s Song

reaches for emotive soft-focus synth jangle, and falls a tad short.

It’s here, they lose us a little.

From label laments to losing their synth player three days

before going on tour, HMLTD have suffered some hard knocks.

When you contrast tonight with their first-round heights, the

impact is mixed. On the one hand, it’s knocked them off course,

leaving them more genre-confused than genre bending. And the

set waxes and wanes in confidence as a result. On the other, it’s

knocked a grating pretension out of them, leaving a charismatic

and vulnerable personality that’s hard to resist.

At their best, HMLTD still have the promise of something

great and truly different. The cleverest tracks veer and subvert

like set crescendo To The Door. Pivoting from galloping western

to writhing synth ecstasy and back, HMLTD take us on a glorious

ascent to a captivating frenzy. And it leaves us fervent fans

frustrated and gagging for more.

Clare Dodd / @Claredodd

38


Psycho Comedy

Phase One –15/02

In celebration of their debut album Performance Space

Number One, Liverpool’s own art collective PSYCHO COMEDY

gather with friends and family in a room heightened by genuine

prowess.

Their debut projection may have been five years in the

making, but time feels irrelevant in the presence of artistic

dedication. You can feel the energy in the room. A mere concept

brewed in the mind of Shaun Powell, the Psycho Comedy guise

reflects the inner workings of his psyche. His art collective has

reached a higher level. We are here to witness its elevation.

As the group take to the stage plotted within a sold-out

Phase One, Powell emerges wearing a collar dotted with tiny

lights. The band rattle through their first few tracks including the

self-titled Psycho Comedy, a gritty number that serves as our

first introduction to the group’s resident poet, Matthew Thomas

Smith, another local creative who has been on our radar recently

with his book of poems, Songs, released in November.

Bursting through their alluring single Pick Me Up, the rest of

the band are anchored by the driving, stutter-step drum patterns

of Jack Williams, as guitarist Lydia McGhee guides the band

through Standin’ and I’m Numb.

Need we mention the endless list of influences to which

Psycho Comedy send their praise. The set breathes through the

lungs of New York punk, yet this shouldn’t define them – there

is plenty of originality aside from the comparison to their idols.

Judging by the crowd here this evening, there is endless support

for the raw talent which flows through the veins of our city, the

very same energy that has illuminated so many before them.

Confidence shines through the lyrics in I Am The Silver Screen

and it becomes all the more obvious that it’s Psycho Comedy’s

turn in the spotlight.

Finishing with an encore, the raucous nature of Michigan

State echoes in our eardrums while the band bow in unison to

a crowd quite literally shouting for more. I can rest assured that

tonight was not only the result of creative dedication, but the

beginning of something exciting for a band who have attracted

our attention more than once.

Brit Williams / @therealbritjean

Psycho Comedy (John Latham / @mrjohnlatham)

Fatoumata Diawara

Band On The Wall @ Leaf – 06/02

Having wowed critics with her debut album Fatou in 2011, it

took seven years before FATOUMATA DIAWARA released her

‘difficult’ second, 2018’s Fenfo (Something To Say), to even

greater fanfare and a couple of Grammy nominations, adding

elements of pop and electronica to the more traditional Malian

folk and desert blues. She explained her restrained recording

output and album title in a 2018 interview with OkayAfrica

magazine thusly: “Don’t sing just to sing. Sing to change things,

to make things better. That’s why I can’t have a song every four

months… because I know many people will be listening to my

lyrics.” However, she has not locked herself away during her

search for quality over quantity, she has continued the acting

career that pre-dated her professional involvement in music and

has seemingly never been off the road, performing with her band

all over the world, and collaborating both live and in the studio

with the likes of Damon Albarn, Paul McCartney and Herbie

Hancock.

The room at Leaf is buzzing, standing room only, as a sell-out

crowd are already taking up position before the empty stage. No

support tonight, so not long to wait; the band members appear

and begin a slow, gentle introduction. Sustained cymbal splashes

wash over the crowd as Diawara, in striking sapphire turban,

guitar in hand, makes her way through the crowd. She walks on

stage, smiles that smile, and lays down some bluesy licks over

the rhythm, before the band hit the groove of Don Do.

