Psych Fest | Food and Drink Fest | Heritage Open Days | Tubular Brass | All sorts of off-the-radar brilliance

Heritage Open Days | Various venues | Thurs-Sun September 7-10

Fifty years ago, the list of buildings featured during this year’s annual Heritage Open Days weekend would probably have had the words "Recommended For Demolition" at the top. 

While this fate still hangs over some of our unfairly neglected edifices, at least times have changed a little and these constructions are still here for us to troop through and gawp at over  now and again.

Heritage Open Days is a nationwide celebration of the buildings we walk past each day while wondering what’s inside. For one weekend only, the public gets to have a peek behind closed doors, often with guided tours for a little extra expert insight.

This year’s Liverpool list ranges from blockbusters like the Royal Liver Building through to bijou beauties such as the Ancient Chapel of Toxteth on Park Road. There are also talks and lectures on related topics, with Ian Wray’s How to Save a City: The Making of Liverpool 1976-2016 telling the story of the city’s journey “back from the brink”.

Piece By Piece: The Story of News From Nowhere in Ten Objects
| Open Eye Gallery | Mon September 11

There was a time when every town and city had a radical retail outlet selling books, pamphlets and papers from the leftward end of the political spectrum. Often forming a natural hub for activists to come together in comradely fashion – or split from each other like fracturing glass – they were bookshops dedicated to the building of a better world.

However, time has not been kind to independent bookshops of any persuasion, and few of these portals of protest still exist. Fortunately for Liverpool, though, Bold Street’s News From Nowhere battles on, having just been the centre of international media attention when the KLF decided to launch their new novel, 2023: A Trilogy, there.

This event at the Open Eye Gallery will tell the shop’s 43-year story by focusing on ten different objects from its archive.

They include “a log of arson attacks, newspaper articles covering their LGBT+ ‘snogathon’, and a personal letter from Tony Benn”, but for the rest you’ll need to show up and see for yourself. Though their secret Bullingdon Club membership card is unlikely to be among them.

Screen and Zines | Walker Art Gallery | Sat September 16

The Walker’s current Coming Out: Sexuality, Gender and Identity exhibition is a timely look at the ways in which artists have explored issues of sexuality over the past half century. The show runs until November 5, but for one Saturday afternoon in September, the Empty Spaces Cinema team will add a pop-up picture house for a showing of this year’s Best Picture Oscar-winner, Moonlight.

The film is a coming-of-age heartbreaker that follows its main character, Chiron, through three stages of his life and, for a film that deals with sexuality and identity, it has had a pleasingly high profile. However, the event also gives participants the chance to explore the underground side of LGBT+ culture by following the film with a workshop in the partially lost art of ‘zine making.

Blogs, tweets and Facebook updates might have planted their fat digital feet in much of the ‘zine’s historical domain, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a thriving analogue underworld that’s still cutting, pasting and Letrasetting with abandon. And now you can join them. Just don’t forget the Cow Gum.

Liverpool Food and Drink Festival | Sefton Park | Sat-Sun September 16-17

The Liverpool Food and Drink Festival is now as much of a fixture on the Sefton Park calendar as Africa Oyé and Redrow protests. This year, organisers are promising their biggest line-up yet in honour of the event’s tenth anniversary.

Things kick off on Friday night with a ‘Beauty and The Feast’ party, hosted by Gizzi Erskine and featuring the Lightning Seeds as post-feed entertainment. Be warned though: tickets for this event don’t give you access to the main weekend festival.

The following two days feature the usual array of restaurants, bars and food producers, all setting up shop in the park and doing their best to keep the queues down as best they can. 

Aiden Byrne, Paul Askew and Nisha Katona will be joining Simon Rimmer for some celebrity demos on Saturday, while The Hairy Bikers will lead events on the Sunday. Plus there’s music all weekend, and plenty for the children including a ‘Kidz Kitchen’ where the little ones can learn to cook Asian noodles and cheesecake.

That’s Monday’s tea sorted then.

New Music For Old Machines | Everyman Bistro | Thurs September 21

The journey from cutting-edge to obsolescence – from PC World to Otterspool tip – is the fate that awaits all technology, but for some people, it’s only when apparatus becomes obsolete that it becomes interesting. 

New Music For Old Machines is an event that celebrates the creative use of yesterday’s tech, whether it’s the “radio, reel-to-reel tape recorder, Minidisc or cassette”, or “the ancient mechanics of the horsehair bow”.

Performing on this occasion will be Napalm Death co-founder Nicholas Bullen with “new electronic works for analogue machinery”, the London voice and double bass duo Sealionwoman, and Kinder Meccano with “music for prepared Fender Rhodes, tape machines, electronics and motors”.

