What Art Can Do To Help Uncover Things About Ourselves

By Ade Blackburn

Artist Tess Gilmartin

Last week Bluecoat launched their The Lives of Artists season, comprising of exhibitions, commissions, residencies, events and workshops. The Lives of Artists asks audiences “what might be uncovered about ourselves when we listen to the testimony, histories, and stories of artists reflecting on their lives?”

Here we’ll look into the transformative power of art, exploring how artists’ expressions of their lives and experiences can help us understand our own identities, navigate cultural contexts, and tap into our subconscious minds.

Understanding & Identity

At the centre of The Lives of Artists are two exhibitions; Thanks for Having Me by Babak Ganjei and and it feels like I just got home by Joshua Clague.

Ganjei reflects on his life and career as an artist. The deferential title of his exhibition, Thanks for Having Me, looks back on his life of operating on the margins and never quite being sure where he belongs. In a new work, Ganjei has stacked all of the books he owns but has never read to the exact height of the artist, creating a crude portrait of the artist’s aspirations and shortcomings.

In and it feels like I just got home Clague is interested in enduring memories of the female voice in his life. The exhibition often riffs on the pop-icons and divas that he once emulated. His work also lays out how his sense of self changes at different times, in different places.

Seeing the expressions of artists laid out can give us a better understanding of our own lives and crucially, make us feel less alone. Artists are often at the vanguard of culture and act as a kind of weather vane for people who follow their work and lives.

Cultural Context

Art can also help us make sense of the cultural context in which we live and relate to each other. This is especially relevant with issues of race and gender. Artists can fight for a cause and highlight contradictions and prejudice.

Writer Jennifer Lee Tsai who performs in The Lives of Artists season as their featured writer, looks at the second generation immigrant experience, with themes of ancestral trauma, loss and belonging. Tsai draws on her own life and the lives of others around her to create beautiful and powerful work that helps us understand each other and resonate with our own sense of self.

Their work serves as a mirror reflecting the complex nature of human identity. As we engage with these reflections, we may find aspects of ourselves mirrored in the art, leading to a deeper understanding of who we are. This can be both affirming and challenging, prompting us to question our preconceived notions as well as encouraging personal growth.

Bluecoat - Babak Ganjei - Thanks For Having Me
Babak Ganjei – Thanks For Having Me

Subconscious

Additionally, art has a unique ability to tap into the subconscious mind, bringing to light thoughts and feelings that lurk beneath the surface of our awareness. Surreal paintings and abstract compositions often act as windows into the hidden recesses of our minds, prompting us to confront and explore our own thoughts. 

The Lives of Artists has two billboard commissions, Horse Big by Tess Gilmartin and Liverpool Waterfront by Ottman Said, in which both artists use abstraction as a way to create beautifully complex landscapes. They feel rooted to the landscape, and reflect this sense of belonging in their work.

In the New York Times 2023 bestseller, Your Brain on Art, How the Arts Transform Us, Susan Magsamen argues “We talk about meditation and mindfulness as a way to make us feel better; the arts also allow us to change our state of mind”.

Connection

It can be incredibly empowering to see these expressions from an artist, particularly in today’s alienating culture. Art provides a safe space for the expression of our own emotions and has the power to bridge gaps and foster empathy by providing an insight into the lived experiences of others. When we engage with art that portrays diverse narratives and perspectives, we broaden our understanding of what it is to be human. Through this interconnectedness, we can discover commonalities that unite us as well as understanding and respecting each others differences.

The Lives of Artists at Bluecoat

Babak Ganjei: Thanks for Having Me – 9 February – 14 April
Find out more

Joshua Clague: and it feels like I just got home, 9 February – 1 April
Find out more

Ottman Said: Liverpool Waterfront, 8 Feb – 10 Mar
Find out more

Tess Gilmartin: Horse Big, 16 Mar – 14 Apr
Find out more

All exhibitions are free, just drop-in.

Solo Art Adventures: Embracing Cultural Experiences Alone

By Ade Blackburn

Recent reports show an increase in people attending events and venues like museums, art galleries, theatre shows and gigs alone. Gone are the days when attending events alone was viewed by some as unconventional. Today, it reflects a growing appreciation for personal space and individual experiences in arts and culture.

In this feature, we’re exploring the increase in people attending events alone, the benefits of solo trips and tips to help you enjoy events alone if you’re a first-timer.

Solo cultural visits becoming more popular

Over half of festival goers attend festivals solo or with just one other person. The NME reported that the majority of young people have attended a music event on their own and a surprising study by DICE, found that most people felt music was more enjoyable alone.

This shift reflects broader changes in attitudes towards loneliness and individual experiences. Music website Bandsintown, discovered a notable rise in solo concert-goers since the Covid-19 pandemic, with up to 70% having attended a show alone in the past year. So, with that in mind, it seems there’s no time like the present to give the solo concert or event a whirl; you won’t be the only one.

Additionally, new research, commissioned by Beavertown Brewery, indicates that nearly half of those living in the North West have confessed to feeling lonely as a result of having fewer friends now compared to when they were younger. Many would love to attend events solo, but the majority feel either too anxious or nervous to take the plunge.

People will have different motivations for attending events on their own, whether it is a feeling of loneliness or a shift in perspective and wanting to attend events alone, at least on certain occasions. Whatever the reason is there are benefits to attending events solo.

The benefits of going solo  

Going solo to art events can be daunting, people naturally have common concerns and fears, such as feeling out of place or lonely. They can also be worried about the social stigma that sometimes surrounds doing activities alone but there are plenty of benefits to attending events individually, like having the freedom to explore at your own pace, and the opportunity for self-reflection.

On your own, you can go directly to the galleries you’re interested in and not spend time on art you have little or no desire to see. Visitors spend on average 30 seconds in front of a piece of art but you can spend an hour contemplating one sculpture or breeze past an exhibit you’ve seen half a dozen times.

When you’re by yourself at a gallery or event, you also have more opportunities to meet new people. You’re more likely to strike up a conversation with strangers, and luckily, art events are filled with the perfect conversation starters. You could ask someone a simple open-ended question, such as “What do you think of this painting?”

On the other hand, when you go solo at an event, you won’t, or don’t have to have the distraction of social interaction. Instead, you can focus on the art, or look for inspiration. A museum is the perfect place to bring a sketchbook, hunker down somewhere and draw what’s around you – whether that’s the artworks or the people. Museums are a wonderful place to people watch!

