5 Unmissable Events Happening In September

By Ade Blackburn

As we head into autumn, there are a host of new events to look forward to and keep you entertained.

Wirral Open Studio Tour 2021

Wirral Open Gallery

The popular Wirral Open Studio Tour is set to return on Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th September.

Now in its eleventh year celebrating visual arts across the peninsula, this free event will see around 70 artists and makers open the doors to their houses or studio spaces.

The Tour gives visitors an exciting opportunity to talk first-hand to the artists and to view their work in the environment it was created, or to just enjoy wandering through the various studios to answer the eternal question ‘What do artists do all day?’.

Various venues, 11/12 September, 10am-5pm, free. 

Positive Vibration Reggae Festival

Positive Vibration Festival 2021 Art of Reggae Exhibition

The UK’s award-winning celebration of reggae music and Jamaican culture, Positive Vibration Festival, returns to the Baltic Triangle 10th and 11th of September.

Since its inception in 2016, Positive Vibration Festival of Reggae has established itself as one of the country’s most exciting and eclectic reggae festivals, playing host to internationally renowned bands, legendary sound systems and some of the brightest new talent.

The line-up includes: The Twinkle Brothers, Mad Professor Ft. Sister Aisha and Benjamin Zephaniah & The Revolutionary Minds.

Baltic Triangle, 10/11 September, 12noon-late.

Uncertain Data

FACT Uncertain Data

How do our feelings, emotions and reactions affect how we experience the world? Uncertain Data brings together four artists in residence at FACT, whose work exposes the complex layers of data that govern us, and questions the trust we place in it.

The four newly commissioned artworks invite us to journey through the depths of the ocean by controlling our emotions in an interactive VR work.

Uncover hard facts and data to reveal the human stories beneath them – exposing the uncertainty our world is built on.

FACT, 15 September – 3 October, 12-6pm, Wednesday-Sunday, free.

Something About George

Where does life take you after being in the greatest band in the history of the world? Something About George answers that question and follows George Harrison’s post-Beatles career.

Featuring beautiful songs like My Sweet Lord, Something, and Handle With Care, the show also includes Harrison’s incredible solo material and music from rock ‘n’ roll’s greatest supergroup, The Traveling Wilburys.

The show is part of the excellent Liverpool Theatre Festival.

St Luke’s ‘Bombed-Out’ Church, 12 September, 5pm and 8pm.

Nick Cave and Warren Ellis

In their first ever tour as a duo, Nick Cave and Warren Ellis head to Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, following the release of their acclaimed album CARNAGE.

While they have composed and recorded soundtracks together, and Ellis is a long-term member of The Bad Seeds, CARNAGE is their first entire album of songs.

Cave and Ellis’ creative chemistry comes from their long history of music making, both as collaborators and as individual artists.

Philharmonic Hall, 27 September, 8pm.


For more events check out our
What’s On section.

Merseyside Coastal and Canal Walks To Explore This Summer

By Ade Blackburn

Coastal Walks In Merseyside

Merseyside is home to many beautiful walks and trails, especially along its coastline. They’re a great way to get outdoors, see some wildlife and make the most of the school holidays.

Our selection of coastal and canal walks includes Wirral’s fascinating wildlife community at Hilbre Island, Anthony Gormley’s ‘Another Place’ statues at Crosby beach and the Otterspool to Pier Head walk, which covers Liverpool’s historic waterfront.

The walks are ideal for keeping the family entertained and exercised this summer.

Garston Coastal Reserve Trail

On the Garston Coastal Reserve Trail you can view birdlife in the estuary and experience a unique view of planes taking off from Liverpool’s John Lennon Airport.

Brimming with wild flowers and bracken, the coastal reserve is a haven for wildlife including gold finches, swallows and different species of butterfly.

The trail stretches from Garston Docks to the airport and is a relatively easy 40 minute walk covering 2.4 miles.

Otterspool Promenade Walk

The Otterspool Promenade to Pier Head walk takes in the whole of the famous Liverpool Waterfront. You can take your time to view the iconic buildings along the river.

Gaze out over the Mersey watching the boats and stop off for a wander in the Festival Gardens along the way. The walk also takes in Liverpool Watersports Centre, the centre provides a variety of affordable activities for individuals and groups.

The route covers 4.9 miles and is suitable for all ages, surfaces are mainly level.

Southport Coastal Walk

The Sefton Coastal Path at Southport is a beautiful journey through a variety of landscapes – perfect for blowing away those cobwebs.

See the impressive Southport Pier, salt marshes of the Ribble Estuary, the RSPB Nature Reserve and the Queen’s Jubilee Nature Trail.

The 9.5 mile route starts at Crossens and finishes at Ainsdale.

Formby Beach and Nature Reserve
Formby Beach and Nature Reserve

Formby Coastal Walk

Along this Formby coastal walk, you’ll find the National Trust red squirrel reserve, the UK’s oldest lifeboat station and the beautiful Formby Beach with its incredible sand dunes.

On a clear day, the views across the Irish Sea are outstanding and a stroll along the beach can reveal many of the shorebirds that make Sefton’s coast so important for wildlife.

There are clearly marked paths along the 4.25 mile route, making it perfect for a day out and family picnic.

Crosby Beach Walk

Crosby Beach has beautiful views over to New Brighton and is also home to the famous sculptures of Anthony Gormley’s  Another Place – 100 cast iron statues stretching for 1.5 miles.

In addition to the ‘Iron Men’, the beach walk takes in the elegant art-deco houses at Marine Terrace and the old seafront residences of Blundellsands. Crosby Lakeside Adventure Centre and West Lancashire Golf Club are also en route.

The walk covers 5 miles from Waterloo to Hightown and mainly uses flat paths.

Lydiate Loop Walk

The Lydiate Loop Walk starts at the historic Running Horses pub in Maghull. The route takes in a fascinating mix of history, wildlife and canal side scenery.

The last leg of the walk will see you take a canal side stroll down a section of the Leeds-Liverpool Canal – the longest canal in the country!

The route is 6 miles and generally flat throughout.