She addresses the crowd before the second song, Kokoro,

and lays down a template for the evening; a mixture of cultural

celebration and protest – let us rejoice in the music, theatre,

community of Africa, let us rail against its injustices, its crimes

against women and children.

Timbuktu (“where we cannot play music today”), from the

2014 movie of the same name, is introduced as a paean to

children suffering, not just in her homeland but around the world.

Her anguished vocal does justice to the subject, underscored by a

soulful keyboard groove by Arecio that could have come straight

out of Muscle Shoals. The set is embellished throughout with his

masterful jazz/blues/soul-inflected playing. From its soulful roots

the song develops via a blistering guitar solo from Yacouba Kone,

to a rocky finale as drummer Jean Baptiste works the whole of

his kit.

The rhythm section of Baptiste and Sekou Bah (bass) is

funkier than a mosquito’s tweeter, as they drive us at varying

tempos through the night, stop-starting in immaculate fashion,

maintaining a subtle, irresistible groove, and individually

demonstrating their virtuosity; Bah with a Jaco Pastorious style

solo, Baptiste in a teasing vocal-drum challenge with Diawara.

Diawara and Kone fire solos and rhythms off each other, the

coolest guitar-slingers in town, as the band effortlessly segues

between rock, desert blues, highlife and Afrobeat. When Diawara

solos she arches her back, face skywards, eyes closed. She could

be anywhere, but she’s here with us, a symbiotic relationship

growing by the second as the jam-packed Leaf audience moves

as one. At other times she is wholly in the room, making eye

contact with audience members, smiling at them in an intimacy

felt by all.

Throughout the evening she praises her musical heroes,

her muses – among them Fela Kuti, Oumou Sangaré and Nina

Simone, whose version of the spiritual Sinnerman is triumphantly

covered, Fatou unwinding her turban and allowing it to fall free,

covering her face and torso – “I ran to the Lord”, singing veiled,

the band cooking, her vocal more and more intense – “I said Lord

hide me, please”, until she pulls the veil away and, dreads flying,

proceeds to orchestrate the wide-eyed crowd with a dance of

possessed, uplifting intensity – “Sinnerman, you ought to be

prayin’, ought to be prayin’, Sinnerman”.

The deep intensity of the middle section gives way to the

more upbeat bounce of Sowa (the only song from her debut

album) and Bonya, both ripe with the possibility of crowd

interaction, but not the forced, crowd-control freakery of the

insecure; this is a mutual bonding, Diawara and the band

are smiling as widely as the audience, clearly revelling in the

crackling atmosphere. The crowd are singing choruses, clapping

rhythmically along, and, under the conducting arm of Diawara,

crouching lower and lower before leaping for the sky and

continuing a bounce reminiscent of a Maasai Adumu ceremony

(or of pogoing to X-Ray Spex in Eric’s circa ’78 to those of a

certain vintage!).

The small setting has proved a success. Diawara retires to

the side of the stage while the entire crowd chants for more. As

the encore, Anisou, gets into its stride she smiles at someone

in the front row, extends her hand, and pulls him on stage.

Before long about 10 crowd members have been invited to join

them. They dance and worship in a joyful, exuberant finale that

cements the togetherness of the occasion. Diawara, meanwhile,

jumps down from the stage and makes her exit, orchestrating a

series of whirlpool like circle dances that moves her across the

room amidst the whooping crowd. The band plays on. No one

wants this to end.

Early February. Too early, I know, to speak of ‘gigs of the

year’. But the bar has been set. Follow that.