Feeling welcome  

Event organisers are increasingly making solo attendees feel more comfortable, such as hosting ‘solo attendee’ nights or providing resources for those attending alone. They understand that creating a welcoming environment for solo visitors can enhance the experience for everyone.

For people with disabilities, solo situations are obviously more challenging again. While each person is unique in terms of the personal circumstances they face, loneliness is a common and destructive factor. Getting the right support is so important. British Red Cross and Scope both offer help and advice for meeting new people and attending events. Additionally, Gig Buddies is a charity that aims to bring people together at events, in particular gigs.

You may also meet people through your impairment or condition. This could be through disability websites, charities, local groups or forums. If you’ve ever felt like you’re held back by a venue or event’s facilities Right to Participate: out and about offers advice on your rights when a venue or service is not accessible.

The Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) can also provide help and assistance, as well as hosting events of their own. Their website gives a whole range of advice on wellbeing and dealing with loneliness.

Another option you can look to is GigMate, a free app that is a community-based event discovery service for live music gigs. They will keep you updated on all of the live gigs near you, whatever genre of music you’re into. You’ll also have the chance to meet fellow music fans in their online communities or Tribes. If you haven’t got anyone to go to a gig with, they will find you other music fans in your area that match your profile exactly.

Tips for first-timers 

  • Start small: Start with a small, local event and build up to larger or more high-profile cultural experiences. Solo gigs can be among the most rewarding, but the vibe of the evening should be in keeping, an intimate indie gig is probably more suited than a larger dance night.
  • Shift your perspective: Start by viewing solo outings as opportunities for personal growth and self-discovery. Embrace the freedom and flexibility that comes with not having to coordinate with others.
  • Join guided tours or groups: Many cultural venues offer guided tours, which can be a great way to engage with the content and meet other attendees.
  • Attend special events or workshops: Look for events that encourage participation or interaction, such as workshops, lectures, or special tours.
  • Regularly attend events: The more you go to events alone, the more comfortable it becomes. It can also increase the chances of seeing familiar faces.
  • Volunteer at events: This can be a great way to feel part of the event while also being engaged in a specific role.

Our advice is to embrace the enriching experience of attending arts and cultural events solo. The thought of going to a place as public as a museum by yourself might be intimidating, but it’s well worth trying out. You might discover another side to yourself, to the art or to other people that you wouldn’t have experienced otherwise.

Three upcoming / current events suited to solo attendees

Lindy in the Sky with Diamonds Swing Festival, Masonic Hall (19 – 21 January)

Learning a new skill, such as vintage swing dancing, can be an ideal way to meet new people and engage at a cultural event. Mersey Swing CIC are holding their Lindy in the Sky with Diamonds Swing Festival this January, with a host of dance teachers on hand to help.

Tim Spooner: A New Kind of Animal exhibition, Bluecoat (Until 21 January)

Tim Spooner: A New Kind of Animal exhibition features an exciting new commission, alongside an impressive body of work, including over 190 works in collage, painting, sculpture and objects used in performances over the past 15 years. Bluecoat offers a range of facilities for disabled patrons. The exhibition is free entry.

Cast ‘Love Is The Call’ Album Performance – Jacaranda Baltic, (18 February)

Jacaranda Records present a live in-store performance from Cast celebrating the release of new album ‘Love Is The Call’. An opportunity to see a classic band in a smaller, intimate setting, ideal for rediscovering live music on your own.

Improv Classes and Groups In The Liverpool City Region

By Ade Blackburn

Improv Classes & Groups In Liverpool and the City Region

Discover the vibrant world of improvisational theatre with our handpicked list of the best improv classes in the Liverpool city region, where creativity and spontaneity take centre stage.

1. Liverpool Comedy Improv (LCI)

Liverpool Comedy Improv (LCI) teaches drop-in sessions for improvisers of all levels from complete beginners through to those who are more advanced. They also offer specialised courses at every level to enable people to increase their skillset.

​They see improvisation as enabling people to tap into their own creativity, boost their self-expression and confidence as well as unleashing a ton of laughter! It also allows people to hone their listening and communication skills by actively listening to others.

Liverpool Comedy Improv: Comedy Club, 22 Hope Street, L1.

2. Wing It Impro and Stories

Wing It Impro and Stories is run by multi-award winning actor and director Mark Smith. Mark has spent twenty plus years as a professional improvisor, either as performer or director. He was Artistic Director of Liverpool’s Spike Theatre from 2008-2014 and devised or directed all of their theatre shows.

Wing It run a fun Spontaneous Theatre course with play built into the heart of it. It’s suited for those who have some experience in improvisation and are looking for an intensive hit of creativity.

Mark is also behind Liverpool Improvisation Festival.

Wing It Impro: Comedy Club, 22 Hope Street, L1.

3. Liverpool Improvisation Festival

Wing It’s Mark Smith devised the new two-day Liverpool Improvisation Festival, which is supported and hosted by the Unity Theatre. Across two days in 2023, they presented an exciting programme of 12 shows including two world premieres and four workshops.  There is a mix of established artists and companies and those who are new and emerging.

All the work is improvised and draws upon numerous art forms including clown, comedy, fooling, music, puppetry, storytelling, and theatre.

Find out more about Liverpool Improvisation Festival 2024 here.

Liverpool Improvisation Festival: Unity Theatre, Hope Place, L1

4. Dream Academy of Arts

The St Helens based Dream Academy of Arts is taught by leading industry professionals, with experience in TV, Film, and Theatre.

Classes take place on Saturday mornings and are suitable for a range of age groups from 7-18 years, they provide unparalleled training in all aspects of performing arts. Training includes improvisation, voice work and confidence building.

Dream Academy of Arts: Carmel College, Prescot Road, St Helens, WA10.

5. Casino Improv

Slightly further afield, Casino Improv is a Wigan based Improv group, performing monthly at The Old Courts with The Something New Show. Casino Improv also performed at the first Liverpool Improvisation Festival.

Casino Improv: The Old Courts, Crawford Street, Wigan, WN1.

Inspiring Liverpool Female Icons

By Ade Blackburn

Stealing Sheep. Photo Credit: Marieke Macklon (Instagram: @mariekemacklon)

Liverpool has produced a great number of inspiring female icons, from anti-racist campaigners to acclaimed novelists and all-female bands. Here we celebrate the contributions of these extraordinary women, both old and new, who have left their mark on the city and beyond.

1. Dorothy Kuya

Dorothy Kuya was a Liverpool-born black anti-racist campaigner and active feminist who fought all her adult life for social justice, women and children’s rights.