Wirral Way

The Wirral Way is situated within the beautiful Wirral Country Park. The route starts in West Kirby and runs through to Hooton along an old disused railway line.

Wirral Country Park is perfect for seeing wildlife, a variety of birds nest in the dense hedges and you may see up to ten kinds of butterfly in summer.

There are also stunning views over the Dee Estuary to Wales. The entire route is 13 miles but you can just choose to walk sections of the Wirral Way.

Hilbre Island

You can visit Hilbre Island throughout the year, it’s a pleasant walk across the sands from West Kirby to the island – an archipelago and one of just 43 unbridged islands in the UK that can be reached on foot from the mainland.

In the summer, it’s possible to see grey seals swimming just off the shore, and it’s a great place for spotting sightings of rare and endangered wildlife all year round.

It takes roughly an hour to cross the 2 miles to Hilbre Island and is essential to time your walk to fit in with the tides.

The Beatles Story review

Review by Terry Sweeney

 

The Beatles Story is highly recommended for locals and tourists alike.

This is an incredible story of how 4 local lads went on a journey that took them from the early days as the Quarrymen (which John Lennon formed in 1957-aged 16), through to the formation of the Beatles, their development as a band in Hamburg, the Cavern and then their subsequent national breakthrough in the UK.

We follow them to the incredible heights of the Ed Sullivan Show, which helped them conquer the USA, and on to their films, the live worldwide broadcast of All You Need is Love and their final appearance as a group on the Apple roof top concert in 1969.

The exhibition uses a mix of technologies. There are replicas of the Casbah club where they performed many times as a fledgling group, Mathew Street, Abbey Road Studios and The Cavern; all of which help to authentically capture the early ’60s.

The immersive technology allows you to experience the very places that helped make The Beatles the greatest band in the world. The complimentary ‘Living History’ audio guides are available in twelve different languages (English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Russian, Polish, Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese, Brazilian Portuguese and Korean), and take you through stories from each stage of the Beatles journey to the dizzying heights they reached.

The Casbah was regarded by Paul McCartney as the place where it all started. He tells how they ‘helped paint it and stuff. We looked upon it as our personal club’. Pete Best’s mum had set the club up in the basement of their house in Wavertree. The Beatles, at that time were Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, Sutcliffe and Best. They played at the Casbah hundreds of times and started to hone their craft.

We then move through to Hamburg. Allan Williams was the Beatles’ unofficial manager at this period. He arranged a residency for them in Hamburg, for which they auditioned and hired drummer Pete Best in mid-August 1960, before they left. Williams drove them there in his van.

He later fell out with the band and had no further involvement with them. We hear his thoughts on their time in Hamburg and their subsequent success.

Their initial tenure in Hamburg ended with George Harrison being deported (he’d lied to the authorities about his age and was underage to be playing in what were converted strip clubs). A week later McCartney and Best were arrested for arson, and deported, Lennon returned to Liverpool in December and Sutcliffe stayed in Hamburg until late February with his German fiancée Astrid Kircherr.

During the next two years, the Beatles were resident for periods in Hamburg. Stuart Sutcliffe eventually decided to leave the band early tin 1961 and go back to Art College in Germany, which prompted McCartney to move from rhythm to bass guitar. It’s estimated that the band played 1200 hours of music while on their Hamburg residency. The photographs of their time in Hamburg show a young rock and roll band, kitted out on leathers and denim.

After their second Hamburg residency, the band had tightened up musically and become much better showmen. On their return to Liverpool they enjoyed increasing popularity and where a part of the growing Merseybeat movement.  They played lunchtime and evening sessions at the Cavern and were gaining a bigger and bigger local reputation. 

The Beatles Story Liverpool

Through the interactive technology, we get the chance to sample the Cavern experience. We see the Merseybeat newspaper and learn how that was set up on a shoestring and then immediately sold out and became a great success. We see a recreation of the Beatles Fan Club offices, hear how Brian Epstein was introduced to the band and ended up taking over as their manager.

We learn how he turned them into a more professional act and why Ringo Starr replaced Pete Best. Epstein managed to get the band (eventually) signed to EMI and they were taken under the wing of producer George Martin. Martin guided and developed their recordings and helped them increase their technical abilities in the studio; together they developed as recording artists and introduced many innovations into the studio-some of which are still used to this day.

There are some surprising pieces of information here; for example, Martin describes how he had a session drummer play on the first Beatles recording with Ringo Starr consigned to tambourine.

Brian Epstein greatly expanded their domestic success after their first hit, “Love me Do“, in late 1962. We learn how their popularity grew into the intense fan frenzy dubbed “Beatlemania“, and the band acquired the nickname “the Fab Four”. We can sample Beatlemania via recordings of the Ed Sullivan show, and the band’s appearance on the London Palladium for the Royal Variety Performance in the mid 1963.Footage of the fans screaming and fainting outside the Palladium were a taste of things to come

By early 1964, the Beatles were international stars, leading the British Invasion of the United States pop market and breaking numerous sales records. They went on to tour the US a number of times, and famously, when they first came across racial segregation in Florida in 1964, refused to play unless the audience was integrated. This prompted them to have clauses inserted into their contracts stipulating that shows be integrated for their US tours in 1965 and 1966.

 Soon they made their film debut with A Hard Days Night (1964). From 1965 onwards, they produced records of greater complexity, including the albums Rubber Soul (1965), Revolver(1966) and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967), and enjoyed further commercial success with The Beatles (also known as “the White Album”, 1968) and Abbey Road  (1969).

In 1968, they founded Apple Corps, a multi-armed multimedia corporation that continues to oversee projects related to the band’s legacy. After the group’s break-up in 1970, all four members enjoyed success as solo artists. 

The Beatles Story Liverpool Royal Albert Dock

The Beatles Story also spends some time covering the ex-Beatles careers.

Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and Starr all released solo albums in 1970, with one or more of the others sometimes appearing on their solo albums.

Starr’s Ringo (1973) was the only album to include compositions and performances by all four ex-Beatles (but on separate songs). Harrison staged the Concert for Bangladesh in New York City in August 1971, with Starr as a guest. Lennon and McCartney never recorded together again, other than an unreleased jam session from 1974, which was later bootlegged.

