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The Laz Word on the Mathew Street Festival

Larry Neild at the mayoral press briefing greets the end of the boozy cover-band era but says we're still missing a trick

Written by . Published on February 19th 2013.


The Laz Word on the Mathew Street Festival
 

 MAYOR Joe shook his head as he glanced down at the front page of the local morning/evening newspaper. ‘Oh Eck’ I think I heard him say with a look of annoyance, if not anger. Mathew Street Festival Axed, screamed the headline.    

The Mathew Street Festival needed to be more than axed, it needed to be banished for ever.

During the briefing, hackles were raised, especially those of Bill H, when I dared to mention the ‘B’word: Is Liverpool, half a century after they left, finally turning its back on the Beatles?  

When Bill Heckle and his mates started it in 1993 it was intended as a celebration of Liverpool music, from the Beatles and the Merseybeat era to the up and coming bands of the last decade of the last century. It is some years since I even bothered to head to the city during the event. To me it had become Liverpool’s booze and vomit fest.  

It was costing the council almost a £1m and generating hardly any feel-good publicity for the city. It was lucky to get a mention on Granada Reports or  North West Tonight, let alone Sky News or ITN. Most of the money was spent on security, safety, policing and cleaning up, with little being spent on the actual bands. 


t
Mayor Joe first thought about pulling the plug on funding in 2011 and last year finally announced the civic money tree had been axed.

Beatlers Cover BandsBeatlers Cover BandsHeckle and his team greeted the news with "great sadness", but rather than taking away their guitars and drum sets, they sat down with Mayor Joe to work out the future. Out of the Mathew Street Festival, rising like a phoenix will be a new international music festival.

The hope – and I believe this will happen – is the new festival will become to Liverpool what the Edinburgh Festival is north of the border.

In the early 1990s Liverpool was dead at weekends. In fact at 6pm on any weekday and during the weekends, you could have locked the city gates until Monday morning and nobody would have been fussed.

Now the city is thriving 24/7, and making large areas a no-go area to accommodate a booze-up is unacceptable.

During the briefing hackles were raised, especially those of Bill H, when I dared to mention the ‘B’word: Is Liverpool, half a century after the Beatles left, finally turning its back on the Beatles?  

No, no, no! came screams from every direction.  

Happier TimesThose were the daysBut I have the unpopular view that Liverpool, certainly in any civic way, does not recognise or celebrate the Beatles in the way Stratford celebrates Billy Shakey or Memphis Elvis. Yes, there is more to Liverpool than the Beatles and there are new bands, perhaps many of them influenced by the Fab Four.  And while I am full of admiration for Cavern City Tours, Bill H, Dave Jones and the rest of them, as well as the Beatles Story, I still feel we are missing a trick.

The new Liverpool International Music Festival will, admitted Mayor Joe, be a suck-it-and-see event this August.  It will cost the council 40 per cent less – trimmed further if the Arts Council and other sponsors chip in.

It will give the event the chances of survival and longevity, unlike the Mathew Street Festival which had become too big, and too hot, to handle.

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30 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousFebruary 19th 2013.

Spot on Larry

AnonymousFebruary 19th 2013.

Wow. Stratford Upon Avon is nothing but a Shakespeare theme park without any life of it's own. It would be awful to see Liverpool go the same way, never spoken of without mentioning moptops, Merseybeat and all the other tired old cliches. There is a reason that just across the M62 there is a city that attracts artists, musicians and creatives of an international calibre, and one of the reasons for that is that Manchester does not see itself as beginning and ending with Herman's Hermits.

There is a huge amount of brilliant, young and exciting new music in Liverpool, most of which is not influenced by the Fab Four, thank God, seeing as if the Beatles were influenced by music as distant in time as they are from us they would have been playing Wagner. Good riddance to the Mathew St Festival, and hopefully Liverpool will allow itself to be viewed in terms of a vibrant 21st century city rather than a sad 60s throwback longing for the days when it was perceived as cool.

Georgina OwenFebruary 19th 2013.

I am amazed by this, I have been to the MSF in the years it was fully loaded and not cancelled, and yes there was drinking, but the vast majority of people were sensible and enjoying themselves. Typical of politicians to blame everything on drunken yobs! The fact is Mayor Joe & co, who shouted and screamed in 2007, for solely political gain, have AXED the MSF because he didn't want it. He wants nothing that is good for this city, answers on a ciggy packet what he has achieved in his 3 years in the post.........

AnonymousFebruary 19th 2013.

I blame Lee Forde

TourmanFebruary 19th 2013.

