It’s refreshing, every now and again, to remind ourselves of all the brilliant, crazy, wonderful things that get cooked up around here. Sometimes the ratio of bad-news-to-good-news can feel a bit skewed, and we do cover a lot of the frustrating stuff, but only because we love Liverpool so. Bloody Much. And we want it to be the best city it can possibly be. So here’s a palette cleanser for us all – some of our favourite stuff from 2014, all things that make us incredibly proud we live in a region that pushes forward on its own bloody-minded terms. Here’s to an even better 2015.
Liverpool spaffs out its fair share of brilliant pop bands, but All We Are are our current favourites. Lush, catchy wooze-pop done by a trio of LIPA alumni, they’re releasing their debut album in 2015 and we’re rather excited about them taking over the world (or at least the 6Music daytime playlist for a bit). Honourable mentions for Immix Ensemble, mixing it up with some audacious new commissions, and the generally wonderful Låpsley. Stealing Sheep and Outfit are also set to make comebacks in ’15. Hooray.
We sometimes, in our constant pursuit of the next and the new, forget the city’s old guard: and this year, the John Moores Exhibition was a good example of how our heritage is still in safe hands – at least in some quarters. That the John Moores Prize was won, this year, by the spry Octogenarian Rose Wylie was, for us, the icing on the cake. Or maybe the gouache on the canvas. A great win, and a great, reinvigorated exhibition.
24 Kitchen Street
Still finding its feet, 24 Kitchen Street is one of our favourite spaces in the city – hosting an array of weirdo clubnights, experimental electronic shows, and anything a bit off-base, as well as video shoots, workshops and all sorts of stuff. With the ever-brilliant Drop The Dumbells and The Kazimier opening new spaces that nudge towards North Liverpool, this was a welcome top-up to the Baltic Triangle’s DIY spirit.
Doggedly determined to give every one of us the gift of reading, via their brilliant ‘Reading Revolution’ Liverpool’s Reader Organisation stepped up a gear this year, bringing books to life via a series of shared reading events, interventions and literary happenings throughout the city. We love them. And now they’ve secured Calderstones Mansion into their suitably inspiring hub, the best is yet to come.
We’re always moaning about the slow creep – developers blindly bulldozing bits of our city to make way for homogenous ‘mixed use’ apartment/retail/student flats. You know the score, you read our website. Probably. So it was encouraging to see not just Merseyside’s creative community, but other cities, support an 8,000-strong petition to stop Wolstenholme Square from becoming a shiny glass-walled bellend zone. It’s a problem on a national scale, but when it was so close to home it brought out a primal, passionate and powerful reaction from Liverpool’s music and arts fans. But the battle’s only just begun.
It’s a labour of love for Paul Askew, ex of London Carriage Works, and the space is nothing short of sensational. Tasting menus show a team still finding their stride, but when all those boxes are ticked the results are stunning. Further proof of Liverpool’s new found foodie swagger, and further proof that the top of town is the place to watch.
When we stayed overnight at the Lobster Pot chippy we knew it would be fun (for Jane McNeil’s photoessay in Bitten) but what we sort of had forgotten was how bloody great their food is. Going backstage, we also got to see the attention to detail, and the spic and spanness of the operation. Seriously, this is a Liverpool institution that’s been hiding in plain sight all these years. Too good to sample only when you’re drunk.
With their 100th city centre docking bay (is that the right term? Sounds a bit Interstellar) coming online this week, it’s good to see the city thinking about other traffic stuff than bus lanes. In truth there is much more to be done – such as, ahem, adding some bike lines. But that they’re here is a good thing. That we’re seeing more and more people on them is an even better thing. We’re a small city – cycling around our streets should be fun. It’s not – quite – yet. But we’re hoping this is a catalyst for a more enlightened movement strategy ahead.
Aloft could so easily have been a disaster – but it’s not. It’s sympathetic re-imagining of the Royal Insurance building on Dale Street is a winner. Buffed to a deep conker shine, the walnut wood panelling of the old board rooms are strokingly lovely, and the dazzling white plasterwork on the ceilings is even easier to enjoy, thanks to a clever mezzanine room-within-a-room of the wxyz bar. Great to see venerable old buildings given the respect they deserve. If only the same were true elsewhere in town.
St Vincent at O2 Academy
She came, she conquered. Much anticipation preceded Anne Clarke’s Liverpool gig. ‘The best guitarist you’ll see live this year’ gushed NPR’s All Songs Considered. And her O2 Academy show was a revelation. Surreal talky interludes notwithstanding, this was as incendiary and thrilling a statement of intent that you’re likely to see in this or any other dimension. Made us remember the places great live music can really take us to.
Charting a course for the passionate, the curious or the plain beautiful amongst us, the IDMCo is a collective of friends sharing what they find on their travels. From sleek hotels to dive bars, gift emporia to ceramics studios – their taste is always on the money. Think of them as your wisely curated, awfully-well-dressed guide book. And share their wide-eyed wonder with the world.