After the break up the Beatles Story focuses on Paul McCartney and Wings output, George Harrison’s records and his work as a film producer (including Monty Python movies), Ringo Starr’s hits and film appearances, and John Lennon’s hits and concerts

In 1980, Lennon was shot and killed outside his New York City apartment in the Dakota Building. Harrison died in 2001 of lung cancer.

The latest update to The Beatles Story is a new photographic exhibition ‘Sgt. Pepper Way’, which shows previously unseen images of John Lennon to celebrate what would have been his 80th birthday on October 9th 2020.

The black and white photographs captured Lennon at the ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band on the Road’ theatre show in New York in October 1974, and have never been on public display before.

In the photographs, which have been unseen for over 45 years, Lennon can be seen changing the name of West 74th street on Broadway to Sgt. Pepper Way, sitting at an organ and relaxing in a dark velvet suit, top hat and ‘ELVIS’ lapel badge. 

The photographs were all taken by Robert Deutsch who worked as a freelance photographer in New York during the 1970/80s. Deutsch was recently on a cruise ship which docked in Liverpool and he was able to explore the city in a day-long tour, which included trips to Strawberry Fields, The Cavern Club and The Beatles Story. After visiting, he got in touch with The Beatles Story and offered to share his previously unpublished photographs.

His photographs are an important addition and round of the Beatles Story nicely for those who want to revisit the exhibition and see some fresh material.

The Beatles are back in the news at the moment, with the news that Peter Jackson has released a montage of the 56 hours of material he is editing for the release of his new movie, Get Back, which covers the recording of the eponymous album. That the BBC also screened an Interview with Paul McCartney by Idris Elba over the Christmas period shows that there is an ongoing fascination with the Beatles. 

The Beatles Story; Britannia Pavilion, Albert Dock, Liverpool. Opening times 10am – 3pm.

To find out more and to book tickets visit beatlesstory.com

Uncover New Music Spotlight – NIIX

By Ade Blackburn

NIIX Liverpool Musician

Liverpool-based artist and DJ Kate Hazeldine, has just launched her new music project as NIIX, an inspired combination of pop and edgy electronics.  

NIIX’s previous project LUNA was supported by the likes of Clash Magazine and EARMILK, alongside radio play on BBC Radio 1. Kate was also mentored under the LIMF Academy programme and has emerged as one of the city’s bright hopes. 

The new project is a really exciting shift for Kate, as she mixes harder electronic sounds with pop to provide something really unique. The NIIX project is aptly named after the Greek goddess of night, given the moods and danceable vibes that run throughout the release. Kate will launch the debut EP ‘I’ on 2nd July.

She has collaborated with some inventive local artists on several tracks and everyone involved within the new ‘look’ keeps the music local to the North-West. The EP’s lead track DRV, is a long-awaited collaboration with producer and DJ BRYN, a crunchy pop number, drawing parallels with the likes of Kelela and Murlo.

Kate is proud of being a Liverpool artist and the camaraderie the arts scene provides, she observes:

“The most notable thing about the Liverpool music scene is the sense of community. I’ve always felt supported by the city, allowing me to push boundaries with my music and for that I’m really grateful. It’s also allowed me to collaborate with other local artists and producers, experimenting with sounds that I may not have done alone.”

Also a self-taught DJ as well as producer, NIIX has monthly radio shows on Liverpool’s excellent Melodic Distraction and Steam Radio (Manchester), which are well worth discovering for an eclectic mix of tracks. 

With all this support garnered before her debut release, NIIX is a firecracker simply waiting to be let off. 

Kate’s Digital EP ‘I’ is released on 2nd July. Listen on Soundcloud and Bandcamp.

Upcoming live shows: 

FESTEVOL All-day festival, Future Yard, Birkenhead (New date TBC)

Upcoming DJ gigs:  

Bloom Building, Liverpool, 7 August 

Upcoming radio shows: 

EQUINOX on Melodic Distraction Radio, monthly 

AREA F-5 on Steam Radio Manchester, monthly 

Liverpool On Screen – Explore the city’s cinematic side

Guest article by Gary Lunt of Reel Tours.

Reel Tours - Gary Lunt
Gary Lunt of Reel Tours

You may not have realised it, but Liverpool is a cinematic hub. The city was captured on film for first time in 1897 and believe it or not, that actually pre-dates the first credited Hollywood movie by a staggering thirteen years.

It has been well over a century since the cameras first rolled in our Liverpool home, but it’s connection with the movie and TV world is stronger today than ever. In fact, Liverpool is the most filmed in city in Britain after London and one of Europe’s most popular filming destinations.

Of course, there are many reasons for this, but rather than making this a history lesson, let’s delve straight into some of the locations in the city, that you might pass on a daily basis and have no idea that you’re actually standing on a former film-set.

Letter to Brezhnev

Letter To Brezhnev

Letter to Brezhnev is a tremendous piece of scouse cinema that dates back to 1985. It was written by Frank Clarke and directed by Chris Bernard and it had a tremendous cast, featuring the likes of Alexandra Pigg, Peter Firth, Alfred Molina and Margi Clarke.

It tells the story of two Soviet sailors, Peter (Firth) and Sergei (Molina), who go ashore in Liverpool to spend one night in the city before departing the following morning.  Whilst out on the town, they bump into Elaine (Pigg) and Theresa (Clarke), and an instant romance is formed, so much so, that Elaine writes to the Soviet General Secretary, Leonid Brezhnev, asking for him to arrange a reunion.

The film acts as a postcard of 1980s Liverpool, with plenty of locations still familiar today, but those of you who may frequent the JD Gym on Dale Street, which was previously the State Ballroom nightclub, will be achieving your fitness goals in the very venue where Peter, Sergei, Elaine and Theresa all meet for the first time.

Yesterday

Yesterday

Since The Beatles called it a day back in 1970 there has been a great deal of Fab Four flicks, be it biopics, tales of ‘What if’ and of course jukebox musicals such as the massively underrated Across the Universe from 2007. 

