With every trip there’s a moment before arrival where I fear the magic will one day wear off, but it never does. I arrive at Liverpool Lime Street station and feel uplifted – this city may not have that effect on everybody, but it does on me. Once upon a time (or maybe twice – obligatory pepperland pun) I drove here with my Dad for a weekend holiday (the first visit to Liverpool for the both of us) and it seems Liverpool has soaked up the memory and it seeps through the buildings and the air like a beautiful mixture of colour, light and reverb. It works like a tonic and I’m relieved that it’s as strong as ever, that the colours haven’t faded and the sounds have not been muted.
In this city I do not need the map on my phone, I know where I’m going and how to get there. However, asking for directions in Liverpool has become a bit of a weird hobby, as the answers are always incredibly friendly and amusing although often unhelpful. It’s dark as I make my way to Matthew Street (you know, the famous one, where the Cavern, The Grapes and that beyond tacky brass John Lennon Statue is). I ask two girls for the way to Matthew Street and the taller of the two says in that lovely bouncy and round accent: “It’s where all the noise it – just follow the noise love”.
I’m playing at Graham Holland’s “Liverpool Acoustic” showcase at the View Two Gallery. I’ve known Graham for ages, but this is the first time we’ve managed to coordinate schedules and I’m really looking forward to this show. View Two Gallery is the most inconspicuous building on Mathew Street – The disco lights, bouncers and neon signs make the little stairway entrance to the gallery seem invisible and I actually walk passed it twice before I spot it and clime the stairs (up the hatch!). It’s as inconspicuous outside as it is beautiful inside – the main room is lined with local artists’ work and the stage area features an opened up grand piano – this is nothing like the many places I’ve played at in Liverpool to date.
Although we’ve never actually met, Graham greets me like an old friend and introduces me to the other musicians, 15-year-old Dominic Dunn, Dublin based Celine Carroll and headliner Jimmy Rae. Soon after the audience files in and fills up the entire space. One of the nicer things about touring is that you build up little pockets of tour-family and you get to see them whenever you revisit the city – I’m happy to see some familiar faces that definitely have become friends over the years (like Andy who reviewed my first gig at The Cavern Club back in 2008 when he was writing the Liverpool Student Media!) and David Munn, who took some fantastic pictures of the show, check them out here!
The audience was by far the best I’ve ever had in Liverpool – attentive with the occasional Scouse heckler (without which I would have been disappointed!). That, together with the fantastic setting and friendliness of the host and other acts puts Liverpool’s show right up their with The Bicycle Shop in Norwich. Thank you so much for coming to see me and for being so nice! I really enjoyed it and hope to be back soon.
We ended the night with drinks at one of my favourite “after gig” hideouts, Djangos – where I watch scantly clad kids dancing to dub step – something which I have yet to master… How do you dance to dub-step?? If any of you know have any tips, let me know.
So what have I learnt? No matter what I wear, I’ll always feel under dressed in Liverpool and some love affairs, particularly those with cities, never end.
Next stop: Cheltenham for the end of Spring Festival!