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29th Jun 2013 3:46pm | By Kelly Griffin
“Girl, you really got me going…” I hear two young buskers bellow out a cover of The Kinks classic across Liverpool’s bustling city centre.
A ska-punk six-piece strikes up a song on my left, while a little further down on my right another, with just his guitar in hand, is belting out the chorus to The Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night. The atmosphere is electric, and it’s just your average Saturday mid-morning.
Liverpool is one of the world’s most renowned music cities, home of The Beatles, Elvis Costello, Echo and The Bunnymen, Ladytron, The Wombats … the list goes on.
In the past few years, this Merseyside city has scooped up a whole heap of accolades – named everything from ‘UK’s Friendliest Destination’ to ‘Britain’s Best Nightlife Destination’, and has been named the World City of Pop by the Guinness Book of Records, for producing more number-one hit singles than any other city. I’m here to find out if it really lives up to such a buzzing reputation.
No visit to Liverpool would be complete without paying one’s respects to The Fab Four, so my first stop is The Beatles Story. Inside, I’m taken on a journey through the history of the world’s most famous band.
There are photos and installations from The Beatles’ early years, including them cutting their teeth at local live venue The Cavern Club through to their solo projects. The exhibition includes all sorts of cool original artefacts, too, including a pair of John Lennon’s glasses, guitars and an “unfeasibly rare” copy of The White Album on blue vinyl.
The audio guide is narrated by John Lennon’s sister, Julia, “which gives the visitor’s journey a real authenticity,” as Beatles Story representative Martin King tells me. Martin is full of praise for Liverpool, not only as an amazing city for a music fan to live in, but also as a place to visit, especially for Beatles fans eager to see the legendary places in which the band performed, or referenced in their songs.
“They can visit us, Penny Lane, Strawberry Field, The Cavern Club, The Casbah,” he says. “We’re also home to Liverpool Sound City and the city’s annual International Festival of Psychedelia, which attracts people from all over...”
As much as I love exploring Liverpool’s Beatlemania past (and I’ll admit I’m slightly tempted to catch The Beatles cover band playing at The Cavern Club tonight), I’m also keen to experience the city’s current music scene.
I meet scene stalwart Paul Fleming, the man behind post-punk outfit Baltic Fleet and former keyboard player for Echo And The Bunnymen. “Growing up around Merseyside as a musician, there’s a lot to live up to and there can be pressure,” he says. “I came from a musical family, with my dad being part of [influential Sixties band] The Merseybeats. I’m proud to be associated with everything that’s happened.”
I ask Paul to give me some insider tips on where to catch the best live music these days.
“The best live venues are the Kazimer and The Camp and Furnace Blade Factory. Leaf is also great and there’s the new East Village Arts Club. You’ll catch a lot of up-and-coming acts as well as more established artists,” he tells me, adding, ”The live scene is really vibrant right now.”