During the 1950s, Dorothy became an early member of the National Assembly of Women (NAW), and would go on to become vice-chair of the organisation during the 1980s. She also led a successful campaign to establish Liverpool’s Inernational Slavery Museum, which opened in 2007.

In 2021, a University of Liverpool residence hall, formerly known as Gladstone Hall, was renamed after her. Gladstone Hall was originally named after former British Prime Minister William Gladstone, whose family became rich through the slave trade. More than 4,465 students of the University of Liverpool voted on a historical figure they believed would be a suitable replacement, and the winner was Dorothy Kuya.

2. Eleanor Rathbone

An outstanding philanthropist dedicated to social reform, Eleanor Rathbone, was the daughter of William Rathbone VI. Among other achievements, she established a District Nursing system in Liverpool which was adopted nationwide.

Eleanor was the first woman to be elected to Liverpool City Council and represented Granby ward from 1909 to 1934. In 1929 she was elected as an independent MP and continued in this position until her death in 1946. She was associated with many campaigns for social reform, particularly on issues affecting women.

She is most often associated with the campaign to introduce Family Allowances, finally won in 1945, which has developed into Child Benefit.

3. Leanne Campbell

Starting her radio career 20 years ago at Juice FM, Leanne Campbell now co-hosts Radio City Breakfast, for which she received a prestigious Radio Sony Academy award. A trained actor, she began her theatre life playing Annie at the Liverpool Playhouse aged just ten, alongside appearing in panto at the Royal Court.

She is known the city over for her instantly recognisable scouse warmth and character. In addition to being queen of the airwaves, panto star and charity host, Leanne also launched Ladies of Liverpool in 2017, an internet resource dedicated to shouting about the best women in the city.

She can also currently be heard as the voice of Liverpool virtual tour for The Liverpool Heritage Site.

4. The Liverbirds

The Liverbirds were an English all-female rock band from Liverpool, active between 1963-1968. They were one of the very few female bands on the Merseybeat scene, as well as one of the first all-female bands in the world.

John Lennon infamously told the group that ‘girls’ were unable to play guitars. This remark motivated the band, and they proved him wrong, as The Liverbirds became one of the top attractions at Hamburg’s Star-Club and released two albums and several singles on the club’s own label.

One of those singles, a cover of Bo Diddley’s Diddley Daddy, reached number five on the German charts.

5. Beryl Bainbridge

Born in Allerton, Beryl Bainbridge was acknowledged as one of the best novelists of her generation, she was made a dame in 2000, but lost none of her black humour or rebellious image with her new literary status. Earlier in life, she had actually been expelled from Crosby’s Merchant Taylors’ Girls’ School, as she was caught with explicit poems in her pocket.

Beryl Bainbridge‘s prolific output included eighteen novels, three of which were filmed, several plays for stage and television, and many columns and reviews. She won The Guardian fiction prize and two Whitbread awards, but although five of her novels reached the Booker prize shortlist, including The Dressmaker (1973), none of them won the prize.

She bore the disappointment with a wit and detachment honed by a lifetime’s practice.

6. Stealing Sheep

The all-female Stealing Sheep have consistently been one of the city’s most inventive pop bands. They formed in 2010 and their much acclaimed debut studio album, Into the Diamond Sun, was released in 2012 by Heavenly Recordings. Their sound cleverly mixes electronic pop, disco, Italo, and 80’s synths, combined with ethereal vocal lines and obscure three-part harmonies.

The band’s live show explores audio-visual sequences, costume, movement and special effects. They are still based in Liverpool, where they collaborate with artists in their resident art-space, the Invisible Wind Factory. The band members are Rebecca Hawley (vocals/keys), Luciana Mercer (vocals/drums) and multi-instrumental vocalist Emily Lansley.

In 2019, they performed at UK festivals with a fifteen strong all-female procession, to celebrate the centenary of Suffrage, with the band seeing being female become more of a theme in their work. Stealing Sheep are currently writing their fourth album.

7. Carla Lane

Carla Lane was born in 1928 in West Derby, Liverpool. She was a writer and producer, best known for the classic Liverpool-based TV shows Bread and The Liver Birds. Both shows broke new ground, with Bread being a satirical take on 80’s dole culture in Liverpool and The Liver Birds covering the alternative lives of single women in the late 60s.

Lane was described as ‘the television writer who dared to make women funny’ and much of her work focused on strong women characters.

She was also a vegetarian dedicated to the care and welfare of animals since 1965 and established the Animal Line trust in 1990, with her friends Rita Tushingham and Linda McCartney. In 2002, Lane returned her OBE to then Prime Minister, Tony Blair, in protest against animal cruelty.

8. Jodie Comer

Actor Jodie Comer is known for her many stage, television and film appearances. Her role as the protagonist of the BBC television hit series, Killing Eve, propelled her from a national treasure to international stardom.

Jodie hails from Childwall, the daughter of Merseyrail employee Donna Comer and Everton FC physiotherapist James Comer. She started acting at a local weekend drama school called CALS in the Belle Vale area of Liverpool when she was just 11 years old.

Jodie has since made appearances in series such as Waterloo Road, Holby City and Silent Witness.

9. Melanie Chisholm

The multi-talented Melanie Chisholm, more often known as ‘Mel C’, or ‘Sporty Spice’ to her fans, hit the global stage as one of the five members of the Spice Girls.

She has since become a media personality and one that people have taken to their hearts. Mel C hails from Whiston in the Borough of Knowlsey and and has been singing in bands and music projects since she was 14.

Melanie has also worked as an actress, she was nominated for an Olivier Award for her performance in Blood Brothers in the West End and starred as Mary Magdalene in a touring show of Jesus Christ Superstar.

10. Cilla Black

Vauxhall singer, Cilla Black, conquered the world of entertainment in the 1960s and later became a much-loved media personality, hosting legendary hit shows such as Blind Date and Surprise Surprise.
Her celebrity friendships stretched far and wide, including  strong links to The Beatles and Paul O’Grady. In her later years, Cilla became a regular part of the British public’s life again, when she regularly joined the Loose Women panel at lunchtimes. 
She had 11 top 10 hits on the UK Singles Chart between 1963 and 1971 and her version of Anyone Who Had a Heart was the UK’s biggest-selling single by a female artist in the 1960s.

11. Emma Rodgers

Merseyside’s Emma Rodgers is a globally acclaimed artist who has created numerous works of art that grace not only our city museums and galleries, but also our streets and public spaces.

