I really love the semi-regular night in Liverpool when the city’s artistic buildings throw open their doors into the night. There’s a real festival atmosphere in town on these night, a little like the frisson on excitement on Halloween and bonfire night.
I wouldn’t normally do this sort of thing, but Uncle Ross Charnock has been in touch to let me know about a Friend or Foe gig at the Ship & Mitre, Dale Street this weekend (Friday 7 August).
Live in Liverpool
, Liverpool Music
, echo and the bunnymen
, it's immaterial
, jamie bowman
, Paul Simpson
, the icicle works
, the lightning seeds
, the lotus eaters
, the teardrop explodes
, the wild swans
Formed in 1980 by ex Teardrop Explodes keyboardist Paul Simpson, The Wild Swans cut a stylishly epic swath through Liverpool’s fertile post punk scene.
Along the way they spawned two revered splinter projects in Care and the Lotus Eaters, while all manner of other Merseyside luminaries ventured into their orbit (the Lightning Seed’s Ian Broudie, Pete DeFreitas of the Bunnymen and the Icicle Work’s Ian McNabb to name but three).
Blessed with Simpson’s Bowie-esque looks and voice, an alchemic guitar sound and a lyrical sensibility that seemed to predate Britpop’s romantic mythologizing of England by about 10 years, the Wild Swans inexplicable lack of success was a mystery that looked very unlikely to be solved.
Thankfully their recent decision to reform 21 years after their split has put forward a whole no case for them being one of Liverpool’s most underrated, seminal and downright brilliant bands.
I finally made it to some Sound City stuff, taking in Hallo I Love You, Little Boots, Charnock & Russell, Sidney Bailey and His No Good Punchin Clowns, The Two Man Gentleman Band, Clinic and a.p.a.t.t. at various venues, although I only managed to see one entire set out of that lot thanks to some duff planning, bad luck and general confusion.
In amongst the mayhem I spent most time in the View Two gallery, an oasis in the middle of Sodom and Gomorrah, watching a series of folky, jazzy, swingy, skiffle-y performances. The Punchin Clowns and Gentlemen Band were a particularly rare form of Vaudevillian fun.
Seeing Clinic again after so long was great, especially as it was apparently the first gig they played in Liverpool in donkey’s years. Listening to Clinic always makes me think of what it might be like to die from an overdose of mogadon – creepy and disturbing, but not entirely unpleasant.