It’s been open and closed more times than Herbert’s crimpers, but tomorrow sees the return of the soul of Harman Street – as The Magnet readies to reclaim its rightful place as the city’s rocksteady hub of all things reggae, electro, indie and idiosyncratic.
From Gregory Isaacs to Ron Ayers, Deaf School to the Mighty Wah! – the old Rumblin’ Tum’s seen some of the city’s best-remembered shindigs. And it promises to stay true to its eclectic roots, with “Live at the Magnet” – a fortnightly music spot which to showcase emerging talent, as well as just brilliant club nights, and a warm welcome (and homeward, final glass at 5 in the morning.)
Ahead of its launch tomorrow – and a big bank holiday debut weekend to follow – we spoke to manager, MODU:LAR’s Josh Boyd.
“This place has always been a hub for varied spectrum of musical tastes,” he says. “It’s offered a place for people from all walks of life to meet. And that isn’t going to change any time soon. Everyone has a Magnet story. I once met a man in a cape with a walking stick and monocle in there – that’s the type of thing Liverpool needs, an eclectic mix of everything that makes this city great.”
So, we can expect Magnet 2014 to be more ‘new chapter’ than ‘new beginning’, then?
“Yeah,” he says. “This is a place with proper values, and the only venue I know which seems to have a soul. It’s a home from home and long may it continue.”
The bar’s been open at weekends for a month or so, and the venue’s already reclaiming its place on the city’s after-dark excisions. With its 24 hour licence, and big plans for the summer, new owners (who also run Seel Street’s Pogue Mahones’) are determined that, this time, the Magnet gets it right.
”We’re staying true to the venue’s long-standing love of soul, funk & disco,” Josh says, “and we’ve got some talented DJs on board in James Morgan, John Dean and RoBaSca to name a few, curating a very credible music policy each week in the bar until late.
At the other end of the summer, The Magnet’s heading into unknown waters, into that most tricky of territories – comedy: “I can’t wait for such as the Comedy Cellar down in the basement from September onwards,” Josh adds, “and we’ll be hosting open mic events and the return of northern soul at “The Sink Unplugged”, which starts on 1st June for weekly Sunday parties.”
Ultimately, though, it’s about the music. And with Josh at the helm, we’re guessing much of that will be a MODU:LAR-mash up of deep and dark, European-tinged electro?
“Yeah, I’m an electronic music enthusiast so I’d be lying if that wasn’t at the forefront of my list,” he admits. “MODU:LAR is a project I started with a friend and resident DJ Scott Grant; in the aim of bringing the artists we really wanted to see in our home city to the table. We have a strong, resurgent scene in Liverpool at the moment in that respect with newer parties such as Peach, Polka and Abandon Silence.
“Rubix will host Martin Buttrich on 21st June for example, a real coup representing a step up for growing nights across the board. It’s putting Liverpool on the map as a destination for dance music lovers – especially with eclectic affairs like the Baltic Bloc Party changing the landscape of what we’d traditionally expect from Liverpool.
“With MODU:LAR though we saw an opportunity to bring something different, going for a range of very renowned artists with contemporary music you would find at home in places like Berlin, Paris or London,” he says.
They’ve hit the ground running, and have hosted an assured back-catalogue of blindingly good nights across the city – judiciously partnering with the best. With Josh at the desk, we’re confident the Magnet won’t waste any time in getting its groove back.
“We’ve gone from a few warehouse parties this year to the more intimate, accessible vibe of The Magnet during summer with the concept, “Get Magnetized!” and it’s going to be fun,” he promises.
Ah, fun. We remember that.
“Sam Russo of Air London & Leftroom is coming to the basement first of all this Saturday 25th May for a late one, then another date on 7th June to be announced at that party - with some more being revealed in the coming months too.
But first there’s the little matter of the upcoming opening weekend. No pressure, then?
“It’s gonna be a whirlwind of bands, DJ’s, drink and hangovers. We’re aiming to take The Magnet back to where it should be, championing grass roots talent and honouring the past with a nod to the future.
“We have a massive launch party on Thursday with Salty Peanut Fingers, We the Undersigned & The Fire Beneath the Sea alongside a vinyl-only northern soul DJ set from Dave Booth.
“Friday sees Unsigned City bring a host of talented up and comers to the stage, before we welcome in Rubix for the first weekly, free late-night house music party in the basement of the venue at “The Magnet and Friends”.
“On Saturday and Sunday evening from 6pm – 11pm we have the first ‘Live at The Magnet’ nights with free entry on both days over bank holiday weekend.
“I haven’t even begun to count the number of artists performing over the course of the weekend but it’s well in excess of 100 people. I can’t wait.”
Neither can we.