Emma created the Cilla Black artwork on Mathew Street and the Meccano Liver Bird at Liverpool Shopping Park, Edge Lane. She was awarded the Arts & Culture Award at the Merseyside Women in Business Awards 2017.

Educated in Wirral, Emma has shown her work internationally and has also worked with Marvel, Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers to create inspiring and much sought after sculptures.

12. Kim Johnson

British Labour politician, Kim Johnson, made history by being Liverpool’s first ever black MP. She sits on the Women and Equalities Committee, Education Committee and Speaker’s Advisories Committee and has constantly fought for what is right since she took on the position back in 2019.

Prior to becoming an MP, Johnson was a Unison Shop Steward. She also held a role of creative diversity manager in the Capital of Culture bid team, representing the longest established black community in the country.

Since 2015, Johnson has been the Chairperson of Squash Liverpool, a community interest company committed to positive social change and in 2020, she became a patron of Toxteth charity organisation Mandela8.

Interview: Actor & Gustaffson Frontman Andrew Gower

Andrew Gower -Frontman of Gustaffson - Liverpool Empire Theatre - Photo by Sam Fountayne
Andrew Gower at the Liverpool Empire Theatre. Photo Credit: Sam Fountayne

Liverpool actor and musician, Andrew Gower, has appeared in many acclaimed TV projects such as Black Mirror, Outlander, YOU and most recently The Winter King. Many may be surprised to know that Andrew is also a songwriter and frontman of Gustaffson.

In 2022 Gustaffson recorded their first EP, ‘The Jacaranda’, with Elbow’s Craig Potter at the helm in Blueprint Studios, Manchester. Released in August 2022, the EP has been played across local and national BBC Radio stations, including being Guy Garvey’s Record of The Week on BBC 6Music’s Finest Hour.

Alongside the EP, their first music video for the single ‘The Jacaranda’ scored a massive coup by starring legendary actor Sue Johnston and was recently screened on Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch. It’s a beautiful video!

The band have recently released a new live single, ‘Champagne Socialist’, which was recorded on the historic Liverpool Empire Theatre stage. Impressively, it’s shot in one continuous take by upcoming director Sam Fountayne.

The track is a wonderful, modern blues, with Andrew’s emotive and soulful vocals keeping you gripped throughout. His coruscating lyrics certainly take no prisoners and give the song a real bite.

We were lucky enough to speak to Andrew to find out more about him and Gustaffson.

Andrew Gower - Gustaffson

Uncover Liverpool: Tell us a bit about yourself Andrew and your band Gustaffson.

Andrew Gower: I’m a Liverpool born Actor & Singer & Song writer/Musician. For the past decade I’ve been lucky enough to work consistently in Film, Television and Theatre in shows like Black Mirror, Outlander, Being Human, Carnival Row and most recently The Winter King. In 2020 I started writing and releasing music under the pseudonym ‘Gustaffson’. Last year (August 2022) we released our debut EP ‘The Jacaranda’ produced by Elbows Craig Potter.

UL: How would you best describe your music?

AG: I’d say our music is a blend of Rock, Folk and more recently Soul/Funk (a sign of things too come), but the foundation of all of our music is definitely in the story telling. With every song we think about our audience. What story do we want to tell them, lyrically and musically. How do we want to present it and serve it up without spoon feeding them. The best stories don’t have to be explained. Which I guess is what makes them universal.

UL: Tell us a bit about your new single ‘Champagne Socialist’.

AG: Our new single ‘Champagne Socialist’ was recorded Live on the Liverpool Empire Theatre stage. It’s our second live release since the EP. I’d say it’s Gustaffson’s most rock and roll track to date. It’s one of many new songs we’d love to include on a future album. Again presenting a lyrical message with memorable riffs and hooks. Dirty Vintage Rock and Roll. There’s a beauty in the imperfection and reality of a live performance. I’d say the empire stage is the lead character In the track.

UL: The video for ‘Champagne Socialist’ was filmed at a one-take at the Liverpool Empire Theatre. It looks incredible. How did that come about?

AG: It was recorded live in the theatre and shot in one continuous take by upcoming director Sam Fountayne (Fountayne Films). The video was inspired by the live variety acts of old (that were hosted on the same stage). A homage to artists like the Rolling Stones, The Beatles and the incredible Chuck Berry. We also drew inspiration from the film Birdman, wanting the audience to feel like they are on that historic stage with the band. I love the idea of being able to see these historic performances from the wings.

‘Champagne Socialist’ (Live at The Liverpool Empire Theatre) Official Video

UL: What’s your process for writing and creating music?

AG: Our process of writing music is forever changing. I think at its heart is collaboration. I’ve been writing lyrics since I was 15 and each story or song is always brought to life by the collaboration process. They are like little stories or scripts I carry around with me. They can be inspired by an instrument, a riff, a producer or even a piece of artwork. I’ve watched a lot of films of late and gone in the studio the next day with a clear idea for a song. That’s what I love about writing music – there’s no right or wrong way to do it.

UL: What do you like about Liverpool and the Liverpool music scene?

AG: I think the first that comes to mind when I think of Liverpool and music, is of course the history. The influence the city has had on shaping what we call ‘the music industry’. What I love about the city is we are a unique port. A city that survived a lot of hardship through telling stories. Stories that come in & out of the city on boats – just like when Rock & Roll arrived into the port back in the 50’s.

Gustaffson have alot to thank the current Liverpool music scene for. With huge help and support from venues like The Jacaranda and Phase One/Jacaranda record store. A venue that inspired our first EP and helped us arrange our bands launch. Now we are set to headline the iconic Cavern Club – which has been on the wish list for a very very long time. Bands will always return to Liverpool to perform or write music – because it holds such a weight in the music world.

‘The Jacaranda’ Official Music Video Starring Sue Johnston OBE

UL: You’ve got a headline gig coming up at The Cavern Club, what can we expect from the night?

AG: Our headline gig at the Cavern Club will have us play all of our latest music. That’s songs from our debut EP ‘The Jacaranda’, our new live singles (Northern Baby & Champagne Socialist) and a host of new music. Alongside our headline set we are excited to give the audience a proper ‘old school’ variety night. Special guests include: the screening of an award winning short film ‘The Entertainer’ starring Toby Jones & directed by Jonathan Schey. Music by Liverpool singer & song writer Martha Goddard and indie jazz singer Iris Holmes (who will be performing in the city for the first time). G33 from the amazing Girls Don’t Sync will be our DJ for the evening. The whole event will be hosted by TV/Radio presenter & Actor Cel Spellman. At all of our gigs we want to give our audience a whole experience: art that we believe and champion – as well as our own music.

