I was on the lig the other day at the Conservation Centre’s Sound & Vision exhibition of Francesco Mellina’s pictures of Liverpool during the birth of punk, new wave and new romanticism.
Francesco Mellina was Dead or Alive’s manager – a dubious honour, I’d’ve thought – and once asked a cricketer friend of mine to play bass for the band. Wisely, I think, he declined.
Mellina’s role in the scene at Eric’s and other bars with fantastically- ridiculous names between 1978–1982 was outlined by the always-entertaining Paul du Noyer.
The exhibition is a genuine visual record of the music scene at the time, with an impressively wide range of images – both in terms of their style and content.
The film grain that dates these kind of pictures lends a stylised filter to images like Mellina’s, as does the low-light high-contrast black and white tone.
Like the difference between vinyl and digital, they are technically inferior but have much more character.
Loads of people at the private view looked as if they were there at the time, and several I spoke to certainly were.
Plenty of familiar faces were in evidence – I was just surprised Wylie wasn’t there.
It’s interesting to speculate whether any similar visual records of baggy, Britpop or other scenes from more recent times exist.
We’re approaching 20 years since some of the scenes that I may have been a part of. It doesn’t seem that long ago to me, and the prospect of finding yourself in a retrospective exhibition is a galling one.
This is especially true for me, as the prospect of seeing myself wide-eyed and clad in leather-effect plastic trousers is not an appealing one.
Luckily, everyone was so mashed in the late 90s, it seems unlikely that any significant record of those days exists.
Even if they do, I doubt they will ever reveal anything so vibrant, alien and grimily cool as Francesco Mellina’s images.