Funny that once the Council started running the MSF it started losing money because they kept making it "Bigger and Better". It was a way of finishing The Beatle Connvention with music, but that was not enough for the Council. Hopefully the Council will not interfere with The Beatle Convention, which is still very successful. Sorry Larry but a Liverpool Music Festival will never rival The Edinburgh Festival. I will not feed the Trolls with regard to The Beatles and the benefits The Beatles bring to the city.

Jonathan WalkerFebruary 19th 2013.

I've performed on the streets of Liverpool during the last five Mathew Street festivals. During that time I have met some amazing people from all over the world who came to Liverpool for Beatle's week and stayed for the festivities on Sunday and Monday.

In contrast to what Georgina Owen says, I observed some of the worst elements of human nature during the glorified piss up on the Sunday and Monday. Marauding gangs of drunks roaming the streets looking for a fight. Tribute acts blaring out Queen covers from stages flanked by G4S security guards. Lots of people out to enjoy themselves but always the threat of something vaguely intimidating hanging in the air.

In addition, the council tried to enforce a zero tolerance attitude to all buskers for the duration of the festival, despite it being a street music festival. Last year we went to court to try to protect the right of buskers to play on the streets during the festival.

I hope whatever emerges captures the joy and spontaneity which are such a part of Liverpool life. And, as Larry rightly points out, there is no need to disavow the Beatles legacy. It makes Liverpool a place of pilgrimage for people all over the world.

AnonymousFebruary 19th 2013.

Does this mean an end to the ridiculous blocking of the Queensway Tunnel for days on end? Thank goodness!

AnonymousFebruary 19th 2013.

Nobody is saying, can I please repeat that, nobody is saying it's the Beatles or nowt. It is just that Beatlephobia seems to have replaced Beatlemania. Tourism is supposed to be opur salvation, and that means football, culture (if you can call the new museum with its wheelie bins as exhibits culture), theatres, the Tate, the ferries, shoppping and the soddin Beatles. Do we milk them or just stamp on them. People who disown the Beatles merely as the past are missing the bigger picture. There's room in this town for both.

AnonymousFebruary 20th 2013.

Unfortunately there is a growing culture amongst too many people that to go anywhere for the night or have a day out at an event, you must first get tanked up on ale and have a huge ready supply with you or nearby.

We saw all of the problems with drunken yobs at the Echo arena, carrying full pints or more into the auditorium. At Mathew Street you saw people lugging huge cold store boxes of ale and arriving already pissed up. I saw enough one year to make me keep well away from town while it is on. Mr Walker (above) is right. When menace takes over from the music, it really is time to think again and this is long overdue. There is also the issue around cost. To spend a million quid on a 3 day event that risks one day turning into a riot, when the council faces hugely damaging spending cuts to vital services then Anderson could not win on this one.

I think it is a brave and welcome decision to end the Mathew Street festival in it's current form and to try and recover some sanity and dignity for the city, in a way that genuinely celebrates not just the Beatles and Merseybeat but a wide variety of musical styles and inspirations. And as part of that festival, we should open the city for buskers and street artists encourgaing them to come to the festival and making them welcome.

Judith PattersonFebruary 20th 2013.

Its a shame when there are ones that spoil it for every one.Some one had once said after the war something was needed to bring Liverpool back,then the Beatles came along and put liverpool on the map, cilla Black still the best selling English singer for selling albums.When i think of Liverpool, its the Beatles, cilla black, the 60s,architecture, the feeling of comeing together, not the tate mueseum and the modern way.You have to have the old to have the new.You cant take that away.keep going with the tours also, that is the main source of income , dont knock it.Is it liverpool turning their backs on the Beatles, or the Beatles turning their back on liverpool?

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousFebruary 20th 2013.

You're the kind of person who keeps this city lower than it should be. Beatles, Black, Dodd, LFC/EFC winning things...all in the past. Let's move on, please!

AnonymousFebruary 20th 2013.

If anything, this city dwells on the bloody Beatles too much. Sick of them.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
Ellie HallFebruary 20th 2013.

Bloody museums, bloody art galleries, bloody old Albert Dock, bloody old Pier Head, bloody old football teams that started in the 19th century, bloody old cathedral. The beatles arein good company with all them bloodies. Just because we have a now and a future does mean we can't have a past.

Sir Thomas StreetFebruary 20th 2013.

Anonymous is right about the continual, depressing reliance on a long-dead pop group for what passes for the city's self-esteem.