UL: What does the rest of 2023 have in store for you?

AG: We’ll finish 2023 with a trio of headline gigs. Starting at the Cavern Club Liverpool (7th September), then the Peer Hat Manchester (22nd September) and finishing at The 100 Club London (8th November). Three of our favourite venues in the U.K. We will continue our collaboration with upcoming film makers and record a new live single in October. This will support our headline gig in London. We hope to record an album early in 2024 and to continue working with some of our favourite music producers.

Gustaffson’s single ‘Champagne Socialist’ is out now and can be streamed here.

Grab tickets for Gustaffson’s upcoming gigs here.

Follow Gustaffson on Facebook and Instagram for all the latest updates.

Exploring Liverpool’s Intriguing Myths and Legends

Liverpool Liver Building

Liverpool is home to an array of myths and legends, from haunted hotels and pyramid tombs to Bold Street’s time slips. Here’s a selection of some of the city’s most notorious tales.

1. William Mackenzie’s Tomb

The legend of William Mackenzie is of him selling his soul to the devil in exchange for always winning at poker. The deal being, as soon as his body was buried, his soul would go to hell for eternity.

After a massive poker winning streak, he was so rich, he was able to afford quirky last requests in his will. In an attempt to avoid being buried and going to hell, Mackenzie had his own pyramid/mausoleum built, in which he is entombed sitting in his favourite gaming chair, holding a royal flush.

The pyramid is still situated in St Andrews Church on Rodney Street, Mackenzie is now thought to be buried beneath the pyramid, which wasn’t finished until seven years after his death.

William Mackenzie’s Tomb: St Andrew’s Church, Rodney Street.

2. Adolf Hitler

Adolf Hitler is alleged to have spent time in Liverpool while his half-brother Alois Hitler Jnr was living at 102 Upper Stanhope Street, Toxteth, between November 1912 to May 1913.

The claim was made by his sister-in-law in a wartime memoir. She was initially unable to sell the manuscript and most historians dismiss the work as being a fabrication written in an attempt to cash in on her famous relation, as there’s no corroborating evidence.

Liverpool actor Paul McGann made a fascinating documentary short about Hitler’s Liverpool links in 2011, watch it here.

3. Liver Birds leaving Liverpool

Perched on top of the historic Royal Liver Building, the Liver Birds are said to have originated in 1207 when King John was granted a Royal Charter to register the city of Liverpool as a borough.

Stories surrounding Liverpool’s famous Liver Birds, known as Bella and Bertie, are almost as old as the birds themselves. It has been said they are based on a mythical bird that once looked out over the shoreline. Legend has it that if the two birds were to mate and fly away, the city would cease to exist.

Another urban legend suggests that while the female bird is is looking out to sea, the male is looking the other way, waiting for the pubs to open in town.

Royal Liver Building: Pier Head.

4. Origins of Scouse dish

The stew-like dish of Scouse – or lobscouse – from which Liverpool residents derive their famous nickname, doesn’t originate from Liverpool. The popular stew-style dish comes from Norway and became popular in port cities. The dish is still eaten by sailors in northern Europe today.

Scouse arrived in Liverpool via the busy docks and became a hit. The name is believed to be derived from the Norwegian lapskaus, Swedish lapskojs and Danish labskovs.

For the perfect scouse recipe, see the National Museums Liverpool recommendation here.

4. Adelphi Hotel

One of the most frequently spotted spirits at Liverpool’s historic Adelphi Hotel is that of Raymond Brown, a pageboy who died after becoming trapped in the baggage room lift at the age of fifteen.

Although the accident occurred in 1961, Richard is still seen wandering throughout the hotel, clad in his uniform and offering a helping hand to guests struggling with their bags.

In 2022, the Liverpool Echo reported on a sighting with video footage, the footage was made by startled guests staying at The Adelphi, after an Elton John concert.

Adelphi Hotel: Ranelagh Street, Liverpool.

5. Paul is dead

The ‘Paul is dead’ conspiracy theory claims that Paul McCartney died in 1966 and was replaced by a lookalike.

Rumours suggest that clues in Beatles songs, played backwards, revealed the truth. Played backwards, Strawberry Fields Forever features John Lennon saying what sounds like ‘I buried Paul’ towards the end of the song.

The Beatles themselves played along by throwing in hints in their music, while always stressing that it was just a myth. Paul even took the joke as far as releasing a live album in 1993 called Paul is Live.

6. Bold Street time slips

A time slip is a paranormal experience where a person accidentally travels through time.There have been a host of reports down the years of Bold Street time slips, many documented by Liverpool writer and expert on the occult, Tom Slemen.

In the most noted cases, the people involved suddenly see shop fronts, vehicles and fashions change to the way they were decades before. They report an eerie quiet, followed by a darkening of the sky, just before the transformation occurs. So far, most of the sightings have centred around the 1950s and ’60s.

One explanation given for the timeslips, is high voltage rails in the underground railway system, creating a portal through time. The rails form concentric circles – the centre of which, is roughly under Bold Street and over to Brooks Alley.

7. Croxteth Hall

The magnificent 230-room Croxteth Hall in the West Derby suburb of Liverpool is considered one of the most haunted locations in Liverpool.

Croxteth Hall had been known to generations of locals as being incredibly haunted, but it was through footage that appeared on the national news in 2009, that its haunted reputation extended.

In the CCTV footage, the figure of what appears to be the shape of a man appears from the bushes, slowly moving along a path leading up to the house before disappearing. Many people believe this is the ghost of Hugh William Osbert Molyneaux, the 7th Earl of Sefton.

Croxteth Hall: Croxteth Hall Lane, Liverpool.

From Industrial Past to Creative Haven: Discovering Liverpool’s Baltic Triangle

By Ade Blackburn

From Industrial Past to Creative Haven: Discovering Liverpool's Baltic Triangle

Liverpool’s Baltic Triangle is a thriving district that has emerged from its industrial roots to become one of the city’s most exciting and dynamic areas. The Baltic Triangle is a testament to Liverpool’s resilience, transforming from a once bustling hub of warehouses and factories to a vibrant cultural epicentre that showcases the city’s artistic and entrepreneurial spirit.

The Baltic Triangle is a hive of activity, featuring venues, creative spaces, a vintage market and an artist-led gallery. The area provides an excellent alternative to the mainstream of the city centre.

In this article we’ll take a look at some of the best cultural and creative spaces in the Baltic Triangle.