The night is the brainchild of Benjamin Duvall from Liverpool’s foremost horizontal guitar abusers, Ex-Easter Island Head. If you enjoy the way Duvall’s group wrenches new sounds from some very familiar looking kit, then New Music For Old Machines is likely to be right up your sonic street.

Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia | Camp and Furnace, Blade Factory, District | Fri-Sat September 22-23

After our experience last month when we listed an event that turned out to involve little Hope and absolutely no Glory, you might think we would be reticent about suggesting another city music event with the word ‘festival’ in its name. Thankfully, the Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia, or Liverpool Psych Fest if you want to save your typing fingers, is a rather more robust proposition than… well, you know.

Now in its sixth year, Liverpool Psych Fest has become one of the most respected urban festivals in Europe by resolutely avoiding the clichés of 1960s psych, and instead building an annual weekend event devoted to today’s global psych community. There may be the odd paisley-patterned West Coast reference deep down in the mix, but the festival paints with a much richer multi-hued palette than that.

Key acts this time include Black Angels, Songhoy Blues and the wonderfully named W.I.T.C.H: We Intend To Cause Havoc. But as with all good festivals, the best policy is to allow yourself to stumble serendipitously through the two days, gorging on the synapse-searing visuals and ridiculously rich line-up, before waking up on Monday wondering if it was all a dream. 

An Evening of Franca Rame and Dario Fo | Unity Theatre | Sat September 23

Burjesta theatre company brings its sweeping account of the Russian Revolution to its home venue, The Casa, in October, but the four modest stories that make up this evening at the Unity are no less radical in intent.

For this one-night event, Burjesta is performing four plays by the radical Italian pair Franca Rame and Dario Fo. The latter’s Accidental Death of an Anarchist is probably the best known of their works in this country, but Franca Rame herself performed a number of these monologues in the UK back in the early 1980s, and it’s great to see Burjesta giving life to them once again.

On this occasion, the four stories are A Woman AloneMedeaThe Rape and Rise and Shine, a quartet of works that place women’s voices centre stage. They can be comic and grotesque, or mundane and desperate, while The Rape – an account of Rame’s own abduction and rape at the hands of a far-right gang in 1973 – is shockingly brutal too.

Tubular Brass | Philharmonic Hall | Sat September 23

It’s 20 years since the Bluecoat commissioned artist Jeremy Deller to premiere his Acid Brass project, an event that transformed a selection of acid house anthems into mellifluous brass band beauties.

While Acid Brass was backed by the usual Deller conceptual rigour – his mind-map linking mining communities to northern warehouse raves was a work of art in its own right – it seems that the brass/pop combination was so potent, others have also been unable to resist this unlikely musical fusion. 

Tubular Brass is a 28-piece brass ensemble that was founded in order to play Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells in its entirety. On this occasion, Philharmonic-goers will not only be treated to the group’s interpretation of Oldfield’s classic album, but will also enjoy a special performance of Mary Casio: Journey to Cassiopeia by electronic artist and composer Hannah Peel.

Different Trains 1947 | Edge Hill Station | Weds September 27

Last year’s Edge Hill performance of Steve Reich’s Different Trains was an extraordinary experience. Performed in the presence of Reich himself, it connected memories of train travel in wartime Europe and the US with the world’s oldest working railway station located right here in Liverpool.

The event was co-produced by Metal, who are based at Edge Hill, and this year they are bringing memories of more epochal train journeys to the station. Serving as inspiration this time round are the journeys taken during the partition of India in 1947, a political reinvention that led to the displacement of up to 12 million people.

Collaborating artists include Actress from the Ninja Tune label, Jack Barnett from These New Puritans, Indian music producer Sandunes, percussionist Jivraj Singh, vocalist Priya Purushothaman, and the filmmakers Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard.

As with the Reich event, archive film will be used to reconnect the past and present, while the real life passing trains will add their own audio-visual flavour to the event. Though any rumours that the Northern Rail rolling stock also dates back to 1947 should be quashed right here and now.

Mungo’s Hi-Fi, Benny Page, Ragga Twins | Invisible Wind Factory | Fri September 29

A few years ago, the music writer Simon Reynolds led a chin-stroking discussion at FACT that explained the twists and turns of what he termed “the hardcore continuum”. This was nothing to do with what used to be called blue movies, and everything to do with joining the dots between reggae, jungle, drum and bass, and any number of other ever-mutating forms of black British dance music.

Of course, you don’t have to study these things in earnest fashion in the confines of a local arts centre. It’s much better to experience the visceral kick of the bass for yourself, and this line-up at the Invisible Wind Factory will give you ample opportunity to connect those hardcore dots.

Mungo’s Hi-Fi bring their Glasgow-based sound system down the M6 for a welcome Liverpool appearance, and are joined for the evening by drum and bass producer Benny Page, and the revered rave-era MCs, Ragga Twins.

Strictly for the hardcore, as they say.