Glyn Akroyd / @glynakroyd

Fatoumata Diawara (Kevin Barrett / @kevbarrett)

REVIEWS 39


REVIEWS

Sinead O’Brien

+ Egyptian Blue

Get It Loud In Libraries @ Birkenhead

Library – 02/02

For me, libraries have always been places of

subversion. Just like the time my mum walked into

my room, aged eight, to a tirade of “fucks” emitting

from an audiotape of A Curious Incident of The

Dog In The Night Time. Or aged 11, trying to get

my head around a borrowed copy of Ginsberg’s

Howl, to little avail, leaving my imagination tripped

out on lysergic disorientation from the tiny pocket

copy – its themes of peyote trips, sexual liberation

and 60s counterculture flying wildly over my head.

The awkward exchange when asking for a copy

of Ka-tzetnik 135633’s House Of Dolls, aged 13,

after becoming obsessed with Joy Division, before

retracting my interest after being told I’d have to

order from The British Library. Birkenhead Library is a

building that shaped me: its content and staff opened

entire new worlds for me.

My library card has been lying dust-covered

in a drawer for some time, but now, upon entering

once more, I’m hit floods of nostalgia. This is quickly

broken, however, by EGYPTIAN BLUE. From southern

shores, but with the harsh industrial bleakness of

late-70s northern towns, they cut through the quiet

conversations that hum throughout the room, like a

knife. Angular trench coat post punk reverberates

through the room, deep Gothic baritones colliding

with the clash of Vox Phantoms. The four-piece’s

gaunt faces and sepia fashion juxtapose with the

vibrant colours of the children’s book display that’s

emblazoned behind them on the wall. Young children

with bright blue ear defenders run wildly between

stage and bookcases, while the intense wall of

sound builds, bold and powerful and tight. The band

observes the societal norms of libraries and keeps

conversation to a minimum, instead letting their

sound say everything they need. It’s a short, sharp

shock, and then they’re gone, vanishing without a

trace back amongst the shelving units.

As a storm brews outside the window, grey skies

hang heavy over Wirral; but among the books we

are safe as SINEAD O’BRIEN takes the stage. Smiles

and “thank you”s for coming quickly fade from her

face as she enters a transcendental state, poetry

flowing out of her. Her Irish brogue swoops and soars

between tight riffs and drum rolls. It’s a captivating

performance. Hypnotic, in fact, with the aural

concoction leaving the audience in a trance-like state.

Musically, it’s quite unlike anything that’s currently

happening. Eyes fixed and ears tuning in and out of

focus after each song, O’Brien seems to return to her

personable self, offering for children to come and

dance with warm grins. In a room of a million words,

from Joyce to Welsh, the crowd stands fixed, focusing

merely on hers.

It’s a day which offers up a golden haze of

childhood memories, while also cementing that the

future is bright for music, literature and libraries.

Maybe I should dust off my card.

Sinead O’Brien (Lee Willo / @lee_willo_)

Matt Hogarth

Sorry

Harvest Sun @ EBGBs – 08/02

There’s always a risk that running through most of your debut album before its release will alienate your audience, but SORRY make it

work for them. After a couple of years of hype-inducing live shows and mixtapes, followed by an abrupt disappearance and just as abrupt

return late last year, the London post-punk four-piece – headed by the dual vocal talents of Asha Lorenz and Louis O’Bryen – are finally

dropping debut album 925 at the end of March. On a blustery Saturday night in the packed-out basement space of Liverpool club EBGBs,

they let everyone know why we should be counting the days until we can hear it in full.

While they keep audience interaction to a minimum, the crowd is more than happy to make as much noise as the band, starting

immediately with them opener (and lead single from 925), Right Around The Clock. Its interpolation of Tears For Fears Mad World turns

heads, even those loitering at the bar, and provides an unusual singalong to kick off an evening mainly defined by head nodding.

There’s very little question of coming up for air for the first part of the set: despite the mood set by their on-record performance, the live

version of Sorry has a distinctly punk mentality. Things are kept simple, and changeovers between songs are kept brief, all the better to keep

up the show’s momentum.