1. Gustav Adolf Kyrka (Nordic Church) 

During the 19th Century, Liverpool was a major stop-off point for Scandinavians making the arduous journey across the seas to find their American dream. Gustav Adolf Kyrka became a place of sanctuary to thousands of emigrants on their way to the ‘New World’. The church is one of just four octagonal churches in England and of great architectural significance.

Today, it’s been adapted for the local community, offering a range of events such as theatre, craft fairs, coffee mornings and choral evenings. The church also holds regular Heritage Open Days, when visitors can tour the Grade II listed building.

Gustav Adolf Kyrka (Nordic Church): 138 Park Lane, L1

2. The Royal Standard

The Royal Standard is an artist-led gallery, established in order to showcase the most exciting, innovative exhibitions and events. They work with the most outstanding recent graduates and emerging artists, as well as more established practitioners.

The gallery has a host of upcoming Liverpool Biennial 2023 exhibitions, including works by artists Luke George and Maeve Thompson. They also hold a monthly life drawing session.

The Royal Standard: 5 Mann Street, L8

3. Baltic Market

Baltic Market is a great place to call-in for a bite to eat on a visit to the Baltic Triangle. Located at the Cains Brewery Village, they are known as the home of halloumi fries, frozen gin slush and wood-fired pizzas. Local traders at the food court include Christakis and Polpetta.

Now celebrating their sixth year, the market was Liverpool’s first street food market and is still well worth discovering.

Baltic Market: Cains Brewery Village, Stanhope Street, L8

4. McKeown Rice Exhibition Plinth

The Mckeown Rice Plinth near the Baltic Creative campus was curated by Castle Fine Arts Foundry and has been host to some incredible sculptures of the past ten years. The plinth enables both established and new artists to exhibit their work in the area.

The space is dedicated to two of Baltic’s founding members, Claire McKeown and Paul Rice. Both sadly passed away, but their work, dedication and contribution to the area is remembered through the art hosted at this fantastic space.

McKeown Rice Exhibition Plinth: 49 Jamaica Street, L1

5. Hangar 34

Hangar 34 is an event warehouse space, specialising in nightlife, live music and exhibitions. The venue recently hosted the acclaimed Rave UKraine event, a live link-up with a Kyiv venue and part of the Eurovision 2023 celebrations. The groundbreaking day featured Hot Chip, James Lavelle and experimental Ukrainian DJ Mingulitka.

Upcoming shows at Hangar 34 include The Wonderstuff, Eddi Reader and Liverpool’s Miles Kane.

Hangar 34: 34 Greenland Street, L1

6. HOBO Kiosk

Discover the friendliest and strangest little pub in the Baltic Triangle, HOBO Kiosk‘s interior has a lovely, vintage magic and charm. The pub also hosts small and secret gigs, anything from electronica to jazz, plus a film club night and a weekly quiz.

With carefully selected local beers, unique design and atmosphere, HOBO Kiosk is ideal for a quiet drink or a lively conversation across its vintage tables.

Hobo Kiosk: 9 Bridgewater Street, L1

7. Camp and Furnace

Right at the heart of the Baltic Triangle is Camp and Furnace. This multipurpose venue is an enormous space, that manages to remain cavernous yet atmospheric, regularly staging live gigs and DJ led club nights.

The venue has hosted many legendary shows and festivals, including Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia, which featured classic bands such as Super Furry Animals, Goat and The Black Angels. The festival attracted visitors and acclaim from around the world.

Camp and Furnace: 67 Greenland Street, L1

8. Red Brick Vintage

Red Brick Vintage is a giant warehouse of vintage, antiques, retro, salvage, hand-crafted, brocante, collectables, vinyl and more. A collection of over fifty independent businesses under one roof. From its inception in 2018, Red Brick has welcomed and supported independent traders, local artists and startup businesses.

A great place to wander around for a few hours and find a special bargain.

Red Brick Vintage: 70 Stanhope Street, L8

9. For All Liverpool’s Liver Birds

For All Liverpool’s Liverbirds is probably the most Instagrammed mural in Liverpool. Created by Liverpool street artist Paul Curtis, the idea was inspired by the city’s famous Liverbirds. Paul was originally a geologist in the oil industry before returning to Liverpool in 2016 to embark on a career as an artist.

Since its unveiling, the mural has appeared as the backdrop to thousands of visitors and tourists to the city, including The Duchess of Cornwall.

For All Liverpool’s Liver Birds: 43 Jamaica Street, L1

 

Find events happening in the Baltic Triangle and beyond by checking out our What’s On listings.

Fascinating Liverpool Monuments

By Ade Blackburn

Fascinating Liverpool Monuments - Billy Fury Statue
Billy Fury Sculpture

The city of Liverpool has a greater number of public sculptures than any other location in the United Kingdom, aside from Westminster. Here’s a selection of some of the fascinating monuments on display in the city.

1. Bessie Braddock Sculpture

Bessie Braddock was the Labour Party MP for Liverpool Exchange from 1945-70. She was an outspoken campaigner for better health, housing and education for the poor.

She rejected a ministerial post because, like her husband, Council Leader Jack Braddock, she preferred to remain locally-focussed and be a fierce advocate for her home city.

She was affectionately known as ‘Battling Bessie’ and was admired both locally and nationally.

On display: Lime Street Station

2. All Together Now – Christmas Truce 1914

A sculpture commemorating the World War One Christmas truce. Two fibreglass figures, about to shake hands, capture the moment British and German soldiers stopped fighting and played football on Christmas Day 1914.
Titled All Together Now, the statue, designed by Andy Edwards, is on display at Liverpool’s bombed-out church. St Luke’s Church, which faces down Bold Street, is itself a monument to the 1941 Blitz on Liverpool.
The building was almost destroyed by an incendiary bomb in May 1941 and has remained as a burnt-out shell ever since.
On display: St. Luke’s ‘Bombed-Out’ Church Gardens

3. William Mackenzie Tomb

The tomb of engineer William MacKenzie, situated in the graveyard of the former St Andrew’s Church in Rodney Street, Liverpool, is often talked about. It is said that he is not buried there, but instead sat above ground and also that his ghost roams the locality.

Legend has it that he was not buried but sat upright in the tomb. The story goes that McKenzie was supposedly entombed seated at a table with a winning hand of cards in his bony fingers.

Just like something out of a novel, William Mackenzie wasn’t buried in any old tomb. Instead, his burial site boasts a 4.57-metre pyramid-shaped tombstone, embellished with a turquoise placard and inscription. For history, mystery, and architecture fans headed to Liverpool, consider adding Mackenzie’s tomb to your itinerary.

