It seems to have been a long time coming, but 2008 is eventually here and with it Liverpool’s coronation of European Capital Of Culture.
Forget for one moment the snide remarks about shell suits and criminals and focus on the fact that Liverpool is home to stunning architecture such as St George’s Hall and the Royal Liver Buildings, the Walker Art Gallery and the Tate Modern, and a thriving theatre scene.
Of course, Liverpool has always had a rich musical history. It may have been overshadowed at times by the city’s bitterest rivals of Manchester, but Liverpool has still managed to produce The La’s, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Echo & The Bunnymen, The Lightening Seeds, The Teardrop Explodes, Wah!, The Boo Radleys, The Coral, The Zutons, Candie Payne and four blokes who called themselves The Beatles or something. And yes, we’ll draw a veil over Atomic Kitten and Sonia, thank you very much.
At first glance at the 2008 programme, it’s difficult not to feel a touch of disappointment at the musical events on offer. An over-reliance on The Beatles is to be expected, given the band’s impact on popular culture, but a Ringo Starr gig to kick off proceedings isn’t exactly going to set the heart racing. Look a bit closer though, and there’s several events that leap out. Paul McCartney (still a living legend, despite tabloid tittle-tattle) will play a huge gig at Anfield Stadium, with a presumably stellar supporting cast yet to be confirmed, and a huge new 10,000 arena to be opened.
There’s also free festivals such as the Matthew Street Festival in August and the Hope Street Festival in September, plus regular events such as Creamfields and the Liverpool Summer Pops. Not to mention the return of legendary classical figures Simon Rattle and Karl Davies, both performing at the city’s beautiful Philharmonic Hall.
Perhaps the biggest coup for the organisers though is the MTV Europe Music Awards, to be held at the Echo Arena on 6 November, and the Electric Proms – to be held outside of London for the first time. It’s the latter that’s likely to be the highlight for Liverpool’s music lovers – with a wide variety of venues across the city and the big names that always figure at the event in Camden during October, this is pretty much a must-see.
So what do you make of the whole idea of a Capital Of Culture? Will it result in investment and regeneration, as happened in Glasgow in 1990? Or is it a meaningless title foisted on the city by the European Union? Could and should the money be better spent? Are you planning to travel to Liverpool to see any events, and if you live in the city have you been caught up in the excitement, or is it a non-event to locals?