Friday, May 19, 2017

The Cavern, Liverpool

Things boded well as soon as I got there; my hotel room overlooked the Mersey and it was such a gorgeously sunny day that I spent a lot of time glued to the window, watching for boats and gazing at the deep blue sky. Oh yes, and the city bike scheme belonged to the council and not to a greedy bank like they do in London, so that lifted my spirits, too; a Proper Place.
I went to The Cavern early to scout out the scene. Yes, there were tourists, and a very loud tribute-act bar, but there was an air of excitement about too. This whole event (IPO: International Pop Overthrow) is organised by David Bash, who puts one on in Los Angeles and in Stockholm as well. He had listened to Femme Fatale on Bandcamp and thought that we were a band called Helen McCookerybook and The Charlie Tipper Conspiracy, which I suppose we were for that single. Anyway, I wrote to explain that we were really two separate acts and asked if we could both play- so that's how come they drove up from Bristol, and I trained it up from London.

David has a phenomenal amount of energy and is  really on the ball. I tweeted that I didn't come from Bristol (as the poster on the left said) and by the time I got on stage, he introduced me as coming from Newcastle and for once in its life, Newcastle General Hospital (where I was born) wasn't weeping salty tears onto the River Tyne. The guy deserves an embroidered badge for that, Boy Scout-style.
The whole event was quirky. It's not the original Cavern but a fun facsimile; you go down loads of stairs and it would have been a claustrophobic experience but for the fact that it's huge down there- there are two stages and a bar, and room for a merch stall too. There were lots of people clearly having lots of fun: some tourists, some audience people and some bands sussing out the scene.
There was a family with three kids dancing about. Tiny Kid was the best dancer and made us laugh a lot- and was also a self-nappying baby. He got his nappy out and spread it flat ready for the Mum to change him. I was most impressed.
A man walked past with an open Apple Powerbook, light gleaming in the gloaming, and appeared to go to the Gents. It was only later that I discovered that this was the way to the dressing room, too.
It added to the atmosphere. Mysterious.
I was also impressed by the guy on stage who, exhorting us to praise his harmonica player, urged us to 'Put our legs together for Mike on harmonica'. He changed it to 'hands' rapidly but by then the damage was done; I had embarked on peculiar imaginings that were impossible to reverse out of.
Everyone was clearly delighted to be playing at the Cavern, and so was I.
The sound guy was amazing, the air conditioning was powerful (my set list blew across the stage) and I loved it. The audience wandered from stage to stage; I thought it was like an American venue, but actually one of the Charlie Tippers said it was like a holiday camp, which might have been more accurate. David somehow managed to be on time to introduce everyone, and hats off to The Charlie Tipper Conspiracy for managing to sound check all seven of them in fifteen minutes. It was great to get to know their songs a bit better, and I sang Femme Fatale at the end of their set again.
I hope we sold some CDs for Refugee Action. David confessed to having a little weep during the song (I hope the emotion wasn't horror) and I could see people singing along in the audience. All praise to you Lou: you were a dude!
The merch chap was a hard worker and I sold some of my own CDs (ring-a-ding-ding!). There was just time to charge over to The Cavern Pub and see that dark horse John Murray and his glam punk band, the Gentle Scars. Well, John Murray, you kept that quiet! All those songwriting weekends playing your titchy little acoustic guitar and peering out from under the peak of your baseball cap, serenading us with songs about the conjuror who sawed your wife in half! I didn't know you were  a rock god, playing lead guitar riffs at max volume through a mega-amp with a bunch of pirates!
The band looked fabulous, camp swashbucklers with grey baker-boy hats (all apart from the drummer who had obviously agreed reluctantly to wear one, and then tossed it overboard as soon as the band turned their backs on him and started to play). But what entertainment! Brilliant songs, loudly played: the lead singer was a proper rock star with eyeliner on, and a foot atop the monitor.
And great lyrics: 'I want to go where the monsters go'.
So do I! So do I!
That was a perfect ending to the evening and I was so glad that I saw them. Big grin on my face, so wide that I couldn't get to sleep till about 4 a.m. and then the fire alarm went off at 6.30.
Oh Liverpool, I love you so much! I hope I get to do this again next year!
Big thanks to David for inviting us along, and the sound guy too who was amazing. And the bloke who videoed it and managed to reduce the cost by a tenner by the end of the set!

These photographs are completely in the wrong order but it's nightmare to rearrange them.
The Gentle Scars;a decorated pub near Lime Street Station;  a stall selling Liverpool regalia on one side and Everton regalia on the other; the Radio City Tower which I didn't have time to go up, unforchly; David Bash introduces the band; me; me again; some graffiti from the Ladies bogs: poor Jo was grounded, so she didn't get to go out!

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