You'd think that in this year of culture the organisers of the Matthew Street festival would've gone for something different, or, at least, come up with a refreshing take on the weekend, wouldn't you?
Well, Bill Heckle, director of the festival, seems to think so. That's what he's telling the local press anyway (http://www.liverpooldailypost.co.uk/liverpool-news/regional-news/2008/07/29/almost-100-bands-signed-up-for-the-matthew-street-festival-64375-21424060/ ):
"We have listened to the public, the bands and the venues to programme this year, and I believe we have got the perfect balance for a fantastic music festival, celebrating Liverpool and music in all forms."
Really, Bill? I presume you've "listened" in the way that Gordon Brown would understand the word.
Right Said Fred, essentially a one hit act, & Chas & Dave, a nostalgia act in themselves, as the headliners?
The Post article states there will be a stage for local, unsigned bands. However, judging by the stage allocated to them in 2006, cast out at the Pier Head, separated from the rest of the city centre, this may be little more than both an afterthought & a sop to today's Liverpool music scene.
Local acts which aren't guitar-led pop outfits, eg., hip-hop, are to be given a space in Williamson Square. The problem, however, is that it is an area for passing through rather than congregation. It seems insultingly tokenistic.
Depressingly, as well as the interminable Beatle "tribute" bands, the festival is to be padded out by tribute acts for contemporary artists; Fake That, anyone? Kaiser Thiefs? Antarctic Monkeys? How about Absolute Bowie? No? Thought so. In a word, pathetic.
After last year's cancellation, the organisers had the opportunity to radically revamp the character of the festival for culture year. However, they've blown it. You have to think of demographics. Aiming the product (let's face it, that's what it is) at baby boomers while ignoring contemporary Liverpool acts is both self-defeating & commercially suicidal in the longer term.
Well done, guys.
*Acknowledgements to Pete Carr for the photograph.