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Rubble rousers

Once more, St Luke's church has been opened up to the public by Urban Strawberry Lunch. And this time there's talk of some exciting happenings among the Blitz and pieces

Published on May 31st 2007.


Rubble rousers

FOUR years ago, perennial percussive outfit Urban Strawberry Lunch managed to persuade the powers-that-be to hand over the keys to St Luke's church.

It was a popular move, for it allowed people their first ever glimpse inside the bombed-out church that has forever loomed large on the Bold Street shopper's horizon.

The heart of St Luke's was ripped out by the Luftwaffe on May 5, 1941, and every year since 2003, on or near the day, the band, led by Ambrose Reynolds, have put on an event there.

Last year it was a show about the May Blitz. Over 1,000 people went, and the audience, many of them elderly, enjoyed death metal performances from Urban Strawberry Lunch who produced the drama with Wirral Youth Theatre. Nevertheless “the Biennial boats exhibition, four months later, got all the publicity,” Ambrose shrugs.

Liverpool Confidential wandered into St Luke's by accident this week – and not because we found ourselves the worse for wear on the steps (a favourite resting place for the tired and emotional).

We were lured by a trail of devastation, literally, in the form a number of magnificent historical photographs taken by the past masters, Liverpool Corporation's City Engineer Dept.

Blown up to A1, they show a city blown up. They are posted along the church's Leece Street railings and, eventually, they led us to the long-locked doors where we discovered Reynolds and co at it again.

The dynamic drummers have been working on a sound archiving project called Finest Hour, interviewing survivors of the Liverpool May Blitz for a couple of years now. The sound files are stored and used as source material in a series of events at the church, and the organisers are always keen to hear from people with stories to tell.

Eventually they will form part of a permanent exhibition at the new museum, we are told.

What's new? Africa Oye have certainly got the 1831 church on their radar, says Ambrose as he proffers a waiver form for Confidential to sign, lest any gargoyles drop from above. So several guitar performances by artists from Senegal are booked in next month. He is also planning to place a recently discovered war memorial to Liverpool gas workers in the currently rat-riddled crypt below.

But there is often a twist to these things, and this most evocative of landmarks, with its imposing Gothic arches that wear sooty-black timbers as a reminder of that Luftwaffe bomb, is now looming large on the reconnaissance of several notable musicians from the parish.

The Zutons, Echo and the Bunnymen, Pete Wylie, the Wizards of Twiddly and even a reformed Big in Japan are all said to have wish-listed it as a place to perform, meaning a very unofficial summer pops with a refreshing difference may yet come to pass.

The one to watch indeed.

*Lunch @ St Lukes, St Luke's Church, Leece Street, Liverpool L1. Weekdays, noon-2pm until October.

See what Urban Strawberry Lunch do, below.

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