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Up on the roof

Vinny Lawrenson Woods is still waiting for the Friday night party with Ringo to start

Published on January 14th 2008.

Up on the roof

SURPRISINGLY, Ringo Starr’s new single, Liverpool 8, which topped the bill at the official opening of Liverpool’s Capital of Culture year, was not the cause for disappointment on Friday. Unfortunately, the People's Opening had as many problems as Ringo’s lyrics.

So many had braved the cold weather, but must have wondered why they were there.
I felt we were part of a giant rent-a-crowd for the Liverpool 08 DVD.

Expectations were high as Director Nigel Jamieson, the man responsible for opening ceremony of the Sydney Olympics came up with the show’s design. Huge crowds were expected and, with the world’s media keeping a watchful eye, Liverpool was on view to all.

Meeting up with friends, and after that inevitable “one more drink”, we left the pub just before eight and found a spot on London Road by the Empire Theatre just before the start of the celebrations at 20:08.

When the music began, the huge columns on St George’s Hall turned into giant graphic equalisers, and acrobats hung in mid air over the crowd. Everything looked fantastic.

Gigantic screens in front of St George's Hall flashed into life and with reference to the many construction sites around the city . The “Big Dig” had become the “Big Gig”, according to our compere for the night, dressed in a hard hat and fluorescent vest.

The music continued, but had the event started? I wasn’t sure. Musicians were lit up across the many rooftops facing St George's Hall. Fireworks jumped into life, or, should I say, fizzled. Were they still testing them? Ringo Starr came into view on his drums on top of St George's Hall. Was he warming up? I still wasn’t sure if the night had started.

The giant screens showing a video detailing Liverpool and its Capital of Culture year, expertly helped along by abseiling gymnasts, certainly was a spectacle and my personal highlight for the night, but with some uncertain acoustics, and no real introduction or explanation of the proceedings, a look of puzzlement spread across St George’s Plateau.

By now people were checking their watches. So many had braved the cold weather, but must have wondered why they were there. I felt we were part of a giant rent-a-crowd for the Liverpool 08 DVD. Ironic, considering the people of Liverpool won the Capital of Culture, and this was the “People's" opening. Though the whole thing looked great, if you could see it, this was not the way to get the Liverpool people excited about 08.

The lighting and effects were mostly superb, but it was a night that never really got going. The music felt like a one continuous intro. Only when Liverpool band The Wombats and Ringo Starr eventually did perform and people started to feel involved, the night finished the way it had started... with a murmur.

Vinny Lawrenson-Woods runs the arts networking group, Culturepool. To find out more, visit www.culturepool.org.uk

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

COCJanuary 14th 2008.

Disgusting blatant promotion of Ringo's new record and paid for by the city with two million quid what a waste !The only thing that was fior the people was the title of the event and that was probably to shut us up and believe we had been given something.what a load of toss !!

V. I. Lenin AirportJanuary 14th 2008.

And how much are these people being paid to fail the city so publicly?

Foghorn LeggartyJanuary 14th 2008.

I am Liam Fogharty and I claim my five pounds.

DoddyJanuary 14th 2008.

Couldn't they have got The Real Thing. Or Elvis Costello. Or even Atomic Kitten. I don't think that Ringo had a god given right to plug his new album just cos he's a former beatle. I'm sure the year ahead's going to be brilliant still. I won't be buying Ringo's new album though

Jon GardJanuary 14th 2008.

I thought it was godawful.The concert on Saturday looked great on the Culture Show though :)

A. E. ScousemanJanuary 14th 2008.

Worthies! Yes, where were such Liverpool notables as Peter Sissons, Winifred Robinson, Peter Serafinowicz, Simon Rattle, Kim Cattrall, Elizabeth Sladen, Tom Baker, etc., etc.? Why doesn't the Council engage some genuine local celebrities rather than Californian geriatrics? The disappointing 800th birthday parade was similarly full of bought-in no-marks putting on an unconvincing imitation of a schoolchildren’s parade. I keep thinking that when it's all over and this Council and its 'Culture Company' have gone, we can have a proper one, organised by capable people who actually give a toss about Liverpool, its culture and its people.

gorgeousjayneJanuary 14th 2008.

i really wanted this event to be fantastic but i felt like i was watching a promotional dvd. i'm glad the overall press feedback has been positive, but really the culture company are going to have to do better than this to give local people any ownership of 08. by the by, ringo's song was terrible, words fail me....

John Lennon AiprortJanuary 14th 2008.

Story going round is that nobody at Culture Co thought about the music and the copyright and Performing Rights Society which led to a big fall-out with the BBC at the last minute.

A. E. ScousemanJanuary 14th 2008.

And coming to think of it, Liverpool is representing the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland as European Capital of Culture, so it is a national and international event. So where was the Prime Minister? You can safely bet that had London been a candidate city and won that the likes of Gordon Brown and the Government Front Bench would be elbowing aside the local politicians and the private-sector spivs in the rush for the champagne and canapés!

WazzaJanuary 14th 2008.

The event was a real opportunity to engage with a mass audience and was a real disapointment. It may have looked great on the TV and i understand that was part of the "spectatcle" but it left myself and everyone who i spoke to feeling let down. There was absolutely no audience participation which i would have expected with a "peoples opening". The Livepool Nativity was much more engaging, could some of that energy and sense of pride not been utilised in this production? We did not have to hearken back to the beatles either, a rendition of All Together Now, Ferry Accross the Mersey or something of that ilk would have suficed. Poor.

