A "REVIVALIST preacher" and a choir of ex-addicts stopped traffic in Liverpool last night while performing an “exorcism” on a cashpoint in the middle of Liverpool's Rodney Street.
New York performance artist the Reverend Billy Talen and his Church of Earthalujah Choir are famous around the world for railing against the evils of excessive consumerism and corporate irresponsibility.
When two choirs go to warThe 20-strong ensemble flew in from Amsterdam yesterday for the first UK leg of a European tour and immediately set about visiting a number of big consumerist institutions in Liverpool city centre, including Tesco's on Bold Street, which Reverend Billy has targeted before, in 2009, and to perform a blessing on independent traders Bold Street Coffee "the complete antitheseis of Starbucks".
But it was outside the HSBC on Rodney Street, prior to a book reading at radical bookshop News From Nowhere, that things got interesting – at least for another, very different kind or repenters.
Jacquie Johnston-Lynch runs the Raucous Caucus Recovery Chorus, a singing group made up from former drug, alcohol and gambling abusers and part of the SHARP therapy centre.
She told Liverpool Confidential: “We practise every Tuesday at our base in Rodney Street and last night we suddenly saw all these people in green cloaks outside. So we started singing out of the window to them...Your Love Keeps Lifting Me Higher, when they started yelling 'Come and join us, come and join our congregation.'”
She went on: “Obviously, they are full-on performance art people, which we didn't know at that point, but we ran downstairs to join them. We were all singing together and Reverend Billy was using some of the words from our songs to disrespect HSBC and it was just fantastic what he did.”
Jacquie Johnston Lynch and coOnlookers reported traffic at a voluntary standstill at the busy junction as the spontaneous collision of song took place. Meanwhile, Reverend Billy, resplendent in clerical collar and while suit, performed an exorcism on the cash machine in a bid to cast out its capitalist evil.
Said Jacquie: “The next stop was Tesco's. When they had finished we asked could we sing them a song to see them back down the hill and so we did. There were tears in their eyes."
Confidential caught up with Reverend Billy a few days ago when we asked him could Rupert Murdoch could be saved. He couldn't, was the answer, but in much more colourful terms. Oh, OK, "Fuck Rupert Murdoch," was how it went.
The Reverend Billy Project is no stranger to Liverpool and, it seems Liverpool is no stranger to them. “There are lots of Liverpool exiles in New York who have attached themselves to us,” says the Reverend.
Here's some footage we shot of Reverend Billy in Blame Tesco Square last night, and the choir in News From Nowhere last night and the famous exorcism on Tesco, Bold Street, Liverpool.