Underground. That’s the place to head for the best nights in the city. It must be something to do with our mercantile roots. All those disused warehouses, their cellars once ripe with fruit, spirits and spices from the four corners of the trading world. Dark. Hidden. Once removed from the niceties of the front of shop.
It’s always been so. From the Cavern and the Kasbah through to the Blue Angel and Erics, Planet X to Le Bateau, Magnet and Korova, the best nights have always been subterranean.
And, now that we’ve (temporarily) lost the lovely Korova, there couldn’t be a better time to welcome a sweaty new basement venue to the heart of our manoeuvres in the dark. One that, we confidently predict, will begin the fight to regain the Ropewalks area for the rest of us again. You know, like it used to be before Walkabout and The Office, and The Broomstick Song sapped the soul from the streets, and replaced it with shooter-hued sick and the force-fed fun of the Hen-Party-by-numbers.
The Shipping Forecast for us is an attempt to create something different in the city. It’s an 850 capacity music venue and bar, and, excitingly, it’s bringing together an eclectic array of Liverpool’s creative best
The Shipping Forecast blows into Slater Street with a fair wind behind it. It arrives courtesy of 580, the folks behind the equally inventive Amersham Arms in London, The Nation of Shopkeepers in Leeds and other thoroughly decent venues across the country, and the good people who gave us Chibuku.
But the Shipping Forecast is more than your average music venue – many punters may not even venture downstairs at all. At street level the interior is robust and snug, a carefully stage managed version of some long-abandoned whaling station. Or a Seattle dock warehouse from The Real World, minus the Philippe Starck ghost chairs. And twats.
Take a look out for the intriguingly illuminated Trades Map, salvaged from a 1960s job centre. Turn the dial and watch as lonely constellations light up to help Plumbers in Prescot follow the star to their next blocked soil pipe.
We’ve not eaten here yet (more reports later) but any menu that offers two Sunday roasts for £8 has got to be worth the bleary-eyed stroll down Bold Street the afternoon after the night before.
Yes, even skinny indie kids have to eat, y’know. And even gastro-pub loving geography teachers still enjoy a hearty bangers and mash supper and an hour or so’s frantic big beat courtesy of Jon Carter. Kudos to the folks at 580. They understand that these two tribes can go to war here and both come out the better for it.
Kudos too for 580 bringing our local creatives along for the journey. The venture’s a collaboration not only between 580 and Chibuku, but also local design studio Mercy.
Sevenstreets spoke to Chibuku’s Lewis Boardman. He’s very excited. Mind you, so are we.
“The Shipping Forecast for us in an attempt to create something different in the city. It’s an 850 capacity music venue and bar, and, excitingly, it’s bringing together an eclectic array of Liverpool’s creative best,” he says.
“Without sounding pretentious, it’s a cultural hub. Somewhere you know you can always pop in, check your email, have a cup of tea, have a roast dinner on a Sunday, a nice glass or red wine or some bangers and mash.”
Zeligs has tried this trick – and does it fairly well – of walking the line between sociable diner, speakeasy and dance-where-you-stand joint. But whereas the Liverpool One venue likes to serenade with Sinatra, The Shipping Forecast aims to attract an altogether different sub-species of the rat pack.
“We want to create somewhere that, at night, can morph in to a relaxed place to come and have a few drinks with friends, check out some local artists and then – God forbid – end up dancing on the tables,” Boardman adds.
“We are really thrilled. This is our first venue, and our first joint venture with the 580 group,” Boardman says. “Quality ales, wines and spirits, soundtracked by a rosta of DJs upstairs, and downstairs in ‘The Hold’ an army of the latest live bands, electronic artists and off-centre indescribables stoking the furnaces. What could be better?”
Don’t know about you, but we’re gonna need a heck of a lot of seasickness pills over the coming months. See you there, shipmates.
Becks Music Inspires Art tour is coming to Liverpool from 3-6 June, bringing The Invisible, New Young Pony Club (last time they played in town – at Korova – they burned the place down. Let’s hope for something just as incendiary, but not literally so), Horsemeat Disco, Chapel Club, The Invisible, Howls, Opulent Oog, The Cabinet of Living Cinema and Squeaky Hill Art & Comedy.
The Shipping Forecast Alehouse and Eatery, 15 Slater Street, L1 4BW
Sunday to Thursday – 11am to midnight / Friday to Saturday – 11am to 3am.