While things inevitably lag slightly during the unheard cuts from the album, they crescendo during the one-two punch of Starstruck and

Rock ’N’ Roll Star. The former, being the irresistible slice of indie-pop that put their name on the map, gets a very warm reception from the

hardcore fans in the small pit that forms in the crowd, while the latter skewers the figure of the predatory ‘washed up rock ’n’ roll star’ at the

same time that it elevates Sorry to their own level.

The last leg of the set runs through a few fan favourites – including highlights from their run of 2017 singles, such as Showgirl and, as an

explosive set closer, Lies. While many bands in the new wave of British punk music have chosen to eschew more conventional songwriting,

Sorry’s take on pop-rock is one that fits perfectly, in spite of the band’s relative youth. If they’re putting on shows this polished and energetic

without even an album out, we can only imagine what they’ll be doing only a year from now.

Luke Charnley

Sorry (Fin Reed / @Finlayreed)

40


Alex G

I Love Live Events @ Phase One – 07/02

ALEX G is something of a pioneer in his field of complex,

lo-fi grunge. The Philly artist recently released his fourth studio

album House Of Sugar (though four more bedroom efforts

lurk in the crevices of the internet) and it is another jewel in

his catalogue. Experimental and glimmering, yet carrying an

expectedly beautiful ruggedness.

It’s the first night of his UK tour in support of said record as

he rolls in to Phase One. A tough job lies ahead. Even though

this show was quick to sell out, you get a feeling that the packed

room might have misjudged how they wanted to spend their

Friday night. Conversations are loud, beers are being consumed

and there’s a strange rowdiness in the air for a night which

promises to be draped in detail, nuance and colour. After-all,

though, Alex G is a masterful outlier who has played more than

his share of tricky rooms over the years.

He plays favourites new and old this evening, and it’s

refreshing to see the figure on stage and in his element again.

Through the consistent output of his unique emotive bedroom

grunge, Alex G has become a cult figure in the eyes of his

listeners, and with tracks like Bobby and Kicker on display

tonight, it’s easy to see why. Newer songs like Gretel and Walk

Away also sound the part. In these moments, the band muscle

through the weird energy in the room and receive spirited

applause from the crowd.

Despite all this, nothing seems to truly hit home in the

way you’d expect it to. Some of the strange album breaks and

interludes make for a disjointed listen and the set never really

seems to find its flow. Maybe it’s because it’s the first night of

the tour, or perhaps the time and place just don’t click on this

particular occasion. Either way, you come away with a slight

sense of disconnect between those onstage and those in the

audience.

Although tonight’s show lacks that magic spark, you still

leave with a huge amount of respect for Alex G and his band;

it certainly won’t deter us from pulling our headphones on and

delving into his remarkable catalogue. You also can’t deny the

constant brilliance of the man as a songwriter and musician. For a

boundary-pushing artist of his stature to be selling out a UK tour

like this should not be overlooked, and in itself speaks volumes of

his artistic merit. Tonight, unfortunately, there is just something

amiss.

Alex G (Stuart Moulding / @OohShootstu)

Rhys Buchanan / @rhys_buchanan

Inhaler

+ FEET

EVOL @ O2 Academy – 12/02

With long hair and moustaches aplenty, FEET take to the stage like they’ve

walked straight out of the 1960s. Within seconds the five-piece are prancing

and dancing about, barely standing still throughout their half hour set. They’re

eye-catching and impressive, with their tunes living up to their on-stage energy.

With unconventionally blunt song titles such as English Weather, Dog Walking

and Petty Thieving, it’s clear that the band do not operate within your typical

flowery songwriting boundaries. This, nonetheless, is part of Feet’s appeal; quirky

and eccentric songs about the mundane that oscillate from the jangly heights of

Britpop to the head-banging indie-rock à la Shame and Fontaines D.C. Their songs

are certainly more vibrant and energetic than they are on record, which perhaps

undervalues their talent as a tight-knit, energetic live band. Their short set was

everything a support slot should be; compelling the crowd to take note and making it

almost irresistible to not join in on the fun.

