When John met Paul | Atomic Kitten | Iggy Pop's Jacket | Brazilica | Emo anthems and more
Beatles at St Peter’s | St Peter’s Church, Woolton | Weds-Sun July 5-9
During the early stages of compiling this feature, a decision was made not to include any more Beatles stuff for a while. Possibly ever. After the Sgt Pepper half-century celebrations, we could all do with a day in the life spent thinking about something else.
But July 6 this year is the 60th anniversary of the day when John met Paul at St Peter’s church fete. And as a mundane moment charged with world-changing portent – a crackle of creative electricity among the tombolas and fish paste butties – it seems only right that suburban St Peter’s should mark its moment in the pop culture sun.
So while we can live without any more council-choreographed Fab Four fests for some considerable time, this four-day church jamboree marking “the day that it started moving” (as Lennon described it) promises to be a pleasingly modest affair in honour of a staggeringly important event.
There’s a raffle! And refreshments! And The Quarrymen! Close your eyes, and it could be 1957 all over again.
Silicon Dreams Festival of Electronica | Philharmonic Hall Music Room | Sat July 8
While 1980s electropop bands could scarcely have dreamt of the many and varied uses to which silicon would now be put – some of which are usually at least partly visible on a typical Saturday night out in Liverpool – their vision of a silicon-chipped synthetic future populated by inscrutable android-humans remains a powerful pop concept.
There’s some irony in the fact that what was once a determinedly future-gazing musical movement is now an inescapably retro-minded pop manifestation, but the one-day Silicon Dreams festival in the Phil’s Music Room venue makes no attempt to avoid referencing the sounds and styles of three decades past.
So if you love throbbing sequencers, narrow ties and proper pop melodies, the festival’s bands including Parralox (featuring Ian Burden, once of the Human League), Avec Sans, Future Perfect and Berlyn Trilogy (from, er, Wakefield), will transport you back to the warm embrace of Thatcher’s Britain in no time.
Liverpool Arab Arts Festival | Various venues | Sat-Sun July 8-16
For the 15th successive year, Liverpool hosts its week-long celebration of Arab arts and culture across a number of city venues. According to organisers, it remains the only festival of its kind in the UK, and with art, music, theatre, dance and film, it has clearly come a long way since its original modest weekend event at the Bluecoat.
Highlights this year include a site-specific performance of choreographer Zosia Jo’s Ancient Modernity in and around the World Museum’s Egyptian displays, a “visceral streetscape of today’s Tunisia” in the Mann Island Winter Garden space (that’s the previously bleak-looking glass walkway between the waterfront’s black blocks), and a critically-acclaimed one-woman theatre show about colliding cultures, called The Crows Plucked Your Sinews, at the Unity.
There’s even a chance to explore the culinary nooks and crannies of Lodge Lane when Sarah Al-Hamad, an expert in Middle Eastern cuisine, leads visitors on a food trail including demonstrations, conversations, and, of course, mastications.
Horny Handed Tons of Soil |Unity Theatre |Thurs-Sat July 13-15
While Fiddler on the Roof may have been the big bums-on-seats winner during the Everyman’s recent rep season, Lizzie Nunnery’s The Sum – a family drama turned political call-to-arms – was its most compelling creation.
That show also featured live music by Nunnery’s husband, Vidar Norheim, and the pair return to the Liverpool stage for this multimedia event inspired by the work of the city’s beloved artistic titan, Adrian Henri.
Joined on this occasion by musicians Martin Smith and Martin Heslop, along with filmmaker Tim Brunsden, the show promises poetry, live music, storytelling and film “inspired by Henri’s poetic response to the urban geography of Liverpool”.
With his affection for Liverpool’s own cultural myth – not to mention his generous feeding of it – along with his far-reaching friendships with the international avant-garde, Henri’s wide-ranging artistic practice continues to fascinate. It will be interesting to see how today’s creative generation interprets his brand of pink-hearted Liverpool love.
Those Naughty Lumps | Pilgrim | Friday July 14
There are Liverpool groups that have had more conventionally successful careers than Those Naughty Lumps. Indeed, there are Liverpool groups that have had longer-lasting legacies, better band names and more spectacular haircuts too. But few, perhaps, who grappled with the spirited abandon of mid-70s rock and nascent punk and turned it into quite such an appealing, nonsensical brew.
You may think, if you know anything about them at all, that they will forever be in the shadow of their 1979 Zoo Records single Iggy Pop’s Jacket – a record of which Zoo boss Bill Drummond once said, “I had it in my brain that this record was going to get to number 28”.
