Article – Livercool

Is Liverpool Cool?

(Originally published in Inform Magazine, March 2003)

A recent article in ultra posh magazine The Tatler declaring Liverpool a cool place caused lots of baffled expressions around the city, before a slow realisation that, hey, this place may just be okay. So are we really “LiverCool”?

Apparently, we’re all cool. Well, that’s according to a magazine that seems to think young nobles that you’ve never heard of demand lots and lots of fawning space. The Tatler recently turned its attention to Liverpool (“the jewel of the north”) and declared us to be cool beyond question, a story which made it onto most news reports, although usually along the lines of “you’ll never believe this but…”
The Tatler being the Tatler, the model used for their photoshoot was none other than Lady Eloise Anson, skinny niece of the Duke of Westminster, whose scheme for regenerating the city is currently annoying Quiggins amongst others. Other models include the Hon. Mary Charteris, perpetually worried-looking arts sponsor James Moores (part of the hugely monied Moores clan) and the Countess of Derby (“all good works and great legs”). Never mind, Atomic Kitten wear virtually nothing to give us a more recognisable view of the city.
But the question remains, is Liverpool actually cool? Is the Tatler merely sucking up to the nobs as usual or is it tapping into something deeper? Certainly, whatever you may think of the City of Culture bid, it’s sharpened a lot of minds towards regenerating Liverpool faster than a past-it Doctor Who. And there is a feeling that Liverpool is a pretty cool cultural centre at the moment.
Although invisible to the vast majority of Liverpool residents, the Biennial was a decent achievement that only needs a few more ambitious artists to be more inclusive of those who actually live in the city. The FACT centre is a genuinely impressive building, and for once we have an actual original musical scene at the moment, centred around the Coral but including bands that could be of equal worth.
A year ago, there was absolutely no magazines to reflect this – now there’s loads (Facto, Space, Move Out, this very publication you’re holding). I can tell you from personal experience of typing in listings that the amount of events has doubled in one year. This is evident in the obvious music and film listings, as well as surprising things like theatre, where lots of comedy clubs have exploded out of nothing and the likes of the Unity seem to have something on every night. Even the Playhouse’s fears on re-opening have been put behind them.
So, yes, Liverpool is pretty cool at the moment, at least on the surface. But a healthy scene usually relies on its underground, and even here there are signs that things are going pretty well. The reliance on funding for artistic endeavours which has blighted cultural life for the last few years has receded, with more and more people choosing to follow their own instincts. It’s a sad fact that those who actively pursue funding are usually those with the least talent to use it, and it’s good to see, for example, more people choosing to put on their own gigs rather than rely on charmless, heavily-funded warehouses like the Picket. One thing the Biennial has shown is that any building can become gallery space, with a bit of imagination. The closing of Cream has proved to be a good thing, as less soul-devouring clubs like Chibuku, Liquidation and Garlands have flourished as a result.

Meanwhile, genuinely independent and original organisations like Probe Records, the Masque and the Crosby Plaza offer genuine alternatives to routine fare. Now if only the death threat over Quiggins was lifted. Maybe we should have a word with the Tatler.

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About klausjoynson
I'm a writer, editor, musician, DJ and cartoonist. Contact me at: klausjoynson(at)gmail.com or follow me on Twitter: @KlausJoynson

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