Sunday, 10 March 2013

There's nothing to do in this dump ...

The eternal cry of the bored teenager, except it's not just teenagers with such an attitude. "There's not much of a music scene in Southport," I was told recently in a pub. As I spend at least 10 days a month at various music events, I didn't know how to put him right in a casual conversation, so I didn't bother. I really do wonder what some people expect.

Events I support tend to be folk/acoustic in nature, although I also like to watch some of the older local rock bands. While I try to cover a wider range than just my own tastes on this blog, there is a lot I simply don't know much about. For instance, there is a whole scene of young bands who stylistically range from punk to heavy metal; Martin Hovden often writes about them in the local papers. There are two jazz clubs - links to both on the right - one of which I have occasionally supported in the past. Our biggest local venue is the Southport Theatre where bigger name performers are presented, although gone are the days when they could afford to put on artists at the height of their fame such as Manfred Mann's Earth Band, Kim Wilde, Black Sabbath (supported by Van Halen), Daryl Hall and John Oates, Justin Hayward and John Lodge (from the Moody Blues), Nancy Griffith, Harry Chapin or Marvin Gaye - all of whom I've seen at there. Ones I regretted missing included the Crusaders with Randy Crawford and Tina Turner on her comeback tour. Nowadays the Southport Theatre has of necessity to be more modest in its ambitions, but that's not unique to Southport. I remember getting tickets to see Eric Clapton at the Empire Theatre in Liverpool in the late 1970s; there was no mad rush on the reasonably-priced tickets. Today he'd appear only at a big arena with extremely costly tickets selling out in a day. Big name gigs have become a massive business, and if big theatres in a city can't compete, what chance has Southport got?

The fact that Southport can't stage the big names in pop and rock doesn't mean that nothing is happening. Things are going on all the time, from smaller scale acts, tribute bands and oldies tours at the bigger venues through to local performers in pubs. Sometimes it mightn't be to your taste, and sometimes, to be honest, it may not be that good; the important thing is not to let a bad experience make you retreat into your living room, never to venture out again. If you had one bad meal out, would you say "I'm never eating out again"?

With the arts centre reopening as the Atkinson soon (see my post of a couple of days ago), even more decent live music will be available, and it's not just going to be folk/acoustic in nature. You won't see Cheryl Cole, but then why would you want to? If I wanted to see miming, I'd go to watch a proper mime artist.

If you're not that keen on live music, fair enough, but if you are, don't complain (at least, not to me) that there's nothing going on.

Late news: I've just heard about a new open mike night on Wednesdays at Reuters on Hoghton Street, which I'm told is now also a real ale venue. I'll find out more and write a separate post.

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