But as a band that split up in 1980, reformed in 2013 and that has been enjoying occasional Liverpool appearances ever since, the idea of shadows, careers and chart placings has probably lost any meaning it may ever have had.
So when they appear at the Pilgrim, you can be sure this won’t be a jaded band from yesteryear itching to play its new experimental jazz opus. This will be energy and ear-to-ear grins all gig long. And will they play their big tune? Like it or lump it, you bet they will.
Brazilica | Various venues | Fri-Sun July 14-16
With its annual carnival parade at its heart, Brazilica has grown over recent years into a full three-day festival blending the South American tradition of high-spirited street-based semi-nudity with the Liverpudlian tradition of, er, high-spirited street-based semi-nudity.
Opening on the Friday with a carnival queen competition at the Albert Dock, followed by a programme of bands, dancers and drummers at the festival’s Pier Head Village main stage – including São Paulo’s Bixiga 70 – the event climaxes with the parade from Abercromby Square to Williamson Square on Saturday evening. It’s a good job the Playhouse is currently closed for renovations, as that relentless samba rhythm could have played havoc with those all-important dramatic pauses.
The Brazilica film festival also runs alongside the main event, with a range of dramas and documentaries being screened across the city from late June until early August.
A New Cathedral, 1960 | Metropolitan Cathedral | From Mon July 24
There have been a lot of half-century anniversaries this year, with the Summer of Love, Sgt Pepper and The Mersey Sound all enjoying significant civic celebrations in their honour. Clearly, 1967 was a very good year for pop culture.
But it was also a good year for Liverpool’s Catholic community which was finally able to enter a cathedral it could call its own. Having failed to complete Edwin Lutyens’ extraordinary 1930s vision beyond building its crypt, Frederick Gibberd’s equally extraordinary but significantly speedier plan was accepted, built and opened within five frantic years in the mid-60s.
However, Gibberd wasn’t the only hopeful with a vision for that end of Hope Street. For the first time, this exhibition brings together a selection of submissions from what was one of the major architectural competitions of the post-war period, giving us an intriguing glimpse into the wigwam-free world we could have won.
Coming Out: Sexuality, Gender and Identity Walker Art Gallery From Fri July 28
Here’s yet another 50th anniversary event, this time marking the fact that it’s half a century since the 1967 Sexual Offences Act partially decriminalised male homosexuality.
While current conversations around the concept of gender show that this is an ongoing story, it’s difficult to imagine the past 50 years if this important legal advance had never been made.
It’s also a great opportunity for the Walker to bring together a range of artists who have used their work to explore sexuality and gender identity over that period, with works from both the Arts Council Collection and their own vaults.
The exhibition will include David Hockney, Steve McQueen, James Richards and Sarah Lucas among others, and promises to “reveal the findings of over two years of research by the gallery into LGBT history… revealing hidden queer histories and institutional blind spots that will be addressed through the exhibition’s programme of events and performances”.
Black Parade: 00’s Emo Anthems | Arts Club | Sat July 29
The urge to revisit old pop music is a relentlessly curious phenomenon. Once thought to be a here-today-gone-tomorrow art form, we now understand that no one really wants to be parted from the music of their youth, and the result is that the golden oldies category keeps on welcoming a new generation of fans.
The latest initiates into the cult of “music was better in my day” would appear to be the emos, and as if to prove it, here’s a bona fide retro night dedicated to the heady days of, ooh, not very long ago at all.
So whether you’re still painting your nails black and prostrating yourself on the altar of your own despair, or you’ve moved on from those nights down at the Krazy House and have ditched the angst in favour of the same end-of-times consumer decadence as the rest of us, this event is sure to bring those grim glory days of last decade flooding back.
Liverpool Pride | Various venues | Sat-Sun July 29-30
This year’s Liverpool Proud is themed around the slogan ‘International Love’. While this is a notion that no one could surely be against, current world events suggest otherwise, so organising a weekend of celebrations around this unambiguously positive message can only be a good thing. There’s the annual Pride march of course – “an international rainbow parade full of music, celebration, colour and song in support of LGBT+ communities” as the organisers put it – but don’t forget the wider programme of arts events including exhibitions, workshops and concerts.
Events are focused on what appears to now be called St George’s Quarter, where the "World on One Stage" will host performances by artists including Livin’ Joy, Kym Mazelle and Atomic Kitten. Those who are pining for a glimpse of Marc Almond following his recent decision to pull out of the gig should call at The Gallery on Stanhope Street where a new exhibition celebrates his life, and includes work created by one Marc Almond.