On display: St Andrew’s Church Grounds

4. Bill Shankly Sculpture

Sculptor Tom Murphy’s most popular work and an integral part of the Liverpool Tourist trail. Since its unveiling in 1997, thousands of football fans across the world have been pictured with this Bill Shankly Sculpture which stands at the entrance to Anfield.

Commissioned by Calsberg Internation for Liverpool Football Club, it is cast in bronze, stands 14 feet high off the ground on a plinth of Scottish granite – in deference to Shankly’s Scottish Mining background.

On display: Entrance to Anfield Football Stadium

5. Billy Fury Sculpture

Billy Fury was born Ronald Wycherley in Haliburton Street in The Dingle, Liverpool on 17 April 1940. He first found fame in the early 1960s and is remembered as one of the most famous stars in the history of British rock and roll. His total record sales were on a par with acts such as Elvis, The Beatles and Cliff Richard.

His statue, made by Liverpool sculptor Tom Murphy in 2003, was commissioned by ‘The Sound of Fury’ fan club following six years of fundraising and donations from fans, both members and non members, from home and abroad.

The sculpture was very kindly donated to National Museums Liverpool by ‘The Sound of Fury’ as a lasting tribute to Billy, one of Liverpool’s greatest stars.

On display: Outside of Piermaster’s House, Albert Dock

6. Kitty Wilkinson Sculpture

An Irish migrant to Liverpool, Kitty Wilkinson‘s public hygiene efforts helped curb the cholera outbreak of 1832 and eventually led to the opening of the first combined washhouse and public baths in the United Kingdom.
Her legacy began when the ‘Saint of the Slums’ invited residents with infected clothes or linen to use her boiler – the only one in the neighbourhood – to clean them, thus saving many lives.
In 2012, a marble statue of Kitty was unveiled in St George’s Hall and it remains the only female sculpture in the famous building.
ArtsGroupie‘s play about her life, ‘Kitty: Queen of the Washhouse’ is coming to the hall in October 2023. It celebrates the Liverpudlian pioneer who was a community champion.
On display: St George’s Hall

Curtain Up: Historic Liverpool Cinemas and Theatres

By Ade Blackburn

Historic Liverpool Theatres and Cinemas

Liverpool has a fascinating and rich heritage of theatres and cinemas. These architectural gems stand as a testament to the city’s passion for entertainment and the arts throughout the decades. Here’s a selection of some of the most-loved and celebrated venues in the city.

1. The Futurist

Opened on 16th September 1912, as Lime Street Picture House, the venue was a very upmarket city centre cinema, with a tiled Edwardian façade and circle auditorium, richly decorated with plasterwork in the French Renaissance style.

In 1920, the building was renamed The Futurist, a name the building still held until its demolition in August 2016. The ABC owned Futurist was very popular, despite competition from the huge Paramount and Forum cinemas nearby, which sometimes forced The Futurist into taking off-circuit films.

Eventually, as ABC tripled their main cinema (the ex-Forum directly across the street), The Futurist was closed in July 1982, during a run of Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles.

2. Royal Court Theatre

Built in the 18th Century, the circus owner, John Cooke, bought the site for his circus shows, plays, operas and concerts, and it became known as Cooke’s Royal Amphitheatre of Arts. In 1881, the building was redesigned by Henry Sumner as a regular theatre and re-opened as the Royal Court Theatre.

The interior of the building displays a nautical theme, in line with Liverpool’s seafaring traditions. The basement lounge even has its design based on the Queen Mary Liner.

Although the Blitz of World War Two destroyed many of the surrounding buildings, The Royal Court remained intact. Throughout the war, many well-known artists performed in the Royal Court, including Ivor Novello, Margot Fonteyn, John Gielgud and Richard Burton. In 1990, the building was finally listed as Grade II.

3. Rialto Cinema

The Rialto Cinema in Toxteth was a famous landmark throughout the 1950s and early 60s. The Liverpool architects of the building were Gray and Evans of North John Street. They were tasked with designing a complex that would accommodate a cinema, ballroom, billiard hall, a large cafe and twelve good sized shops, all under one roof!

The ballroom was decorated with large painted murals on the walls, providing grand Venetian views for their customers. The Liverpool Echo even described the interior of the Rialto as staggering.

The Rialto closed in February 1964, with a screening of Doris Day in The Thrill of it All and the venue was later converted into a bingo hall. The historic building was burned down in the L8 uprising of 1981 but has since been rebuilt and now houses offices, flats and shops.

4. Playhouse Theatre

This much-loved Liverpool venue originated in 1866 as a music hall, and in 1911 developed into a repertory theatre. The grand interior was decorated in an impressive Greek Revival style.

The Playhouse is the oldest repertory theatre in the UK and nurtured the early careers of many actors, some of whom went on to achieve national and international fame. Future stars who learned their craft at the Playhouse include Noel Coward, Richard Burton, Patricia Routledge and Anthony Hopkins.

The theatre also helped foster the early-careers of many Merseyside writers, including Alan Bleasdale and Willy Russell. One of the Playhouse’s great successes was a staging of Russell’s Blood Brothers in 1983.

5. The Gaumont Palace 

The Gaumont Palace cinema was based in Anfield, a large art deco building, just one hundred metres from the football ground. Central marble steps led customers to five pairs of glazed oak doors, which were complete with stainless steel fittings. The cinema even had gold stage curtains and a movable floor to accommodate an orchestra.

The Gaumont’s heyday was the 1940s but the building has since played an important role within the local community. In the nineties, the venue reopened as the Liverpool Lighthouse, operating an Urban Gospel Arts Centre in the heart of Anfield.

Liverpool Lighthouse still thrives today, with a wide range of activities for the community. They received a Health and Wellbeing award from Liverpool City Region Culture and Creativity in 2023.

6. Olympia Theatre (Renamed Eventim Olympia)

The Olympia Theatre was designed by architect Frank Matcham in 1905. The auditorium boasted three balconies and its ornate interior was decorated with elephants and Indian panelling.

The theatre had a vast stage and was also designed to house circus events – the elephant, horse and lions’ accommodation still survives below the stage. Performing animals would appear in the auditorium by being lifted from the basement where they lived. Evidence of the lift mechanism and living areas can still be found under the theatre.

Since reopening as a music venue, the Eventim Olympia, has played host to some legendary gigs, including Mogwai, The Specials and Ocean Colour Scene.

