Resolve to make 2018 the year of going out. Get stuck into this lot to get you started
The Wonder Pot with Helena Hauff | 24 Kitchen Street | Monday January 1
Some folks just don’t know when to stop, and for those people, the 24 Kitchen Street team will keep the new year party going from 10pm on January 1 right through until the first alarm clocks start going off for 2018’s big return to work.
For those hardy souls who feel the first January commute won’t be complete without having done a six-hour shift on the Kitchen Street dancefloor first, Hamburg’s Helena Hauff will be delivering a no-doubt blistering set of electro-scented techno and clattering industrial soundscapes. Just the thing to stave off the symptoms of Quality Street withdrawal.
And then, as the first port-and-stilton cravings kick in around 11am, at least you’ll be able to shut your eyes to the horror of it all and simply listen to the ringing in your ears.
Doctor Faustus | The Casa | Thursday-Friday January 4-5
With most of the city’s theatres still knee-deep in panto wigs and recycled cracker gags, The Casa’s bijou performance space is the place to go for some determinedly non-festive, er, ‘fun’.
Christopher Marlowe’s famous story of deal-making with the devil has been conjuring up stage phantoms since Elizabethan times, but this latest run out for Mephistophilis, Faustus and the rest of the gang is the debut production by a new local theatre company called Off Topic.
According to the company themselves, their style is “experimental”, and they aim to create theatre that is “new, engaging and personal”. They claim previous experience in physical theatre and the classical tradition, along with music and multimedia performance, so it will be fascinating to see how these fresh faces treat a play with such a heavyweight history.
And who knows? If things turn out well, you might have to sell your soul to get a ticket.
Nabihah Iqbal | Buyers Club | Saturday January 13
Nabihah Iqbal’s debut album, Weighing the Heart, was released on Ninja Tune at the beginning of December. Having previously recorded as Throwing Shade, the act of reclaiming the name she was born with has been a significant step for her, while the album’s combination of guitar textures with dance atmospherics represents a rich expansion of her sound.
Liverpool’s all-female party collective, SisBis, bring Iqbal to Buyers Club for their second city event. With a self-proclaimed mission to “bring all star women DJs of the world to our home city”, it was apparently the team’s mutual concern about “the lack of Christina Aguilera/Janet Jackson on set lists” that initially stung them into action.
Whether Iqbal finds space in her set list for either of these artists is a matter for her and her record box, but having earned a place on Mixmag’s list of 2017’s top 20 breakthrough DJs, her selection should help a little sunlight break through into January’s darkest hours.
Un-settled: Paintings by Steve des Landes | Williamson Art Gallery, Birkenhead | From Saturday January 13
The painter Steve des Landes has lived close to the wonderfully calming classical interiors of Birkenhead’s Williamson Art Gallery for a few years now, but this exhibition will be his first solo show on the Wirral.
The works on display have been produced over the last five years, reflecting what the gallery calls “his emotional journey from a childhood in coastal Southport and the significant influences of an urban adulthood in Liverpool and Birkenhead”.
Des Landes spent a decade working on public art commissions including a piece for a branch of Morrisons supermarket. However, he returned to the fine art of placing oil paint on canvas at the turn of the decade, and his work slots into a tradition of British art that includes the likes of Graham Sutherland, Stanley Spencer and Paul Nash.
Expect melancholic landscapes and disconnected figures lost deep in thought. And that’s before you even enter the gallery.
Slaves of Fashion: New Works by The Singh Twins | Walker Art Gallery | From Friday January 19
A decade ago, the Singh Twins created a brace of paintings to mark Liverpool’s 800th birthday and its status as European Capital of Culture. With a singular style that combines the art of Indian miniature painting with contemporary icons and motifs, the subsequent decade has seen them continuing to explore British and Indian history and the legacy of empire.
This new exhibition promises to delve deep into “the history of Indian textiles, empire, enslavement and luxury consumerism”, with around 20 new pieces including 11 “digital fabric artworks”.
The exhibition’s themes will be further explored with the inclusion of 40 objects culled from National Museums Liverpool’s collection, all of which have helped to inspire the project.
