The new Mersey Beat: Thousand flock to Liverpool's Sefton Park for four-day music festival
Sunday 25 August 2013
With tower blocks peeping above the tree line, Liverpool's Sefton Park is just a stroll from Penny Lane and a city steeped in a history of poverty and division.
But rich and poor came together yesterday for a party in the park as the birthplace of the Beatles again took centre stage for the first Liverpool International Music Festival.
The city that has produced the most No 1 singles in the world was at one stage nearly written off by Margaret Thatcher's Government.
Locals now speak of those as "dark days" for Liverpool with Toxteth in flames and Downing Street in open warfare with Militant and Derek Hatton.
But this month a city now brimming with hope and promise is hosting UK's biggest urban festival as a platform to launch an even bigger event next year. In a city where every young Scouser is brought up to recite the hallowed names of John, Paul, George and Ringo there has been a Fab Four tribute act around nearly every corner.
And Sefton Park is but five minutes walk from Beatles landmarks such as John Lennon's house, Penny Lane, and the playing fields said to have inspired Strawberry Fields.
But Liverpool is a cultural centre which prides itself on never standing still and this month the crowds have had its hands in the air for pop, rock, indie, reggae, world, classical – and just about everything else in between.
A massive investment from local government and a genuine desire to celebrate Liverpool's relationship with music and create a new generation of musicians has helped. Liverpool fulfil its latest ambition as a City of Culture.
As well as performances by chart toppers such as JLS and Little Mix the weekend saw the first gig yesterday in the UK tour of the Marley brothers - allowing Merseyside to upstage the Notting Hill Festival.
The new Festival has its roots in the city's biggest music event, the Matthew Street Music Festival. But now the spectacle has gone global.
Thousands flocked to Sefton Park to enjoy one of the highlights of the month - four days of free live music over the bank holiday which continues tomorrow.
Steven and Julian Marley were headlining the World Music Stage to underline the city's links with sounds from around the world.
While sixties Mersey beat saw a new generation of working class heroes propelled up the pop charts it was a mainly a white revolution.
Although the celebrates the past, it also shows Liverpool's increasingly diverse population coming together to encourage a new generation of talent for whom names like Punjabi Hit Squad may strike more of a chord than Sergeant Pepper.
Adam Mailey, 29, from the Wirral, said: "It is a change from Matthew Street. I've been to Glastonbury a few times. This is not as big but there's more of a family atmosphere.
"I'm 29 and I was brought up with the Beatles. It is part of Liverpool's culture and you can't get away from it even if you wanted to.
"But this has always been a cosmopolitan city so here we are emphasising that.
"Not far from here are some of the most deprived areas of Liverpool - and some of the richest. So it's getting everyone together."
Waitress and Bob Marley fan Kavita Mohan, 24, who lives in Anfield but comes from the West Indies, said: "I think it's great.
"The main thing is it is free and bringing all the people out to socialise.
"I'm not really a Beatles fan because I grew up in Trinidad so I'm mainly here to see the Marleys.
"To me, it shows how multicultural we've become. It brings every single person out of all races and everyone is getting along.
"I grew up with Bob Marley's music so it's great to see it passed on to a new generation."
Her mother Gail, a local pastor, came straight from church to enjoy the afternoon with her extended family who have called Liverpool their home for more than a decade.
She said: "I really only like gospel music now but I do like reggae. But I'm talking old school - like Peter Tosh."
Yesterday's crowd also saw mixed race couples and families with children out in force. One festival goer said: "It's hard to work out who's white and who isn't". As someone once said: Imagine...
- 1 Dentist who illegally killed Cecil the lion blames local guides for the scandal
- 2 Kate Winslet thanked 'particularly horrible' girl who bullied her at school after Titanic success
- 3 Norwich paedophile ring: Woman at centre of gang who made children 'sexual play things' guilty of 23 offences
- 4 Black and ethnic minority people twice as likely to be hit by Tory cuts than white people, report finds
- 5 Walter Palmer: American dentist revealed as the killer of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe
Kate Winslet thanked 'particularly horrible' girl who bullied her at school after Titanic success
Norwich paedophile ring: Woman at centre of gang who made children 'sexual play things' guilty of 23 offences
Model's video shoot on the beach interrupted by sudden landing of a group of illegal migrants
Black and ethnic minority people twice as likely to be hit by Tory cuts than white people, report finds
Walter Palmer: American dentist revealed as the killer of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe
Labour leadership contender Jeremy Corbyn says 'we can learn a great deal from Karl Marx'
The last thing Labour needs is a leader like Jeremy Corbyn who people want to vote for
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn – or a return to a Labour government
I am the Jeremy Corbyn supporter that many will tell you doesn't exist
Public anger after French sunbather beaten up by gang for wearing a bikini in Reims park
Labour leadership: New poll shows party is now even 'less electable' than under Ed Miliband
£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This exciting startup disruptin...
£25k plus Benefits: Guru Careers: A Carpenter and Maintenance Operator is need...
£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This London based publishing co...
£13500 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Previous experience is benefici...