If you have already heard of INHALER – tipped by the BBC as one of the

upcoming Sounds of 2020 – it is quite likely that you have heard that lead singer Eli

Hewson is the son of Paul Hewson, i.e. Bono. Whether you see this as a help or a

hindrance for a young band trying to make a name for themselves, it is inevitably a

talking point that catches people’s attention and curiosity. Questions are instantly

posed of the band; are they any good? Do they sound like U2? Are they better or

worse than his dad’s band? For now, with only a handful of songs released, it is

perhaps unfair to make a sweeping assessment on these questions. In response to

the family connection, Hewson (junior) has stated that it has only driven the band to

want to be better, to prove themselves and the reject the naysayers. They certainly

look the part as they brazenly swagger around stage – albeit with a lot less energy

and enthusiasm than their support.

From their first song, new single We Have To Move On, it becomes clear why

the Dublin four-piece have garnered a reputation and fan base that warrants

their Academy booking, despite no album yet to their name. The majority of their

songs are catchy indie-pop, full of big choruses that seem almost designed to be

sung in unison with an adoring crowd. Nevertheless, the Bono-shaped cloud that

hangs over the band comes more and more to the forefront as the gig continues.

The big choruses, the easy-going melodies and even Hewson’s vocal delivery and

mannerisms, distinctly mirror U2 and his dad. Ice Cream Sundae could very well

be With Or Without You, without the lyrical muscle. Similarly, My Honest Face is a

ringer for Beautiful Day – these, just two examples.

Inhaler are clearly a talented band with a knack for writing a great pop song. As

their 2020 tour schedule sees them playing their own gigs and festivals across the

globe, they undoubtedly seem to have the drive to succeed. Their songs, perhaps

unconsciously, seem written with a desire to be sung back to them in arenas and

stadiums in years to come. Nevertheless, with the weight of one of the world’s

biggest rock stars an inescapable shadow over the young band, for now, it is my

hope they are slightly more adventurous.

Conal Cunningham

Inhaler (John Johnson / @John.Jono)

REVIEWS

41


Isobel Campbell

Harvest Sun @ Philharmonic Music Room

It’s both surprising and endearing to witness ISOBEL

CAMPBELL’s unease as she segues from one beautiful track to

another. The Scottish folk singer could be considered an indie

icon, with 25 years’ experience collaborating and fronting some

of the most enduring projects from either side of the pond. Yet

she struggles to raise her head as she talks nervously about

tuning up and anxiously awaits her three-piece backing band to

ready themselves for the next number.

Once a track starts, though, it is clear why Campbell’s music

is so highly regarded. Whether it’s guitarist Andrew Pattie

picking the opening notes of Vultures or violinist Nina Violet’s

strains to ring in Seafaring Song, the solace and appreciation in

the Music Room is palpable. We are treated to a set which spans

the full scope of her career, but it’s the songs from this year’s

releases which feel like a realisation of self-confidence.

Another track from her 2020 output, National Bird Of India, is

exquisitely rendered tonight. The delicate harmonies, hushed

vocals and beatific melody are deservedly the centrepiece of a

recent eponymous EP release, and the packed auditorium tonight

greet it with requisite enthusiasm. From the same EP, the driving

psych of Tom Petty’s Runnin’ Down A Dream proves Campbell

has more than one gear, something she has done throughout her

career with the various projects she has lent her talents too.

When Campbell sits down with her cello, it’s a joy to pick up

every nuance of the frayed notes in the Music Room’s perfect

acoustics. The sparse instrumentation of each track, particularly

Mark Lanegan collaboration Saturday’s Gone and newie Rainbow,

is hungrily consumed by the seated devotees in the room.

It’s a comprehensive set, lasting well over an hour, and

a sweet note is ended on with Is It Wicked Not To Care. The

Belle and Sebastian number represents a good three or four

chapters earlier in Campbell’s career, but she pays it the respect

Isobel Campbell (Tomas Adam)

it deserves. And respect is something we aren’t short of here on

Myrtle Street tonight.