Certainly the most popular of recent Beatles films was Danny Boyle’s Yesterday from 2019, which was written by Richard Curtis and stars Himesh Patel, Lilly James, Ed Sheeran and Joe Fry, just to name a few. 

An unexplained event occurs which plunges the world into a moment of darkness and when all resumes, it appears that nobody can remember who The Beatles are. That however, is nobody, except for struggling musician, Jack Malik (Patel). With this sudden realisation, he decides to pass off the music of John, Paul, George & Ringo as his own, so in order to make everything seem authentic regarding the countless locations that feature in the lyrics of the songs, Jack makes a pilgrimage to Liverpool.

You can take your pick of The Beatles hotspots in the city which all feature predominantly, however, one particularly important exchange isn’t a musical themed location, but merely the gateway into Liverpool. The next time that you pop into Upper Crust in Lime Street station, you can sit at the “Yesterday” table and pretend that you’re the protagonist in a Danny Boyle flick.

Chariots of Fire

Chariots of Fire

It’s quite amazing to think that a film that won four Oscars, including Best Picture which is the most prestigious Academy Award of them all, was actually filmed right on our doorstep. But that’s what happened with Hugh Hudson’s sporting drama Chariots of Fire.

Two men, Harold Abrahams (Ben Cross) and Eric Liddell (Ian Charleson), race for the gold in the 1924 Olympics. While one runs for his faith, the other participates to leave prejudice behind. It’s a stirring tale of friendship, determination and religion all set to an incredible score by Vangelis. Few films have had the cultural impact of Chariots of Fire and with Rowan Atkinson comedically referencing it in the opening ceremony of the London Olympics in 2012, you come to realise just how important of a film it still is.

There are numerous locations in the local area that feature in the film, but the most famous of which has to be the Bebington Oval, which is located on the Wirral. When you’re watching the Olympic games set in Paris, 1924 in the film, you’re actually just on the other side of the river Mersey!

The Irregulars

The Irregulars Netflix Show

The Irregulars is an original Netflix series that went live on the streaming service in March this year and it focuses on the ‘Baker Street Irregulars’ who were a gang of children and young adults, that frequently popped-up in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes’ mysteries. They would act as the Great Detective’s eyes and ears on the ground and supply him with information or “the word on the street”.

Writer, Tom Bidwell, wrote an eight episode series for the streaming giant that focused on the adventures of the gang. It features a talented, young cast, who you can be sure will go on to have long and successful careers in film & TV in the years ahead. Thaddea Graham, McKell David, Jojo Macari, Harrison Osterfield and Darci Shaw make up the Victorian group of friends and they are all backed-up by an equally talented supporting cast.

Of course, the show is set in Victorian England, with much of the action taking place in central London, however, Liverpool once again stepped-up and was able to transform itself into the capital of yesteryear. Locations such as St George’s Plateau and William Brown Street feature in the series, but if you head up to Falkner Street, in the Georgian Quarter of the city, you’ll be able to track down the building that doubles for the famous 221B Baker Street, which of course is Sherlock HQ.

The 51st State

The 51st State

The 51st State is such an important film to Liverpool being used as a major location, as it truly brought the city into the 21st Century by showcasing a wide range of areas that are suitable for making major motion pictures. Not only that, but the cast in the film from outside of the city, all sang Liverpool’s praises afterwards, which surely helped the cause. 

Stars such as Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Carlyle, Emily Mortimer, Rhys Ifans, Meat Loaf and Sean Pertwee all had major roles in the film, as well as top local talent including Ricky Tomlinson, Michael Starke and Paul Barber. The narrative focuses on Elmo (Jackson), who is a master chemist that has created a new drug that provides the ultimate high. News of this new substance of course creates a bidding war between some of the most powerful drug dealers on either side of the Atlantic and things soon take a bizarre and violent turn…

Ronny Yu’s direction makes it a genre mash-up of crime, comedy and action all rolled into one and what is wonderful about it, is that it uses practically the whole city as a backdrop. You see pubs on the outskirts of the region, the docks, some of the iconic buildings of the city centre, but the most memorable scene has to be in the final moments, which takes place in a corporate box at Anfield stadium as Liverpool take on Manchester United. If you haven’t seen the film before, it’s a scene that you’re not likely to forget any time soon.  

The Crown

The Crown

You would be hard pushed to find a TV series that has caused as much of a stir as what The Crown has done in recent years. It just goes to show that there is a real thirst for dramatised Royal gossip and whether you’re a fan of the occupants of Buckingham Palace or not, this has truly become one of the shows most discussed around water coolers in workplaces across the globe.

Earlier this year, series 4 was added to Netlix, however, in the previous series Liverpool, ever a chameleon city when onscreen, was doubling for Washington D.C. in the 1960s. North John Street featured heavily in the scenes as restaurants and shop fronts on the busy Liverpool street were all decorated to make them appear as if you were stood in the American capital.

Street signs were changed, American phone booths were erected and the street was filled with yellow cabs, popular cars from across the pond and of course a series of extras who had all been dressed up to represent the fashions of the swinging 60s.

A House Through Time

A House Through Time Liverpool

A House Through Time is a tremendous documentary series that has aired annually on BBC 2, since its debut in 2018. The show focuses on one individual residential property in a British city and it gives the complete social history of the building and its occupants over the years.

Later this year, the fourth series will be screened, featuring a home in Leeds and previously, properties in Newcastle and Bristol have appeared in the show in the second and third series, respectively, however, in the inaugural series, it was Liverpool that took centre stage.

Renowned historian, David Olusoga helmed the four episodes that revealed the history of the owners of 62 Falkner Street, which is located in the Canning area of the city. The four-bedroom, Grade II listed property has a rich heritage, dating all the way back to the 1800s and catching up with the series on BBC iPlayer, is well worthy use of your time, it is truly excellent television.

Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool

Film Stars Don't Die In Liverpool

Back in 2017, the wonderful drama, Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool, hit cinema screens worldwide. It’s a powerful tale that surprised audiences once they had discovered that it was a true tale. It was written by Matt Greenhalgh, who is certainly no stranger to scouse narratives, after he had previously written the screenplay for Nowhere Boy back in 2009.

