Today saw the official launch of the new Liverpool International Music Festival. We were there, because we support it. It’s encouraging to see the city grasping the Mathew Street nettle and running, smartly, away from the braying crowds of lairy punters falling over to Angels.

A festival that spent three-quarters of its cash on policing boozed up crowds, and a quarter on shipped-in karaoke queens never deserved our city as a backdrop, so it’s right to put the Mathew Street monster out of its misery.

Of course, this year’s a transition year – with less than nine months between the festival being magicked up and getting delivered, it’s hard to see how it could be anything but – but the line-up so far augurs well for the festival’s continued growth.

The festival’s inspiring curator Yaw Owusu was on hand to get the crowd on side, explaining about his three festival aims: to celebrate greatness, to get excited about the new, and to support the next. Or, to put it in other words, Neil Young, Stealing Sheep and whichever emerging artists get a chance to shine this summer.

And there’s gonna be plenty to choose from – with JLS and Little Mix heading up the crowd-pleasing Party at the Pier crowd, grizzled old charmer, Neil Young and Crazy Horse at the Arena, Vasily and co in Sefton Park, and Camp and Furnace’s post-dubstep meltdown in the Baltic that’s your musical bases well and truly covered. Add the Portico Quartet (pic) and some really rather ace jazz, porticoworld and folk acts, there’s breadth, depth and even (whisper it) a Queen tribute act for old time’s sake.

Oh, and SevenStreets is doing something too. And, honestly, you’ve not lived til you’ve seen us getting jiggy with our Casios. We’ll be announcing more when the festival releases the rest of its line-up in July (only just over half the line-up was revealed today).

Is this a world-beating music event? No, of course it’s not. Is this the start of something we can, finally, be proud of? We very much suspect it is.

“We’re thinking big,” Yaw says, “Music is the thing that connects us all. Anything is possible. And in Liverpool, don’t bet against it.”

Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said: “Our aim for this event was to bring something fresh and new to the city, and at the same time keep the very best elements of the Mathew Street Music Festival. We want our festival to rank alongside Edinburgh and, in time, surpass it.”

It’s ambitious, and it’s sounding like a move in the right direction. So let’s give it a fair hearing, eh?

The Liverpool International Music Festival
18 Aug – 22 Sept, Various venues,

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