Gus Polinski

The Lathums

Arts Club – 12/02

The lights go down, the music fades, but the excited

murmurs of the crowd remain. It seems that nothing can

suppress the buzz as THE LATHUMS take to the stage.

Only forming around two years ago, the Wigan-based group

have sky-rocked to new heights of local indie-rock adoration.

Selling out tours, and perforating the radio waves, the group’s

music mixes the best qualities of predecessors such as The

Smiths and Dire Straits, all while adding a 21st-century twist.

The result is an engaging, electric sound that seems to have

attracted fans from all over. Even in the midst of dreaded storm

Ciara, different ages, accents and faces all make up the audience,

all awaiting the group’s set. But as mixed as the crowd may be,

as the night gets started, the array of people seems to come

together, united in their excitement for a band that have been

tipped for greatness.

The group kick off the night with Villainous Victorian, an ideal

opener to show off their infectious charm. An already ecstatic

crowd is launched into a frenzy from the riotous guitar riffs, as

frontman Alex Moore belts out the quick-witted lyrics to the

manic masses. It’s rare that vocals translate from record to live

performance as well as Moore’s do, but the young singer belts out

the notes with ease, doling out some of his cheeky charm to the

front of the crowd, the impressive backing remaining in groove.

As the set continues, what becomes particularly striking is

how equally matched the dedication between crowd and band is.

Few bands can truly connect people together through their music,

but it seems that The Lathums have no casual attenders in the

crowd tonight; each individual seems as obsessed with the band

as the next. An infectious “Up The Lathums” chant starts after the

track Fight On. Here, the band seem genuinely taken aback by the

audience’s word for word rendition, despite only releasing the song

two weeks earlier. From then on, the chant becomes an echo to

every song of the night, with the band, humble as ever, responding

to the adoration with grateful shouts of “Thank you”.

The group end the night in a blaze of glory with the track

Artificial Screams, reigniting the crowd to come together and

thrash about one last time. Becoming as frantic as the crowd,

the group seems as lost in their music as the audience, and seem

to leave everyone in the room with a genuine gratitude to have

experienced this night of outstanding music in such an intimate

venue. However, as grand as this feeling is, it’s one that won’t be

had for long. It seems that already The Lathums are outgrowing

their niche-indie status, and becoming something much bigger.

A phenomenon? Maybe. Indie icons? One day, if their trajectory

remains the same.

Lily Blakeney-Edwards

The Lathums (John Latham / @mrjohnlatham)

Swan Lake

Saint Petersburg Classic Ballet

@ Storyhouse – 30/01

One of the most iconic ballets graces the stage at

Storyhouse tonight as we welcome the young stars of the Saint

Petersburg Classic Ballet to Chester.

Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece, SWAN LAKE – a ballet that was

originally snubbed by audiences when it first premiered in 1877

– continues to entertain with its timeless tale of love and loss. A

doomed princess and her maidens are put under a treacherous

spell by a sorcerer named Rothbart and damned to an eternity

living life in daylight as swans on a lake filled with their own tears.

Under the expert direction of Marina Medvetskaya, founder

of the Saint Petersburg Classic Ballet company and former prima

ballerina, it is no surprise that the performance is flawlessly

choreographed. The set, simple yet elegant, glows behind the

dancers, a small castle sitting atop a striking group of mountains.

In true celebration of the artform, a live orchestra complements

the performance, adding classical purity to this traditional

Russian staging and heralding the eventual dramatic conflicts.

From its opening sequence, we are introduced to our

protagonist. Perhaps the most pivotal sequence of the entire

performance, and one that young ballerinas worldwide dream

of undertaking, is the princess Odette/Odile lead role. The

room falls silent as the elegance of Odette, portrayed by Alina

Volobueva, sweeps across the stage. Not only is her presentation

stunning, with white feathers placed delicately on her crown,

but she carries a world of emotion in her eyes; the true sadness

of what has happened to her can be felt by the audience as her

fate is kept in the hands of her one true love, Prince Siegfried.

Her role as both black and white swan shows a high level of

dedication, true expressiveness. The acting is breath-taking.

