London Not Calling: The Invasion Continues From Outside The Capital
Our house…in the middle of our street.
Our house…in the middle of our street.
Joss Stone, Left
Skanking in the middle of thousands of sweaty, muddy Brits at the very first Knowsley Hall Music Festival, chanting along to a Ska chestnut from the elder statesmen of Madness, you begin to get a feel for the musical energy that continues to drive this earth, this plot of land, this…England.
While this brand new festival has already been able to call up the talents of Madness, as well as Joss Stone, Keane, and the remnants of The Who, there is so much more going on this weekend. From the more established Rock gardens of Glastonbury and Leeds (site of The Who’s seminal live album) to venues that range from converted churches to truly underground clubs, the British invasion is alive and well and coming primarily from places other than London.
Audience for Madness, Right
While the seat of the UK’s government may have more performance spaces than any other single city or town, there are a number of other realms of the Kingdom whose contributions can not be counted out. After all, while many people may think of England first when they think of nations that have contributed to the world music scene and especially that of North American rock, if you asked them where the most significant contributors were born, most would cite a little city on the western coast.
As the birthplace of The Beatles (as well as Gerry and the Pacemakers, Johnny Fury, and many other early rock legends), Liverpool, England is an undeniable stop on any music lover’s travelogue. With the impressive Beatles Museum and the soon-to-open Hard Days Night Hotel, the city continues to pay tribute to their favorite native sons and to show their appreciation for the thousands who flock there each year to do the same.
But Liverpool is so much more than just the birthplace of four musical mates. Parr Street Studios (part of which is now a hotel) is the recording home of such stars as Coldplay and Echo and the Bunnymen, as well as imported legends like Diana Ross and Barry Manilow. The Blue Angel club was the early base for the Rolling Stones and, as the home of the Cream Corporation, Liverpool is also a bastion for dance and club music as well.
And these are just the music clubs! From world-class art collections to a brand-new athletics and conference center to the EC’s largest civic redevelopment project, Liverpool is one 800-year-old city that is definitely looking to the future! There is so much going on, in fact, that Liverpool has been named Europe’s Capital of Culture in 2008!
A few hours north is the city of Glasgow, Scotland. Though perhaps known primarily as a seat of architecture and design, the home of Charles Rennie MacKintosh and Timorous Beasties also has a strong claim to the UK’s musical throne.
Though it may not have a venue to match The Cavern in terms of musical import, Glasgow does have its own musical incubator. Owned and managed by Scotland’s leading music promoters, DF Concerts, King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut has been premiering and promoting bands like Arctic Monkeys, Franz Ferdinand, Mogwai, and their latest discovery, The Dykeenies for decades. With their own record label and an indie-friendly drop-off-your-demo-and-we’ll-play-it attitude, the Hut is a great place for bands from all over the area to try out new stuff and build that all-important early fan loyalty.
Another great place for pioneering artists to perform is at the converted tram (train) factory called, oddly enough, Tramway. Though a bit out of the way, this recent addition to the Glasgow arts scene is well worth the trip- and not only for music! From life-size reproductions of Graceland to a Belgian Burlesque show to juried shows of artists from the world-famous Glasgow School of Art, Tramway features the best of Scotland and far beyond!
So while London may have its Wembley Stadium, it’s Madame Toussaud’s Rock Circus and other notable venues, the UK has a lot more to offer for fans of music and art of all kinds. Whether you like to grind in a club, get naked in a train station or skank in the mud, Britain is worth an invasion…or two.
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