AS I walked up to the Static Gallery on Roscoe Lane, familiarity swirled around me like the warm, midsummer breeze that tickled my face.
The public houses of Renshaw Street, some of which had been reacquainted over the course of the early evening, pre-empted the bombed-out church in all its repellent beauty. The sun, threatening to leave for good, peeked above the buildings afar, waving towards your swelling stomach; a stomach which contains that quickly finished pint of continental beer which cost more than you care to remember.
It’s a memorable feeling. The landmarks may change sometimes, but those long, arduous days spent with friends moaning about the price of Erdinger, not knowing if it’s a beer or a left back, always remain. Football was back. The Liverpool boys were in town.
If you didn’t realise this beforehand, the outside of the Static Gallery confirmed it. Lads you knew well, knew to talk to or lads whose faces you simply knew– all brought together for their love for live music or tins of Red Stripe.
Once you handed over your BOSSmag ticket at the door, the familiarity ended. £5 in, four bands, but three things you never thought you’d see.
There stood a long bar with the aforementioned beer behind it; chatter filled the air as summer stories were shared and the latest issue of the fanzine (#12) perused over. From downstairs came the backing track for the start of the evening – the bands.
That’s right: the bands were downstairs. A small opening at the end of the bar, which appeared to be a route to the toilet (more on those later), was actually where the gig was taking place; a stage at the front, a giant dance floor adjacent. Simple, but so effective.
Most who entered looked around, wondering where the music came from; such was the wonder of the location, upstairs was for talking, downstairs was for music. There’d be no hoarse voices or ear-cupping at this gig. It was a perfect arrangement, reminiscent of attending a house party aged 16, complete with beer can in hand.
A venture downstairs early on led us to The Complete Unknown? and Cold Shoulder. The former lived up to their name, with their entourage of fans much larger than the amount of information available on them.
As more from upstairs began to wander, stumble and slide down the stairs, The Captive Hearts took to the stage. Their singer, Mark Firth, had previously been in the Troubadours; it’s their biggest hit, Gimme Love, which will be re-released as The Captive Hearts’ first single.
Firth might be from Wigan but he captures the Liverpool mood perfectly with Hummingbird and Believin’ Love, his two best songs of the night.
Hummingbird is an upbeat, summer tune with a catchy chorus and some fine solo work with the guitar, while Believin’ Love is a toe-tapping song designed for a sing-along.
A few dances had broken out during The Captive Hearts’ set, particularly after Believin’ Love, but that served as no hint for The Tea Street Band’s impact. Having been given the role of headline for the night, they surpassed even the loftiest expectation.
Fiesta and Push The Feeling were their two notable songs. While Push The Feeling was a good floor-filler, Fiesta was a rollercoaster of musical adventure, taking every member of the audience with them. They slowed down and sped up music at will, allowing people to catch breath before taking them on the ride all over again.
But every one of their songs had people moving; a room full of lads whose relationship with dancing ranged from non-existent to abusive gave the impression of a zombie flash dance. Some moved from side-to-side, others backwards and forwards, while I merely waddled in the centre – but all created an atmosphere as electric as the playlist. The second thing I’d never thought I’d see.
The Tea Street Band’s energy was perhaps their most enjoyable asset. The singer stood, grimacing, feeling every word he sang, while his guitarist, like a sweat-laden, shaven Energiser bunny, remained hypnotised by the notes he played. The drummer and keyboard player were just as intense. It’s a rare commodity in music for an artist and audience to reciprocate energy, but The Tea Street Band loved playing to the floor as much as the floor loved them playing.
As they finished to a rousing reception, the party, once more, moved upstairs. John Johnson took over the entertainment and became the in-house DJ. What followed until 2am was magical; a kaleidoscopic journey through the, as one onlooker stated, Scousest playlist ever.
As good as The Tea Street Band had been, it was fitting the night ended with several match-going lads enjoying themselves in the small upstairs venue. That’s what the entire gig had been about.
BOSSmag is a fantastic publication run by a superb group of lads – some I know, some I don’t. But what they offer like-minded supporters is something to read, enjoy, laugh at and put in your arse pocket. The fact 340 tickets were sold says just as much about them and their fanzine as it does the bands promoted.
Oh, and the final thing I never thought I’d see? Two unisex toilets; one upstairs, one downstairs. Their condition? Absolutely spotless. Put that arrangement in a normal venue in town, on a normal night out, and both would be destroyed; the fact I could happily use them without needing a snorkel shows how respectful and switched-on the clientele were.
I don’t give star ratings, so one word will simply have to do: boss.
Thanks to Dan Nico of BOSS Mag, who incidentally have a t-shirt out designed by Distant Echo for help piecing the events of the night back together.