The way to avoid this misery is simply to stop reading the Echo. Life improves immeasurably.

AnonymousFebruary 20th 2013.

The beatles bring in tourists with money to spend, that creates jobs and jobs are the thing that liverpool needs the most. Its churlish not to embrace the beatles, they do the city lots of good even decades after they split.

Rick N. BackerFebruary 20th 2013.

I love it when people use the old cliché “The Beatles "put Liverpool on the map" - no they did not.

Two hundred years ago Liverpool rivalled London; as a port it was even more important than the capital.

Far from "putting Liverpool on the map”, the rise of the Beatles in the early 1960s heralded the city’s most catastrophic decline.

Of course that’s not the fault of the Beatles, but their quick move to London as early as 1963 showed the way things were going for Liverpool.

Cliff Edge-HillFebruary 20th 2013.

If we are to capitalise on the Beatles connection it really ought to be done with style and dignity. Salzburg profitably celebrates its most famous musical son with festivals, probably without the rivers of vomit and urine that characterise the Mathew Street Festival.

Of course the problem might be that it is pop music and it is free. We all like a bit of a party and it is great to enjoy the sun, but if the festival is just used as an excuse to get hammered, smoke cannabis openly and generally play the foul-mouthed, antisocial arsehole using the large numbers of people and the small number of police present as a shield then the point of the music is missed.

The same happened with the old Larks in the Park when the lakes and fields were filled with beer cans and bottles.

If the event were to be run as a money-raising exercise with tickets or wristbands and the bars and venues that rake in the profits over the weekend were to put their hands in their own pockets for a change, a much better event would be the outcome and it would be a benefit to the city, not an expensive embarrassment for the Council and the population.

People travel great distances and spend a fortune to get here for the Mathew Street Festival. It would be nice if there were to be an event worthy of the trip when they actually arrive.

mickeydrippin'February 20th 2013.

We came into Town for the last few MSFs and one of our recollections was the sight of people wandering around the city centre carrying cases of lager. There were groups of people of all ages with cans of lager in hand, getting slowly pissed, paying no attention whatsoever to the bands that were performing on the stages. Sadly for many people, the event had become an excuse to get drunk on the streets, to background music.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Angry of AigburthFebruary 21st 2013.

Yeah! Whatever happened to the so-called 'Alcohol Exclusion Zones'?
Where are the so-called 'Crime Wardens'? No doubt they are cowering, streets away, waiting for a soft target like a lone woman to drop a fag-end.
Drunken scallies can do what they like in the city centre.

AnonymousFebruary 20th 2013.

HATERS GONNA HATE!!!!!!

Why some of you whinging negative ninnies hang around here is beyond me, or maybe you're all Mancs, working off your envy?

1 Response: Reply To This...
PC49February 21st 2013.

Is this your vomit sir?

REGGIE MCCoughFebruary 21st 2013.

Liverpool's poet laureate adapts some Beatles songs for the Festivile.

HELLO GOODBYE
You say goodbye and we say hello.
Hello, hello
Goodbye to Mathew Street
it really had to go.

Pavement piss,
cans of beer
tribute acts
all coming here
Oh no.

You say goodbye and we say hello
to a brand new show
the end of Mathew Street
it really had to go.
.....................................................
SEE GENT PISSIN'
Well it was 20 years ago today
that Mathew Street got under way
to celebrate the Mersey Sound
lots of people came from all around
But now with a rising cost
and the original idea's been lost
It's a General Piss-up with lousy tribute bands

It's general piss-up's lousy tribute bands
we hope you have enjoyed the show
Lot's of fights and vomiting in the street
sit back and let the urine flow.
General piss-ups lousy
General piss-ups lousy
General piss-ups lousy tribute band
.....................................................................
DIAMOND WHITE

Picture yourself in some sick on the pavement
with marks on you knee and piss down your thigh
Somebody calls you a fucking twat slowly
and then kicks you right in the eye.

Large vomit patches of yellow and green
some of it stuck to your hair
look for the girl with the crate of Red Stripe
and she's gone.

Lousy minge bag's robbed all me beer cans
Lousy minge bag's robbed all me beer cans.
....................................................................
YOUR MATHEW SHOULD GO

Let's all give up upon a thing that now is shit
and hope it can be reborn
though it turned shit a long, long time ago
we need it to go
and have a new show.
..................................................................................
I AM THE TOUR BUS

Capital of Custard, Mathew Street you gotta die
grab a lot of cheap booze phonographic piss-takes
Baby if you need to pee, just pull your knickers down.
I am the Mayor man they're dirty mares man
I am the axe man goo goo good job.

