You can celebrate The Beatles almost anywhere in the world and at any time of the day, but there's nothing like doing it in Liverpool!
Once again hundreds of thousands of people descended on Liverpool this past week to pay homage to The Beatles but this year's celebrations were tinged with sadness. The loss of George in November last year was heavily felt in all places but particularly so here in Liverpool and it was therefore fitting that Cavern City Tours dedicated this year's festivities to the memory of "the quite one", but we must not forget that this year we also lost the lovely Bob Wooler and convention favourite "Uncle Charlie Lennon" from our Beatle family. All three were sadly missed.
So - where do I begin?
Early Thursday evening I visited the opening of the George Harrison Photographic Tribute at The Mathew Street Gallery. Thanks to Ian Wallace, Melissa Storey and Anne-Marie Trace for bringing this wonderful exhibition to Liverpool at such an important and emotional time. The exhibition was in association with The Govinda Gallery, Washington DC, USA. To see George's wonderful smile gazing down from so many fabulous photographs was heart wrenching. It pains me to know we will never again see that smile. The exhibition is running until 9 October so if you haven't seen it yet you still have a chance and I advise you to go see it. Lots of the photographs are for sale and have been loaned by very eminent photographers such as Jurgen Vollmer, Astrid Kirchherr, Max Scheler, Gered Mankowitz, Harry Benson, Baron Wolman, Robert Matheu, William Coupon, Bob Whitaker and Barry Feinstein. The Gallery is open from Monday - Saturday, 10.00 a.m.to 5.00 p.m. and Sundays 11.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. Call for further information: 0151 236 0009.
Later Thursday there was a party at The Cavern Pub in Mathew Street which is always free. In the evening The Nurk Twins, otherwise known as Bob Bartey from Banned On The Run and Jon Keats from Instant Karma played a great show at LIPA.
The weekend really began when Friday arrived (not on my mind..lol) with the Party at the Barcelona on Renshaw Street. Quite a few bands played here: The Blue Meanies, Dark Horses, The Cheatles and Karl Terry & The Cruisers.
Later that evening I went to see one of America's most popular Beatle bands - 1964 The Tribute. Now, anyone who knows me probably thinks I'm biased where 1964 are concerned and I openly hold up my hands here and admit it, but I really don't care. These guys are just about the best Tribute band I have ever seen, and ever wish to see. To use a phrase from the Nickster (you know who you are) these guys just smoke the crowd with their ray of death...lol The show at The Royal Court was awesome. Everything about this band oozes professionalism and the desire to "get it right" is so strong. They recently moved to "in ear monitors" and it's made such a huge difference to the way they sound. I loved it, I love them. WE WANT THEM BACK NEXT YEAR....I will be sending around the Petition soon...ok....lol.
Also at The Royal Court on Friday were another American band "American English" who hail from Chicago. The theme for the night was the Red and Blue Albums. 1964 did 1962-1966 and American English did 1967-1970. Although American English were here in Liverpool early last year to play at Sam Leach's Operation Big Beat, they never played the Convention so this was their first ever appearance at Beatle Week. The made a huge impression on everybody.
Saturday 24 August began as it does every year with the Beatle Auction held at LIPA.. The Auction is put together each year by The Beatle Shop in Mathew Street.
Saturday afternoon everyone went to Chavasse Park in the city centre to see the Beatles Versus The Stones. The Counterfiet Stones Versus The Beatals from Australia. The C/Stones were a very popular act at last year's Chavasse Park show when they appeared as part of the Rock & Roll Circus.
The Solo Years Concerts are always popular and CCT decided to include them again this year. Banned On The Run did Paul, Chris Tassone did Ringo, Instant Karma did John and the evening ended with a wonderful tribute to George by Hari Georgeson. There wasn't a dry eye in the house.
Back at the Adelphi later that night we were treated to the combined talents of the bands from Sweden Lenny Pane and Liverpool. Another Swedish band here for the first time was Rocks Off, a great 60s music band.
Sunday is always Convention day at The Adelphi Hotel. It's always without doubt a day of mayhem. Bands, drinking, flea market, video shows, drinking, interviews, singing, drinking, catching up with people and, did I mention drinking? Although this year when I met up with Bill Heckle he was stone cold sober and it was late in the day too...I hardly recognised him. But, I have to say that Dave Jones made a big deal about his legs.....Mark Lewisohn had a very puzzled look on his face at the time....don't ask..ok?
Great bands in the Main Hall again this year. I saw 1964 doing the second of their 3 shows this year and stayed on to see Convention favourites Ringer from Scotland. These guys really rock.
Special guests at Convention this year were Mark Lewisohn, Paul Saltzman and Louise Harrison. It was great to see Mark back at Convention and in discussing it with him he thinks it's 9 or 10 years since he was last here as a guest. Nice to see him back. It was a treat to meet Paul Saltzman and if you haven't seen his Rishikesh pictures then shame on you. They are simply wonderful, and what an interesting man.
It was nice to see Louise Harrison in Liverpool for her first ever Beatle Week and appropriate that she should be here given that the Convention was dedicated to George.
One of the things I really like about these couple of days is that it gives me the opportunity to catch up with so many people, some of whom I only see once a year. It was lovely to see so many people back in Liverpool.
Then we come to the biggest free festival in the world....The Mathew Street Festival is held every August Bank Holiday Monday. It's when the streets of Liverpool literally do ring out to the sound of The Beatles. Their music filters out from every club, pub and bar in the city. Around 200 bands are playing on outdoor stages in almost every street around the Cavern Quarter and this year the stages extended further out with bands playing 70s, 80s, and 90s music. The Festival just gets bigger every year and the choices get better all the time.
I caught 1964's final show of their visit on the Victoria Street stage. As usual they were awesome and they have some of the finest "screams" I've ever heard since Paul McCartney or maybe Little Richard doing "Long Tall Sally"....lol - well aren't they one in the same anyway?
Tuesday drew everyone to the Cavern where Convention long-standing favourites "The Overtures" played two sessions, one in the afternoon and one in the evening. The perform wonderful Beatles tunes but also cover The Kinks, The Yardbirds, The Small Faces, The Stones and The Who amongst others. I don't know why they didn't play other venues this year though....can anyone tell me?
Of course one of the main features of the year's Convention was the appearance of a real Beatle. Pete Best and his band appeared at the Mathew Street Festival for the first time ever. Pete has been a guest speaker in the past but has never actually played. He received a heros welcome and the band where great.
There are way too many bands to mention here but we hope to see them and others back next year. If you were not in Liverpool this year....then you should come...you won't regret it.
In closing I'd like to say a HUGE thank you to Billy Heckle, Dave Jones, Ray Johnson, Karen, Sue, Gemma and everyone at Cavern City Tours without whom......
Guitars around the world were still weeping though.....