AS little as 10 years ago, you couldn't give the warehouses around Duke Street away. How that has changed.
And in 2007, when a rough and tumble collective of performers took over Mello Mello, formerly a cafe and HQ of superclub Cream, not only was there no bar, but there was barely a kettle. Plaster was falling off the walls, plumbing was nonexistent and there were perilous gaps in the floorboards. They did however, have a piano.
Against the odds, Mello endeared itself to a wider public, and not just people fed up with corporate cool. In time the walls were rendered and it all came right. Upstairs, the studios became a hub for community arts groups and businesses like Bido Lito. Downstairs, it was THE meeting place for the grassroots creative scene. It also managed to scoop up a lot of displaced Everyman Bistro regulars, staging jazz and poetry nights for a new generation of beatniks, buskers, ne'er do wells and all.
Even on a Saturday night, with the madness of Concert Square a dancebeat away, Mello did not need bouncers. They had moved the entrance down to quiet, cobbled Parr Street. Only those who needed to know, knew Mello was there and on Saturday night more than one bemused bystander on busy bar-lined Slater Street confessed they had never heard of the place as the parade crashed by.
But others have been keeping a more watchful eye. Thanks to Mello, the Kazimier and others who have colonised the area around Bold Steet, Ropewalks is rotting and run down no more. Big bucks developers looking for another Shoreditch in which to install whisky and craft beer bars, designed by Mac template, have found fertile soil. Time to uproot.
What, no closing bash?, was the first question Confidential put to Mello Mello when news of its sudden closure came out two weeks ago. No, replied Rob Longson, one of its three directors, there wasn't even time for that.
But they couldn't let Mello go without a send-off and, this weekend, good friends and neighbours at the Kaz provided. A New Orleans-style funeral procession brought the Ropewalks streets to a brief halt. Artists and punters came out to join The Harlequin Dynamite Marching Band as they snaked through the streets from FACT down to the Kazimier where the wake took place into the small hours. And, at the front of the throng, Laura Powers, Rob and Jo Shelbourne, the directors of Mello Mello CIC, held purple fringed umbrellas. More than one tear was shed, but every cloud and all that.
As the crowds reached the closed, silent and shuttered Mello building at 40-42 Slater the mood snapped from dark to light: the all-age band, which includes many stalwarts of the Liverpool jazz fraternity, broke into When The Saints Go Marchin' In. Time to celebrate Mello's remarkable achievement.
Here are a few pictures. If a decent video emerges we'll lash it on.
Special thanks to Marty Saleh for having a working flash on what are the sharpest images here.