The narrative focuses on the personal life Gloria Grahame (Annette Bening), who was an Oscar winning actor and at one time, seen as a screen rival to Marilyn Monroe. In the mid-1970’s, Grahame was predominantly working in theatre and whilst staying in London, she met a young actor from Liverpool called Pete Turner (Jamie Bell), whom she immediately struck-up an instant romance with. 

As their romance blossoms, Grahame falls ill and she decides to try and recuperate away from the limelight, so she retreats to Pete’s family home in Liverpool. It’s a heartwarming tale about a fading film star wanting to spend some time in a city that they love so dearly. 

Of course, there are many locations that feature throughout the films run time, but one prominent scene takes place in Ye Cracke, one of the finest watering holes in Britain. You can visit the pub on Rice Street, order yourself a beverage, pick a tune on their glorious juke box and enjoy the cinematic link that the venue has to offer. 

Boys from the Black Stuff

Boys From The Black Stuff

Boys from the Black Stuff is a gritty five-part drama series that originally aired on BBC Two back in 1982. It was written by Liverpool writer, Alan Bleasdale and it focuses on the social struggles of the British working class during Thatcher’s reign as Prime Minister; in a time when just over one-eighth of the population was unemployed. 

The titular “Black Stuff” is due to the central characters in the show, being tarmac layers before they lost their jobs, and over the course of the five episodes, we see them trying to find their way in world, during a notoriously difficult time.

One of the major locations from the show was The Green Man pub, which was located on Vauxhall Road, just outside of the city centre. Unfortunately, that location has recently been demolished with new housing built on its site, however, one part of the city features in a particularly prominent scene and it is all the more noteworthy due to how it has changed in the years since the shows release.

Today, the Royal Albert Dock is one of the most beautiful parts of the city. It’s a vibrant hub, filled with museums, galleries, restaurants and cafes, and yet, in Boys from the Black Stuff it is shown as being a derelict, tired and dangerous area to visit. It wasn’t until the end of the 1980s, when the now booming area, was drastically redeveloped to make it more appealing to visitors.

If you would like to discover more of Liverpool’s cinematic secrets, then you can join Gary on a film location walking tour by booking online at reeltours.co.uk (new dates are on the site now).

Alternatively you can follow them on their social media channels, which are listed below.

Facebook: ReelToursUK
Twitter: @ReelTours
Instagram: reeltours
YouTube: Reel Tours

10 Fun Activities To Do This Spring

10 Fun Things To Do This Spring

Now that spring is upon us and lockdown is easing, we can start to look ahead to future activities, events and getting outdoors more often.

There is so much to love about the spring season with colourful flowers sprouting up from the ground, sunshine and Easter. It’s an ideal time to try something new and to prepare for the year ahead.

We’ve suggested a range of ideas for spring, including spring crafting, nature walks and also featured resources for mental health and exercise.

Here is a list of ways to enjoy and make the most of spring 2021.

1. Nature walks

There are so many great local nature walks to take on Merseyside and springtime is perfect to see them at their best.

The Sefton and West Lancashire coastal path and Undiscovered Formby walks are lovely scenic routes to see the River Mersey and surroundings.

There’s also the beautiful Wirral Circular Trail, a longer walk with stunning views of the Dee Estuary.

2. Mental health

As we gradually emerge from lockdown, it’s good to still keep on top of our mental health this spring.

There are a host of meditation and yoga classes online, such as those at Mix Pose and Liverpool’s Planet Yoga. The Mind Map website also acts as a one-stop shop to deal with mental health matters. They offer a range of help, including counselling, training and advice.

3. Spring planting

Get planting this spring for a very colourful summer and a way to reconnect with nature. Summer bulbs are ideal for patio containers and add colour to mixed borders without taking up much space.

Bulbs such as Alliums, Agapanthus and Cannas can be planted in spring, when the soil is beginning to warm up. The National Trust and the BBC have some great planting tips to get you started.

4. Take a course/ Be a volunteer

Try something new this spring and start a new course or volunteer for a charity.

Signs4Life free 6 week BSL course is a new initiative to encourage more members of the public to take up sign language. You could also take up volunteer work with a charity such as Mind or a local food bank.

10 Fun Things to Do This Spring Bike Ride

5. Exercise

Take up a new form of exercise. Cycling is great for getting out and about in the warmer weather, have a look at Liverpool City Council’s cycling information for cycle maps, routes, CityBike hire and more. Outdoor exercise is relatively cheap and another great way to help with mental health.

The new lockdown changes will also allow more use of our parks, including tennis courts and outdoor gym facilities. If you’re in need of some inspiration, the BBC has some great resources and ideas.

6. Outdoor art activities

Outdoor drawing and painting are fantastic ways to enjoy the spring weather and take in the scenery. There are many online drawing classes if you need help to get started.

Make. Liverpool Digital Drink & Draw have regular classes on Zoom and dot-art also have a host of art classes to explore.

7. Spring exhibitions 

Take in some art this spring. The 2021 Liverpool Biennial opens in March with a host of events. The event commissions new art every two years, previous exhibitions have included Anthony Gormley’s Another Place.

The Independents Biennial is also well worth checking out to discover emerging artists, this year they feature Jay Hampton and Mark Simmonds, amongst many others.

Both festivals run 20 March-6 June.

10 Fun Things To Do This Spring Easter

8. Easter treats

With Easter just around the corner there’s plenty of opportunities to get creative in the kitchen with the family.

Homemade Easter eggs are great fun to make and you could also try making customised hot cross buns. These are perfect for allowing kids to make their own designs and get creative. BBC Good Food has a variety of fun Easter projects for kids, which should keep the whole family entertained for hours.

9. Spring crafts 

If you are looking for a fun way to celebrate the spring season, try some spring crafting. There are many fun and easy ways to create, such as flower crafts and butterfly rings for kids. These can be made with craft supplies you probably already have on hand.

You could also try making cards and gifts for Easter, another nice opportunity to get creative with the family.