Richly patterned and unfeasibly detailed, the Singh Twins’ artworks positively invite close inspection, and though their stated themes are serious in nature, there’s no shortage of dry comedy and wit.
Troika Klezmer Kabaret | Philharmonic Hall Music Room | Sunday January 28
Troika may be from Liverpool, but not for them the traditional city musical forms of finely crafted psych pop and 2pm pub karaoke. Instead, they perform energetic music with its roots in the klezmer tradition of Eastern Europe’s Ashkenazi Jews, taking audiences on a journey through “the dark dens of Yiddish Odessa in the 1920s to the sophisticated cafe society of Hot Club Paris of the 1930s, via the wild savage steppes of Cossack Russia of the 1890s”.
The band are led by keyboard player and “narrator” Wally Fields, and have recently wowed London’s Le QuecumBar with their vibrant signature sound. Their appearance at the Phil’s Music Room venue will be a mid-day Sunday concert with a coffee accompaniment – a relaxed and informal context in which to enjoy this most effervescent of musical styles.
The Play That Goes Wrong | Storyhouse, Chester | From Monday January 29
From fluffed lines to collapsing scenery, it’s usually a bad sign when a theatre production’s malfunctions are more memorable than the play itself. However, for a show with the does-what-it-says-on-the-tin title of The Play That Goes Wrong, all that stuff is part of the script.
At its heart is a 1920s murder mystery supposedly performed by “Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society”, but in this play, if anything can go tits up, it will. The word is that this artfully erroneous production is one of the funniest shows currently running on the British stage, and while its misfiring theatrics may be little more than one relentlessly repeated joke, it’s all done with enough ingenuity to keep the laughs coming right to the end.
Existential angst it isn’t, but coming at the end of the year’s most miserable month, it should be all the better for that.
Elain Harwood on New Towns | LJMU Art & Design Academy, Duckinfield Street | Tuesday January 16
Although books on the architectural style known as ‘brutalism’ currently occupy prime real estate on coffee tables up and down the land, only Elain Harwood’s Space, Hope and Brutalism has the physical dimensions to actually be a coffee table in its own right. Anyone wishing to add this hefty celebration of post-war concrete to their shelves may wish to underpin their home’s foundations first.
Harwood visits Liverpool to speak on the subject of new towns, and lovers of modernism’s optimistic future visions – now mostly in the past – will enjoy hearing what she has to say about the distinctive waves of development that brought these largely post-war settlements into being.
Of course, in this part of the world we have Skelmersdale and Runcorn on our doorstep, both designated as new towns in the early 1960s. So if you have a passion for precincts and you rave about roundabouts, why not combine Harwood’s lecture with a tour of the source material?
Manchester Collective: The Edge of Fantasy | Invisible Wind Factory Substation | Saturday January 27
Manchester Collective are musicians on a mission to redefine expectations around classical and contemporary music. Rather than delivering creaky old concerts from the Classic FM canon, they prefer to concentrate on “radical human experiences through live music”.
Throughout the first half of 2018, they will be touring four different musical visions to venues in Manchester, Sheffield and Liverpool, with this first one arriving at the Invisible Wind Factory’s Substation basement on January 27.
Comprising of four string quartet pieces by Purcell, Beethoven, Janacek and Górecki, The Edge of Fantasy aims to create “a visceral live experience for audiences and performers alike” in a venue that’s more used to climactic kick-drums than quivering quavers.
If your only experience of Manchester collectives is rubbing shoulders with them as you trail through Warrington IKEA, this lot might help you see our north west neighbours in an entirely different light.
A Pacifist’s Guide to the War on Cancer | Playhouse | From Friday January 26
Plenty of playwrights claim to confront life’s most difficult subjects, but few have chosen to deal with one of our last remaining taboo subjects. Now though, the acclaimed theatre company Complicité brings its cancer musical – yes, its cancer musical – to the Liverpool stage.
Written by Bryony Kimmings and originally staged as a collaboration with Complicité and the National Theatre, The Pacifist’s Guide to the War on Cancer is a frank and funny show that “looks behind the poster campaigns and pink ribbons”, unpicking the language that currently defines this disease. Is dealing with cancer always a “battle”? Is it a fight to be won or lost?
In a world of euphemism, this show promises to say it straight. With songs.