V. I. Lenin AirportJanuary 14th 2008.

Why was it not available to watch live on television in this country? With digital telly we have umpteen channels of crap, yet although we were constantly being told that "the world was watching" this national event, no-one here could watch it even on regional programmes!The story I heard that the bought-in, non-local organisers only allowed for two minutes of live coverage for copyright reasons COULDN'T be true, could it? [Sound of mocking notes on a whimsical trombone - again.]

A. E. ScousemanJanuary 14th 2008.

John Lemon Airport, you are Liam Fogarty and I claim my five pounds.

Sir Diddy HenshawJanuary 14th 2008.

No one asked ME to come out of that box of precious cargo. How dare they! Don't you know who I am?!?

A. E. ScousemanJanuary 14th 2008.

I am glad to hear that many people as up in arms over the dismissive comments about Liverpool made by Ringo Starr on Jonathan Ross’s television programme. It shows what normal Liverpudlians have known for decades and the local politicians, the Culture Company hirelings and the Echo (and Daily Post) still cannot grasp. That the Beatles are history and have not represented Liverpool or its people since about 1962, and those lucky hangers-on who rode to fame on their coat-tails (Tarbuck, Marsden, Cilla) are equally irrelevant. Outsiders laugh because whenever the media show Liverpool celebrating anything, we see the clueless people in charge, the Councillors, the Culture Company and the local press digging in the attic for moth-eaten decorations that are almost a half-century-old whilst dismissing anything that has happened before or since. We are now so advanced in time from the period of ‘Merseybeat’, and its present-day proponents so cynically exploitative that perhaps a more balanced perception of our past ought to be established.

leon kayJanuary 14th 2008.

What a load of **** that was!!! We were standing by the wall outside Lime Street Station ,there was no crowd control I was with someone on crutches we could have been crushed to death ,(Hillsborough ring any bells)The sound quality was crap in this digital age ,the 4 bobs worth of fireworks was crap,the organisation was apalling,if this was the shape of things to come for a MAJOR EUROPEAN EVENT for the Capital of Vultures then it was piss poor.This city couldn't organise a piss up etc.and may I ask were was Liverpool Confidential for Saturday's email censored by the powers that be in the town hall. Beleive the hype beleive the hype and don't say anything awful about the the Capital of Vultures until at least 2009 .IV'E SEEN MORE CULTURE IN A YOGHURT POT!!!!

lady of cultureJanuary 14th 2008.

I enjoyed it!!! very much! and going by the comments made so far, i'm not sure any of you lot could have done any better.......

Kind regardsJanuary 14th 2008.

I think if you were right in front of the Plateau it was probably brill, but I wss just down the road and was baffled

Chris BJanuary 14th 2008.

What about that compere who made the tasteless reference to Hillsborough when everyone was shuffling off home? Who was he? Does anyone know. Was he the reporter from the Sun who they invited?

ScousermadegoodJanuary 14th 2008.

Just watched Ringo on Johnathon Ross the man is a n*b head and right up his own a**e and his song is c**p

John Lennon AirportJanuary 14th 2008.

Roll on 2009 when the gravy train has rolled out. Herbert the hairdresser was in the Precious Cargo too. His teeth were the only thing we could spot from miles away. No one was convinced. AE Scouseman for mayor, everyone.

Dave StewartJanuary 14th 2008.

Were Ringo's as crap as these from his 'hit' I'm the greatestI looked in the mirror,I saw my wife and kids,And you know what they told me...i was great.Yes, my name is billy shears,You know it has been for so many years.Now i'm only thirty-two;And all i wanna do, is boogaloo!

John Lennon AirportJanuary 14th 2008.

Maybe Gordon and Co were banned. Warren Bradley gets very sensitive about who and who doesn't get in to the canapes. I'm not Liam Fogarty either, so I don't know if I went or not!

The Man on the Garston OmnibusJanuary 14th 2008.

Well I didn't see the so-called 'People's Opening' because when 'highlights' were shown on BBC2 in the middle of Sunday night I had gone to bed! (Well - someone has to get up early on a Monday to go to work to earn the money to pay the taxes to fund this sort of thing.)

AnonymousJanuary 14th 2008.

I thought it was a great evening the only trouble realy was the people on the move just didn't let up. We where backing onto Lime St station and continiously people where back and forth all the way through the performance and where even moaning about the differculties getting past us. Why didn't they just stop and watch what was going on instead of spoiling it for the people who did want to see it,

ConfusedJanuary 14th 2008.

Bizarre. What were those guitarists all about?

AnonymousJanuary 14th 2008.

Went to the Anne Frank exhibition Friday afternoon, met up with family to 'see in' the Capital Of Culture then to the Walker Art Gallery. Had a great time, well done to all who attended and took part.

ResidentJanuary 14th 2008.

Surely they could have found other Liverpool worthys to grace the occasion. Ringo top billing - says it all. I think it was rent a mob for the non existent TV

tonyJanuary 14th 2008.

don't understand a word of that. ringo was not quite as embarrassing as the culture company. generally speaking.

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