10. Nature watching

As spring comes into life, it’s good to get outdoors with the family to discover birds and wildlife. The RSPB have a comprehensive set of online resources for identifying birds and signs of spring.

The BBC also have many resources for spring online, including archives and activities based around their Springwatch programme. The site includes tips on feeding and photographing wildlife.

Links and Resources 2021: Covid-19

Below is a list of links and resources for artists and organisations in 2021, designed to provide support with Covid-19 during the year. Let us know if you come across more!

Support for Artists and Organisations

Funding

HMRC Helpline for businesses / freelancers affected by COVID-19
Advice for those concerned about paying their tax and furlough enquiries.

Arts & Culture Impact Fund
Social impact investment fund for socially driven arts, culture and heritage organisations.

Art Collection
A new Liverpool community fund for artists and creatives in Liverpool.

LCVS Community Impact Fund
Helps voluntary sector organisations and registered charities build stronger communities across Liverpool and Merseyside.

PRS Emergency Relief Fund
Funding for songwriters and musicians.

Help Musicians Funding Wizard
Find out what funding you can apply for

Artists’ General Benevolent Institution
General benevolent funding for artists who can’t work due to age or serious illness

Musicians’ Union Hardship Fund
Support for MU members

Steve Morgan Foundation Fund
Apply for emergency hardship funding (charities and not-for-profits in Merseyside, North Wales and Cheshire west of M6)

Assura/Rugby League World Cup 2021 community grants programme
Helps charitable/voluntary sector organisations to deliver a range of wellbeing project activities.

Equity Charitable Trust
Financial support for performers who are struggling or wish to retrain

Music Venue Trust
Support for music venues affected by COVID-19 closures

Society of Authors Emergency Fund
Support for authors

Actors’ Children’s Trust
Support for actors who are also parents and their children

Dance Professionals Fund
Support for dance professionals of all ages

Acting for Others
Support for theatre profession

Mentoring/ Advice

The Mind Map mental health resource
A ‘one stop shop’ for mental health provision.

Mersey Counselling
Therapy and counselling regardless of ability to pay, gender, ethnicity, age or status.

Creative England’s Growth Programmes
Proactively plan your year with Creative England’s Growth Programmes.

Creative Fatigue: The dangers of the productivity warrior narrative – Tmesis Theatre
Liverpool artist Becky Dowling shares her thoughts on coping during the lockdown.

Do You Even Lift, Sis?
Female community promoting sustainable healthy living for the mind and body.

Mind – mental health charity
Coronavirus and your mental wellbeing.

Creative Industries Foundation: Responses from the Sector
Consistently updated resource page for creative businesses and freelancers

Leapers Guide to Working From Home While Quarantined
Great advice from Leapers, an organisation supporting the workplace wellbeing of the self-employed

Stay Well, Supported and Creative
Arts Professional’s new microsite for COVID-19 updates

Theatre Support
Microsite with resources for theatre professionals

General Resources

Key Info and Contact Numbers from Liverpool City Council

Culturepool – Add an Offer
Add content to the Culturepool portal for sharing arts and cultural activity with teachers and education professionals

Charity FoodCycle
FoodCycle, the charity that fights food poverty and loneliness.

Kind
Helping disadvantaged families and children on Merseyside.

Samaritans
Help and support during difficult times for anyone who needs someone.

Happy Ears: Liverpool Music to Enjoy Online

Melodic Distraction Radio Liverpool

There’s a host of online music resources to explore during the current lockdown. They range from classical music at the Philharmonic Hall, Milapfest’s series of Indian music concerts and the archive of the British Music experience. 

Closer to home, Beneath the Merseybeat charts the history and influence of Black Liverpool music and Liverpool Cathedral has its own online music archive. There is also a full programme of streaming gigs from renowned indie venue Future Yard in Birkenhead.

There really is something for everyone to beat the lockdown boredom and add some music to your day.

1 Philharmonic Hall Concerts On Demand

Experience the very best concerts by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, filmed live at Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, from the comfort of your home. 

The concerts include the much loved Vasily Petrenko conducting music by Beethoven and Shostakovich.

Online now, until 28 February.

2 Music For The Mind and Soul Digital Concerts

Milapfest’s mission is to ‘Unite Hearts Through Arts’ by producing memorable and inspirational experiences in Indian Arts for everyone through a dynamic programme of performances, education and artist development opportunities. 

Their Music for the Mind and Soul digital concerts include a special tribute to the renowned Indian classical musician Pandit Nikhil Banerjee by Dr. Pandit Ranajit Sengupta.

The concerts are held on the last Saturday of each month and past performances can be watched here.

3 Beneath the Merseybeat Podcast – Liverpool International Music Festival

The Beneath the Merseybeat podcast series explores how Black American music found its way to the city post-war. The series looks at the impact these sounds had on Liverpool and its music scene, and how they were absorbed by musicians in the city. 

These themes are explored and chart what was happening throughout the 1960s and 70s. Their aim is to raise awareness of and help preserve Liverpool’s black music heritage.

Listen online now.

 4 British Music Experience

The British Music Experience boasts an unrivalled collection of memorabilia, stage outfits, instruments, images and footage. It charts the beginnings, rise and influence of British pop from 1945 to the present day

You can explore past events, screenings and gigs online at their website. Their archive includes coverage of Liverpool’s The Real Thing and OMD plus BBC6 Music DJ Mark Radcliffe.

Explore BME’s event archive.

Future Yard Birkenhead
Future Yard, Birkenhead

5 Future Yard – Digital Concert Programme

There is a fantastic digital programme of live streamed headline performances at Birkenhead’s Future Yard venue. Performances from Sonic Boom, OMD and many local musicians will be broadcast on YouTube. The shows will be on a high-quality stream and completely free to access. 

This is a chance to sample a small amount of the thrill of a live show, and also take a look inside Future Yard, before you can head along and enjoy a full show when they’re fully open.

Watch Future Yard’s previous live stream gigs.

6 Melodic Distraction Radio

A community radio station, online archive and magazine. The Melodic Distraction archive includes video covering electronic music and DJ’s, in Drift and The Path. 

