Liverpool Everyman opening_event_21 (c) Steve Aland
unnamedYou know us. We’re not the sentimental type. So I can only assume I had a bit of grit in my eye on Saturday night. It was just one of those typical Liverpool evenings. Y’know, thousands of friends, families and kids braving a chilly early spring night to see some neon lettering lit up on a theatre.

Only in Liverpool, eh?

The Everyman’s Lights Up evening was, for us, one of those defining moments. Not everyone was rushing the safety barriers because they were desperate to see Twelfth Night (fab though I’m sure it will be). We were there to witness, and write ourselves into, our city’s next act.

When a city gathers together to hug a theatre back into life you know you’re in a place with soul to spare, and with better days ahead.

For The Everyman, once again, it’s a case of right time, right place – and we can’t wait to see what magic unfolds in that bold and beautiful new space.

All of which got me thinking, looking around at the city anew, and realising…things are really starting to happen around here. Here are a few for starters. Retail, science, culture, tourism …each in their own way significant of a change in the weather for the better.

1BOLD STREET

If ever a street’s got its groove back it’s Bold Street. Quietly, and without fanfare, the street’s welcomed nine new retail businesses over the past year. Nine new made-in-Liverpool enterprises in a city that’s supposed to be overrun by chains. Oh yeah? Bold Street knows better. And there’s more to come – we’re particularly curious to see what goodies the new bakery opposite Bold Street Coffee will bring to the mix.

poster2GIT AWARD RICHES

We’ve always supported the GIT Award – always knew this was the only music event run for love, not profit and canapes. So it’s great to see the Council, and Liverpool Vision, finally, waking up to the fact, too. Now with the official Liverpool Council seal of approval (and cash, hurrah!) Peter Guy’s music website-made-flesh returns. And this year, oh my word, it’s way too close to call. The short list is far and away the strongest in the Award’s history. Go, choose – we can’t.

The List: All We Are, Circa Waves, Dan Croll, Evian Christ, Ex-Easter Island Head, Forest Swords, Mad Brains, Ninetails, Outfit, Bill Ryder-Jones, Tea Street Band and VEYU.

Actually, we can. But we’re not saying.

The industry showcase on Friday April 11 at the Kaz, which will be transformed into a decadent night of lavish 70s pomp and glitz. Think American Hustle, with midi keyboards and facial hair. Fifty people have the chance to win tickets, thanks to a competition over on the Kazimier website.

queenmary-topdeck-liverpoolCRUISES

The world is beating a path to our door. Admittedly, it’s only at 20 knots, with intermittent Bridge tournaments and deck quoits, but still… Liverpool is, once again, a city connected to the sea. And we all know what happened the last time we looked out west. This year, we’ll welcome 52 ships, bringing 80,000 wobbly-legged vacationers in their wake.

Five years ago, the city saw only 13 ships. And why are they coming? Because we’re smashing the satisfaction surveys. Out of a possible 10 points, for friendliness of locals the city scored 9.1 (UK average 8.5); general satisfaction 8.5 (UK 8.2); things to do 8.6 (UK 7.4) and distance of ship to sights 8.8 (UK 7.7). It’s sort of embarrassing, really, isn’t it?

30-james-street-–-home-titanicCUNARD AND WHITE STAR

Now, if you ask us, padded headboards should be reserved only for exorcism, but still, it’s great to see the White Star Line’s HQ tarted up to become the city’s latest fancypants hotel. So we don’t like the rococo flourishes – so what? Signature Living has got its product, and their demographic, bang on, and it’s great to see Albion House (30 James Street) back in loving care. They know what they’re doing. Elsewhere, the Council is moving into the Cunard Building (and looking at the ground floor becoming a cruise terminal waiting lounge again). All of which means, for the first time in generations, our two mighty shipping line HQs are back in business. If that isn’t symbolic of a shift in our fortunes, what is?

