A recent Arts Council poll claims that Liverpool is England’s most musical city. The current European Capital of Culture took the win with 49% of votes cast, ahead of Sheffield in second and Manchester in third. What a load of utter tripe. In my opinion, there are several things wrong with this.
Mainly, I have a problem with Liverpool’s continued reliance on their Beatles heritage as a starting point for any contemporary cultural relevance. Take their status as Captial of Culture, featuring concerts of pop and classical from Paul McCartney. How exactly does that demonstrate cultural development, a stated aim of the event? All those shows demonstrate is cultural retardation, a nostalgic, safe view.
Obviously the Beatles had a massive influence on musical culture worldwide, but by the same token you would not refer to Memphis as the greatest musical city in the USA just because that’s where Elvis lived.
A lot of the musical schedule for the year follows a similar format, there are also weekly concerts featuring other Mersey-beat bands from the same era, along with a one off concert of 80s washouts, headlined by Paul Young. Appearances by Ali Campbell, The Yardbirds, The Zombies and TV trash Shayne Ward, Journey South and Connie Fisher also litter the programme. Really progressive stuff, this.
Amongst this year-long splurge of detritus there a total lack of recognition for Liverpool’s other musical mavericks or indeed their rising stars. Throughout the reportage of this poll result, the two names consecutively mentioned are The Beatles and The Zutons. Is that the best the city has to offer? What about Echo & The Bunnymen, The Teardrop Explodes, Half Man Half Biscuit, Ladytron, Clinic, The Coral, The La’s, Frankie Goes To Hollywood and all the others? Sure, some of those are older but in their own fields, groundbreaking.
None get even a mention. The most relevant and contemporary item I can find in the schedule was a performance by Wiley: who isn’t even from Liverpool.
For my money, the greatest musical city in England is Manchester. And quite how London can be missed out of a top three is beyond me!
Anyway, here is my ‘Best of Liverpool’, not in any order.
1. Seventeen – Ladytron
2. Reward – The Teardrop Explodes
3. Walking With Thee – Clinic
4. Skeleton Key – The Coral
5. Lips Like Sugar – Echo & The Bunnymen
6. Two Tribes – Frankie Goes To Hollywood
7. Shot Shot – Gomez
8. Way Out – The La’s
9. Shipwreck – Hot Club De Paris
10. A Day In The Life – The Beatles