Main image: Marty Saleh
Over the span of time, great events have become immortalised through the stories of myth and legend where the forces of justice and right do battle with their darker counterparts. They’re the stuff of fables where the Gods meddle in the worldly affairs of mortals.
Shakespeare’s classic work reflects some of these themes and, more recently, we have their modern equivalent in Lucas’s Star Wars. Such was the backdrop of the valedictory farewell of the Kazimier and, as such, it had to be of epic proportions.
This long-established fixture in Liverpool’s Creative Centre of the Universe was given notice to quit its magical domain last year.
Liverpool will be the poorer for its demise and the folly of the decision to allow its demolition ranks as high as losing the original Cavern
For seven years, countless indie bands and major acts had performed to packed houses. Stealing Sheep, Bird, Jamie T and The Harlequin Dynamite Marching Band were initiated there. Then there was the recent memorable Deaf School gig.
And lest we forget, the annual ground-breaking Impropriety Improvathons presented a unique brand of heroic, theatrical escapism. Close by, the Kazimier Garden created, and continues to create a convivial home for kindred spirits.
This hallowed ground of everything which mattered to Liverpool’s alternative crucible has been sold to yet another faceless developer along with Nation and Mello Mello. For what? Yet more anodyne, monochrome residential units? Yet more ubiquitous student flats? Yet more profits to be squeezed out of the land-values given Wolstenholme Squares proximity to Liverpool One? In all probability, yes... all three.
So, in anticipation of their imminent departure, the combined talents who had catalysed the enchanted spaces of this singularly special place decided to go out with a bang. The chosen date was New Years’ Eve, 2015, and The Kazimier would metamorphose into Planet Kronos, a sanctuary of ethereal happenings and incandescent illuminations, brought to life through the reincarnation of Captain Kronos within its central space deck. The finale saw the last battle between him and the evil dictator General Mono to liberate the glittering inhabitants of Monotopia.
Within the complex of the Kazimier itself, various new spaces emerged to bedazzle the assembled throng, including the former Liverpool Academy of Arts, on Seel Street, which served as the live stage. Various attractions vied for attention, including the visually stunning Delirium maze and a cornucopia of mind-enhancing installations provided a kaleidoscope of breath-taking illusions.
In essence, the Planet Kronos experience could be equally shared across these interwoven spaces as there was so much to see, hear and participate in.
Much could be said of the amazing collective spirit of the 1,000+ attendees, which filled every available space including the balconies, stairwells, garden and the Krypt itself. They can best be described as Liverpool’s avant-garde luminaries, everything from Narnia to Barbarella, Promethea to Tartuffe, Commedia dell'arte to Cosmic Trigger, Shamen to Space Cadets.
As the evening progressed, more awesome events began to overlap. Discoglitteria, Kosmosbonkos, Imperium, Futuregazia and Herodias enacted the reversal of Captain Kronos’s cryogenic status – an evolution incorporating ancient Egyptian rites, golden-robed Timelords/Jedi in a state of Zoarastran mysticism and pearl-draped marionettes in the balletic dance of Time. Too much to take in? Of course, it was that kind of night. And then some.
Over on the main stage came the Starship Crooners, Loose Moose String Band and Intergalactic Countdown with a surprise appearance of Bangles. As the party intensified, it began to feel like you were entering a state of hypnagogia – that transitional time between being awake and asleep. For here, in the cocoon of visual and aural delights were the things that dreams were made of.
The final act came in the last 30 minutes of the year. Outside, on a dark breezeless night, Wolstenholme Square filled with silver foil-wrapped glitterarti who were treated to a spectacle unseen anywhere in Liverpool before. To the right, General Mono sat atop a construction of blocks which grew, telescope fashion, into a monstrous robot with claw fists. To the left emerged a giant white bird which served as the warhorse for Captain Kronos.
Battle ensued, together with pyrotechnics and glowing lances. First one way, then another until, finally, General Mono’s withering towers began to crumble and collapse. You could have heard the cheers down at the Pier Head. On the stroke of midnight, with a firework display emanating from the surrounding rooftops, an octagonal spacecraft began to take off, primary engines spewing huge volumes of sparks, which then disappeared into the night sky. It was an unforgettable moment of pure theatre, perfectly-timed to usher in the promise of a New Year.
I felt privileged to have witnessed such extraordinary events together with the band of brothers and sisters who had made the Kazimier what it was. It would be folly to pick out individuals for it was always a collective effort with a sense of love and comradeship, always confident of its mission to celebrate the alternatives, always being a home where “the others” discovered a reassuring sense of place, always enabling them to bring their dreams to reality.
Liverpool will be the poorer for its demise and the folly of the decision to allow its demolition ranks as high as losing the original Cavern. Granted, future opportunities may await in the North Docks or peripheries of the Baltic Triangle, but things will never be quite the same again. And yet, and yet.
It would be fitting to close by echoing the joyfully proclaimed words during the ritual to unfreeze Captain Kronos prior to his ultimate victory on the cobblestones and curling globes of Wolstenholme Square.
"The Monotopian tide encroaches on our oasis. The oncoming grey approaches. We must stand strong. Resist the dull, the bland the mundanity. Reject the faceless invasion. Stand together. Be fearless and resilient. The next chapter can only start when this one ends. Embrace the colour, the music, the dance. Surround yourself with the dreamers, the doers, the creators and the believers. Those people who see the greatness within. Who reject the surface and embrace what is beneath. Blessed are the hearts that bend for they cannot be broken. We look back, embracing the past and use it to travel onwards. Look forward, do not let the dream pass you by."