Their online magazine also features local artists and recommendations.  The magazine is an ideal way to catch up on the current Merseyside music scene.

Check out the Melodic Distraction archive or listen live.

7 The Popular Music Show with Roger Hill, Radio Merseyside

Radio Merseyside has hosted the longest running alternative music show on UK local radio. Legendary Liverpool DJ Roger Hill has kept his programme going through all sorts of changes, of name, broadcast time, station policy and musical style. 

The show is a fabulous mix of local music, exotic sounds and some unique discoveries, including poetry and guest interviews.

The show is archived online and broadcast 9pm every Friday, Radio Merseyside.

Listen now.

8 Liverpool Cathedral Archive

Liverpool Cathedral has an online music based archive, with articles on their own choirs and visiting choirs. The choir has worked with many famous musicians, including former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney. 

Their website also includes a history and video performance of the Cathedral organ. Completed in 1926, it is the longest running pipe organ in the UK.

Delve into the Liverpool Cathedral archive.

9 Liverpool Digital Music Festival

Liverpool Digital Music Festival: Rise, will take place on the 27 and 28 February 2021. The online ‘from home’ digital music festival will showcase the best rising talent from the Liverpool City Region aged 18 to 24.

You can watch the festival live on their website and social media channels.

Blitzed: Liverpool Lives review

Written by Terry Sweeney

This exhibition is for anyone with an interest in Liverpool social history, or history during the Second World War. It uses photographs taken across the city by Liverpool City Police between  1940 and 1941 and starkly captures the devastation of Nazi bombing over that period, and particularly that of the May 1941 Blitz.

Liverpool was the most important port on the west coast of England for North American and Commonwealth supplies and was a key port in the Battle of the Atlantic. As such, Liverpool (and Birkenhead/Wallasey) was a key target for German Luftwaffe bombers during the Second World War (1939 to 1945).

During German air raids over that period more than 4,000 civilians were killed across Merseyside, 90,000 homes were destroyed and many thousands of people were made homeless.

Liverpool was hit multiple times during 1940 and well into 1941. The first major raid took place on 28 August 1940 when 160 bombers attacked the city. That raid carried on over the next three nights. There were 50 raids on the city over the next three month period. Some raids lasted over ten hours.

The air assault came to a peak in the Christmas Blitz of 20-22nd December. The Blitz continued into 1941 and the renewed bombing blitz peaked on 7 horrendous nights from 1st to 7th May 1941. The worst night of the bombing was Saturday 3 May 1941-Sunday 4 May. Fire brigade records show that on that night 298 enemy aircraft dropped around 363 tonnes of high explosives and 50,000 incendiary bombs.

The last German air raid on Liverpool took place on 10 January 1942, destroying several houses on Upper Stanhope Street.( Ironically, one of the houses destroyed was number 102, which had been the home of Alois Hitler Jr.-half brother to Adolf Hitler).

Liverpool suffered the second highest number of civilian deaths in air raids in the UK (after London). Due to press censorship, these deaths were often unreported or downplayed in the newspapers for propaganda purposes.

Many of the pictures in the exhibition are from the main roads in the City centre. But in addition to pictures from the docks and from the city centre, there are pictures from as far afield as Edge Lane, Lark Lane and Norris Green. German bombers often jettisoned their bombs as they left the target to save fuel and lighten the load to help them return home. Many fell on civilian’s houses rather than their intended target. 

Liverpool Overhead Railway, Strand Street and James Street, 2-3 May 1941, Merseyside Police

Many much loved buildings were destroyed, either during the Blitz, or were so badly damaged that they had to be pulled down afterwards. These include the Rotunda Theatre, shown here as it collapsed on fire; the Liverpool Overhead Railway (the ‘docker’s umbrella) which had to be completely demolished in the 1950’s.

The Customs Building was badly damaged and its beautiful dome destroyed, and it was eventually demolished. It is now the site of the Hilton Hotel and Chavasse Park. Many of you will be familiar with the fact that the rubble from the building was used as landfill to protect the beach as Crosby, and you can still find parts of the building today if you visit the front between Crosby and Hightown. 

St Luke’s Church, was destroyed by an incendiary bomb on 5 May 1941 and is now a monument to what Liverpool had to endure, and a garden of remembrance. It is of course, affectionately known as the ‘Bombed Out Church’.

There were major fires at St Sylvester’s School, and Great Georges Square, Lewis’s Department Store, the Bluecoat Chambers, India Buildings, Walton Prison, the former Mill Road Hospital ( where 85 people died including many mums and newborn babies), and buildings in Paradise Street, Hanover St, Lord St, South John St, South Castle St and Victoria Crescent were destroyed. Many are shown here by the Police photographers.

St Nicholas’s Church, opposite the Liver Building was gutted by a bomb and the picture of the aftermath of that raid lays bare the damage to the church. It’s worth visiting the repaired church after you have seen the exhibition to see how it has been lovingly restored.

The photographs are powerful enough but the personal testimonies putting the words of those people caught up in the events over still pictures of the action really bring home the effect on the local populace. Many of those who contributed to the testimonies were children at the time.

Louisa Street, Everton. 16 October 1940 Merseyside Police

Some of the stories they tell are devastating, others bring out some of the gallows humour of the situation. For example, one man tells of how he, as a child, scavenged cans of food found in the streets after explosions in the goods yards. With the labels blown off all you could hope was that they contained meat, but after taking them home often found that what they had in was spaghetti or peaches.

The direct hit on the large underground shelter on Durning Road, Edge Lane, was the worst single incident in the Liverpool Blitz regarding loss of life. It happened on 29 November 1940. About 300 people were packed into the basement of the Training Centre on Edge Lane.

A parachute mine hit the building which then collapsed into the shelter below, crushing many of the occupants. The deaths from the bomb were made worse by boiling water pouring in and gas igniting. In all 186 men, women and children were killed in that basement and many more badly injured.

As well as the photographs and taped testimonies, visitors to the exhibition have been able to leave responses to the exhibits. For example, detailing how parents or grandparents had lucky escapes. My own mother was buried alive when St Bridget’s Church Bevington Bush, was bombed in May.

