FRIDAY 23RD DECEMBER 2011
LIVERPOOL

THERE IS, of course, a long history of association between music and football in Liverpool; from men on the Kop in the 60s dressed for nights out watching the Merseybeat bands, to the ‘The End’ magazine in the 80s, to Liverpool musicians organising concerts to raise money and awareness for the Hillsborough Justice Campaign in 1997 and 2011. Continuing this tradition, the (fantastic) Liverpool fanzine ‘Boss Mag’ have started putting on gigs showcasing some of the best bands in the city to a growing number of followers.

I was dead excited about the gig. Not just for the reformation of The Troubadours, but it was also my first trip to the newly re-opened Lomax on Cumberland St. The Lomax, for those who don’t know, is a Liverpool institution which has previously seen gigs by bands like Oasis, Stereophonics, Radiohead, The Verve and The Fall. It is a proper music venue and was my favourite venue to play in the late 90s. In fact I was so excited that I started drinking at 3 o’clock in the afternoon and forgot to have any tea – the problems of which will become apparent later.

First up are Beat Marauder. They are a funny looking band. In fact they look like they are in four different bands. But luckily they don’t sound like it. The lead singer delivers the songs brilliantly and the third to last song ‘Evoke Your Evolution’ is an absolute triumph. Apparently their line-up has had some alterations recently, so I’d definitely recommend going to see them in the future when they should be a bit more settled. And if you are after a bands rock n roll credentials, I saw the bass player getting led off by the police later that night.

Springtime Anchorage are more low key on a night that most are feeling raucous (it is the Friday before Christmas…), so its to their credit that they manage to win the crowd over with their fantastic melodic tunes. They are a band formed from former members of The Great Northwestern Hoboes, and fans of that great Liverpool band won’t be disappointed if they are yet to hear Springtime Anchorage, with the band still reliant on unmistakeably Liverpool guitar sounds, and Buffalo Springfield style vocal harmonies. Their sound makes you want to be drinking outside in the sunshine, but they don’t sound too bad on a cold night in December either. They even did a decent version of Jingle Bell Rock. I loved it.

In contrast The Loud don’t really do it for me at all. However, they have got a good swagger about them and there are plenty of others in the room who seem to disagree with me. You can hear a Pixies influence in some songs, but they seemed to be named after the frontman’s singing style and after a while it does my head in. I slope off to the bar where things start to get a bit hazy. I remember buying me and the barmaid a shot of something. And I remember tripping over a step back upstairs sending a vodka and coke flying right in front of The Tea Street Band. Realising I’ve had nothing to eat I order loads of crisps and try and get my head together for The Troubies

The Troubadours are from a fairly long list of Liverpool bands that didn’t quite make it, although they will, given half the chance, regale you with stories of chart success and a sizeable following in Japan. But for whatever reason the album never got released in the UK and the band split up. Until now that is where they play to a now rammed and bouncing theatre. Much of the bands local support is credited with successful performances at the Spirit of Shankly’s end of season parties (that footy/music link again), so its perhaps apt that they are back together tonight at a ‘Boss Mag’ show in front of very much a match going crowd which is now swaying like the old Kop.

The whole show is a joy, with the band showing no rustiness whatsoever and seeming to delight in playing with each other again. The crowd lap it up too, with levels of audience participation suggesting that there is more than one bootleg copy of that album floating around Liverpool. They save the best to last with the gorgeous ‘Gimme Love’ which sounds like the soundtrack to a summer daydream. It should be used as the backing music to every scene in a film when a young couple run through a park. At the end the crowd spontaneously start to sing the bridge of the song back to the band and even the ultra confident singer Mark Firth seems genuinely taken back. He then leads the crowd in a final sing-along of the chorus before the band very very reluctantly leaves the stage.

The DJ, who has played between the bands all night, then carries on until god knows what time to a crowd in full flow, including tracks by Liverpool bands who have minor success such as The Bandits and Liverpool bands who have done a bit better such as The Beatles. My last memory of the night is dancing like a lunatic with my friend Heather to ‘Promise’ by The Maybe’s. My next memory is my flatmate waking me up at 8:30 the next morning asking me why there was blood all over the floor.

With live music in Liverpool currently in a less than healthy state with the closure of The Masque, The CUC and, to a lesser extent, The Jacaranda, the reopening of the Lomax and the arrival on the scene of ‘Boss Mag’ as a promoter are both hugely welcome. It is said that people won’t go and see unsigned bands anymore, but If ‘Boss Mag’ keep charging a fiver for 4 bands and a DJ, and the Lomax keep drinks prices at £2.50 for a pint or a spirit and mixer then they will both do very well in 2012. And, given how much they seemed to enjoy themselves, I doubt it’s the last we’ll see of The Troubadours either

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