7. The Epstein Theatre

Liverpool’s legendary Crane Brothers’ music shop had been trading for several years, when they opened a music hall above their store on Hanover Street. Many amateur drama groups staged productions there, and led to its renaming as the Crane Theatre in 1938.

The venue is a stunning Grade II listed building and retains many of its impressive original features. The interior has a proscenium arch-type stage and superb acoustics for music shows. The theatre was renamed The Neptune by Liverpool Corporation in 1967, the new name being a reference to the city’s maritime history.

Since it’s 2011 reopening as The Epstein Theatre, the venue has firmly re-established it’s place as a popular destination for drama, panto and comedy.

8. Everyman Theatre

Originally known as Hope Hall, the building was conceived as a dissenter’s chapel, opening in 1837, but was soon re-imagined as a concert hall, and later as a cinema, known as Hope Hall Cinema.

The cinema’s situation on Hope Street, and its friendly and bohemian environment, meant that it gradually took on another role in the 1960s, becoming an unofficial meeting place for artists, musicians, poets and actors. The people became known in the area as ‘The Liverpool Scene’.

This group of artists eventually took on the task of converting the building into a theatre with a new apron stage, new seating, and new dressing rooms for its artistes. The Everyman Theatre opened in 1964 and soon became the spawning ground for a great many well known names of today.

The Eurovision Song Contest’s Best Moments

By Ade Blackburn

The Eurovision Song Contests Best Moments
The Eurovision Song Contest 2023 will be held at Liverpool’s M&s Bank Arena

The Eurovision Song Contest has been one of the most anticipated music events in the world for over six decades, bringing together countries from across Europe and beyond to compete for the title of the continent’s best song. Eurovision always provides a great deal of fun and is renowned for having some jaw-dropping moments. From hardcore rock to bizarre fairytales, the contest seldom disappoints.

With the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest set to take place in Liverpool this May, now is the perfect time to look back on some of the competition’s most memorable performances.

Here’s a selection of historical moments from the competition.

1. Sandie Shaw

The first British Eurovision triumph was Sandie Shaw with Puppet on a String in 1967. A convincing winner but of the five songs she was offered to perform, Puppet on a String was Shaw’s least favourite.

In her own words, ‘I hated it from the very first ‘oompah’ to the final ‘bang’ on the big bass drum’ and even went as far as describing the song as ‘cuckoo-clock’ music.

Puppet on a String won the contest hands down though and became her third number one hit in the UK and a big worldwide smash.

2. Abba 

One of the greatest and most iconic performances to ever grace the Eurovision stage. Eurovision had always been popular but it was Abba with Waterloo that lifted it into the pop culture stratosphere.

Their glam-inspired performance in 1974 gave Sweden their first-ever win in the contest. The title and lyrics reference the 1815 Battle of Waterloo, and use it as a metaphor for a romantic relationship.

Abba, of course, went on to become one of the biggest groups in the world and their hits remain part of the cultural zeitgeist to this day, with stage shows and two movies made based on their hit songs.

3. Conchita Wurst

Austrian singer and drag queen Conchita Wurst became famous around the world after winning 2014’s Eurovision with Rise Like A Phoenix.

Stylistically, the power ballad recalls classic James Bond songs, while Wurst’s victory helped make the singer a global gay icon. Conchita was also the first singer to win without backing singers or dancers since 1970.

Using her newfound fame for a good cause, the singer brought attention to homophobia and legal restrictions on gay rights in many European countries.

4. Lordi 

Lordi’s 2006 performance was one of the most iconic from the competition. Representing Finland with their song Hard Rock Hallelujah, the costumed rock band blew everyone away and left many others a touch disturbed.

Their masked stage-act was heavily inspired by the band Kiss and vocalist Gene Simmons became a fan of Lordi, even offering to publish their music.

They did more than enough to secure victory for their country with a score of 262 – which was a record at the time and only surpassed in 2019 by the Netherlands.

5. Dustin the Turkey

Another unforgettable Eurovision moment was Dustin the Turkey taking to the stage in 2008 to represent Ireland in the competition. Dustin had first appeared on the television show The Den with madcap Irish puppet duo Zig and Zag.

The song of choice was called Irelande Douze Pointe, which did not persuade the judges to hand out that many points, sadly for Dustin. The performance did not go as well as Ireland would have hoped and they failed to make it out of the semi-finals that year.

Undeterred, Dustin made a surprise comeback in 2005 on a duet of Patricia the Stripper with singer Chris De Burgh, reaching #3 on the Irish charts.

6. Bucks Fizz

Bucks Fizz’s classic 1981 performance of Making Your Mind Up was Eurovision at its best. The upbeat song and colourful performance captured many of the contest’s endearing qualities.

The act was even slightly risqué for the time, with the velcro-ripping moment in their dance routine raising a few eyebrows at home and all over Europe. Bucks Fizz went on to become a major 80s chart act, with three number one singles and sold over 50 million records worldwide.

Three of the original band members are now back performing under the name The Fizz and playing live in 2023.

7. Dana International

The Dana International win was an iconic moment and an important one that paved the way for inclusivity in the contest.

Dana International’s Diva was the first ever transgender winner of Eurovision, when she successfully competed in the 1998 contest on behalf of Israel. Her performance reinforced the message that everyone is welcome in Eurovision, and her win was celebrated by people all over the world.

Dana had many chart hits before and after Eurovision, and even wrote the 2008 entry for Israel in the competition.

8. Buranovskiye Babushki

Some performances are just too surreal to forget, which more than applied to Buranovskiye Babushki (The Grannies from Buranovo) and the bizarre show they staged for Russia in 2012.

Dressed as local villagers, the eight elderly women took part in some baking, as they all danced around an oven performing their song Party for Everybody. In an attempt to add some clarity, a member of the ensemble stated ‘We sing about lighting the oven, kneading the dough and spreading the tablecloth’.

It almost did the trick though as Russia came second that year!

9. France Gall

Penned by the notoriously controversial French songwriter Serge Gainsbourg for Paris-born singer France Gall, this winning entry for Luxembourg brought a touch of French yé-yé to Eurovision in 1965.

Mixing chanson with an upbeat song inspired by British beat music, Poupée De Cire, Poupée De Son – whose title translates as Wax Doll, Rag Doll – inspired a host of toy-themed Eurovision efforts from 60s pop artists, including, Sandie Shaw’s Puppet On A String.

With its charm and addictive melody, Gall’s song went on to sell more than half a million copies in her French homeland.

For full information on this year’s contest, see the Eurovision 2023 website