Those people caught there were dug out by neighbours and firemen, some having to use their bare hands. She was 17 at the time; she was saved but many of her school friends were not. We haven’t been able to find out how many people died in St Bridget’s.

You can see how blast tape was applied to house windows to help stop flying glass injuring bystanders. Some of the windows were completely blown out. Other houses are almost demolished but you can see one interior wall left with wallpaper attached. There are pictures of young boys clambering over the rubble of some houses, or residents behind cordons looking on to what remains of their homes.

Visitors have left messages telling how they squeezed into Anderson shelters with their whole families. Photographs show Air Raid Precautions (ARP) personnel searching through the bombed ruins of houses for survivors. They were specially trained to understand how the houses may have collapsed and where survivors may still be buried.

One photograph (from Lark Lane) shows some of the exhausted men resting their steel helmets on the remains of a fireplace, and ‘part of a piano, most probably someone’s treasured possession, lies on top of the rubble.’

Gwladys Street School, Walton. 18-19 September 1940, Merseyside Police

Obviously some children at the time didn’t appreciate how terrible an ordeal it was and look on it as an opportunity to get out of school and explore with their mates. One picture shows the aftermath of a raid from September 1940 which badly damaged Gwladys Street School. As one young boy (at the time) said,

schools closed at the time of the Blitz, so we had a great time. We were up in the morning, looking at the bomb damage in various places. It was quite an adventurous time…’

A World War 2 bomb was found in the City Centre as late as 2016, but over the years, Liverpool has been steadily repaired and there is little evidence now of the bomb sites and ‘hollers’ that we used to play on when I was a boy. This exhibition is a timely reminder of the spirit of the people of Liverpool and the horrors of war.

Blitzed:Liverpool Lives exhibition, Museum of Liverpool, until summer 2021. 

Don McCullin at Tate Liverpool Review

A review by Terry Sweeney

Don McCullin’s career spans more than sixty years. He is one of the UK’s greatest living photographers, and arguably our greatest ever war photographer.

But his subject matter is wide ranging. He has documented early 60’s street gangs in London, poverty in London’s East End, Liverpool and other Northern cities, still life, landscapes and the horrors of war in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

The images on display here cover his whole career. The 250 plus images, often accompanied by his own captions to bring them to life, are vibrant and arresting, and show his wonderful compositional skills and his deep empathy for his subjects.

McCullin began his career in 1959 with a photograph of the London gang ‘The Guvnors’, which he took to the Observer. When he sold it, he was commissioned to take more of the same.

That £50 commission was a king’s ransom to the young McCullin and he used it as the springboard to a fulfilling career, particularly when photographing conflicts around the world

He spent almost twenty years at the Sunday Times. His photographs raised awareness of atrocities as they were happening, but at some personal cost to himself; both physically (he was wounded in Cambodia by a mortar bomb and one of the men he was with that day died), and emotionally, with feelings of guilt that he was profiting from other peoples misery. 

His empathy is obvious in his work, and was influenced by his own challenging childhood.  His early photographs of street culture in London, and the homelessness there and in Liverpool and across the north, are extremely powerful. They documented the social issues of the time and the impact of poverty and the death of many of the UK’s industries.

Unusually McCullin printed every image in this exhibition himself in his home darkroom. His printing expertise informs his compositional skills, and cements his memories of the events and people he has captured.

He also has a love of landscape photography. Some of the most haunting images here are from the Somerset levels, where he now lives. Even then, some of the landscapes are reminiscent of his war photography.

His captions of the photographs displayed here give a deeply personal perspective on what he observed at the time of the photograph. The captions give when and where they were taken, but also his interpretation of those events as a first hand witness or as someone involved in what was happening.

Don McCullin Local Boys in Bradford 1972 © Don McCullin

Liverpool and the North 

He first visited Liverpool when he was fifteen years old, working on a steam train that travelled up from London every week. Later, as a photojournalist, he came back in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s to record the changes to the city.

These included the slum clearances that took place (images that uncannily remind viewers of a war zone). Liverpool reminded McCullin of his own background, and he became very fond of the city. He also spent time with artists and poets including Adrian Henri and Brian Patten for a 1967 Telegraph Magazine story written by Roger McGough, and documented the poets for the Sunday Times in 1980.

His photographs of Bradford display his deep affection for that city and its people, and those of Consett show a way of life that has now vanished.

London’s East End

McCullin photographed men and women living on the edges of society (and the edge of London’s Square Mile). The photographs in the exhibition span the 1960s to the 1980’s.

What is striking in the images from Aldgate, Spitalfields and Whitechapel are that the streets are unrecognisable following the massive influx of money into London, and resultant property boom and gentrification, but despite that boom we still have people living on the streets some 50 years later.

Some of these London images look like echoes of another time; with two youths bare knuckle boxing in one street, and a farmer herding a flock of sheep across a bridge to an abattoir in the City. 

Don McCullin Shell-shocked US Marine, The Battle of Hue 1968  © Don McCullin

War zones

McCullin first travelled overseas as a photographer to photograph Berlin, as the wall was being erected.

He then travelled back to Cyprus (having been posted there during National Service), when Turkey invaded the island and the civil war between Turkish and Greek Cypriots was intense.

His photographs here from both of those locations and from subsequent conflicts in the Belgian Congo, Biafra, Vietnam, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Lebanon, Iraq and closer to home, Northern Ireland,  show his eye for an arresting image and his empathy for his subjects.

He won the World Press Photograph of the Year in 1964 but was not comfortable winning a prize for ‘depicting other peoples misery’.

Later career

McCullin took a memorable series of photographs from the southern borders of the Roman Empire. His images of locations like Palmyra captured a moment of time and recorded the far flung locations of Roman rule.

McCullin has now left behind war reporting. He spends time photographing landscapes. His images of the Somerset Levels, close to his home, show an elegiac view of the landscape, but also a brooding intensity, reminiscent of his war photography.

Don McCullin runs until 09 May 2021 at Tate Liverpool. Book tickets

All photographs © Don McCullin