The performance throughout is filled with a cast of other

light-hearted characters, such as the irresistibly amusing jester,

astounding us with his charm and perfectly-timed pirouettes.

Most intimidating, however, are the piercing white eyes and stark

make-up of Rothbart, which heightens the deviousness of his

character as he dominates the stage with terror.

As Swan Lake celebrates its 143rd anniversary this month,

the timeless piece still brings delight to new audiences around

the world with its glimmer of magic. The Saint Petersburg

Classic Ballet have brought their own innovative approach to a

much-loved tradition. Simple, yet powerful.

Brit Williams / @therealbritjean

REVIEWS

43


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ARTISTIC

LICENCE

This month’s selection of poetry is taken from visual artist nil00’s

work Gulf, a project which combines music and poetry with glitch

art extracted from Google Earth. Written as a longing love letter to

Iran amid escalating US tensions, the Scouse/Iranian artist riffs

on the heartbreak of homeland separation and the hollow stasis of

reconnection through satellite imagery.

Gulf is a heartbreak poem I wrote, longing for Iran one morning in January, a few days after the military strike that

spawned a wave of callous WWIII jokes.

I had plane tickets for Iran – I was supposed to go on 15th January and stay for two months. I decided to postpone

the trip because things have been so volatile.

The US has been meddling with Iran for decades – all the way back to the CIA’s 1953 coup d’etat, which toppled

democratically elected Prime Minister Mossadegh, and sparked a chain of events that ended with the 1979 revolution. When I

think about the political games they play with our sanity, our lives, it’s anger first, then raw grief. It’s the way the people making

these decisions have simply decided to put compassion aside. It’s a hollow, powerless feeling – a solitude that absorbs you in a

room full of people.

Missing Iran is visceral, too big a feeling to engage – it sinks beneath my consciousness and splits me into different sorts of

frenzy. I wrote this poem and created its adjoining video, of which screenshots are featured, because I needed it – I felt was really

starting to lose Iran.

Iranians have a tradition where we open a book of Hafez’s poetry at random, and interpret the verse that appears as advice

or commentary meant for us. We do this on special occasions. This winter solstice, Hafez told me “the trip you take to Shiraz is

enough – the trip you take in your mind is more important”.

To make the adjoining video for the poem, I visited all the places I wanted to go see in Shiraz this month, only via Google Earth.

The cursor speeding across continents that day was my aching heart, meandering among Shah-Cheragh’s dazzling lights and

Persepolis’ ruins.

Words and imagery: nil00

youtube.com/watch?v=H15HvuiDy5k

Gulf

Wake up scared

Something like loneliness

Crying with longing

Is this the beginning of exile

Will I see you again

It’s been such a long time since I felt you

Will I now cry for you every day

Will I speak your name with lowered eyes

What misplaced pity will I endure

What guilty eyes will flit about, all fleeing

I wake up in my lovers arms craving another darling scent

your dust in the morning

Rain on the way to school in Shiraz

Each time I kiss you goodbye is forever

I know you’ll be changed next time

Won’t feel your streetlights on my face

I’m afraid you won’t be shining when I see you again

The rumble of taxis and the grumbling people

Waking up to silence, longing for the salesman’s insufferable chattering

The air tenses, normality stretches and bends

My annoying darling cousins won’t

tag along

I won’t hear the new songs on car radios

The children will grow tall and serious without me to witness them

They WhatsApp me their homework

I don’t have time to do it

I am crying

I am crying

There are sights I had in mind

Will u still be mine

Will u still be mine

52


ARTISTIC LICENCE

53


SAY

THE FINAL

“Let’s start working

on relaunching news

on a grassroots level

and start to take notice

of democracy in our

neighbourhoods”

In December 2019, Britain’s longest-running community newspaper, Scottie Press, relaunched with editor

Joel Hansen at the helm. With the paper retaining a commitment to its hyperlocal focus on Vauxhall and

North Liverpool, Hansen argues for a greater engagement with community journalism as means of making

change from the ground up.