Aunt TwackyFebruary 21st 2013.

Sheer genius, Mr McCough!

It's enough to make a man think that a return is possible to the original Mathew Street Festivals of the 1970s before it was taken over by the Beatles graverobbing industry!

All we need is vat of custard, a giant inflatable banana and Jayne Casey!

Ee! Those were t'days!

K-TelFebruary 21st 2013.

Nostalgia Fans!

Don’t miss your chance to own the Mathew Street Festival Souvenir Album jam-packed with such Smash Hits as:-

Let Him Pee

Something (in the Way She Spews)

I Wanna Hold Your Can

Can’t Buy Me Kopparberg

The Long and Winding Cess

You’ve Got To Hide Your Spliff Away

All Too Much/Nowhere Man

Here Comes My Lunch

Why Don’t We Do it in the Road

Pissed Boy

AnonymousFebruary 21st 2013.

We all act like the street is a latrine
the street is a latrine, the street is a latrine.

Lee FordeFebruary 23rd 2013.

This is a shame but inevitable as it was not sustainable in the city centre. The alcohol was always difficult to manage but a strong will to do so needs to be there.
It could be argued that there was bound to be challenges when licensees where heavily involved in the event. Who can tell?
The city and the peolple of liverpool provided the lions share of the funds for it, however some believe only a small number of businesses would profi from it. who knows?
Hopefully the new international music festival can move forward and become a more generic celebration of Music and lose the association with the Beatles. I am sure the licensed premises in the city will continue on with the event in some form but at least it will keep the drinking indoors. Allowing for a more family orientated event to happen in the parks and open spaces. I wish the new festival the very best of luck as long as the people of Liverpool get behind it then it will be a success but it will take at least 3 to 5 years forit to establish so be patient.

AnonymousFebruary 24th 2013.

I am amazed that Bill heckle et al are supporting the change in the event as for years they have milked the event by selling tour packages to liverpool, based around the Mathew Street Festival which the Council paid for and organised, therefore funding his business.
In 2001 there were lots of public order issues with the festival surrounding the alcohol problems that is why he pushed the event onto the council to manage otherwise the authorities would have objected to its license.
He and his mates built their business on something that the people of Liverpool paid for, thats how Cavern City Tours sold Packages. In 2006 there were a number of Bronze, Silver and Gold Packages for sale through CCT and each one included the MSF which was a free event !!

Back in 2004 the City changed the name to Mathew Street Music Festival and tried to broaden its content away from the Beatles, he was not amused also the city created and owned the new logo - again not amused !
Plus him and his mates run at least three licensed premises in the Mathew Street area and take around 25% of their annual turnover on the festival weekend, plus ! they book all the Artists for the Festival getting the council to pay for them and then he gets the bands to play his venues for his Beatle Weekend all paid for by the council !!

They have been taking the p*ss and creaming off the city for years !! No wonder he was Peed off when it was cancelled in 2007 as he had sold hundreds of tour packages off the back of the festival so he had to give the money back !!
One other thing is that he got the council to use (and pay for) his bar staff and his venue staff to wortk on the festival. Nice business model guys !!
Live of the back of the Beatles (dont pay them any royalties) plus get the council to pay for and organise an event you sell packages too and arrange your own event and get the council to pay for your artists !! Well done true scousers laughing all the way to the foriegn bank accounts !!

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousFebruary 24th 2013.

This is all very true

Derek HargreavesFebruary 28th 2013.

LissEN ep coS eYE FinK''s we as tOO deeL wiV the FaX as thaY daM weLL is wivOtE BEEtiN BEhiND the BusCH. sPEEkiN fouR MYsLeF as an stInkIN OLDerLY eld CHeP the lats ThyME i wentEd too LIVvaPuLL i diN av KnoW POblems wiV NuffIN thaY wos knoW VommIT oN the lamp-PoastS aN i woZZaN mannaNDLed buY DRUnkads buT i iN DEeniNE woT theY're MitE be aN HIddaN UNDaBELLeY woT onlY COme's ouT at MIDKnitE coS i wenT hoaM BIfourE SICk's a KLocK dew tOO MEddiKLE RaiSIns' bets wishiES foR the FUChsiA froM an TreW FieND oF the siTTy oFF LIVvapuLL mR.DarriK HESGraveS (the PowpE] haLLo oH huLLO theiR

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousFebruary 28th 2013.

And it is our great pleasure to welcome you and your friends to LIverpool, Mr Hargreaves.

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