Exhibition-Hall-Aerial_tcm166-195651THE EXHIBITION CENTRE

Will the IFB be all that? Our jury’s out. We still haven’t heard an elevator pitch that, convincingly, sells it to us. No matter. What we do get is the cluster of buildings down Kings Dock way, and the soon-to-arrive Exhibition Centre. Now that does look interesting. We know Liverpool can put on a show. So it’s probably about time we had a place to do it. Last week, the ACC team brought the BBC (and, yes, Jeremy Clarkson) to our city. But that was just one of over 1,100 events that have brought three million delegates to the windy shores of the Mersey. In its first year, the £40million Exhibition Centre is expected to host about 50 events and attract some 250,000 visitors. And when companies chose to hold their shindig here, most decide to come back. Well, you would, wouldn’t you? Have you been to the NEC recently? Case closed.

v0_masterTHE UK’s BIENNIAL

There was a time when it was merely the Liverpool Biennial. No more. Our bi-annual arts fest is now the UK’s official Biennial of Contemporary Art. In recognition of our city’s paradigm-shifting approach to public art Director Sally Tallant was invited to the World Art Summit in Chile – a meeting of the world’s leading Biennials. Liverpool was the only UK representative at this, the G8 of the arts world. We’ve reclaimed our place at the top table – and this year, curators Mai Abu ElDahab and Anthony Huberman will oversee an event – for the first time ever without a theme – that invites global artists to come to Liverpool and create work that will, as ever, inspire, confound and delight.

“We’ve always valued culture here,” Sally says. “We’re a forward thinking city. We’ve always harnessed a belief that, whatever happens, new possibilities will emerge…”

cernLIFE, THE UNIVERSE AND EVERYTHING

Forget Liverpool Fashion Week (oh, you have). Liverpool is unpicking, and remodelling, the fabric of the cosmos. As you read this, made-in-Liverpool detectors are stationed around the Large Hadron Collider, beneath the dewy Swiss countryside, searching for the elusive particles that make up you, me, George Osborne and Uranus. Everything. Machines made at Liverpool University played a key role in finding the so-called God Particle last year. And where was that in the Echo? Buried even deeper than the machines, probably, twelve pages past ‘Pensioner Killed By Bedwarmer’. Not content with reshaping our city, we’re reshaping the laws of physics.

6956648140_6b0fb84e64_oRETURN TO THE LAND OF THE GIANTS

Jean-Luc Courcoult and company came to town for just three days in April 2012, for Sea Odyssey, but their legacy left a very long shadow. We fell in love, in a big way. Now, as the country gears up to mark the centenary of the First World War, Liverpool has been named as host city for the UK’s biggest public commemorative event – as the Royal de Luxe Giants return to the city (23-27 July) for ‘Memories of August 1914’.

We know how to stage theatre that’s super-sized, stops traffic, and free for everyone to share. This year, we’re expecting two million visitors to come and stare heavenwards, as the company tell another story that pulls on our heart-strings. “I have seen adults crying as the giant leaves,” Jean Luc says. “They have obviously lived other things, sometimes difficult, and yet this makes them cry. Over several days, they have dreamt…”

Royal-Insurance-Building-Liverpool-CNAdd to this the huge success of the Independent Liverpool card (showing that, when it comes to supporting the city, we’re happy to put our sandwich money where our lunchtime mouths are), the rising total of pledges to get the Flyover project (literally) off the ground, the swanky Aloft hotel taking shape within the gold-domed Royal Insurance building (pic), the deep dredging of Liverpool2, ready to welcome the world’s biggest container vessels to the city, Rough Guides naming us the third best city to visit in 2014, the stellar line up for Sound City, Mondrian at Tate, LiverpoolONE smashing every retail record going, the reds and the blues on form, and the Central Village development refinanced and back on track…

Yes, we’re a city of dreamers. Yes, times are tough, and our pockets may not be deep. But look around and it’s hard not to come to the conclusion: our sun’s coming up.

Main pic: © Steve Aland

  • Fiona

    What a great start to the week. And it’s sunny out there. Onwards and upwards!

  • Rog

    Yes. Love it! Liverpool is great.

  • Philip Stratford

    Wow, this was great. What a fantastic, positive read on a Monday morning!

  • http://www.gregorylee.net Gregory Lee 利大英

    Wonderful to see the Everyman back up and performing.

  • Rich

    great stuff. Happy days. Enjoyed reading your article and i’m happy what’s going on here and spring in the step for me and my beloved city. Just need some nice bike lanes 🙂

  • mike

    fantastic, all really encouraging