As we painfully get to grips with the results of

December’s general election, for many of us, the last

two months have left us fearing what’s to come from

the next four-year drag of Tory reign. Alongside the

lingering cynicism for the future, Labour supporters throughout

the country have been left stumped, questioning, ‘How did this

happen’?

There are a myriad of answers out there; people will tell

you it was down to Brexit, or it was the Labour Party fractiously

fighting against itself. They may be right. For me, one thing was

clearer than most; the billionaire-backed biased media turned

it up to 11 to ensure their Eton-educated boy became Prime

Minister.

As the editor of SCOTTIE PRESS newspaper based in North

Liverpool, my career as a journalist is just beginning. I took on

the role three years ago, aged 23, on a mission to save the

publication from going out of print. Even without formal training

as a journalist, my duty to be truthful, accountable and objective

is the most fundamental part of my job. And I didn’t need a

degree to know that either. It’s as simple as choosing to do right

or wrong, having integrity and also a conscience. I know this,

but today’s news climate now seems to have become devoid of

journalistic standards and humane morals.

It was no shock that the usual suspects reeled off the

expected nonsense in the lead up to the election, as the

tabloid media campaign to discredit Jeremy Corbyn became a

vindictive witch-hunt absent of fact. But what did concern me

was the coverage from BBC News, whose series of ‘mistakes’

conveniently seemed to endorse Boris Johnson, leaving serious

questions surrounding the neutrality and credibility of our

national broadcasting service.

So, what now? We are seemingly headed in a downward

spiral in to a post-truth world and areas across the country

are left feeling helpless to further government cuts. Unjust

policies and attacks on the freedom of the press lay on the

horizon. While Labour strongholds such as Liverpool become

marginalised, isolated and ever more powerless under the

serving government, the vital reforms needed for working-class

communities seem farther away than ever.

Although I think it’s important for everyone to engage

in political discussions, it can become easy to get caught up

in discourse that almost becomes a self-perpetuating echo

chamber full of self-assuring opinions and repeated statements.

We can’t change the outcome of the election but we can still

focus on what’s happening on our doorstep at a time when it

feels like we’ve lost control, have no voice and feel detached from

national politics and media.

As a democratic society, it isn’t just what’s happening on

a national stage, it’s in our city, it’s in our community and it’s in

our streets. Ensuring accountability through all elected roles is

democracy – that means local council positions and your ward

councilors.

The number of people I hear who engage themselves in

politics nationally but have no regard for their elected councils

is shocking. I see problems in communities and regularly voice

issues raised by residents in wards across North Liverpool that

could be mitigated through better communication, organisation

and accountability on a local level. Yet a feeling of apathy

towards local politics prevents any change from happening.

When faced with national political divisions, a distrust in

mainstream media and no real prospect of a political revolution

anytime soon, I see it as necessary for the resurgence of

grassroots media. Let’s take back control of the news in our

communities; this can be the first step in shaping media

platforms that people can trust, while also engaging the public in

local politics to create a more equal society from the ground up.

Trying to reduce issues that affect our day-to-day lives can

at least give us a glimpse at reforming systems locally through

knowledge, awareness and engaging content in the places

we live and the institutions that locally govern us. It can teach

us how a local government operates, helping people better

understand policies and bring accountability to all elected

officials.

Independent forms of media aren’t just starting to arise on a

regional level but also on the international stage, with access to

the internet alternative mediums are beginning to draw viewers

away from the mainstream as they offer a more relatable, reliable

and honest source of information. The online world has opened

up platforms that don’t have to conform to ideology forced on

them by big business; they allow people the freedom to talk

about what they want without having to be silenced on matters

that don’t support the agendas of the billionaires financing their

news organisation.

This is a new beginning for media and potentially a new

era for politics, so let’s start working on relaunching news on

a grassroots level and start to take notice of democracy in our

neighbourhoods. This could be the start of a paradigm shift the

creates a better world for us all. !

Words: Joel Hansen

scottiepress.org

54


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